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NYS Supreme Court Upholds Scarsdale Planning Board Decision to Allow Subdivision on Cushman Road

80Garden1Development of a six-lot subdivision on Cushman and Garden Roads will proceed, despite objections from a Willow Road resident who lives "downstream" from the property and fears that runoff from the development will endanger his property. A decision by the Scarsdale Planning Board to allow the KOS Building Group to move forward with the project was challenged by Robert Falk of 3 Willow Lane who brought an Article 78 proceeding to NYS Supreme Court objecting to the Planning Board's negative SEQRA declaration, which is a determination that the project would not have significant adverse environmental impacts.

Since both Falk's home and the proposed development sit in a designated sensitive drainage area, his attorney argued that runoff from the property would raise the water level in the stream that runs through his property to dangerous levels.

To receive approval from the Planning Board, KOS Building Group was required to submit a Storm water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) outlining their plans to install underground infiltration and retention tanks to capture storm water runoff. Experts retained by KOS contend that with the new system, storm water runoff volumes will be lower than at present. However Falk and his experts disputed these findings and took issue with the deep pit tests that were conducted to determine the seasonal high water level. They believed that forensic soil analysis should have been done to indicate the true seasonal high groundwater level and also argued that the testing was done during a relatively dry year and therefore the results were not representative of a typical wet season.

Both the Planning Board and KOS responded to Falk's objections saying, among other things, that his house is 300' away from the property and is separated from it by a street and another property. They claim that his allegations that his property will flood are speculative. The Planning Board contended that they followed all required steps in making their determination; holding four public meetings and hiring outside consultants and therefore met regulations for storm water infiltration and retention systems.

The court ruled that Falk did have "established standing" to bring the proceeding and demonstrated that he was at risk. However they found that there was a rational basis for the Planning Board's negative SEQRA declaration and that the determination was not "arbitrary or capricious." They denied the Article 78 petition.

Commenting on the decision, Falk stated: "I am very disappointed by the Court's Decision. This subdivision lies right in the heart of a sensitive drainage area. The runoff and flooding in this area is a serious problem. I am not opposed to development of this site; however, I sought assurances that the increase in storm water runoff from the new homes would be adequately managed. Any uncontrolled runoff from this site would end up in the stream in my backyard. My professional consultants submitted detailed reports to the Planning Board, explaining their technical concerns about the design of the Applicant's storm water system. My main concern was whether the Applicant accurately measured the seasonal high groundwater level. We think the Planning Board approved the project without having this key data. In particular, we think that the Board erred in failing to order the same kind of groundwater tests that were used in reviewing the storm water systems for two prior subdivision plans for this property. These plans were abandoned after the new tests revealed that the groundwater levels were materially higher than represented by the project engineer based on standard deep hole testing procedures."

Brad T. Schwartz, of Zarin and Steinmetz, who represented Falk said, "This Decision reaffirms that the legal standard for upholding municipal land use decisions is low. The Court determined that Mr. Falk did not meet the extremely high standard of proof required to show that the Planning Board acted arbitrarily and capriciously. Mr. Falk does not plan to appeal. "

Mr. Falk continued, "The Court did not say that the Planning Board did a good job in reviewing this application, or that it acted prudently under the circumstances. The Court only found that the Board satisfied the rationality test – an extremely low bar. Apparently, the Village believes that development trumps prudent storm water management, and because of the almost impossibly high standard of proof required to successfully challenge the actions of a municipal board, residents really have no practical recourse."

However, Joshua E. Kimerling of Cuddy and Feder who represented KOS Builders said, "We are pleased with the decision of the court as it is supported by the facts in the record for the subdivision and the meaningful review by the Planning Board in issuing the approval for the subdivision. We look forward to proceeding with the project."

