Gedney Association Challenges Legality of FASNY Land Proposal

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An alternative development proposal for the former Ridgeway Country Club site has been submitted by the French American School of New York. The proposal limits development to Parcel A.
An alternative development proposal for the former Ridgeway Country Club site has been submitted by the French American School of New York The proposal limits development to Parcel A

As the result of a court-ordered Stipulation Settlement between the French American School of New York and the City of White Plains, a new reduced development proposal for the school is before the Common Council. The new proposal, consolidating development to one of several parcels, has eliminated the designation of the specific and newly defined development site as environmentally sensitive.

The Gedney neighborhood association, which has sued the city in the past over a previous FASNY design proposal, said last week that it has submitted letters through its attorney and environmental expert challenging FASNY’s attempt to reverse the White Plains Common Council’s earlier decision to designate the entire former Ridgeway Country Club property as an environmentally sensitive site.

John Sheehan, President of the Gedney Association said, “FASNY’s request is a transparent effort to evade the super majority vote mandate and a callous disregard of the City’s environmental protection goals and objectives as outlined in the City’s Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan. Any action by the Common Council to reverse its well-documented earlier resolutions would be unprecedented and unlawful pursuant to the City’s very clear standards for such environmentally sensitive properties.”

The Association further said that submission of an “Alternative Plan” which purports to limit development to only a portion of the FASNY property under application, does not and cannot act to change the established status of the entire FASNY property as an ESS. Further, any consideration regarding potential modification of the status of the property under application as an ESS must be part of the public hearing process in connection with the Special Use Permit and Site Plan Approval applications, which will allow for comprehensive public input. This issue should not and must not be determined by virtue of a resolution on the Common Council’s administrative calendar without adequate public notice and any opportunity for the public to be heard.

Concerns are that a resolution would be considered through the Council at a quick pace.

The alternative FASNY proposal was reviewed by the White Plains Planning Board at its December 15 meeting. There was no discussion by that board of the specifics of a change of land status. The Board sent a communication to the Common Council saying it had no problem with the new alternative FASNY plan.

When the White Plains Council voted to engage in the stipulation settlement in September, it conceptually agreed that the new FASNY proposal was reasonable, but remained subject to the normal legal review process.

The current proposal is limited to 29 acres in the area known as Parcel A with remaining areas either left alone and maintained by FASNY or part of a public conservancy, which is also maintained by FASNY.

School classes have been limited to middle and high school grades, with a student cap at 640, down from 950. Nursery and elementary school students will remain at other FASNY locations in Westchester.

The building footprint and athletic field design remain the same for Parcel A, minus a back box theater.

Hathaway Lane, the subject of much controversy over its potential closing during public commentary on the original plan will remain open.

Proposed access to the school property has been moved from North Street to Ridgeway with a gated entrance. All bus and car traffic flow for student drop-off and pick-up has been accommodated on the property. Vehicle trips reduced from 530 to 415 in a one-hour timeframe. Parking has also been reduced

All athletic fields have no lighting and no amplified sound, and 75-foot setbacks and screening have remained in the new proposal.

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