Editorial: Pleasantville’s Handling of Assisted Living Plan a Disservice to Village

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What happened last week at the Pleasantville Village Board meeting is Exhibit A of how a governmental body should never handle a development proposal.

Last week, a majority of the board verbally shot down the controversial Sunrise Senior Living application to build 79 assisted living units at the United Methodist Church site on Bedford Road – before the public ever had a chance to weigh in.

Mind you, this was not a conceptual plan from Sunrise, where their representatives come to a work session and float an idea and board members may candidly dismiss it. Sunrise had submitted the formal application for the zoning change more than a month ago and is entitled to a fair and objective hearing even if they have an uphill battle to climb.

Now, it won’t get one.

What the board did is effectively shut down discussion before it could begin. If you’re a Pleasantville resident who might think that this project is a good idea or someone who wants to learn more about the proposal, why would you waste your time to show up at the June 12 meeting when the board has already made up its mind?

Furthermore, you often hear the argument from project opponents in many communities who remind board members that an application is inconsistent with the Master Plan. In this instance, the board has ignored its own Master Plan, revised just four months ago, where it listed the development of assisted living as one of its chief priorities.

Any contention there shouldn’t be a rezoning is off base. About 10 years ago, Pleasantville approved a massive rezoning to Marble Avenue that had far more impact village-wide than this proposal would.

None of this means the Sunrise project should be approved. There are many challenges to this site and it may have proved too much to overcome. Also, Sunrise, like Benchmark before it, has had to fend off a small group of motivated homeowners who are determined to protect their turf and have captured the board’s ear.

In the tax cap era, when officials everywhere are desperate to find more revenue streams, the Pleasantville Village Board owed not only the applicant but all of its constituents a fair hearing before coming to a conclusion.

Last week, they failed miserably. Their service to the village, in this instance, has become a disservice.

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