Neighbors of a North White Plains ices and ice cream shop have urged North Castle officials to reject selling an adjacent town-owned parcel to the proprietor because the business has degraded their quality of life.
Residents of Nethermont Avenue and other areas of the hamlet appealed to the Town Board last week to reconsider the potential sale of a nearly half-acre property to Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream at 850 N. Broadway. The residents argued that business owner Scott Rosenberg has failed to follow through on multiple requests from the town to install a mesh to prevent debris from falling off the cliff behind the establishment and had cleared an excessive number of trees.
The neighbors also voiced displeasure with the noise, strong odor of grease coming from the property and the dangerous safety conditions created during busy periods along congested Route 22 because of insufficient parking. A few homeowners also mentioned how since Rosenberg disturbed the hillside they have been infested with rodents.
In addition to Ralph’s Ices, Rosenberg also owns and operates Toxic Wings at the site. Rosenberg needs to acquire the parcel to provide more parking and possibly open a third business at the location.
“I ask you to not sell that piece of property but to further establish it as open or green space,” resident Betty Sanchirico told Town Board members at the June 27 meeting. “There’s already way too much congestion and noise along the Route 22 corridor and we don’t need to add to it by allowing this property to be changed.”
Last week the Town Board postponed a vote on the transaction because the contract arrived the same day as last Wednesday’s board meeting, leaving Town Attorney Roland Baroni no time to review its content. The town is looking to sell the property for $125,000.
However, residents who spoke at the meeting argued that by selling the land the town will relinquish a small piece of open space, which is quickly vanishing in North White Plains. Resident Nora Kanze Manuele said a path where the public can walk would be lost.
“I’d like the board to consider that instead of selling the land it could consider turning that space into a greenspace so all of North White Plains and visitors to North White Plains can enjoy that little section of nature before they get onto our lovely street of Nethermont,” she said.
Nethermont Avenue resident Ed Lobermann told officials that it was the responsibility of the board to protect the residents, their homes and quality of life, not one particular business.
“To give him more property to destroy is the height of hypocrisy,” Lobermann said. “You have a responsibility to us as residents. Listen to us. We don’t want that property sold to Ralph’s or anybody else.”
Another resident, John Junker, said the community was opposed to adding commercial inventory near residences. Although, the parcel had been an eyesore for about a decade until Ralph’s Ices moved in last year, the town gave Rosenberg too much leeway in allowing him to open quickly while still needing to address multiple conditions.
Junker said the large crowds at the site, particularly now that it’s summer, is making for hazardous conditions.
“Someone’s going to get killed either pulling in or pulling out of that place,” he said. “It’s the wrong business for the wrong spot.”
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said that Ralph’s Ices complies with the parking requirements in the town code but it has been more successful than the code anticipated.
“When it is busy, it supersedes the code in terms of parking and that’s a problem that we don’t experience that often, DiGiacinto said.
Baroni added that the town took ownership of the adjacent parcel within the past two years because the previous property owner failed to pay taxes.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the Town Board is trying to balance the needs of the residents while also having vibrant business hamlets, something officials are constantly grappling with. He expects a decision on the sale by the July 11 meeting.
“I think the board get a pretty clear drift of the issues and the impacts and your feelings,” Schiliro said.
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/