Letter to the Editor: FASNY meeting ‘a new low for open government’

By Westfair Online

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The Common Council’s hastily called meeting on Tuesday night (Sept. 6) to consider a settlement agreement on the FASNY matter was a new low for open government in White Plains. The mayor and Common Council members, Kirkpatrick, Martin and Smayda, ignored the numerous requests by citizens from all over the city to postpone any decision on the Stipulation of Agreement. In fact, they voted against a motion by Councilman Dennis Krolian to defer any decision on the Stipulation of Agreement for 30 days so that he and other Council members could fully evaluate the stipulation. Such a postponement is routinely granted by the Common Council as a courtesy.

The Council quickly voted 4-3 to the Stipulation of Agreement with Council members Lecuona, Krolian, and Hunt-Robinson expressing well-reasoned arguments against the resolution. Can anyone argue this settlement vote was not an obvious attempt to circumvent the earlier vote of the Council, which did not muster the requisite supermajority vote?

The Common Council chambers and outer hallway were filled with FASNY opponents despite the agenda only publicly noticed on Thursday evening before the Labor Day weekend. There were a number of FASNY representatives and supporters present, including Andrea Soros-Colombel, the chair of the school, who appeared quite pleased by the Council’s action. You may recall she earlier published a very threatening letter warning our elected officials that if they dared vote against the FASNY plan a series of lawsuits would ensue.

Lest anyone forget, FASNY failed in its application last year after a full public airing of the project. The city’s appeal to the Court of Appeals was viewed to be strong.  What transpired Tuesday night should alarm every citizen of White Plains regardless of party affiliation or view on FASNY.

This settlement was crafted behind closed doors with no input from the public and virtually no opportunity for the Council members who voted against the FASNY road closure to express their views. Interestingly, the name of city’s outside attorney, Robert Spolzino, who provided such an excellent defense against the FASNY suit, was conspicuously absent from the Stipulation of Agreement.

The settlement turns on its head the earlier environmental findings by the Council that explicitly stated that FASNY could not use Ridgeway as its entrance to the complex nor local streets such as Hathaway Lane.  Remarkably, the “FASNY Four” (Mayor Roach and Council members Kirkpatrick, Martin and Smayda) are now considering de-designating Parcel A as an environmentally sensitive site — a blatant and transparent attempt to avoid the requirement for a supermajority vote

Thankfully, the Common Council decision has generated outrage from all sectors of our city.  Attempts to trash our zoning laws, land-use decisions and the will of the people have raised the ire of all proponents of good and open government.

The Gedney Association intends to plan and coordinate its efforts with the neighborhood associations already on record against the FASNY project as well as other citizens who believe the integrity of our land-use review process has collapsed to special interests.

The Gedney Association, White Plains

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