WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL-CHRONICLE EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. September 29, 2014 UPDATED 10:30 P.M.:
The jury will remain out on the French American School of New York proposal to build a 5-building campus on the former Ridgeway Country Club as the concurrent hearings have adjourned to October 28 at 6:30 P.M.
The continuation makes it a certainty that no Common Council decision will be made before Election Day, November 4.
The scope of the questions and acerbic comments delivered by the Council to the FASNY representatives indicate that it may be months before the site plan, legal agreements, traffic management, aesthetics, and construction protocols are satisfied to the Council satisfaction, if they indeed can be satisfied. The FASNY representatives appeared stunned by the commentary leveled at them this evening.
Comments from the public may still be delivered for consideration, based on this evening’s French American School of New York adjustments offered tonight. Tonight’s council questioning was based on public comments through the September 9 adjournment of the hearings. New comments may be sent to the Mayor’s Office at 255 Main Street or the City Clerk through the 28th and beyond.
The adjournment is for the French American School of New York to respond to questions raised by all 7 members of the Common Council with Michael Zarin, the attorney for The French American School. Tonight’s session lasted from 6:30 P.M. to 10:15 P.M.
Mayor Tom Roach was very concerned about whether the “Conservsancy” agreement “ran with the land,” should the operation planned by FASNY cease to be a school. He said that perpetual use of the conservancy by community residents was a key matter that FASNY had to address. He also said that discontinuance of Hathaway Lane “could not be taken lightly,” and that not a compelling case has been made yet.
Councilpersons Dennis Krolian was very concerned about the safety issues on North Street, and wanted more traffic study of the effect of FASNY’s suggestion of adding a 140-foot left turn lane in the northbound lane of North Street leading in to the North Street entrance. He also sparred with Mr. Zarin’s longheld view that schools and churches had to be approved based on previous court rulings, pointing out that the actual decision cited by Zarin said that approval depended on the impact on the neighborhood.
Krolian also queried Zarin closely on the question of where the school stood with the Army Corps of Engineers on the issue of jurisdiction over wetlands. Zarin soft-shoed around the importance of this Army Corps jurisdiction issue, not saying where the school actually stood with the Army Corps. Krolian did not press Zarin on whether all documents had been submitted.
Councilperson Milagros Lecouna was most concerned about why the school site plan increased square footage of the first Phase of the project ( High School and Middle School) was 30,000 square feet larger when enrollment had been decreased 20%. She also wanted clarification on what exactly Phases 1 and 2 consisted of.
Councilperson Nadine Hunt-Robinson commented she was most concerned about the health and safety of White Plains High School students, the restrictions and conditions of the conservancy agreement, and the specifics of the construction plan, and the enforcement of the school busing plan and contingencies if other school districts stopped providing school busing servieces.
Zarin, FASNY attorney, said the school is looking for guidance from the city on the construction plan restrictions and requirements. He mentioned in passing that Turner Construction was going to be the contractor.
Beth Smayda expressed concern on the issue of landscape buffering, the additional parking near Hathaway Lane and why it was needed, as well as the outdoor basketball court and the need for a three-dimensional video simulation.
John Martin, the Council President observed that a compelling case for Hathaway Lane closure had not been made. He termed the traffic management plan “insufficient.”
In convening the continued hearings Mayor Thomas Roach said the hearings would not be closed tonight because there are a number of questions that the applicant will have to address. Common Council questions will be forthcoming later this evening.
The hearing (with both continuations of the site plan special permit and the Hathaway Lane closure running concurrently), should be available on the city of White Plains website Tuesday for your viewing.