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Mayor Addresses CHP Resignations and the Latest From Village Hall

menorahchaseparkAt Tuesday's Scarsdale Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Dan Hochvert addressed the recent resignations of members of the Committee of Historic Preservation (CHP), and clarified the board's position on notable reversals of CHP decisions. "Deciding which houses meet the criteria in the village code regarding historic preservation is sometimes a very difficult job. Houses that do not meet the criteria but for which their owners have an offer conditioned on demolition bring public benefit of preservation into potential conflict with private property rights."

In the recent case of 12 Dolma Road, the BOT approved a "hardship" application 12DolmaRoadto demolish the home, despite the CHP's decision to preserve it. According to Hochvert, "It is one thing to designate a property as historic and entirely different to determine hardship." The owner had requested a review based on four hardship criteria listed in the village code, and because those standards were met, the board unanimously agreed to overturn the CHP decision.

The mayor also discussed 24 Morris Lane and 26 Cooper Road, both of which generated split votes from the CHP. With regard to 24 Morris, the CHP voted 3-2 to grant a certificate of appropriateness. However, because four votes are needed to support any decision, village code required that the BOT make the ruling. "The board carefully reviewed the record and agreed with the majority... a majority of CHP members who were at the meeting recommended that the board grant the certificate of appropriateness." In the case of 26 Cooper, Mayor Hochvert said that, while it was known that a renowned architect designed the garage, there was no defendable evidence that he also designed the home. "That evidence was not found by the CHP. The village board also asked expert opinion. The conclusion reached...was that there was no direct evidence the house was designed by him."

Further explaining the board's role, the mayor stated that the community should understand that before designating a home as historic, there must be enough evidence to support the decision. "When the evidence falls short of substantial, the village board is compelled to deny the designation of a property as historic," he said.

The mayor's comments clearly highlighted a need to review the current code to better reconcile the rights of property owners and the value of historic preservation. He acknowledged that there may be future changes that might be appropriate, and recommended that the board and staff be willing to "brainstorm" options to strike the right balance. "The overarching issue the village board faces is how best to preserve historic homes without creating financial hardship for property owners," he stated.

Additional Mayor's Comments:
Also included in Mayor Hochvert's remarks were a reminder for residents to complete the Scarsdale Forum's traffic survey by November 30 if they hadn't already, and praise for last week's interfaith Thanksgiving service. The mayor concluded his comments by recognizing Scarsdale Superintendent of Public Works Benedict (Benny) Salanditro for being named the Public Works Official of the Year by the American Public Works Association New York Metro Chapter.

Manager's Comments:

The village has completed the fieldwork portion of its $700,000 sanitary sewer evaluation, which covered the Mamaroneck Valley sewer district (one of three covering Scarsdale). The study, which involved installation of sewer inspections and cleaning, television monitoring and the installation of flow meters, was to determine the origin of sewer flows and a report on the findings currently is being drafted. One goal of the study is to identify illicit sewer connections from specific properties to eliminate unnecessary water from entering the system. Westchester county regulations provide for 150 gallons/day per person, and Scarsdale exceeds that amount.

Fire Commissioner:

The board voted to extend Fire Captain Daniel Purcell's service time for one year.

Municipal Services:

The board voted to extend the Ad Hoc Committee on Communications service for one year. As the committee has completed its mandate over the past year, it now is charged with 1) working with staff to maintain and increase resident subscription rates to "Notify Me," the village's online notification system; 2) updating the new resident packet and develop a version for electronic distribution, 3) developing resident boards and councils recruitment materials as well as new member packets; 4) collaborating with staff to update and standardize department handouts and forms, 5) reviewing and suggest online department overviews; and, 6) sharing ideas and suggestions for continued enhancements to scarsdale.com.

The board also voted to approve resolutions to place a crèche in Boniface Circle and two Menorahs in Chase Park.

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