The Greenburgh Nature Center, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the Archdiocese of NY, Edgemont civic leaders and town opposed development of this property for many years
Land use controversies are always difficult. Local governments try to balance the interests of residents who are concerned about quality of life and character of community with the rights of landowners. Most of the time we are able to reach a good compromise. Sometimes, we're not.
Today the United States Federal Court approved a settlement that is a cautionary tale for any government. The settlement requires the town to pay $9.5 million (of which $2.75 will be paid by insurance) to a developer who will also be selling the property at One Dromore Road to a workforce housing developer. The developer will build 45 affordable, workforce housing units for families. The town had fought development at this site since 2006. We tried to be responsive to three different community groups:
The supporters of the Greenburgh Nature Center felt that housing would encroach on the property and destroy the parklike feel of its site.
The supporters of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the Archdiocese of NY did not want any disruption in the "quiet life of prayer" required by the Sisters who lived near the site.
The Edgemont community expressed concerns about the impact any development would have on the school district.
The controversy began in 1997 after the Town Board authorized an amendment to the Town's zoning map to place a Conservation Overlay District on the Greenburgh Nature Center property, and other properties located along Dromore Road in the vicinity of Central Avenue. The purpose of the amendment was to limit future development and preserve open space on the Nature Center property and surrounding properties which had an underlying single-family residential zoning.
A MISTAKE WAS MADE BY AN EMPLOYEE THAT WAS NOT CAUGHT FOR MANY YEARS. The amended Town zoning map erroneously relocated the boundary of the Central Avenue Mixed-Use District (“CA District”) to include the property known as One Dromore Road within the commercial district. As a result, when new owners acquired the One Dromore Road property in 2006, the official Town zoning map erroneously reflected the property in the CA District which would allow development of a multifamily residential complex. (WE CHANGED THE MAP AND MADE THE CORRECTION AFTER LEARNING OF THE ERROR IN 2006 BUT LOWER COURTS SAID THAT WE COULD NO LONGER CORRECT THE MAP)
The Town’s Zoning map amendments are now done digitally by computer which will prevent these types of errors from occurring in the future.
The church property had a century old restrictive covenant which prohibited multifamily development. They filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce the covenant against the new owners to prohibit the development.
However, in January 2021, the Church agreed to remove its restrictive covenant in exchange for an undisclosed financial settlement, removing that impediment to construction. Nobody knows the amount of the settlement, as it was agreed upon based upon a nondisclosure statement.
Although we felt that we had a good case and would prevail in the end, it became clear that the potential financial jeopardy to the town, should we have lost at trial, could have been significantly greater than the settlement, a risk that we felt we could not take.
The following video will help you understand where Dromore is and why the town, Edgemont community, Nature Center and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament fought so hard to limit development