After Rye residents went bonkers last week, Rye City has said no to a plan to re-zone the old CVS Building on the Post Road that would have allowed developments as large as a 6- apartment complex.
Andrew Klappholz has the story over at LoHud:
"RYE — The city could wind up losing money on a land purchase originally made to develop a new city police station and courthouse.
That plan fell through, and now the council has dropped a proposed backup plan — to try to flip the property for a profit as a mixed-use site — after a fierce public outcry…"
Bonkers? Nice. Guess no one can ever say that Rye residents are timid about expressing themselves.
Yes, I suppose we, Rye residents, get a little enthusiastic when our officials plan to make such ridiculous decisions for our town. Don’t make poor decisions and you won’t have to hear from us.
The only thing ‘ bonkers ‘ is the idea that children don’t live in multi-family residences in Rye and that we have a head of our Rye Planning Board who actually believes that sincerely .
That Steve Otis overpaid millions of dollars for a building he knew floods in heavy rains borders criminal . That French and the new GOP team thought they could stand by quietly and twiddle thumbs as if they had no idea what insanity Jovanovich was dreaming up to get a few more dollars for the building simply compounds the Steve Otis legacy even more .
Please , Doug French ! Wake up and realize you should NEVER try and ‘fix’ a problem created by a predecessor . Just sell the damn building ‘ AS IS ‘ . In fact sell it around the next election ( if you have any common sense ) so that once the multi-million dollar loss is realized , you can point out what happens when we have Democrats blowing taxpayer cash like crunken sailors to build themselves legacy monuments ( the $25mm courthouse ) .
Jovanovich needs to step down . His vision for Rye is a disaster . That he hid a project of this scale from the public , from the school system , from local real estate experts ,etc , simply border abuse of office . You would not find 5% of Rye residents who would support this idea . How can he therefore run the Planning Board ? What else is he up to ? Rezoning the high school land for hotels ? Maybe rezone Oakland Beach Park for light industry ? Those are no more crazy than what he did trying to slip 60 low income units in the center of Rye !
Please step down Mr Jovaovich . The town cannot feel safe with what your vision is for Rye . You will also be a HUGE NEGATIVE FOR GOP IN NEXT CITY OF RYE ELECTION . Your vison is simply WRONG for this town . That you were actually surprised the public would be outraged shows your disconnect from reality . May i suggest you exit town politics and go work for some private charity organizations ?
Div, while I agree with a lot of what you said (short of calling for Jovanivich to step down), was the plan really for 60 LOW INCOME housing? I may have missed that.
Read the internal memo that got leaked out to the public . It specifically states an unspecified number of the apartments could be used for low income purposes . Astorino at the county level is under massive pressure from the federal government to build 750 low income apartments .
What do you think would happen if a developer got legal right to build low income housing and Astorino found out he could get as many as 60 in Rye ? I’m guessing this developer would suddenly get all sorts of incentives from the county if he went 100% low income ! The point is Rye would lose control on the % that were low income and we have a county leader under huge pressure to find places to get more built . See Wall Street Journal editorial section today on the topic . I also assume you know Rye is already building low income housing over on Cottage Street in Rye thus its not like Rye isn’t already cooperating . Let Harrison and Mamaroneck and Scarsdale do their part !
By the way , the REAL HERO in this sordid mess is the guy on the Planning Board or on the Rye City Council who leaked the memo to the public so it could get circulated and get enough concerned folks to that meeting .
I have little doubt that unanimous NO vote that took place once they saw public outrage might have been a unanimous YES vote otherwise .
“Astorino at the county level is under massive pressure from the federal government to build 750 low income apartments.”
Yes he is – and he and former Rye City attorney Kevin Plunkett are pretty candid about it in this nationally televised video –
“Feds Accusing NYC Suburb of Segregation?”
Long time observers of this council will also note that this isn’t the first time they have apparently practiced what is known in some circles as “agenda burying.”
Under this tired gambit, unpopular and/or controversial items are scheduled late in the evening or in otherwise “quiet” meeting weeks. Remember please – as just one example – about the results of the long running “Rye City Law Department Reform Project’ so prominent in getting this particular slate elected. Rye was supposed to pick new ‘local-interests-first’ lawyers without the same old tainted “political ties or histories.”