Two New Retailers Open in Scarsdale Village

pookiewhiteThough the snow is still piled high outside, Pookie & Sebastian has just opened in the Village with some great looks for spring. The spacious new store, the seventh in the chain, extends from East Parkway to Harwood Court and has been artfully designed to display their very appealing line of clothing, bags, shoes, jewelry and accessories. From what they have in stock, it looks like we'll be wearing lots of white this summer – and perhaps some orange and navy too. There are sheer tunic tops – reasonably priced at $78, which can be paired with colorful jeans and jean shorts. Also on display are long, flowing maxi dresses, lace crop tops, and crochet cover-ups. They can outfit you from head to toe with a straw hat, platform sandals and wonderful accessories from their large selection of beads, chains and pendants. This store is going to be fun for both moms and their daughters. Stop by and tell them Scarsdale10583 sent you!pookie orange
Pookie & Sebastian
34 East Parkway
Scarsdale, NY 10583
(914) 713-4396
Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 7 pm

Around the corner there's more in store at the newly-opened Green with Envy in two storefronts at 6-8 Harwood Court. They've got display cases filled with jewelry, as well as scarves and bags for you or to give as a gift.

The jewelry starts with a fashion forward collection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings and extends to designer lines with semi-precious stones. There are 1950's Swarovski crystals, diamonds So whether you're looking for a $25 gift or a $10,000 indulgence, you'll find it in their collection. On the other side of the store I spotted some wonderful spring leather totes, cashmere wraps in pastel colors plus crinkly scarves ($18 -$40)

Green With Envy
6-8 Harwood Court
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Meanwhile – it looks like Cosmetic Boutique around the corner on Spencer Place did not get off to a good start. The store is closed and a sign says they have temporarily shut their doors due to a problem with the furnace. Will keep you posted on this one!

pookie flowers

Katzenberg's Closes Again and More Business News

katzenbergKatzenberg's in the Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center in Scarsdale is closed again. A Scarsdale10583 reader reports that the salad bar closed overnight and failed to inform their employees who waited outside the following morning. The employees came to work one morning ready to work but found the store shut. This is the third time that Katzenberg's closed suddenly. Though there was initially a sign that said "Closed for Renovation" on the door it did not appear that renovations were in process and the sign on the door is now gone.

Mrs. Greens on Central Avenue:

Mrs. Green's Natural Market recently opened its fifteenth location in at 381 North Central Avenue in Hartsdale in the space formerly occupied by Turcos. The store offers organic produce, all-natural meats and dairy, artisanal baked goods, supplements, and household, pet and baby products.

An organic salad bar, wholesome to-go meals and beverage bar serving Fair Trade coffee and organic juices will make this new Mrs. Green's Natural Market a popular spot for health conscious customers.

Mrs. Green's was founded in 1991 with the mission to provide organic and natural products.

Advocate Brokerage Wins Award:

Advocate Brokerage, a Scarsdale-based independent insurance agency that specializes in meeting the risk management needs of high net worth individuals and
families, has earned the "Paragon" designation from Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE).

This year, Advocate Brokerage was the only agency in Westchester County to earn the Paragon designation, earned by less than 8% of PURE brokers nationwide. These brokers execute PURE's commitment to creating an exceptional service experience and have contributed to the growth and underwriting quality of the PURE membership.

Commenting on the news, Denise Koslowsky of Advocate said, ""I am pleased that the service delivered by our team, coupled with our specialization of the high net worth niche, have yielded the results that warrant this special designation. Advocate Brokerage is proud to be Paragon and thrilled to provide the best service with the best companies for our clients every day".

White Plains Hospital Names New Board Members:

White Plains Hospital has named four new members to its Board of Directors, three who are from Scarsdale: John M. Jureller, Steven Silver and Robert Tucker, all of Scarsdale; and Jonathan Spitalny of White Plains were formally approved as members of the Board of Directors.

John Jureller is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Frontier Communications Corporation, a Stamford, CT-based telecommunications company. Mr. Jureller has extensive global financial and operational experience, having held prior roles in corporate development, corporate finance, turnaround management and banking, in addition to various chief financial officer roles. He is a graduate of Cornell University where he received his B.S. degree and an MBA in Finance. Mr. Jureller has been a member of the hospital's finance committee since 2011.

Steven Silver is Senior Managing Director of Centerbridge Partners, a private investment firm based in New York focusing on private equity and credit investments. He received a B.A. from Yale College and an M.B.A. with high distinction from Harvard Business School in 1995, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar. Mr. Silver serves on the Boards of Directors of American Renal Holdings, Inc., Culligan Newco Ltd., Reddy Ice Holdings, Inc. and Remedi Senior Care Holding Corporation.

