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Shelbourne, an assisted living company that wants to build an 80 unit 94 bed assisted living facility on Sprain/Underhill, has filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court against the Zoning Board, the Edgemont Community Council and 19 neighboring residents who had appealed the building inspectors decision which resulted in the Zoning Board determining that the assisted living facility needs a variance under the zoning laws.
I just learned about the lawsuit today when I received some emails from residents who live near the proposed facility. I am very upset.
Members of the Town Board and I always try to encourage citizen participation in the decision making processes of government. I believe that a lawsuit against citizens who express themselves is not in the interests of good government.
These kind of lawsuits against citizens discourage people from feeling comfortable expressing themselves on issues of importance to the community. We want residents to speak out in favor and in opposition to proposals under consideration by the Town Board or other boards.
We don't want citizens who participate in the decisions making processes to feel that their involvement will ever result in lawsuits against them -- which could require the hiring of counsel to defend them. Or the possibility of damages against them if they exercise their right to free speech.
Shelbourne's application is currently before the Town Board. It is possible that the Zoning Board will approve the application. It's also possible that the application will be denied and that the assisted living facility will never be built at this location.
There are residents of Edgemont and unincorporated Greenburgh who support the application. There are those who object to the facility. That's democracy!
I strongly encourage the applicant to remove non-government parties (the civic association and 19 citizens) from the lawsuit. Every citizen has the right to speak out in favor or in opposition to all actions pending before their town government, without fear of any form of retaliation.
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