And the ultimate decision? Harris Beach is rehired – at a late December midnight hour vote.
So is it any wonder this “process” was handled as I posted in the below last week?
From the video, late in the evening of August 10th, to an almost empty room –
Mitchell Palais: “Ask yourself, why aren’t there a lot of other people sitting here tonight asking these questions?”
a reply from the bench –
“I’m not sure that the questions raised this evening (by Mr. Palais) will have any better answers in September. The only thing this does is delay our process.”
Peter J. – Thanks for having the courage to voice a clear position. Thanks, also, for respecting Rye’s residents enough to vote as their representative. I much prefer my representatives to THINK for themselves as opposed to adhering to a party line. Count on my support if you decide to suffer the cheap shots of those who don’t have enough courage to speak for themselves.
This was a publicly visible discussion. Yes, the City Council should immediately amend the local ordinances so that the City must follow the same notification guidelines as private property owners. But those carping about the rezoning having been pursued in secret just don’t pay attention.
I am totaaly baffled that this is being considered “done in secrecy”.
I was not surprised by the opposition to this but I am shocked at how many residents were “clueless” to that point!
They should try getting involved more often and at the BEGINNING of a “process”(god I hate this word,lol) rather than the end and almost when it was too late!
I hope they display the same disgust in a 20mil school addition for Science Labs!!!
The Council should be commended for realizing this would have been a big mistake and they backed off admitting so!
This is Otis’s MESS and all they were trying to do was weigh out the options in the best interest of Rye!
Bob and Jim :
With all due respect , WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO MONITOR OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS SO CLOSELY TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE NOT SNEAKING THROUGH DISASTEROUS CRAP IDEAS LIKE THIS !
DO YOU UNDERSTAND LAURA SLACK WHEN SHE SAYS AT ALL TIMES IN THE PAST ON EVEN MINOR ISSUES INVOLVING THE SCHOOL SYSTEM THAT THE PLANNING BOARD HAS CALLED HER TO DISCUSS THEIR IDEAS! THAT THIS PLAN WOULD HAVE HAD ONE OF THE LARGEST IMPACTS ON RYE SCHOOL SYSTEM IN DECADES AND THEY NEVER GOT A SINGLE CALL OR MEMO !!!!!!!
HOW ABOUT YOU 2 COMMENTING ON THAT FACT!?! SENSIBLE ? ITS CLEAR PROOF JOVANOVICH KNEW HIS HOUSING PROJECT WOULD BE DENOUNCED LIKE IT WAS AS IT GOT REVEALED AND HID IT .
IF THERE IS ONE THING I KNOW TO BE 110% TRUE IN POLITICS FROM CITY TO STATE TO NATIONAL LEVEL , ALL BAD IDEAS GET CREATED IN SECRECY AND USUALLY HAVE SOME HIDDEN AGENDA PROPELLING THEM .
DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOBODY IN THE ENTIRE REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY KNEW OF THIS OR WAS ASKED FOR AN OPINION !!!!! HOW CAN SUCH A RADICAL IDEA BE HATCHED WITH VAST MAJORITY OF TOWN UNAWARE ?
You people making excuses for Jovanovich and the Rye Council are a sorry few . You would not find 5% of Rye supporting such a heinous budget busting monstrosity .
All i hear from you 2 is we all better be careful because our elected leaders have VERY DIFFERENT agendas than the vast majority in Rye would want .
60 apartments jammed into a building that has flooded numerous times in last 4 years in the most crowded intersection in Rye creating risk of sudden influx of dozens more chldren into a horribly overcrowded schoiol system is ABSURD!!!
THANK GOD FOR FOLKS LIKE MITCHELL PALAIS .
Obviously the citizens of Rye have elected people to office that have little in common with the people of Rye and as such , we all NOW know if we let our guard down , these people will kill trhe town .
Thank You Steve Otis for paying $6+ million for a building that probabaly resells for $1 to $2 million and thank you Doug French and the new GOP team for revealing we don’t really know you as well as we thought .
And thank you Jovaniovich for creating a new ugly relationship between the town , the real estate community and making clear to everybody from the school system management to parents of children in school in Rye that we better start showing up at obscure meetings to make sure there aren’t more horrible ideas like this getting cooked up behind closed doors .