Jonathan Spitalny is an Executive Director and Private Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management in New York, specializing in the portfolios of high net worth individuals, families, foundations, and institutions. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Rollins College and is a former competitive golfer, having competed at the college and national levels. In 2008 Mr. Spitalny was instrumental in founding the annual Ahmad Rashad Golf Classic to benefit White Plains Hospital, held every June at the Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale.

Robert Tucker is the Chairman and C.E.O. of T & M Protection Resources, an international multidimensional protection and investigations company for high net worth corporations and individuals based in New York. Mr. Tucker is a graduate of George Washington University and the Pace University School of Law. In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Mr. Tucker to serve as Chairman of the New York State Security Guard Advisory Council. Mr. Tucker is also a Director of the FDNY Foundation, Member of the Board of Directors and Past President of ALDONYS (Associated Licensed Detectives of New York State), a member of the Board of Directors of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, Vice President of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and a member of the Pace University School of Law Board of Visitors.

In addition, the hospital announced a new healthcare partnership with Montefiore Health System, an academic medical center and the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The Board of Directors of White Plains Hospital approved the partnership with Montefiore at its February 5th Board meeting. This new affiliation enhances the missions of both hospitals as they continue to provide advanced, quality healthcare to their communities and an expanding service area of nearly 3 million people.

"Our Board of Directors established the qualities it sought in selecting a partner for the future, and Montefiore meets all of these criteria," said Jon Schandler, CEO, White Plains Hospital. "Our hospital provides an exceptional level of care through a close working relationship between our physicians, nurses and staff. With Montefiore as our partner, we will be able to build upon and continue this remarkable culture and together deliver advanced health care to the entire community."

Hip and Delicious: Fortina in Armonk


Always on the prowl for new dining spots in Westchester we jumped at the chance to check out Fortina in Armonk and braved the potholes to get there. Located in a new shopping center off Route 22, the barn-like, rustic wood-paneled interior gives the impression that the restaurant has been in operation for longer than its short nine-month tenure. The large space includes a 50-foot stainless steel bar and ample seating to accommodate families and large parties. Though it's billed as a pizza place we quickly saw they had much more to offer.

The gen-X staffers are inviting and hip – and you almost feel like you are in Williamsburg rather thanfortinawaiters deep in suburbia. Our waiter's hair was wound into a top-knot and he looked adorable and was friendly and generous with advice on what to order. Chef Christian Petroni came to Fortina from Barcelona Restaurant in Greenwich and also happens to be a co-owner of Cooked & Co. in Scarsdale.

The drink selection is extensive. For wine I counted 22 whites available by the bottle (and some by the glass), ranging in price from $36 to $112 per bottle. There are draft beers, ciders, ales and beers from many countries. The cocktail selection is appealing as well –with many imaginative concoctions including unusual spirits and liquors.

While we considered the extensive menu and sipped our drinks, we munched on spicy green olives bathed in red peppers. Since we were a large party, we had the chance to order and taste a good array from Fortina's menu.

fortinapastaFor appetizers we shared garlic bread topped with melted mozzarella and accompanied by fresh, chunky tomato sauce. That was irresistible and filling. We also ordered the fried meatballs in tomato ragu with parmesan cheese. Those were crisp on the outside, flavorful on the inside, and a meal in themselves. Salads are served in large bowls. We had the house salad with romaine, red onion, cucumber, and tomato in a crispy Italian dressing. The lettuce was crisp and crunchy and we would order that one again.

For starters, there is also a selection of salumi e formaggi – at $11 each, $19 for three or $29 for five. On the list are sweet and hot sopressata, speck, mortadella and more meats as well as fontina, pecorino, provolone, manchego, gorgonzola dolce and parmesan. I would consider going back to sit at the bar to feast on these meats and cheeses with a glass from Fortina's wine cellar.

Pizza and pasta are the restaurant's mainstays and the smell of the wood—fired pizza oven infuses fortinaprosciuttothe restaurant. From the pizza menu we ordered a classic margherita, "The Luigi Bianco" with burrata, robiolona, parmesan and black truffle, and a prosciutto pie with mozzarella, tomato, arugula and olives. The pizzas emerged hot from the oven and were staged atop large empty San Marzano tomato tins on the table. The crusts were bready and delectable and it was difficult not to scarf these slices down too fast. The truffle pizza – swimming with truffle oil and mushrooms was gone first – but in fact all three pizzas were delicious.

