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The Village of Bronxville is rolling out new parking measures in August to attempt to modernize its system. File photo

Bronxville to implement new parking restrictions, mobile app

The Village of Bronxville is rolling out new parking measures in August to attempt to modernize its system. File photo

The Village of Bronxville is rolling out new parking measures in August to attempt to modernize its system. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
The Village of Bronxville is implementing some changes to its parking regulations, which will be rolled out in the coming month. 

Bronxville is embarking on changes to its meters and parking lots to address concerns from residents over coin-operated limitations and to tackle long-standing problems with parking in a municipality that hasn’t found a solid solution yet, according to village officials.

Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican, said enacting these changes will also encourage more space turnover to increase retail business, bring about uniform parking regulations across the village and make meters more understandable, customer friendly and technologically advanced. The mayor also believes August is a good month to enact such reform because fewer people are in town during the summer.

“August is the quietest month in the village, so we hope to figure out any kinks before everyone is home and in the village post-Labor Day,” Marvin said.

The village is working with Israel-based Pango, a mobile technology company, so residents can now pay for meters from anywhere using their smartphones or handheld devices. The app is already in use in neighboring Eastchester. However, Marvin said, a ban on meter feeding will also be enacted through the Pango system to prevent someone from occupying the space all day. A law discouraging this has been on the books for Paxton Avenue, Park Place and Pondfield Road, but a recent push by village officials in April has revived enforcement as the behavior persists, according to the mayor.

The mayor said working with Pango stemmed from resident concern over having to physically feed the meter when at the nail salon or using the bank for additional, unforeseen time.

“Residents asked us to look for an alternative to always needing coins,” Marvin said. “Also we just want to keep up with the new technologies and offer options to parkers.”

The time to park at a street meter will also change from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., adding an additional three hours of enforced parking. The village lots, however, will remain free past 6 p.m., according to Village Administrator Jim Palmer.

Marvin said this change will prevent those who enjoyed free evening parking but were not actually using the establishments they were parking in front of. Moreover, with additional meter time, Marvin said this will decrease village taxes by 1 percent with the increase in revenue. The efforts here should generate around $100,000 annually, according to Palmer.

Though the mayor said that this change came about from speaking with merchants, Kevin McNeill, co-owner of Dobbs & Bishop Cheese Shop on Pondfield Road, said meter feeding isn’t a noticeable problem.

“Workers all usually park away from Pondfield and the topic of feeding meters by shoppers isn’t one that’s come to my attention over the years,” McNeill said.

Though the shop owner said he was supportive of the Pango system, he didn’t want the topic of vacant storefronts to be overlooked as an issue that contributes to parking headaches.

“If they were all filled, we’d have more foot traffic,” he said.

Changes will also be implemented in the Cedar Street and Garden Avenue parking lots.

The Cedar Street lot currently has 76 spaces, all available for two-hour limits. But according to Palmer, 61 spaces will be transitioned into three hour parking spaces, and of those 61, seven will be reserved for residents. Eleven will remain on two-hour limits and four will be reserved for merchants.

The Garden Avenue lot has a total of 36 spaces that currently have a two-hour limit. With the upcoming changes, Palmer said 18 spaces will be moved to a three-hour limit and the remaining 18 spaces will have a four-hour limit.

“Parking in the village is a constant balancing act between the needs of residents, customers and merchants,” Marvin said.

Tammy Ehrenfeld, owner of NORTH, a Pondfield Road merchant, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com 

 
Harrison resident John Voetsch is seeking a special exception use from the Town Council to allow for an all-residential building in the Professional Business zone, which is on Calvert Street and includes the Calvert Street apartments, pictured. File photo

Town board considers zone amendment

Harrison resident John Voetsch is seeking a special exception use from the Town Council to allow for an all-residential building in the Professional Business zone, which is on Calvert Street and includes the Calvert Street apartments, pictured. File photo

Harrison resident John Voetsch is seeking a special exception use from the Town Council to allow for an all-residential building in the Professional Business zone, which is on Calvert Street and includes the Calvert Street apartments, pictured. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
Harrison’s Professional Business zone is currently a mismatch of nonconforming buil-dings that range in height and use, but the applicant of a proposed project of all residential units wants to bring uniformity to this area of town on Calvert Street.

