Monday, January 08, 2007

WHY A MORATORIUM ON RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT MAKES SENSE FOR CENTRAL AVE

Mark Stellato, Commissioner of Planning, has presented the Town Board with a memo highlighting the need for a moratorium on development on Central Ave. Some reasons...

***The portion of Central Ave served by the Edgemont school district includes 909 apartments in various multifamily dwellings, representing 32% of total residential component of the school district, and a 60% increase in the number of residential units from the time the plan was developed.

***In the last 15 years the district's enrollment has increased from 1,355 to 1,923 - an increase in 42%. The increase in school population has required the need for additional educational facilities not contemplated when the plan was first developed and the zoning enacted.

***The increase in school district enrollment has exceeded even the districts demographic reports prepared in preparation for its capital project to expand the facilities. For example, elementary enrollment - expected tor each a high of 928 in 2003, now stands at 1,005. Class sizes have been growing at all grades, overcrowding is becoming an issue.

***THe Edgemont school district undertook a capital improvement program which expanded facilities at all 3 schools. Upon completion, these facilities were immediately at full capacity.

The town is currently revisiting its zoning code. A moratorium on development in the Central AVe mixed use impact district will enable the town to fully study the matter and make recommendations re: zoning changes.

The Town Board will meet this Wednesday evening. It's my hope that a hearing on the proposed moratorium can be scheduled quickly--hopefully at our next meeting in 2 weeks.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

.

The moratorium should exclude any project that may serve a town wide purpose such as WESTHELP housing or having another Andy Spano Sex Offender housing unit moved to that area of Edgenot.

Anonymous said...

Or until it is moved to the Waterwheel, town-owned property in Ardsly

hal samis said...

There is one thing about dealing with numbers, two people can look at them and conclude the opposite.

The first thing I see is that the gain is taken over a 15 year period which is a long time. The way I look at what is presented as a 42% increase over the period is that it is just an average of 2.8% per year. And the 569 student increase is just 38 kids a year.

What all this suggests is that Edgemont has been remiss in their acceptance of reasonable growth rates and that private property owners should not suffer to make up for the poor planning of the Edgemont School District.

But let me be more diplomatic and explain my "ignorance".

My son grew up in NYC and went to private school so I do not pretend to be familiar with suburban population trends, suburban school boards, school districts and the like.

I can only respond to those numbers that Mr. Feiner has posted. What would be a more presentation of Edgemont's case is to compare their growth with, say, Central 7's for me to be convinced that there was nothing; that there is nothing that the Edgemont School District could do have done to anticipate their own problems short of asking the owners of private property to solve their problem.

Otherwise I would view it as rather naive not to expect population growth in a location 20 miles north of Manhattan while also 10 to 15 miles from the offices of White Plains and southern Connecticut. In other words, Greenburgh is ideally situated in an area which is and was from the first destined for infill. I would think that those administering school districts would have better planned for future development instead of seeking to make innocent parties pay for their lack of vision.

A few years ago there was a movement afoot to replace the office of Town Supervisor with a professional Town Manager. Anyone who advocates this, as many Edgemont leaders have and do, should not stop with this only this office but instead follow the thought to its logical conclusion: why have volunteers serving on various Boards, hire professional managers for School, Library Boards, etc. The faults of their volunteer labors lies not just in the stars but in their inability to see what lies ahead.

The problem is not with normal growth rates (there eventually is a point of zero growth when the developable land is exhausted) but with poor planning or a desire not to invest what is needed to properly execute an orderly expansion of the needed bricks and mortar.

One Dromore is such an example of an opportunity being missed. If it were purchased by the School District, then the fields could move north and freeing up the southern tip for building expansion. Instead Edgemont leaders are trying to get the GNC and/or the County to think they need open space and this lot is the answer. That way, Edgemonters can save themselves a few bucks by having others (non Edgemont taxpayers) become partners in the cost of preventing new residential units.

If this moratorium is for the specific benefit of the Edgemont School District, which the explanations appear to support, then I am troubled by any action of a municipal government which causes injury to its residents/citizens (this moratorium is not intended to aid Central Avenue owners by restricting their enjoyment) for the benefit of an entity which is independent of the Town while operating under and protected by NYS Education laws. Since the School District will be first in line to proclaim its independence from interference by the Town, it should also recognize that this also includes the downside when crying "wolf". Let the Edgemont School District go running to NYS instead.

Anonymous said...

Samis either doesn't get it or he gets it, and is hoping Weingarten will sign him up as a paralegal.

The purpose of the moratorium is to determine whether a zoning change for the Central Avenue district is warranted.

The moratorium would only apply to residential development and, because the only residential development permitted along Central Avenue, is for multi-family use, it would apply only to the construction of rental apartments, co-ops, and condos.

Commercial development (consturction of offices and retail space) would be unaffected.