Once upon a time I use to write with all CAPS, lol,then I learned a different way to get my point across!
No one is or should have been in approval of this, I can’t speak for Bob, but I can tell you I do not and never would have supported this once it reached the point of learning that one of the options this would create would be apartments of that magnitude and I didn’t learn this in last weeks meeting or just prior to it…..this has been an ongoing agenda subject I heard with my own ears by “being present” and “paying attention”…..which is all I said and the only point I was making!!!
It was not meant as an insult it is a suggestion for support and to be accounted for, hopefully next time sooner than recent display!
Please don’t confuse or flip my words!
And you are right when you say “we shouldn’t have to monitor”….but guess what…..This is the real world and at times it is a necessary evil….I more than most get extremely frustrated with them at times, no secret to them and I wouldn’t have it any other way, I don’t appreciate some of the things I witness or hear at times, lot of it is simple common sense and consideration which I don’t think any of us should have to seek…It should be a given and it isn’t!!!
The lack of “communication” on all levels with all involved is MIND BOGGLING!
Jimmy I think this had less to do with a “communications breakdown” (love that Zeppelin tune!) and in reality was a deliberate strategy. Paid city staff was set up to carry the “message,” do the “paperwork,” manage the “process,” and push this thing through. Certain elected officials could then deny parentage of the project if someone happened to turn on a brighter light. Witness Mayor French’s curiously electric reaction to Mr. Palais’s sole ‘voice in the wilderness’ challenge in the heat of that August night. The Mayor seemed to know someone had somehow finally gotten around to the substance of the proposal – and the impacts it could have on Rye.
Behind this I think was more than a simple flawed exploration of disposal options. I think the core of this idea, like so many other bad ones for Rye City, was partially or wholly hatched outside our city boundaries. And that was one of the very specific problems the French Slate was elected to fix.
If the Rye City Planning Commission cares about tossing out rotten apples before things get worse, why not tell your assigned minder from White Plains – AKA “corporate council” – that you’ve decided to begin the called for investigation into what in fact caused Schubert’s Pond to dry up. You could ask Mr. Schubert for some highly germane Rye City public documents that are for some silly reason no longer available at Rye City Hall, ask him for evidence of apparent malfeasance compelled from 3rd parties under court order – and for deposition evidence of apparent malfeasance and criminal activities produced under oath. I’m sure many of us – and Mr. Schubert – would be happy to meet with you to show you what “some” don’t want you to see. And we could meet anywhere within the city limits that Mr. Schubert wouldn’t be immediately arrested in.
thank you Jim for your response .
it would sound like you have been around long enough in Rye to come to conclusion all of these people lose their minds when they run for office and win .
i had mistakenly believed the new GOP team that won big in 2010 was all about common sense , transparency , and at least a reasonable effort to protect us from crap like this .
again , you may believe this attempt to build a housing project next to town hall and the library was out there and known but its VERY obvious now that 98% of the town had no clue about it to include senior management in the school system who would be horribly impacted if this plan had succeeded .
so i ask you Jim . why do you think the French/Jovanovich/Keith/Fillipi group was going along with this ?
How did a group of 4 people ( some of whom are friends with senior people in the Rye School system senior management ) actually think this was a good idea that didn’t even need to be run by schools , RE folks , traffic control folks , etc ?
Surely they were bright enough to know had they passed this ( like i believe they were going to do ) it would have unleashed an uproar in town and all but assure they would be booted from office at end of next election as well as destroy all support from Rye residents if they tried to run for higher office locally ?
Do they really lose all connection from reality ? It still smells to me like there was another agenda at work . They were going to get something from somebody to endure what was certainly going to be massive public backlash had this property been rezoned and sold to a developer .
Politicians are pretty simple . They won’t hesitate to throw long time supporters under the bus wheels if they think they can get more votes/power/money from somebody else in return for trashing their friends .
What was the French team going to get from somebody for going along with this absurd idea ?
Tsk. Tsk. All CAPS? Didn’t anyone teach you about when to use your inside voice?