John Voetsch, a Harrison resident, has submitted to the town’s Planning Board a preliminary application to build a four-story, all-residential unit building on Calvert Street. The building will be nearly 1,500 feet from the Harrison Metro-North train station. In order to move forward with the project, Voetsch, who also owns property at 260 Harrison Ave., would have to petition the town board for a special exception use for the Professional Business, PB, zone, from Colonial Place to Purdy Street, to allow for this model of building.

Voetsch said he, along with several residential building owners and merchants on and around Calvert Street, came together to petition for this special exception to be extended for the whole PB Zone and to bring the nonconforming buildings up to uniform regulation.

“[The application is] to reinvigorate and revitalize the business district, and Calvert Street is the place to do that,” Voetsch said. “We need more pedestrians in our business district to survive and to compete with Mamaroneck and Rye.”

The applicant pinpointed Calvert Street as the perfect location because the train station, he said, is a major hub and connection point for residents to walk the business district.

Meanwhile, Voetsch said this modification to the zone wouldn’t be out of place, as the town board approved a similar special exception use to the adjacent Neighborhood Business, NB, zone back in 2011.

According to Bob FitzSimmons, Harrison’s building and plumbing inspector, the PB zone has a series of nonconforming buildings, including a Japanese school and a mixed-use Calvert Street apartment building with a recorded six stories. Right now, the building inspector said, the PB zone limits new construction to two stories, but no all-residential buildings.

In essence, FitzSimmons said, Voetsch is just looking to have the wording of “PB” included where the code was changed for the NB zone. The change would also add a consistent use to the nonconforming buildings, minus the six-story Calvert Street apartment building, which is a special case.

This change wouldn’t blo-ck any proposed retail in the PB zone; it would just give consideration to projects that deviate from that model, according to the building inspector.

Still, the town board took issue with the proposal’s elimination of retail, whether or not it had to be exactly 1,500 feet from the train station as proposed and the density related to open space.

Town Councilman Joseph Cannella, a Republican and candidate for town justice, said the applicant should follow closely the recommendations from the Planning Board on this matter. The councilman said issues relating to density can be cleared up by incorporating rooftop terraces and balconies to this proposal and potentially other buildings in the PB zone as well.

The town board kept the discussion open for its next meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 6.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com 

 
Lofts

Playhouse approved for variances

Harrison’s Zoning Board of Appeals has ruled in favor of granting the Playhouse Lofts proposal its five requested variances, now sending the project back to the planning and town boards. File photo

Harrison’s Zoning Board of Appeals has ruled in favor of granting the Playhouse Lofts proposal its five requested variances, now sending the project back to the planning and town boards. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
There will be no end credits for a former movie theater along Harrison Avenue, as the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted a proposed mixed-use development, known as the Playhouse Lofts, to remodel the space and retain some of its old-style charm. 

The seven-member zoning board voted 5-1 to inch the proposal closer to a start construction date, with member Paul Katz absent and member Paul Valentine as the sole dissenting vote on the proposal. Applicant John Verni, co-owner of Verco Properties, LLC, has appeared before the zoning board six times to make the case that the proposed five-to-six story, 42-unit remodel, located at 227-239 Harrison Ave., required five variances to beat the odds in Harrison’s Central Business District, CBD, and to become the latest addition to revive that section of town.

The zoning board agreed and wrote in its findings, “The commercial character of Harrison Avenue will be preserved and enhanced by the updating of the façade of both the movie house and the adjoining neighborhood businesses.”

Verni was requesting variances to the building’s height and number of stories, open space requirements as per the number of apartment units and two others dealing with the 52-space, floor-and-a-half of underground parking and how the vehicles will enter and exit the building from Purdy Street.

A case was made by the applicant that the building’s height, a contentious subject among the zoning board members, would not be out of character within the downtown area. As per the zoning code, for the CBD, only four stories, above ground level retail, is allowed. But according to the board’s findings, despite the proposed height of the building, between five and six stories, the site sits on a lower slope, whereas the municipal building at 1 Heineman Place, and the six-story Calvert Street apartment building, on the corner of Calvert Street and Harrison Avenue, are both situated on a higher elevation.

This difference will actually place the building’s base height at an elevation of 57 feet on Harrison Avenue, while Calvert and the municipal buildings’ bases are at 80 feet and 78 feet, respectively.

