The September 6 White Plains Common Council agenda includes an item authorizing the city to enter into a Stipulation of Settlement with the French American School of New York (FASNY).
Under the Stipulation of Settlement the current litigation between FASNY, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and the Common Council would be suspended and FASNY would submit an alternative plan application for a school on a portion of the site of the former Ridgeway Country Club.
The stipulation settlement includes a timetable for review and submission of the alternative application, which will remain under the jurisdiction of the court. If the Council votes to comply with the settlement, then existing litigation will be terminated. If the Council votes not to agree with the settlement, then FASNY can continue with the existing lawsuit or can commence new litigation.
The stipulation of settlement does not obligate the City to approve the alternative plan application.
Documentation presented by FASNY with the stipulation agreement indicates the alternative plan application would focus all development on the parcel containing the former Ridgeway Country Club clubhouse and does not require the closure of Hathaway Lane.
In a separate action last week FASNY filed two easements. The first would be used for a pedestrian/bicycle pathway that would connect Robin Hood Road. The second is a 51-acre conservation easement proposed to be used as publicly accessible open space.
Highlights of the Alternative Site Plan include:
Development on the property is limited to Parcel A, and focused on the property area containing the former Ridgeway Country Club main and outer buildings.
Hathaway Lane remains a public roadway.
The proposed upper school greenhouse, gymnasium and performing arts center building remain as originally proposed.
The Black box theatre building of 6,000 sq. ft. has been removed from Parcel A.
The athletic field configuration remains as originally designed.
The vehicular student drop-off loop remains.
The bus drop-off loop is redesigned to be contained entirely within Parcel A.
Approximately 750 linear feet of drop off distance is proposed. Vehicular access to the campus is proposed via a driveway on Hathaway Lane with a gatehouse.
The 75-foot open green setback adjacent to residential lot lines is maintained. Total redesigned building square foot age has been reduced from 243,000 square feet to 158,000 square feet, a 35-percent reduction.
Total proposed parking has been reduced 29 percent, from 348 to 248 spaces.
The Lower School (Nursery through 5th grade) has been eliminated from the application reducing student population by 33 percent from 950 to 640.
The maximum number of vehicle trips during the peak AM and PM hours has been reduced from 530 to 415 trips.
The maximum number of vehicle trips on Ridgeway from 7 to 9 a.m. is reduced from 715 to 415 trips.
FASNY has already recorded and created a 51-acre publically accessible Conservancy on part of its land with plans to create east-west and north-south pedestrian and bicycle paths for neighborhood residents, as previously proposed. Known as “Parcel D,” the land has frontage on Bryant Avenue, North Street and Hathaway Lane. The conservation easement assures that the property cannot be developed, and will ultimately be open to the public.
“Essentially we are agreeing to suspend the current litigation and forego any additional litigation while the new proposal is considered. The City is not obligated to approve the new proposal and this vote is not on that proposal. We are agreeing to give FASNY’s proposal a thorough review and fair consideration which they and all interested parties are entitled to with or without a stipulation,” said Mayor Tom Roach.
FASNY said that despite being confident it would ultimately prevail in the ongoing litigation, the School’s Board of Trustees decided to offer a compromise of a reduced Alternate Development Plan as a way of settling this unfortunate litigation.
“Our Board of Trustees has carefully considered all options and concluded that it is in everyone’s best interests to reach a compromise versus wasting more time and taxpayer money on years of unnecessary litigation,” said Andrea Colombel, Board Chairperson. “We believe we have put forth a proposal that works for our School and addresses the most contentious issues that have been raised by some of the neighbors. We expect that the Mayor and Common Council members will agree.”