Divwhatever, you attribute far too much foresight to both the City Council and the School Board. Both are populated with well meaning, thinking, experienced adults. However, neither is able to think through all permutations of potential implications of their actions. They try to get the major ones, but some [actually many] slip through the cracks. So for you to lay the handling of the potential rezoning of the old CVS property to a conspiracy gives far too much credit to non-existent master manipulators.
And before you again mistakenly credit Laura Slack with having said something, I suggest you either ask her if your memory is correct OR go back and listen to the tape. The planning commission does not brief the school board (or the school board officers, to the best of my knowledge) “… ON EVEN MINOR ISSUES INVOLVING THE SCHOOL SYSTEM…”. If that was the case, the school board would be called about each tear-down / new build house. It just doesn’t happen.
Finally, our local gov’t, like all others, bears close watching. You describe an idealistic world in which you are automatically informed of anything that might affect you. Life doesn’t work like that. As Andrew Jackson is credited with saying, “… eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, …” The information was there. The meetings were in public. Mitch caught it, raised the point in multiple places. The City Council responded in August holding open the hearing on the change.
Thanks for the “small case”,lol!
The way I heard it and witnessed it unfold from the beginning to end it all seemed innocent with the intention in the right place.
Thinking back on this, I can’t remember ever thinking this was some kind of scheme, it just didn’t appear that way to me, and dealing with Otis well prepared me for noticing things like this….well, I hope it did!
I would hate to think that the same very people I have been working along side of and pushing hard to put pedestrian safety policies and changes in place would become this opaque and devious!
On the flip side, if you and Ted as well as many many others are correct with your instincts here (and you may very well be) and it becomes known to me I would be the first one to join you in crying FOUL!!!!
Can’t rule your theory out, we all know how that man poisions the brain!!!
I thought it was about time I chimed in.
1- If you are going to use my name as a reference-please do me the courtesy of using your full name in your post
2- Our elected officials, and the members of all of the committees are unpaid volunteers and if only for the # of hours each of them put in to make Rye a better place they all deserve our respect and thanks. I truly do not believe that any of them have acted in this matter out of malice or a hidden agenda.
3- I am a huge proponent of open government. A lack of absolute transparency will lead to interpretations that are not accurate, and outcomes become less predictable. If you agree- then indicate your support for legislation that our city government should abide by the same requirements of all private applicants for zoning, architectural review, etc. so the city acts as a good neighbor in all of their dealings. Our School district should continue to do the same (by practice as school district’s construction work is permitted by the State of NY and not by local jurisdiction)
And now a few facts:
The documents passed around town were fully available to all. They were posted on Ryeny.gov (click on calendar on the right side of the page, then agenda, or meeting minutes.) They were not “leaked” by a council member or planning commission member.
As I talked to my neighbors before the Sept. meeting none of them were aware of the potential size of the project (72,000 SF). Once they were advised, their universal concern was over the size.
I too congratulate Mr. Jovanovich for his honesty. I agree with the vision for mixed use within the downtown. However, development of this site will also impact some of Rye’s oldest homes and as such, future development should be within existing zoning to minimize potential impact.
I also agree with Mr. Jovanovich and others that there has been a significant impact on our school taxes due to the unchecked redevelopment of existing lots. However, Mr J is incorrect on three points 1- The city council controls (and always has) the zoning and has permitted the proliferation of large homes on small lots and 2- there was a public outcry several years ago to this issue. The city planner proposed several land use revisions (Flag lot/Steep Slope/FAR) but these were not acted on due to complaints by a few land owners that would be affected. 3- Irrespective of single family home new construction proposing a permitted use of up to sixty additional units of housing would be disastrous.
Lessons learned- It just as much our responsibility to be informed as it is the government’s responsibility to be both transparent and to reach out for all stake holders and to solicit comment.
THANK YOU MITCH….WELL SAID!!!
mitch says : ” 3- Irrespective of single family home new construction proposing a permitted use of up to sixty additional units of housing would be disastrous. ”
It seems everybody knows this to be true .
Thus how can Jovanovich be admired for pushing a disasterous policy like he did with absolutely every effort to hide it from the public ?
Telling me it was there in plain view if you go through 9 clicks on some Rye web site is pathetic . Its nothing but a legal effort to hide the horrible plan and what politicians do all the time in trying to pass bad legislation .
I have plenty of experience dealing with local/small government entities in the past . People on local government live in the towns where there proposals will have their impact and they socialize with the people who will be impacted .