Impact on a school district is a well recognized consideration that may lawfully be taken into account in determining whether a zoning change is warranted. Here, that is one consideration, but not the only one.

The Dromore Road property is a separate issue.

Edgemont civic leaders say they oppose the building of condos on the Dromore Road site. However, it does not follow that Edgemont alone should purchase the property.

The Nature Center also opposes such development. The Nature Center has more than 1200 members, and more than 50% of them come from Greenburgh's villages. It is therefore not true that only Edgemont has an interest in keeping this property from being developed.

Because the Nature Center favors protecting the property, the town as a whole has an interest in preserving it as open space, as does the county.

No one should feel sorry for the property owner at this point. Given all the publicity that has unfortunately been generated, if the property can be acquired, the developer may well command a premium, even if a zoning change is enacted.

hal samis said...

Dear 5:03,
Does Mark need a paralegal? Would you be my anonymous reference?

The property owners I am concerned about are those on Central Avenue, but even the Dromore owner is entitled to fair play.

Just suppose one of the owners wanted to sell or (god forbid) convert his building (or tear it down and build) and develop residential condominiums.

"Not on my watch says the Edgemont leader. We'll get a moratorium so you can't build or convert as of right. By the time the moratorium is lifted we'll have new zoning laws in place which will prevent you from this.

And while this is going on, for the privilege of socking it to you, we want you to continue paying the real estate and school taxes."

'But I could have made a killing doing that and now I've only got my retail strip center or office building which not only can't be sold for the same dollars as the condo sell-out but, because no one else can develop residential, all the remaining sites will yield is more strip retail or office which will compete for tenants with my property. Furthermore, without any new residential tenants coming to the area, the market for retail has effectively been capped at the present population so my store tenants are going to have a hard time expanding their business and paying rent increases, and my taxes and heating bills go up too.'

"Tough noogie says the Edgemont leader. But at least our school taxes won't go up because we have to accommodate more of those darn lower income Central Avenue apartment rats. It's not as though you can compare Central Avenue to old Edgemont and beside we came here just after the Mayflower. All these nouveau reachers really want is the Scarsdale post office and the schools WE created. It's not like they belong here. It's good training for our kids to see that we are protecting our way of life and property values by not letting in anymore riffraff. And, we don't allow any new money either to have their way either; people who want to build larger homes than we have. We were here first and we just want people who think the same way, have the same values and no school age children. Is that asking too much for our vote?"
***
Meanwhile bloggers continue to dance around the reality that a zoning change can occur without a moratorium.

It looks that Edgemont has finally brought the GNC up to speed. Now they "understand" that they need to
protect the property (without the script in front of me I can't read the lines) but I imagine it says something like we need to preserve the open space which is open like an unmowed lawn is open if the lawn were between an apartment complex and a monastery and across from our brick-walled property which fronts on our dead end road not wide enough for parking. Of course if you've got an open mind it may look like open space but the logical buyer. the Edgemont School District doesn't have an open checkbook so they're going to try to sell take this sick puppy off their hands and pass the cost onto the Town as payback for Taxter Ridge.

Hey, what about moving the Nature Center to Taxter Ridge, same modus operendi, same township so they won't even have to change the name. Then with the old location unoccupied, Edgemont can call the parcel open space, just cut a few of those pesky trees and flora down.
And Dromore Road has lots in with Taxter Ridge; it is intended as a buffer for the school district, is not going to visited by anyone and it has no parking unless you use the "open space" to park cars.

And thinking of the new Dromore owner, what a steal he got if the property is down-zoned to bar multi-family. A new one family home with a next door monastery as a neighbor on one side and an cookie cutter apartment complex on the other, across from the GNC with 1200 members, 50% from all over Greenburgh and all of them arriving by car while directly to the rear lot line are the playing fields of the High School; now there's a sylvan view where the play of kids engaged in sports is assuredly a relaxing, low volume activity. And let's say the construction cost of such a McMansion only comes to $500,000 (plus the $1.4 million for the land) and the current discouraged owner just wants to get out at cost, who would rush to buy this fabulous home, 100 feet from bustling Central Avenue with no other single family homes anywhere nearby. Can you not do better elsewhere in Edgemont for $1.9 million? I think so. This property was bought for multi-family development per code, not for what would be acceptable to Edgemont leaders.

Anonymous said...

If Greenburgh were governed by the law of Samis, instead of the law of New York, no municipality would ever be permitted to impose a moratorium on development while considering a zoning change, no matter how good a reason it may have.

But alas, we're governed here by the law of New York, and by New York standards the Edgemont proposal is quite reasonable.

The proposed moratorium is not on all development in unincorporated Greenburgh, which the law would allow. To the contrary, it is limited only to development of multifamily dwellings, and only multifamily dwellings in the Central Avenue district.

Samis (and Ayn Rand) might not approve, but these kinds of limited moratoria are common in New York, they are often imposed in response to new or recently understood problems, and are considered a hallmark of smart planning.