The applicant is also relying on reducing the visual impact of the building’s additional two stories by using lighter-colored construction material for the façade.

Still, the Zoning Board of Appeals has placed a stipulation on the building stating that the applicant must move forward with a proposed 3,690-square-foot recreational rooftop area, though the inclusion will not add additional stories to the already height-stressed project. The board felt, with the building’s setbacks, there wasn’t enough open space for residents.

The next step for the applicant is a visit to the Planning Board for final site plan approval to the changes Verni made to create the 3,690-square-foot rooftop terrace and the 25-foot curb cut for the garage on Purdy. After the plan is approved, a public hearing will be set with the Town Council for it to be considered as a special exception use.

The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for July 23.

Valentine could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
Drainage

Purchase’s Lincoln Lane drainage project moves forward

Purchase-area residents of Lincoln Lane may soon find relief from flooding, as the town board approved construction bids to begin work on a local drainage project.

The plans were recently put out to bid, and the Harrison Town Council, at its July 16 meeting, unanimously approved ELQ Industries, Inc., a New Rochelle-based construction company which specializes in road and bridge repair, to begin the renovations. The company was the lowest bidder at $417,625. However, the Town Council also decided to bond for the project in the amount of $500,000.

Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie said the excess amount was to cover any unexpected surges in maintenance work.

“The bond is for more if anything is found within the district [that requires more work],” MacKenzie said. “So we don’t [have] to come back before the town board.”

The comptroller said if the repairs don’t reach the set bond amount, the money will go back to the residents of the Lincoln Lane district to pay down the debt of the bonding effort. Meanwhile, MacKenzie made it clear that the drainage repairs will be paid for by the residents in that district alone, and not by Harrison as a whole. The town is lending the money now to the district, but it will be repaid through taxes collected on the district itself. Those taxes will also go to any necessary repairs the project may need in the
future.

Over the coming year, potential efforts call for drainage improvements in the surrounding area of the residential homes and structural repair to ensure the stability of an unnamed, small stone bridge, as part of Lincoln Lane, which has been cited for the flooding troubles in the neighborhood. This includes laying three storm pipes, varying in dimension, masonry repair work to the small bridge and placing asphalt and sediment controls to prevent further flooding and damage to the 10 homes included in this district.

According to the bid request from the town, the project’s completion is expected for the middle of September.

The project was first proposed in 2013 when frustrated neighbors petitioned the town board for such a request.

A call to Town Engineer Michael Amodeo was not returned as of press time.

-Reporting by John Brandi

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
As the FEMA deadline approaches for Bronxville’s joint school/village flood mitigation project, a start on the work has been delayed as the village now has to either ask for more funding or find cost efficiencies, according to a school official. The photograph on the left depicts the level of flooding prior to the mitigation project, while the photo on the right shows the anticipated effect of the project. File photos

Flood project $3M over estimate

As the FEMA deadline approaches for Bronxville’s joint school/village flood mitigation project, a start on the work has been delayed as the village now has to either ask for more funding or find cost efficiencies, according to a school official. The photograph on the left depicts the level of flooding prior to the mitigation project, while the photo on the right shows the anticipated effect of the project. File photos

As the FEMA deadline approaches for Bronxville’s joint school/village flood mitigation project, a start on the work has been delayed as the village now has to either ask for more funding or find cost efficiencies, according to a school official. The photograph on the left depicts the level of flooding prior to the mitigation project, while the photo on the right shows the anticipated effect of the project. File photos

By JOHN BRANDI
There has been a delay in the start of construction on the Village of Bronxville’s flood mitigation project, as the bids were returned with an attached price tag higher than expected.

The bids from contractors interested in undertaking the work have forced the village to rethink how to raise additional funds or find cost-cutting methods for the estimated $6.9 million project. The bids have exceeded this number, and the village is currently placing the lowest bidder, $9.7 million, on hold while seeking additional funding opportunities from either FEMA, which is funding a portion of the project, or congressional leadership, according to Village Administrator Jim Palmer.

FEMA is funding 75 percent of the total cost of the flood mitigation plan, while Bronxville voters approved the school district’s borrowing of $900,000 through a January referendum to pay for its portion. The school joined the village to fund the project, with each paying a total of $1.7 million, or the remaining 25 percent of the project’s cost.

