The North Castle Town Board scrapped its sale of a nearly half-acre municipal-owned parcel adjacent to Ralph’s Ices in North White Plains two weeks after neighbors detailed a litany of troubles at the site.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro made the announcement before the start of discussion at the July 11 Town Board meeting where officials reviewed the steps that owner Scott Rosenberg must still take to comply with the site plan for his North Broadway business.
A contract for the sale of the land, which the town acquired within the past two years after the previous owner was delinquent on taxes, was expected to be prepared in time for the meeting before officials had an apparent change of heart.
Schiliro said that when the board weighed all factors it was the right decision to make.
“After careful thought of everything involved, including the concerns of the residents in all of the town and specifically in that neighborhood, we came to the determination that we’re not going to move forward with the sale of the property,” Schiliro said.
Rosenberg, reached late last week, said he was surprised by the board’s decision and that it would do nothing to improve “a difficult parking situation that could have been solved.” He was hoping to nearly double the number of spaces from about 18 spots if he could have bought the land.
“Do you think it’s fair to all parties, myself and the neighbors, to at least have a plan before you guys make any decision?” Rosenberg asked the board last week. “I went through all the expenses of making a plan and all, doing all the stuff like I’ve been asked to do and then it gets shot down before I was even able to present it.”
On June 27, neighbors, primarily residents from Nethermont Avenue, strongly opposed the town helping Rosenberg add to his acreage with the number of unresolved problems at the site. A key matter for some residents was the potential loss of a walking path that the public uses on what is now the town-owned parcel.
Another major problem has been debris falling from the cliff behind the business that is likely from erosion, which some residents charged worsened because Rosenberg cut too deeply into the rock.
They also pointed to the noise, smells, traffic safety issues in the area of the busy North Broadway thoroughfare and the proliferation of rodents since site work was done.
Nethermont Avenue residents said they were grateful that the board took their concerns into consideration.
“I appreciate all you have done to listen to all of us from Nethermont Avenue and from Kensico Knolls and Roberta Place and from other areas of North White Plains, that we really appreciate that you’re not going to sell the property,” said resident Nora Kans Manuele.
Last week, board members called on Rosenberg to comply with all the outstanding conditions at the site within the next four weeks except for the installation of a protective mesh to prevent rock and other debris from falling into the parking lot.
Rosenberg pledged that by the time of the board’s Aug. 8 meeting, directional signs for the parking lot and landscaping on the northern side of the property near the dumpster will be finished. He said last week that striping and painted directions on the parking lot ground have been completed.
There is potential disagreement between Rosenberg and the town’s engineering consultants, Kellard Sessions, regarding the mesh netting to catch debris. The town’s engineers said the mesh is needed but Rosenberg countered with a report from his engineer that most of the rock is stable and the netting isn’t necessary.
Officials hope to come to an agreement on that issue by next week’s meeting.
However, Town Board members expressed some frustration at the halting pace with which Rosenberg has addressed the required conditions.
“I’m willing to give you four weeks, but we need to get this done, finished in four weeks,” said Councilman Stephen D’Angelo. “Otherwise, it goes through the process of what you have to go through when you don’t comply with the site plan.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/