Samis may fashion himself a real estate expert. Therefore he knows, or should know, that real estate developers, like the developer who purchased the property on Dromore Road, always buy with this risk in mind, they know they'll have to pay property taxes regardless and, for these reasons, they'll always discount their purchase price accordingly.

Welcome to the real world.

hal samis said...

Dear anonymous,
Just get kicked off Real World by MTV?

Let's suppose you are writing about the real world here in Greenburgh, not traveling in some parallal dimension.

In the real world, as inhabited by Samis, people who misdirect, even by the powers of anonymous, are called liars. A lie of omission is still a lie.

Thus you tell us that moratoriums are permitted under NYS law. And you dance around a discussion of what criteria they must meet to qualify under these laws.

Ergo the impression you leave is that if moratoriums exist in law they must exist in Greenburgh or anywhere. What you don't bother to tell us is that when proposed moratoriums do meet specific and demonstrable criteria, they MAY occur OR they MAY NOT. A moratorium is an optional happening. Hint: the Town has to vote upon having a moratorium, not just meet the NYS standards for one. What is equally true is the fact that there are no NYS laws that compel unleashing a moratorium as a condition to merely changing zoning laws.

Thus in Samis' world located nearby in the land of New York State, it is possible to change local zoning laws without an accompanying moratorium.

Again, the attempt of the blogger is to turn away from the effects of a moratorium on Central Avenue property owners where the stakes are bigger and the pain greater and focus instead on this one, tiny property. Clearly the blogger lacks the memory gene and can only focus on the last paragraph of my entry but, he could always scroll up just to check his comments against the full menu of the original material. The kitchen was not closed at 9:19.

However, be that as it may, let's discuss my dismissed real estate knowledge and this section shall be specific to the Dromore parcel.

The safety net against freefall, the hard landing for the Developer is to encourage a frenzy among the only other parties who would spend these kind of dollars if the zoning laws changed adversely. What I thought I made clear was that the property's location does not make it desirable, with profit in mind, to build an expensive single family home upon. It was purchased above market (again, the location sucks for a $2 million home, there are far better places to live with that buying power) with the intention to build multi-family. What kept the sale under the radar was the high, pre-emptive price which succeeded in getting an accepted offer.

And who would be the only buyers of such a distressed property if the worst case scenario occurs? Why the Town, the Nature Center or the Edgemont School District. The trick is to get them committed to purchase early on. Get those leaders publicly committed to say this is something we must have for our "open space" needs, for the future of our Nature Center etc. and they will paint themselves in the corner if the real threat (multi-family development), not the cover story for taxpayers, evaporates through down-zoning. How can the Supervisor, Edgemont leaders, the Nature Center, The CAC, even Abinanti tell the Public that they were wrong, they no longer need this open space, that the Nature Center no longer needs to preserve this land, that the School no longer needs this access to the Nature Center, etc.
All these stories that have already been spun will either require these parties to admit to a hoax or more conveniently to pay the "two dollars" to avoid any embarrassment.
That is the insurance policy for the Dromore Developer. He needed it to become a hot issue. If he gets his approvals he wins, if not he's got the aforementioned parties (perhaps sincere, likely naive, perhaps never at the site) on record reciting how necessary this pimple is to their community. How have Feiner and Abinanti been treated on this blog already? With skepticism that they really didn't intend to pursue a purchase -- at the time they were really stroked to please voters in a part of town where they had few friends.

In my opinion, the little voice in the ear that suggested the Town buy the property was the Developer's attorney. This is 100% conjecture but think about it.

One way to get out of a bad deal is to find a bigger fish. So, in Samis' world, meeting with Edgemont leaders was not the point of the exercise; they were already hooked, standing ten deep to ensure that the property would end up in safe hands. The more people you talk to, the more you have to fool so it is safer to limit the participants.

This then is the anatomy of how a win-win deal gets done in Samis' world.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm liking this Samis' world place!

Anonymous said...

Samis is chasing his "tale."

Here's what really happened:

The developer, which is based in NYC, had purchased the Dromore property eight months ago as part of an inventory it holds of potentially developable parcels in Westchester. It had no particular plans for this particular parcel until mid-December.

That's when it got the word that Feiner was issuing press releases about the town's need to purchase it.

Only after the press releases were issued did the developer realize the potential bonanza it had on its hands. And that's when it called in its financial advisors.

Edgemont civic leaders heard about this and asked Feiner to stop with the press releases, but to no avail. Like the sorcerer's apprentice, he kept churning out more of them.

In the ensuing frenzy, the developer made the decision to hire the one politically-connected attorney in Westchester it thought had Feiner under his thumb.

Against this background, Edgemont leaders renewed their request for the moratorium.

hal samis said...

12:15:
Samis' tale fits better, your tail belongs back where it shoud be pinned: on your donkey, a substitute for a section of human anatomy.