The joint flood project will install a series of pipes under the Bronxville School’s playing fields to catch severe floodwater so it doesn’t resurface and cause damage to school property. Floodwater would be re-routed toward the Bronx River and a pump station will be built adjacent to the field.

This idea, initially proposed in 2007, comes in response to a series of severe storms that left the school flooded and having to face millions in damages.

In regards to the project, however, one funding stipulation from FEMA was that the money had to be used by a September 2015 deadline, according to Paul Pelusio, an engineer for the design of the projectMeanwhile, Dan Carlin, Bronxville School’s assistant superintendent for business, told the Review he has seen similar FEMA-authorized projects’ deadlines extended, though he said it would have to happen under an “extenuating circumstance.”

The ball is now in the village’s court, as they are the lead agency in deciding the future of the project, according to Carlin.

Meanwhile, this has also put a halt on reconfiguring the school’s athletic field, known as Hayes Field. That project was initially voted down during the same January referendum, but was again presented to voters alongside the May 19 school budget vote and passed.

The $1.79 million project to improve the athletic field intends to create a regulation-sized playing field for football, field hockey and lacrosse, and looks to install synthetic turf that would replace the dirt and grass surface currently there.

Even though the project is now being delayed, proposals were submitted by landscape professionals detailing the transition to turf.

The school district is also currently reviewing a plan to spruce up the grounds around the auditorium, which is undergoing its own renovations. Included in this landscape master plan is Hayes Field and the idea to hire a field specialist to work on the turf, according to Carlin.

“Instead of slapping in a few trees and bushes, why not get a master plan to get what we want around the auditorium,” Carlin said.

The idea of a landscape master plan was referred to the facilities committee, and they will meet to discuss it in August, at a date undetermined as of yet.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
Swamp2

Department of Environmental Conservation issues Home Run permit

Harrison has been given the greenlight from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the Beaver Swamp Brook site. File photo

Harrison has been given the greenlight from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the Beaver Swamp Brook site. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
State officials have ruled in Harrison’s favor and have issued the town/village a wetland building permit to move forward with a project that will transform the Beaver Swamp Brook site. 

The permit came through late last month on the recommendation from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The proposed transformation of the park, nicknamed Project Home Run, envisions a pick-up ball field, an open grass area, a walking trail and two gravel parking lots.

As with all of Harrison’s parks and playgrounds, the proposed Beaver Swamp Brook ball field would only be open to town residents.

Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said Project Home Run always adhered to DEC standards and the town is ready to make the project a reality.

“The town can now move forward with developing this site as a municipal park and multi-faceted recreational facility,” Belmont said.

To receive a wetland building permit, certain measures to a site have to ensure that activity is compatible with preservation and protection of a wetland, and that the activity would not result in degradation of the wetland or adjacent area and is compatible with public health and welfare, according to the DEC.

The Project Home Run proposal has been floating around since the early 2000s, but has been fought by officials in the City of Rye who would rather see the vacant lot used for flood mitigation efforts. Rye borders the 14-acre site.

The site used to be a car junkyard and the two municipalities started a joint cleanup in the ‘90s.

Harrison resident Doug Schaper, a longtime critic of the project, thought the issuance of the permit was bad government at work. Schaper said there’s never been a soil analysis of the site and when he offered to conduct one for the town, his efforts were shot down by Town Attorney Frank Alegretti.

“Why not if you got nothing to hide,” Schaper said. “I don’t know if the original cleanup has been successful.”

He said 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil, due to the operations of the junk- yard on the site, were removed and replaced by 60,000 cubic yards of non-native soil. He said a plastic covering placed over the old soil remains and is not permeable, thus causing significant flooding in an area that once never experienced such a hazard.

The original application for a wetland building permit for Beaver Swamp Brook was submitted by the town after the property had already undergone extensive joint cleanup efforts by both Harrison and Rye back in 1997.

According to the DEC’s remediation database, the primary pollutants in the soil of the site were hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, pesticides and some metals. The database continued that the public’s direct contact with the residual contaminants isn’t expected because the site has been covered with clean soil.

Where Rye didn’t see eye-to-eye with Harrison was the incorporation of a plan to build on the wetlands, which took place when there was a change in administration in Harrison in the early 2000s. Initial plans set forth in 2006, during the administration of former Mayor Steve Malfitano, a Republican, included the elimination of the wetlands and the incorporation of a baseball-soccer stadium, playground and parking lots.

