Letter to the Editor: United New Castle Slate Mischaracterizes Form Based Code

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The ironically named “Unite” New Castle slate, with the silent support of the local Republican party, is trying its hardest to torpedo a zoning change that has been in the planning stages for eight years. Although their candidate for town supervisor, Lisa Katz, is now leading the charge against it, she was one of the original architects of the Form Based Code until it better suited her political ambitions to become the flag-bearer for a group of residents who, despite their protests to the contrary, appear to be mostly fearful of the threat of a more diverse community.

One hardly knows where to start. On a fundamental level, their op-ed continually characterizes it as a development plan, when in fact, it’s simply a change in the building code, and even then, only for several blocks currently filled with dilapidated and vacant buildings.  The authors only finally admit the actual scale of the plan after trotting out all their original fear-mongering talking points about a hypothetical maximum build-out of the original 72-acre zoning plan which is no longer on the table.

They disingenuously characterize that change as a “bait and switch” instead of a Democratic Town Board responsive to community input. They caution that a future Town Board could unilaterally rezone the whole 72-acre area, when this is blatantly false; any rezoning requires public hearings.

In an effort to frighten voters, they threaten fictional tax consequences, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of math knows that additional residents and businesses would actually lighten the overall tax burden for everyone else. They reference Chappaqua Board of Education concerns about the original 72-acre proposal, hoping that no one will notice that a zoning change of that proportion no longer exists. Quite ironically, they warn of potential lawsuits, when the only ones planning to sue are the anti-Form Based Code group that makes up their core constituency.

Their opponents, Holly McCall, Lori Morton, Michael Weinberg and Jennifer Bounds, collectively known as Democrats for New Castle 2021, are endorsed by Nita Lowey, George Latimer, Ken Jenkins, Pete Harckham, Chris Burdick and Vedat Gashi – virtually every major Westchester County Democratic leader. Being that this is a Democratic primary, that’s very revealing.

The Democrats for New Castle have a vision for our town and the skills to address the many challenges we face. Voters shouldn’t be fooled into casting their ballots for a one-issue reactionary slate, and a disingenuous one at that.

Andrew Dorfman

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