From the Primi menu, we ordered three of Fortina's pastas, each arriving in it's own ceramic casserole. All were consumed and enjoyed including the ravioli with fresh ricotta, pomodoro and basil, the "Wood-fired Paccheri – pasta and baby veal meatballs in a rich béchamel sauce, and the spicy "Pici,"baked with tomato, onion, smoked bacon and a dash of chili. For those looking for meat and fish, there's a wood-roasted half chicken, prime dry-aged beef, pork braciole and a market fish of the day. We were too busy downing carbs to try these, but since everything we had was good, I 'd have to assume these dishes would be as well.

fortinaravioliThe atmosphere was relaxed, informal and lively enough to ward off another dark winter night. Kids were busy with crayons, singles were mixing it up and people of all generations appeared to be enjoying the food and the ambiance. Prices were reasonable – with pizzas ranging from $11 to $21 and pastas at $15. Why was there a large oil painting of Bill Murray dressed up as Ernest Hemingway on the wall? You'll have to go there yourself to get the story.

So – if you can't get into Polpettina in Eastchester, hop in the car for a more spacious rendition of their menu and more. You can't go wrong on the food and you'll have a good time too!

17 Maple Avenue
Armonk, NY
(914) 273-0900
Monday through Friday
12- 2:30 pm
Dinner starting at 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday –Dinner starting at 5 pm
Sunday Brunch 12 pm – 2:30 pm

Forum Hears Update on the State of the County

forumExpecting to get an update on the affordable housing settlement and drinking water standards in Westchester, on February 6 I braved the frigid temps and slid into my car to attend the meeting of the Scarsdale Forum to see County Executive Rob Astorino. However when I arrived I learned that the County Executive was tied up at a black-tie affair and had sent Deputy Executive Kevin Plunkett in his place.

Plunkett ran through Astorino's standard speech, citing examples of "the three P's that had been accomplished during his term in office: protecting taxpayers, preserving essential services and promoting economic development. He credited Astorino with holding down county expenses and shrinking the county budget from $1.8 billion to $1.7 billion by sharing services and consolidation and said that spending on the neediest had increased rather than decreased.

Plunkett then discussed his team's efforts to keep Pepsico and Atlas Air in Westchester and the efforts of the Local Development Corporation to partner with non-profits to finance new projects, such as a $250 million building plan at Pace University. Similarly at Rye Playland, which now loses between $3-$5 million per year, Astorino's team has worked with partners in the private sector to form an organization called "Sustainable Playland." Private companies will run an amusement zone, the ice casino, and field house with indoor and outdoor fields, a lawn zone and a restaurant zone. The property will also be home to the Westchester County Children's Museum.

In order to bring more business and jobs to Westchester, the county is hoping to develop 60 acres of county-owned land north of the Westchester County Medical Center into a bio-tech hub of learning facilities and technology companies.

What about the fair and affordable housing settlement and the Justice Department lawsuit against Westchester County concerning safe drinking water?

Plunkett explained that though the county is ahead of schedule on constructing the required 750 units or affordable housing, the settlement remains tied up in court. In August, HUD announced the results of a study from a team from Pratt who analyzed Westchester zoning code to see if there were any municipalities with impediments to fair housing. They identified seven communities where they found socio-economic exclusionary zoning: Croton-on-Hudson, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mamaroneck, Ossining, Pelham Manor, and Pound Ridge. HUD has instructed the county to take legal action against these municipalities to change their zoning code and file an analysis of impediments to fair housing. However, Astorino maintains that the Planning Boards of these communities retain the right to regulate their zoning and that the county does not have exclusionary zoning. In the interim, HUD is punishing the county by withholding community development block grant funds until the gridlock between the county and HUD can be resolved.

Plunkett also addressed a second point of contention between the county and the federal kensicoreservoirgovernment. The county has been sued by the Department of Justice for failing to comply with EPA regulations in regard to UV treatment of the water supply to eliminate cryptosporidium. Though the deadline was April 2012, the county was unable to come up with a workable and affordable plan to meet the requirements. Plunkett reported that the county is now working with representatives from Water District #1 (including Scarsdale) to gain approval from the EPA for a $7 million proposal to build two new pumping stations to treat our water supply.

(Pictured at top from left to right: Eli Mattioli, Michelle Lichtenberg, Howard Nadel, BK Munguia, Angela Manson)