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GREENBURGH BOARD APPROVES ENGINEERING STUDY FOR SEELY PLACE SIDEWALK

It was another classic chaotic meeting tonight of the Greenburgh Town Board, where it appeared that most town board members, including Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, had never read any of the proposed laws and resolutions before them but, when it was finally over, the board unanimously authorized spending $86,600 on an engineering study to design new sidewalks in Edgemont for portions of Seely Place and Fort Hill Road, thereby making it at least theoretically possible that one of these sidewalks will get built in 2016.  However, even there the Town Board had problems.

Most of the 17 proposed resolutions and local laws on the Town Board’s agenda, including the one for the Edgemont sidewalks, were not posted online and thus made available to the public until a few hours before the start of the meeting, and it was quickly apparent no one on the board had ever read them.

Thus, in the supporting documentation for the $86,000 engineering study for the Edgemont sidewalks, the engineering proposal on Seely Place described a sidewalk to be built along the entire length of Seely Place from Henry Street to Ardsley Road, when residents had always been told the sidewalk would run only from Ardsley Road to the Seely Place School itself.

When it was pointed out that homeowners along Seely Place in front of the school would be livid when they saw the engineer’s proposal upon which the Town had awarded the bid, town officials said not to worry, the engineer simply made a mistake. But since the Town Board’s resolution authorizing an expenditure of $86,600 was based on a document that contained a mistake, the solution was not so clear-cut, since it was entirely possible that the bid might need to be reduced because the actual scope of work was far less than the bid was proposing.

The board also approved spending another $192,000 to study the feasibility of building additional sidewalks in Edgemont along Old Colony Road from the “s” curve to the back entrance to Edgemont High School, along Fort Hill from Jackson Avenue to Ardsley Road, and on Old Army between Central Avenue and Ardsley Road, and from Ardsley Road to the Yonkers border.

The mistake over the Seely sidewalk was not the only indication tonight that town board members were not reading what was put in front of them.

A public hearing was held on a proposed law adopting maximum truck weights for commercial vehicles traveling on town roads. But in the second paragraph of the proposed law, spelling out the width of such vehicles, said it was applicable “on any Village highway in the Town of Greenburgh” – even though the Town has no jurisdiction over any highways in the Town’s six villages.

Because no one on the Town Board caught that error, it soon became clear that no one had read the proposal before them. The proposal then went on to impose rules for vehicles used “solely for farm purposes” without ever explaining why it was necessary for public health and safety to impose truck weights on town roads in the first place. Town board members said they would continue the hearing at another meeting.

On a more positive note, the Town Board authorized the reimbursement to the ECC of $450 of a $500 fee that the Town Board agreed was improperly demanded of the ECC by Town Attorney Tim Lewis when the ECC sought last summer to appeal the building inspector’s interpretation of the Town’s zoning law that no variances were required for the assisted living facility proposed in Edgemont at the Sprainbrook Nursery site at the corner of Underhill and Sprain Roads.

The resolution authorizing the reimbursement was posted yesterday at around noon, and was the target of considerable criticism since its ambiguous wording left open the possibility that the money would be reimbursed this one time, but that going forward civic groups would henceforth always be charged these fees.

However, town board member Francis Sheehan said that no one should infer any such intent from the resolution the Town Board passed tonight and that if the Town Board ever decides to start charging fees to civic groups that seek to the enforce the Town’s zoning law, it would not do so without first giving notice to the public and an opportunity to speak about the measure.

In one of the meeting’s more comic moments, the original resolution authorizing the reimbursement apparently went missing during the meeting. Residents who went to the Town’s agenda online found that when they clicked the link to the resolution, they were directed instead to a proposed “all hazard mitigation plan,” which had nothing to do with it, and which no one could explain.  The Town Board passed the resolution anyway.

Not to be outdone, also before the Town Board was a resolution authorizing the Town Supervisor to enter into a contract with Sustainable Westchester, the not-for-profit entity that is looking to lock in long term energy prices for tens of thousands of residents in 25 of the county’s 42 municipalities. But instead of posting a redline showing changes over the past few days to the 42-page contract that the Town was being asked to sign, no such redline was posted until the meeting tonight was well underway, thereby making it impossible for residents to comment at all on the proposal.

But it also became clear that residents were no worse off than the town board members who represent them as they hadn’t read the 42-page agreement either before voting to authorize Mr. Feiner to sign it, which they promptly did, never knowing what it said.

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