You would have us believe that the Developer bought land just in case it had some value; without any idea of its potential until Feiner, the real estate guru, divulged it; that he had no development plans for it; that he saw no value to any other Developer.

Enough of this fantasy background you try to pass off as the inside "poop". That's all it actually is, just poop which rightfully belongs only on the grounds of the nearby GNC.

Fortunately this blog exists to allow the real scoop to see daylight.

Only after Feiner spoke did the Developer understand the potential bonanza he had purchased? Blame Feiner for a newly found appetite to develop the property? Without Feiner, the property would just sit there untouched? Bullocks!

And Edgemont leaders asked Feiner to stop issuing releases? Suddenly Edgemont leaders, who are responsible to no one but their own wallets, are faulting the Supervisor for communicatng with residents. Suddenly Edgemont leaders want a Town Supervisor who goes about Town business in a covert manner.

"Blame it on Feiner doesn't work here"; you might just as well blame it on the bossa nova. Perhaps a little guilt and a lot of responsibility should be assumed by Edgemont leaders like Michelle McNally who, last Fall in calling for a moratorium to quash residential development along the Central Avenue corridor, played the lead role of the wake-up call to the Developer. How can the "bonanza" be harvested if the property can't be developed? Isn't this the more likely scenario: filing plans ahead of a moratorium so that the property will not be bound by the conditions of the moratorium?

I recognize the perceived need by Edgemont to limit residential development; that this may entail a zoning law change. This does not mean that I agree with them or that I support a moratorium which I don't. You can still have zoning law changes without a moratorium. But stop acting like little children and take some responsibility for your actions, Edgemont. When you seek a moratorium for the purpose of shutting down residential development, those who own property ripe for residential development are going to respond. That is the downside. That is why you weigh the risks against the rewards and perhaps lobbying for zoning changes without the moratorium might be a more temperate and non-provocative approach. That decision was yours and you must accept the responsibility.

Pass the buck to Feiner? You certainly have stacked the deck to give any reasonable man pause before deciding ever again to try to help Edgemont out of its self-inflicted dilemma.

Even Mr. Abinanti was criticized for being interested, presumably at the behest of Steve Bass, liasion to the GNC.

Stop crying on the Town's shoulder.
Stop crying on this blog.
Stop crying at Town meetings.
With all these tears, people who don't know you will see the water spots but think you wet your pants.

Anonymous said...

What about the proposed housing development by LCOR at the Landmark site? Will the morotorium include this site as well? Who needs another housing development when there are other and better opportunities for this site.

Anonymous said...

Help me out -- what is the Landmark site? Is this the hosuinng adjacent to the area the town already bought substanital acreage to reduce housing?

hal samis said...

Stop, read, then blog.
This is about a moratorium on residential development only on Central Avenue is Edgemont.

However, if you scream loud enough and ask Edgemont leaders how to play the game, then maybe you too can get a moratorium near where you live.

I object to moratoriums anywhere because what they seek to do can be accomplished without exacting the punishment for no crime that is the hallmark of a moratorium.

But I especially dislike a moratorium which only looks at potential townwide problems on a spot basis. This produces the feeling that all animals are NOT equal; that some are MORE EQUAL than others.

Anonymous said...

Samis and Feiner may choose not to believe it, but Edgemont leaders were tipped off early on by people familiar with the developer that Feiner's press releases had started a firestorm of activity.

That's why they asked Feiner to cool it, while efforts were underway to get more information. But Feiner insisted that he knew best and kept publicizing the matter.

The ECC's request in September for a moratorium was not on anyone's radar screen at the time, least of all the developer's.

hal samis said...

Then apparently Michelle McNally is talking to no one or, for no one when she speaks on behalf of the EEC. No one noticed. Like the sound of one hand clapping. Certainly Attorneys who handle real estate matters and represent various clients before the various Town Boards never watch meetings to mine them for what's happening or background. What if Mr. Weingarten who represents the Greenburgh Health Center tuned in that night, other nights, just to see if anything was said regarding his client's affairs; particularly since the GHC has to comply with NYS laws regarding a sidewalk before proceeding. Even if nothing was on the Agenda regarding that client, you never know what is going to be said. And if the reply is that he wouldn't waste his own time then maybe he could get it from someone else. Then yes, if he got it from someone else; that would cause him to discuss the implications with all of his other real estate clients. So when Ms McNally begs for a moratorium on residential construction, the news is going to get around. Anonymous writers who seek to fashion themselves as "insiders" and privvy to equally unsubstantiated advance information are pretty much out of the reality loop if they expect anyone to believe their self-patronizing drivel. I don't represent Feiner and I don't think my comments on this matter are helping him either but what I can speak for without reservation is that I don't believe a word that this blogger has written. If it is meaningful to be understood with credentials then produce some proof, a name, an email, something. But these puerile efforts to say that you (Edgemont) was tracking this from the beginning is the civic association equivalent of a wet dream.