However, plans for the parcel have since been scaled back several times, which would limit development of the property to nearly 2 acres. The new DEC-approved plan, devised in August 2014, effectively avoided filling any wetland area as the previous iteration intended by halting the removal of a 0.162-acre, man-made pond on the property. Also to be added were 1.07 acres of native plants to mitigate possible environmental impacts and serve as a buffer to the wetlands.

However, Rye still objects to the project and the city believes filling in wetlands upstream would send more storm water flooding into the city which lies downstream. Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, said the permit doesn’t mark the end of this saga.

“[Rye] is taking a look at the [DEC] decision and evaluating our options,” Sack said. “It’s a reversal of fortune for Harrison but by no means [is it] the end.”

Meanwhile, Sack said if development were to move forward on the site, Harrison would do so “at their own peril.”

When an appeal of the ruling may come is unknown as of press time, as Rye City Attorney Kristen Wilson could not be reached for comment.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
Kensington2

Kensington project moves along

Work on the Kensington Road condominium project in the Village of Bronxville has continued despite some legal and logistical setbacks. File photo

Work on the Kensington Road condominium project in the Village of Bronxville has continued despite some legal and logistical setbacks. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
Work on a proposed luxury condominium complex in the Village of Bronxville is moving forward after a series of starts and stops, with crews beginning groundwork at the site, according to the village administrator. 

A renewed attempt to start construction is taking place at the site of the proposed Kensington Road condominium project, with the continuation of rock and soil removal, according to Village Administrator James Palmer. The site was flagged in the late ‘80s after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation discovered 22,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the old Lawrence Park Heat, Light and Power Co.’s power plant and an adjacent gas station.

Both structures were torn down when the village obtained ownership of the property in 1987, and the site has been a municipal parking lot ever since. Gateway Kensington, LLC, then assumed responsibility of the lot in December 2013 and has pledged to remediate the site and build a 54-unit, 110,000-square-foot development with a 300-space underground parking garage.

According to Geoff Thompson, a spokesman for the project, the remediation and removal of the contaminated soil is nearly complete and permits were submitted to begin to place footings for the underground parking.

“The removal of the rock ledge [on site] was extensive, but it’s close to completion,” Thompson said.

Two hundred of the parking spaces in the underground garage will be exclusively for village use. They will replace the 180 spaces lost when the Kensington Road parking lot was closed. The remaining 100 parking spaces will be reserved for residents of the condominium.

Meanwhile, Palmer said an outdated ramp leading to an old parking structure is in the process of being torn down. Con Edison is also on-site to route conduits for work to start in the trenches and in the underground manholes, according to the village administrator.

Thompson estimates the completion of the garage to be between six to nine months and the entire complex to be completed in 18 months to two years.

Still, the idea to build this type of development has been around since the 1990s, and the village amended its zoning code in 2006 to accommodate age-targeted, multiple-residence facilities. However, the village and the developer were recently cited on this point in a January 2015 federal lawsuit filed by the Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc., a White Plains-based nonprofit that promotes fair housing initiatives.

The lawsuit alleges that the zoning code was “deliberately discriminatory” to allow the village to collect additional tax dollars from the new living complex while discouraging families with school-age children from moving into the new building. The lawsuit contends that this discriminatory practice is illustrated by the facility’s lack of additional bedrooms, dens without closets and lack of child-friendly amenities.

Though Palmer said he couldn’t comment on ongoing litigation, he said the village is working toward a resolution with the nonprofit on the matter. The lawsuit is currently going back and forth between the parties, with the next meeting between the two scheduled for July 15 in the U.S. District Court in White Plains, after press time.

Diane Houk, an attorney from the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff and Abady, LLP, who represents the nonprofit, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

 CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
vote-2015

Republicans headed for mayoral primary fight

A primary is all but guaranteed, as former Harrison Mayor Philip Marraccini, left, is back in the fold to challenge the Republican-backed incumbent Mayor Ron Belmont. File photos

A primary is all but guaranteed, as former Harrison Mayor Philip Marraccini, left, is back in the fold to challenge the Republican-backed incumbent Mayor Ron Belmont. File photos

By JOHN BRANDI
A primary fight for the Republican Party ballot line is underway, as a former mayor plans to go toe to toe with the current official holding the position. 

