An overflow crowd showed up to attend last night’s board of trustees public hearing on proposed zoning changes that would allow for an alteration of the zoning code to allow for in Briarcliff Manor.
Around a half dozen people sat in an upstairs room to view a simulcast of the proceedings, which unfolded before a packed boardroom.
Largely derided as a vehicle that would allow for SRO, or single-room occupancy accommodations, the plan is tied to the a proposal from for The Manse, located on Revolutionary Road near and owned by the .
The board admitted this particular proposal is off the table, but Mayor William Visio blasted opponents of the project who circulated flyers rife with misconceptions, saying the authors “should be ashamed” of their actions.
The planning board and sent comments, mostly not in support of the change.
Vesci said the proposal to amend the zoning code does nothing to fulfill the village’s requirement to comply with the vaguely defined affordable housing mandates arising from a settlement between the county and the federal government, reached in 2009, which requires the county to create 750 units of affordable housing without requiring specific quotas for villages like Briarcliff Manor.
The changes had more to do with bringing diversity to the village, Vescio said, calling the affordable housing settlement “ridiculous” and “outlandish,” stressing the proposed changes were not specific to any particular proposal and that any specific plan would have to be thoroughly vetted by the planning board and the board of trustees.
The board identified 41 parcels in the village that fit the requirements of being with a half mile of a bus stop and commercial center. The proposal applies to existing buildings of at least 3,000 square feet, as well.
“We’re taking a proactive approach that has been blown out of proportion” by people who have “no understanding about what’s going on,” said Vescio. “We want to control what happens to this village.”
The proponents of the settlement with the county want to get rid of all zoning, which they view as discriminatory, he said, which is not the purpose of the changes to the code.
Vescio and the board showed patience as several residents delivered rambling comments. Seven speakers opposed the proposed changes, while six speakers supported them, including Maxine Olson and Nancy Israel.
Two residents opposed to the changes, Susan Cowie and Chris Bogart, have hired attorney David Steinmetz, whose presentation outlining the legal precedents that might scuttle provisions of the legislation was met with eyeball rolling and derisive comments from board members.
At the hearing, Bogart called the plan the “wrong mix of what the community wants.”
Several speakers invoked the specter of Yonkers and Ossining, including Bruce Yeager and Helena Boral. Robert Little said that the site, , would be the perfect place to put shared residences.
In an understated presentation, Ken Okin of Scarborough Road said it was time for Briarcliff Manor to “move into the 21st century” and that it would not be possible to “wall ourselves off” from changes taking place in society.
“We have to accept diversity and be part of the wider world," he said.
Trustee Lori Sullivan derided the “misinformation” and “miscategorization” that circulated through the community, reminding attendees that the board is made up of individuals who have their own opinions and were not a monolithic body.
“We haven’t made any decision yet, we haven’t even discussed it,” she said. “We're culling information and getting opinions of residents. Give us some credit. We’re not here for anything but the benefit of Briarcliff. We’re residents also, so please respect us and know that we’re looking out for all of us.”