And oddly enough let me warn you anonymous bloggers that others are stealing your blog comments to appear equally knowledgeable during the public comments made at Town Hall tonight.
Michelle McNally and Bob Bernstein used, almost word for word, comments made on this and other blog topics. Poor Michelle, she didn't even know Bob was going to speak about the moratorium. Makes you think less about the value of using smart phones.

But since we know that neither of them read or write on this blog, it just shows how intellectually bankrupt they are that they would resort to stealing from anonymous bloggers who can't defend themselves because...they are anonymous. That's the moral equivalent of stealing the published works of others but knowing you can get away with it because the source material is without copyright protection. And all this time I thought Mr. Bernstein wrote his own material. So be careful what you write, there are Edgemont leaders who, in public venues, are going to steal it and mouth it as though it were their own thoughts.

On second thought, it is said that imitation is a form of flattery.

Jim Lasser said...

Hal makes some interesting and provocative statements. He's entitled to his opinion, but as one of the parties responsible for the decision to build additional space at the schools, I'm entitled to an opinion as well. Hal, you are just plain wrong about this one. The then sitting Board of Education consulted (and paid for reports from) expert demographers, held countless community meetings and did its very best to balance the need for more space against the cost of that space.
Some of the key elements in making that decision were the assumption that the rules on development would be consistently applied, that properties would be fairly and consistently assessed and that the Town, as the ONLY entity charged with those responsibilities would appropriately and properly discharge them. As you know, the Central Avenue zoning rules have not adapted to changing conditions. That is not the job of the Edgemont Board of Ed - it is clearly the Town's responsibility. As you are also aware, the Town is solely responsible for assessing property regardless tax roll. School districts only recently were given the right to participate in negotiations between the Town and property owners. Prior to the Courts ruling, property tax settlements were presented to the District by the Town for payment, frequently with little or no understanding of the impact of those settlements on the part of the negotiators. As you are also aware, the assessments of multifamily dwellings (condos and coops) are made on an entirely different basis than on detached single-family homes. A million dollar coop or condo pays a small fraction of the school district property tax paid by a single family detached dwelling. It wasn't always so - and you know it. Commercial property is, by law, to be assessed including the value of the underlying land. The longstanding Greenburgh practice has been to capitalize the rent roll to determine the value. This resulted in a distortion of the assessed values along Central Avenue - and every other commercial district in the Town's unincorporated area. Where once commercial property taxes subsidized education (and fire and police and sewer and a long supplemental list of general societal infrastructures), the majority of the tax burden has, during the last 15 years, swung to the single family homeowner. The value of frontage along Central Avenue has more than kept pace with the growth of the school population. Why are commerical assessments no higher than they were 15 years ago. Has the land somehow deteriorated so that it won't support the buildings? Commercial taxpayers have a responsiblity too. But only the Town assessor has the power to perform a revaluation/reassessment -and that was last done in 1958. In 1992 the Town Supervisor appointed a "blue ribbon" citizens committee composed of representatives from villages and unincorporated Greenburgh. It studied the issues of revaluation and reassessment for almost a year and made a written report to the Supervisor (the Town Board was then taking a decidedly quiet role) calling for a revaluation, the establishment of an extended classification system for properties to address potential inequities among tax burdens, and a reassessment. The Supervisor's response was that so long as he was Supervisor there would be no reassessment - he deemed reassessment to be "political suicide". So here we sit, almost 15 years later, still in need of a comprehensive plan. When Edgemont recognized the need for comprehensive planning and thought incorporating as a village might be an approach, we were slammed as elitist, racist, and concerned only with ourselves. We recognize our responsibilities, when will our Town leaders recognize theirs?

hal samis said...

Dear Jim,

I do appreciate your coming forward and identifying yourself. It is refreshing to be responding to someone willing to go on record.

However, that does not mean I agree with you or that many of your "as you knows" are statements that are unimpeachable. Then too, your problems with the Assessor's office, the Town Supervisor and how the School Board copes with "hurdles" is not the topic I am skilled to address.

That, alone, does not grant you a "bye" in this tournament's open space playing field, the proposed moratorium.

I would state that Assessments have not kept up with market value and actual sales in every building category, be it office, retail, condominium or SINGLE FAMILY HOMES.
In NYC, property is reassessed on sale at 45% of the sale price, phased in (the transitional assessment) over five years at 20% annual increases. Since a sale is a reasonable measure of value and is one method of spreading the tax burden to those who can afford to buy at today's prices, then I would join you in lobbying for this method of reassessment. Of course this might cause single family home prices to plummet if new buyers couldn't afford to both buy and pay taxes based upon the value of their prospective purchase; this result leading to lower assessments from now lower sale prices from lessened demand, and so on. Still I would bet that any sale today of an older home and subject to the NYC formula, will still bring in much higher tax revenue that what the seller had been paying. As a corollary. this method of raising assessments (while dependant on actual sales) would also benefit the School District because "as you know", higher assessments yield higher taxes across the board. And higher property taxes might be an alternative method of discouraging people with families (generally buyers of more bedrooms)from moving to Edgemont and causing the School Board all this anguish. One additional comment: if the same house next door sold for market price, its new assessment does not affect its twin because it only applies to those properties with actual sales.