Incumbent Mayor Ron Belmont will face off against Philip Marraccini, having served the same role from 1994 to 1998, ahead of the general election. Both have gathered and submitted the necessary number of signatures from registered Republican voters to appear on the ballot come September, according to a representative from the Westchester County Board of Elections.

Marraccini told the Review that he has collected in excess of 530 signatures that were due July 9.

“There’s an expectation of a primary,” Marraccini said. “I’ve gotten positive feedback from the community and I’m in it for the long haul.”

The candidate said he thought the absence of a primary could potentially disenfranchise Harrison voters. Meanwhile, Marraccini, 64, has also garnered the Westchester County Independence Party’s endorsement ahead of the primary. Meaning, if he were unsuccessful unseating Belmont in the Republican primary, Marraccini could run on the Independence line in the general election. The former mayor said he’d consider doing just that, assuming the primary results don’t turn out in his favor.

This may not be a guaranteed bet, however, as Belmont, 64, could initiate a write-in campaign for the Independence line. Though, the write-in candidate would need the support of 5 percent of the registered party voters during the primary to claim the line from Marraccini, according to Councilman Stephen Malfitano, who is also running as a Republican for a second term on the Town Council. This is known as an effort to stage opportunity to ballot.

Although the Independence Party endorsed former Mayor Joan Walsh four years ago in the 2011 election cycle, it was her opponent, Belmont, who shifted that line in his favor with voter help during the primary, according to Malfitano.

The Republican establishment is again attempting such a measure with its mayoral candidate so the “ballot is established during the general election,” but the councilman said this is a more difficult task than going the regular primary route, as you have to drum up support for a higher turnout of committed voters on primary day. Belmont’s name will not appear on the primary ballot.

Meanwhile, the county’s Conservative Party has already endorsed Belmont, Malfitano and fellow Republican-backed candidate Councilman Fred Sciliano.

As for the party-backed Republican candidates challenging Marraccini’s petition efforts, that measure is still unclear as Republican Committee Chairman Bob Amelio declined to disclose that information. Though he said the Republican slate has also submitted its petitions to the BOE ahead of the deadline.

Belmont said he doesn’t see how a primary can help the party, but hopes that it emerges stronger. As for what’s next post signatures, the mayor said he will continue to campaign.

“It’s a fact of life, you’re always in the spotlight,” Belmont said. “I do my job every day and try to help the residents of Harrison.”

The primary will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
vote-2015

Canter triggers town justice primary

Joseph Cannella

Joseph Cannella

JOHN BRANDI
Republican voters in Harrison are about to experience something not seen in recent memory, a primary for the town justice race.

Incumbent Town Justice Nelson Canter, a registered Republican who was passed over by party leaders, has submitted the necessary number of signatures in the final hours of the July 9 deadline to trigger a GOP primary against the two Republican-backed candidates, Town Councilman Joseph Cannella and Pasquale Gizzo, a private practice attorney. Canter said he submitted nearly 400 signatures to the county’s Board of Elections.

Last month, Republican leaders announced that they were dropping Canter in favor of nominating Cannella and Gizzo, who unsuccessfully ran for the town justice position back in 2011.

Canter told the Review that he believes backroom party politics played a role in him losing the endorsement this time around. He was endorsed by the GOP four years ago during his first election cycle in 2011.

“I don’t play politics; I try to be fair and impartial and defend the Constitution,” Canter said.

Although he was dropped from the Republican line, Canter did pick up his sole endorsement from the Westchester County Conservative Party, as of press time.

Canter said while out in the community gathering signatures, residents have shared their shock with him in the decision by the Republican Party to turn their back on the incumbent justice. Some were even persuaded by the news to help with his re-election efforts.

Nelson Canter

Nelson Canter

Gizzo said of the upcoming primary that this is what makes the United States great, that any candidate can seek public office.

Meanwhile, Canter’s incumbent justice colleague Marc Lust, a registered Democrat, was also booted from the GOP ticket back in June. Previously, Lust had been endorsed by the Republicans since his first election in 1999, and again during each of his three successive re-election bids. This year, he picked up the Democratic endorsement along with former Harrison Mayor Ron Bianchi, who served one term in that role from 1998 to 2001. And Lust was also endorsed by the county’s Independ-
ence Party.

