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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 appealed the building inspector's decision, which resulted in the Zoning Board determining the assisted living facility needs a variance under the zoning laws.
I recently just learned about the lawsuit when I received some e-mails from residents who live near the proposed facility. Members of the Town Board and I always try to encourage citizen participation in the decision-making processes of government.
I believe a lawsuit against citizens who express themselves is not in the interests of good government. These kind of lawsuits 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 being considered by the Town Board or other boards.
We don't want citizens who participate in the decisions-making processes to feel 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 the Zoning Board will approve the application. It's also possible the application will be denied and the assisted living facility never will 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 -- either in favor or in opposition to -- about all actions pending before their town government without fear of any form of retaliation.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner
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