Now as to your opinion that I am wrong: "As you know" from your School Board tenure, Schools are required to take in ALL students who reside within the School District, however they are to be accommodated, sitting on each other's laps, in trailers, in rented space, whatever. Thus the School Dsitrict can never attain "maximum capacity" because it must expand to find the needed capacity. The concept of balancing the need against the cost is simply one that the School Board must resolve by cutting services or raising taxes; it is bound by law to provide admission to all residents who appear at the schoolhouse door. Thus "how" is the problem for the School Board, finding the money; not finding ingenious ways (barring residential construction) to prevent would-be residents from moving to Edgemont.

The legal problem, and why the Resolution was not presented last night at the Town Board meeting, is a very real one, not as poo-pooed elsewhere on the blogs when I raised it. The Town cannot initiate a moratorium without cause.
Having "outdated" zoning laws, (not merely outdated because you say so) itself is not a reason; the laws could have been updated or changed over time and thus property owners on Edgemont Central Avenue shouldn't suffer (the class you are seeking to harm from this moratorium request) just because the Town dropped the ball (in your opinion).

Futhermore, "as you know" zoning law changes can occur without the simultaneous event of a moratorium.
Since you seek zero growth, you are not willing to deal with the small actual number of residential units that would be built (those that can slide in ahead of the moratorium) and instead deal with the large numbers (the better story) that could be built over time (in theory all existing office and retail on or along Central Avenue is a future threat to Edgemont). And, "as you know" the request for a moratorium is enough to alert those developers who INTEND to build within a year, to flush them out the woods and send them running to file plans.

However, in addition to saying that the School System needs a "break" or "breather", the School District must prove that it is "bursting at the seams" and that it has exhausted all other remedies. Futhermore they must establish that it is really the proper business of the Town to come to its aid; the Town represents all citizens be they homeowners, commercial building owners or developable property owners. Since all groups pay taxes; they are entitled to the same consideration before the law. Successfully arguing that there is no other answers to their problem would in a neutral political environment get Edgemont only to first base. But since this is an election year, there is much pressure afoot to detoxify the political animus while the owners along Central Avenue (just a few votes) are going to get shafted by the Town Board, all five members, who are vying to befriend the vocal Edgemont "leaders". And that this moratorium/zoning response seems to be the only choice to Edgemont voters (or rather the illusory, anonymous population that the leaders claim, integrity and respect for everyone's property rights will be overlooked. "As WE both know", much of what happens in Greenburgh is nurtured by the knowledge that it is expensive for individuals take the Town to Court.
This was true in the past and is no less true with the start of Mr. Sheehan's second year at bat.

Now re your painfully and expensively collected data. Like the Library, being the client brings with it the ability to buy the sought after facts from the hired guns. Can the School Board, using historic patterns, say for certain how large the first grade will be in four years? Even with their research? I can imagine several situtions which are not factored in the results. Fro example, what happens if interest rates ratchet up sharply and even existing owners in Edgemont feel the pain and have to sell or, gasp, a childless Bank becomes the new owner. What happens if fewer owners with grown-up children decide to sell? They like it here and why buy elsewhere? What happens when homeowners sell when they no longer need the school but want to stay in the area. Maybe they will buy a condo on Central Avenue? What they have sold may bring two new kids, but subtract the seller's two kids who have left the System. What happens if all those condo owners on Central Avenue choose to move to a self-contained Ridge Hill. After all, if Johnny can't learn to read in Edgemont because the District is too poor to buy him a desk or books, how much of a premium in school taxes is an Edgemont education really worth?
What happens if Edgemont has to stop renting their empty desks to non-residents because residents have first call? Does this loss of income affect the budget? Without seeing the research (and I'm not interested either) I really don't care about your problems but I do care about the rights of those whose property falls hostage to your problems. And Jim, you still live in Edgemont but your kids are grown up, no longer occupying desk space in Edgemont Schools. Because you are concerned however about crowding and the school budget, will you sign the pledge not to sell to buyers who have school age children?

But the bottom line remains that the Town Board must justify the need for a moratorium and if the arguments are just those that appear on this blog, or by leaders during public comment; Edgemont has not given the Board legally sustainable grounds. Maybe Edgemont's woeful tales will leave the Town Board with wet faces from tears leaving their eyes, but that is a better outcome than recognized as being all wet. Still there is the power of an election year.

