GREENBURGH, N.Y. – A group of Edgemont residents have filed a lawsuit against the Town of Greenburgh, its planning board and a developer in an effort to prevent the building of a Dromore Road housing complex.
The 2.6 acre lot near the Greenburgh Nature Center should be zoned only for single family housing and any maps that say otherwise should be declared illegal and void, the lawsuit, filed Friday in state Supreme Court, says.
If successful, the lawsuit would prevent the building of a proposed three-story, multifamily housing complex that has drawn the ire of many in the community, attorney for the residents Bob Bernstein said.
Bernstein, who is also an Edgemont resident, said the case simply boils down to the town not following the law.
“It appears that in Greenburgh, nobody took responsibility for complying with the law and as a result we have what appears to be one big mess,” he said.
Both Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner and Town Attorney Tim Lewis declined to comment until they had a chance to review the lawsuit further.
S&R Development’s proposed 41-unit affordable housing complex has created a stir in the community as it would be built in an area that, according to the town’s zoning code, is meant for single family residences.
In 2007, the town’s zoning board of appeals denied the developer’s application because of that code.
But in January, a state Supreme Court Judge overruled that decision because of a 1998 mistake on a town zoning map that designated the area as a multi-family dwelling zone, ruling the town had not taken the proper procedures to legally correct the map.
As a result, the developer was back before the town planning board in March, looking to start the process necessary to obtain building permits for the lot.
Bernstein said the lawsuit is cut and dry.
In order for the town to legally change the lot from single family to multifamily, it would have had to proceed through a series of steps, including holding a public hearing and the passing of a local law, none of which were done, he said.
“This is not people picking fights with town,” Bernstein said. “This is Edgemont feeling that we have no recourse because we have a town that is completely and utterly unresponsive to complying with the law.”
The lawsuit also says that S&R knew the property was zoned for single family residences when it inquired about the property in 2004.
However, S&R said its decision to purchase the property was based on the belief that multifamily units could be built on the site.
“They knew all along,” Bernstein said. “They found out about the error in the map and knew the value of the property would be 10 times what they paid on the basis of that mistake.”
After waiting four months for the town to file an appeal to the January decision, Bernstein and the group of residents took it upon themselves to intervene, concerned the complex could increase enrollment in the Edgemont School District and affect the ecosystem of the Greenburgh Nature Center.
The Edgemont Community Council has pledged to cover the costs of the lawsuit. The group began collecting money in March in anticipation of the lawsuit.
“This had Edgemont residents furious,” Bernstein said. “They have to dip into their own pockets to support this lawsuit. This should never be the case.”