Lust has had his own legal troubles stemming from a DWI incident in New York City back in December 2014. The case is set to be settled in Manhattan Criminal Court on July 27. In the meantime, Lust has been recusing himself from civil and criminal alcohol-related matters. This accounts for roughly 30 to 40 percent of the town’s caseload, according to Canter. It’s unclear how long Lust will recuse himself, assuming he is re-elected to the position.

If Lust is convicted, four things could happen: a censure, admonishment, retirement or removal, according to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Pasquale Gizzo

Pasquale Gizzo

A part-time town justice in Harrison makes $62,072
annually and serves four-year terms. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Cannella and Republican Committee Chairman Bob Amelio could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
Harrison has been given the greenlight from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the Beaver Swamp Brook site. File photo

DEC issues Home Run permit

Harrison has been given the greenlight from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the Beaver Swamp Brook site. File photo

Harrison has been given the greenlight from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the Beaver Swamp Brook site. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
State officials have ruled in Harrison’s favor and have issued the town/village a wetland building permit to move forward with a project that will transform the Beaver Swamp Brook site. 

The permit came through late last month on the recommendation from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The proposed transformation of the park, nicknamed Project Home Run, envisions a pick-up ball field, an open grass area, a walking trail and two gravel parking lots.

As with all of Harrison’s parks and playgrounds, the proposed Beaver Swamp Brook ball field would only be open to town residents.

Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said Project Home Run always adhered to DEC standards and the town is ready to make the project a reality.

“The town can now move forward with developing this site as a municipal park and multi-faceted recreational facility,” Belmont said.

To receive a wetland building permit, certain measures to a site have to ensure that activity is compatible with preservation and protection of a wetland, and that the activity would not result in degradation of the wetland or adjacent area and is compatible with public health and welfare, according to the DEC.

The Project Home Run proposal has been floating around since the early 2000s, but has been fought by officials in the City of Rye who would rather see the vacant lot used for flood mitigation efforts. Rye borders the 14-acre site.

The site used to be a car junkyard and the two municipalities started a joint cleanup in the ‘90s.

Harrison resident Doug Schaper, a longtime critic of the project, thought the issuance of the permit was bad government at work. Schaper said there’s never been a soil analysis of the site and when he offered to conduct one for the town, his efforts were shot down by Town Attorney Frank Alegretti.

“Why not if you got nothing to hide,” Schaper said. “I don’t know if the original cleanup has been successful.”

He said 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil, due to the operations of the junkyard on the site, were removed and replaced by 60,000 cubic yards of non-native soil. He said a plastic covering placed over the old soil remains and is not permeable, thus causing significant flooding in an area that once never experienced such a hazard.

The original application for a wetland building permit for Beaver Swamp Brook was submitted by the town after the property had already undergone extensive joint cleanup efforts by both Harrison and Rye back in 1997.

According to the DEC’s remediation database, the primary pollutants in the soil of the site were hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, pesticides and some metals. The database continued that the public’s direct contact with the residual contaminants isn’t expected because the site has been covered with clean soil.

Where Rye didn’t see eye-to-eye with Harrison was the incorporation of a plan to build on the wetlands, which took place when there was a change in administration in Harrison in the early 2000s. Initial plans set forth in 2006, during the administration of former Mayor Steve Malfitano, a Republican, included the elimination of the wetlands and the incorporation of a baseball-soccer stadium, playground and parking lots.

However, plans for the parcel have since been scaled back several times, which would limit development of the property to nearly 2 acres. The new DEC-approved plan, devised in August 2014, effectively avoided filling any wetland area as the previous iteration intended by halting the removal of a 0.162-acre, man-made pond on the property. Also to be added were 1.07 acres of native plants to mitigate possible environmental impacts and serve as a buffer to the wetlands.

However, Rye still objects to the project and the city believes filling in wetlands upstream would send more storm water flooding into the city which lies downstream. Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, said the permit doesn’t mark the end of this saga.

“[Rye] is taking a look at the [DEC] decision and evaluating our options,” Sack said. “It’s a reversal of fortune for Harrison but by no means
[is it] the end.”

Meanwhile, Sack said if development were to move forward on the site, Harrison would do so “at their own peril.”

When an appeal of the ruling may come is unknown as of press time, as Rye City Attorney Kristen Wilson could not be reached for comment.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com