However returning to your assessment triage problem, if you are correct that commercial property assessment has become the poor cousin of residential assessment, then that alone would argue in favor of encouraging more residential construction on Central Avenue. And, when viewing the $million condo against the $ million single family home, how about considering how many $million condos occupy the same amount of land as the single family home. Are you suggesting that all land in Edgemont be assessed at the same rate per square foot of land, or even per built foot, however it is improved? What seems to be the problem is the condos, being mostly newer construction, are assessed employing the same methodology as most of the Edgemont homes were, the difference being that the homes were assessed a thousand years ago.

And hey, I'm not the one to argue against incorporation for Edgemont. I view it as an empty threat. Since you know I don't pay real estate taxes as a renter, I don't care. But the problem for Edgemont residents every time someone downloads this song is that they will have to pay a great deal more in taxes if they do and thus they will not ever leave unincorporated. Furthermore. to further illustrate how empty a threat this is, what happens to the now Edgemont tax base when it looks to its only commercial owners and finds that with a zero population growth rate in effect, the retail and office tenants can no longer afford the pass along tax increases and heating costs, much less higher rent, when there are no new reidential customers to market their wares and services to? Edgemont already says they are concerned that Ridge Hill is going to adversely affect Central Avenue commercial. The remaining vacant land, no longer buildable as residential if Edgemont gets it way, will be left with these choices: remain vacant with no investment return, build new office or retail (at today and tomorrow's higher construction cost) to compete with existing while both the old and the new will not be serving a larger population instead competing among themselves for the existing businesses or those commercial renters who are unaware that population growth is no longer possible.

And land does not continue to rise in value when it falls victim to increasing governmental restrictions. If the hot product now is building condos, the price goes up for that land which can yield this fruit. If you nip the fruit buds before they ripen, then the value of the land is diminished.
If the buildable result is office or retail, then the ability to rent and to rent for ever increasing amounts depends on the population nearby which is willing to rent. If you stop the population from growing, then you cause what remains as buildable land to produce the only product is it allowed to sell, more office and more retail. This additional space thus competes with the existing and lessens the value of the property.

Land prices rise when there is both and expanding population and the minimum of zoning restriction.

a final note, this was written at work in bits and pieces over a three hour period. it only responds to Jim and if there are intervening comments when I hit "publish", I shall deal with them when time permits.

Samis Wrong Again said...

I hope nobody takes Samis seriously.

The issue before the Town Board is whether it should declare a moratorium on residential construction of multifamily dwellings in the Central Avenue zoning district, while the town considers a zoning change to restrict such development.

Samis doesn't think any argument could ever be made for a zoning change, much less for a moratorium. Therefore, trying to persuade him of anything otherwise is pointless.

Multifamily dwelling units along Central Avenue were first provided for in the 1970s. There has been a lot of development since then, with one condo complex after another.

Edgemont civic leaders and the Greenburgh Nature Center have suggested that conditions along Central Avenue have changed over the past 30 years, that there are now enough rentals, condos and co-ops there, and that to allow more of them would have an adverse impact on the community.

They suggest that there would be an impact on schools which would result in higher school taxes that would burden everyone in that district, including taxpayers along Central Avenue.

They also suggest that the area is already sufficently congested and that, since Central Avenue has not been improved in the past 30 years, quality of life in the area would be adversely affected.

In deciding what to do, the Town Board cannot just accept at face value what these residents are saying. To the contrary, they must strike a proper balance between the rights of the community and the rights of developers who want to build more condos, etc.

There is no hard and fast litmus test. The hurdles that Samis insists must be satisfied are not supported by any law, and Samis is certainly no lawyer.

What's required instead is a good faith examination of whether a zoning change is needed.

Samis thinks that even if a zoning change is anticipated, no moratorium is warranted. He's wrong.

Towns in New York impose moratoria when contemplating zoning changes such as this in order to avoid a race between developers seeking to get their applications approved before the town board changes the law.

The reason is that if the intended development is indeed contrary to the community's interests, it would be unfair to allow any such development to proceed until the issue is resolved.

Samis opposes a moratorium because he knows that any developer seeking to build condos, etc. would gain the upper hand, which is the result he intends and, as he so proudly proclaims, if such development hurts the community, he doesn't care. He doesn't live in the school district and doesn't even pay taxes.

The law is very clear though that when moratoria are enacted, developers have no legal rights to proceed with their projects unless they've not only gotten the necessary approvals and building permits, but they've also started construction.

hal samis said...

Where have I said that there is no argument that can be made to secure a zoning change?

Where have I said that there is no arguement to justify a moratorium.

I have said that I am opposed to this proposed moratorium.

I have said that there has to be a reason to justify a moratorium.
And that I believe the reason proposed by Edgemont is both specious and untenable.

What this blogger expert offers to make HIS case is:
since multifamily was provided for (presumably in the zoning) since the 1970's that there are now enough. Curiously, retail development precedes multifamily by more than 50 years and blogger expert doesn't think there is enough. And I don't know how long office buildings were around, but also apparently not long enough either. Only multi-family market maven anonynmous blogger knows, of course I meant to include the Shadow as well.

