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Citizens Gear Up for Toll Brothers Confrontation

A house that's too big; a house that's too close; a field unfinished. Two citizens weigh in on their talking points for the controversial Wilson Park portion of tonight's Planning Board meeting.

Editor's Note: This article comes largely in the several citizens' own words, since their own words cover it so well.

First we have Rob DeRocker, owner of the historic “Ice House” at 3 Warner Lane, who shared tonight's Planning Board meeting with us.

He wrote:

1) A house that’s too big. At nearly 8,000 square feet (7,878), not counting the basement or garage, the house proposed next door is not only more than three times the size of our historic Ice House (2,500 sq. ft.), it’s by far the biggest of the three houses up for consideration:

Lot 1 - 6,134

Lot 3 – 6,558

Lot 4 – Next to the Ice House: 7,878!

This is absolutely perverse. I’m not saying the developer is perverse, but their proposal is. Of the 14 lots in the entire development, Lot 4 is without question the most sensitive. Obviously we have a parochial interest in saying that. But anyone who looks at this development objectively has to come to the same conclusion.  The previous developer recognized that and proposed a much, much smaller house. Toll is proposing far and away the biggest! What’s wrong with that picture? Understandably they are attempting to maximize profit. It’s not their job to be sensitive to the surrounding environment. It is the job of the Planning Board.

2. A House that’s too close. For starters, there’s the absurd juxtaposition of a gargantuan 8,000 sq. ft. McMansion cheek by jowl with a 2,500 sq. ft. house built in the 1800s. But in addition the current proposal calls for a section of that leviathan to be about 40 ft. from the trunks of two gorgeous sugar maples on our property. On Sunday we hired an certified arborist who said that those maples, which are the official New York State trees, are at least 150 years old and among the biggest and oldest 1-2% of trees in all of Tarrytown. His recommendation is that there be no construction activity within 57 feet of closest tree. In practical terms that means that a 6-foot high chain link fence be erected to prevent even any vehicles from driving within 57 feet of the tree, let alone a structure being built there. 

Then there's resident Pamela Louis, who can speak to what is also point 3 on DeRocker's list, the so-called “elephant” in the room, finishing the "useless" soccer field. In her words:

3. There are so few “playing spaces” for kids in Tarrytown and that particular field is a nice town amenity with a beautiful view. Unfortunately, while the developer was supposed to improve it as part of the Wilson Park development, they’ve instead decimated it to the point where it is useless for yet another Spring/Summer season. The only playing going on there is done by some really happy ducks and snapping turtles; I walked by there a few weeks ago and while I saw a few people on the field, they were teens using it as a partying spot. 

I can’t imagine that this is what the Planning Board had in mind when they made the Wilson Park housing development contingent upon finishing that soccer field; I believe that the original Findings Statement required the developer to finish the field before any housing construction was done, and yet they have already been allowed to construct a Model Home in the neighborhood. That said, I sincerely hope that Tarrytown forces the developer to clean up the mess that’s resulted from the developer's poor oversight of the field drainage project before any further housing construction is undertaken. 

It appears that there are buyers for only a few of the proposed homes and I fear that the soccer field remediation may get lost in the shuffle given the current economic climate – if the developer plans to abandon this project once the few homebuyers they have are satisfied, there’s no financial incentive for them to spend money cleaning up a soccer field which they have, literally, degraded.  Tarrytown’s residents could be left with a mud pit if the developer leaves town and it is my sincere hope that the Planning Board holds fast to their original mandate that the field must be improved and at least made functional before any further construction is undertaken. Sadly though, the Town has already lost the use of that field for another season due to the developer’s failure to fully comply with the Planning Board’s mandate – hopefully tonight the Planning Board puts some teeth into its instructions to the applicant and hopefully this portion of the Wilson Park development won’t continue to be willfully ignored by the developer.  

Your thoughts? Share them in the comments, or better yet, go to the meeting, 7 p.m. Village Hall.

Tina Bellino May 29, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Not only have they decimated that field, they unnecessarily ripped out the rows and rows of raspberry bushes that fed so much wild life. It is now a breeding ground for millions of mosquitos with the sitting water they created. Thanks, Toll Brothers. Was it really that difficult to fix an existing soccer field? As far as the McMansions, shame on you guys! It's not always about the almighty dollar. How about considering the neighborhood and building something that pleases the eye? McMansions never do that. I'm sure your architects can handle that reasonable request.
John Taggart May 30, 2012 at 11:41 AM
This reminds me of working in housing years ago. Mine is bigger than yours, ha ha. I 'm sure these people are good environmentalists when you talk to them. They just need 6 central ac units, 2, 75 gallon hot water tanks with recirculating pumps ect.,and a gate. Thats all a single family needs, right ? If the house dosen't match the neighborhood to some degree, then you folks have a problem with your planning board.

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