Why tell me, I'm not the potential builder. If someone is willing and able to take the risk - and does so without consulting my blogger stalker (remember when Bob Benstein used to appear at Town Hall meetings and complain that no one invited HIM to meetings) then to the Devloper's misfortune they will be stuck with a lot of unsold condos or rentals -- and for Edgemont the good news is that there won't be any new school age children or traffic for these vacant units. Edgemont is not concerned about the physical buildings but the potential school age population they may produce. Since they have anonymous on their side who knows there is no market, then what are they squawking about.

There are few details that our blogger glosses over and they include actually proving some of the phrases. Even though I am not an attorney, a quick phone call to a real live attorney has elicited this answer: "suggest" is not a legal term. Our blogger has certainly taken care to use the word as an anonymous opinion leader, let's see him use it when "here comes the judge, here comes the judge".

Let me ask this question since everything is a slam-dunk no chance of failure case. Is there any possibility that the Zoning laws may not be changed? Maybe just a little teensy tiny chance? You state moratorium (absolutely) because the Zoning will be changed (absolutely). Why not apply this ability to see the future in a more profitable line, say the stock market and use your profits to buy up Central Avenue and turn it into open space? Or maybe you haven't been so wise outside of these pages.

I think, on balance, that I present possibilities, alternatives. I do not claim any ability to predict events or how they turn out.
The definition of neurotic behavior is to continue to work the same choices in the hope that this time they will succeed. I try and present other choices to readers and state, not suggest, why I disagree or don't think they will succeed only on the grounds that they blog it.

As has been pointed out I have no economic stake in how things turn out. Nor does this prove me wrong.
For those who do have an economic or emotional investment, perhaps they would do better to work on proving their position where it counts. Proving Samis wrong, even if possible, doesn't gain Edgemont anything. If I am wrong, then how can I hurt you. Clearly I don't try to curry favor with the Town Board so that too is working against me. Clearly I alienate large masses of residents in all sections of Town so that too is working against me. With all those stated negatives, I'm not a lawyer, I'm wrong, I antagonize people, I'm rude etc. Why bother to read me much less argue. It was proposed that I'm only seeking attention. Well I've had my 15 minutes already so if you want to ignore me, be my guest. There are so many reasons, even for anonymous writers to not lift a finger and yet they are compelled like moths into the flame to do battle. What are the rewards from beating up on someone who is characterized as "wrong again". You don't have to convince me, you can't convince so why the fuss.

I assume because when you're out in the real world where it counts, where you name goes on the paper or your face is to the camera, you're a lot less sure of yourself and your position. As real lawyers know, certainly as real estate professionals know, if anything can go wrong it will. Mere mortals are content with don't count your eggs before the chicks are hatched.

So maybe, maybe that tiny little unwhite-washed bite of misinformation that you dispatch so handily will in the end come to haunt you. I'm not quivering from what you write; I only wish you had the guts like Jim Lasser to sign your best work.

The blog is not the battle and it certainly not the war. Winning either on this page earns you zip offline. While you consider your option to use your time better, let me use my time better too and say goodnight with this comment.

Saying it, is not proving it even if you embellish it with phony legal posturing.

Don't let the bed bugs bite, you already express youself with too many holes.

Soon we'll be able to judge how you played the game.

Kick-off tomorrow AM, after 9:30.

Anonymous said...

Another reason that the moratorium makes sense is that the multi family development isnt really being done how it was anticipated. The recent mult family development (actual or propsed) isnt really on Central Avenue. The highest use for Central Ave -- according to recent develpment (such as the Commerce Bank or the new Fidelity office) is retail or banking. What is happening is an abuse of the orignal zoning, where develpments get hold of property not actually on Central, but in the zone. There was never any intend that property in Edgemont, other than Central Ave, would be mulit family. What I suspect is that any new zoning will not actually impact any Central Avenue land use.

hal samis said...

Most recent anonymous,

It's really hard to understand what you have written. We all make mistakes and typos when blogging but with fewer words, the easier it is to proof, not only for keyboard errors but also for meaning.

You're not really suggesting that what market factors are saying to you, Commerce, Fidelity + Etrade, that here's a new retail use and hence appropriate for Central Avenue which confirms that Central Avenue should be retail, not residential?

It is not clear whether you are saying that Central Avenue was intended for multi-family and that new zoning will not change that.

Everyone else blogging in Edgemont seeks new zoning to bar further multi-family development?

So wassup?

Anonymous said...

Landmark is the location of the old Union Carbide site. The NY Knicks have their practice facility there as well as a Bio research park. LCOR would like to develop the outskirts property for a housing development. On the other side, Home Depot is being built off of Route 9 between the Saw Mill Pkwy. Hope this helps you figure location.