No sane person agrees to new laws ( rezoning ) that will have ‘DISASTEROUS’ effects on the town knowing 95% of the town will be outraged since that assures they will lose by embarassing margins when opponents rightly use their disasterous policies in the next election . Politicians agree to support ‘DISASTEROUS’ policies only when they are getting something in return by somebody who benefits from that horrible policy .
Who would benefit from the building of as many as 60 low income residenmces in Rye ? Why Rob Astorino would kiss the ground and look to heaven if he could get 60 of the 750 units he has to build all done in one fell swoop in Rye . Would probably call off the legal dogs all over Astorino go quiet for a few years if this got done .
Go ahead and search the media on the topic . Astorino is coming under huge increased pressure in the last few months to get more low income apartments built . Accusatiions are flying by HUD and special interest groups that Astorino is stonewalling and refusing to carry out the agreement that is in place .
Anybody who believes there is zero possibility that the sudden way Rye almost agreed to a rezoning to allow many low income apartments into worst spot in town and Astorino’s need to build more VERY VERY SOOMN are completely unrelated is naive .
I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall to know what has been said in the last 20 phone calls between French and Astorino . Somehow , some way , i would wager a nice pool of money the topic of Astorino’s need for more apartments in Rye came up at least once . The $64 question is did it come up along with any discussion of what Rob Astorino might do in return for Rye management getting more ‘ some how / some way ‘ approved ?
Again , sane people do NOT agree to policies that their neighbors and friends will be outraged over . Sane people only back such policies when there is something promised in return that makes the outrage they will get hit with bearable .
I’ve seen it before at local level and i doubt this rezoning plan was happening because all 11 council members honestly thought it was a good idea and would be received well by friends , school board , and tax payers .
That Katherine Parker came out in support of it was to be expected ( although she then voted no later after i guess she caught on she might be only YES vote ) . That apparently the mayor and the new GOP folks were going along with this ‘ mere intellectual discussion ‘ is the shocker in that they are smart enough to know the policy was disasterous and to know it would NOT be well received by their voters/supporters is the mystery .
We may well see this approval from the Rye Planning Board for the rezone to come back to haunt us . As Astorino and county leaders get more and more pressure to build low income housing , don’t think for a second Astorino isn’t aware of favorable review Jovanovich’s planning folks already have given to a rezone and that Astorino won’t look to resurrect it .
When it does and we see this back on the front pages of our local news , we’ll no doubt see some of you posting here express shock that it could happen .
Open your door and let 1 cockroach in your house , 1000 more will seek to come in later . As true as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow .
High road. Low road. Which one to take? Low road would be so much more fun. … High road, I guess, ’cause I use my real name.
Divman, give it up. Your paranoia is accomplishing nothing. Mitch said it all and well. No conspiracy of secrecy. And your 9 clicks is nonsense. If you subscribe to the City’s email list, you get the agenda AND supporting documents personally delivered for you to peruse at your convenience. Getting to the material related to the re-zoning was, maybe, two clicks. Of course, you had to page through 30 or 40 pages of other agenda items, but it was all there. Hey, YOU may even still be able to get from the City’s website. You know, that open, freely available source of info about local gov’t.
Look, the real required action is for the city council to pass an ordinance requiring all gov’t sponsored zoning changes to be subject to the same notification procedures required of a private citizen or company.
enjoy your own private idaho , zahm . In the real world where Rye reasidents are busy working , raising kids , running Little League teams , volunteer fire fighters , etc , we don’t always have time to search out what insanity our elected officials might be up to .
By your logic , the entire Rye real estate community and school system was completely asleep at the switch with the wonderful open transparency of our council and planning board as was 98% of the town voters/residents .
even Mitch points out this project was disasterous if it passed and the anger shown by rye residents as they caught French and Co as they were on verge of approving this shows they agree with Mitch 110% ..
Jovanovich will lose by a landslide in his next election . His deceptive tactics here are clear for all . My prediction is he won’t bother to run vs get publicly destroyed like he will as news spreads at what he not only tried to get done behind closed doors but openly boasted his support for in the meeting once he saw he was outted . ( oh , then he bravely voted against his own plan ! shades of John Kerry political courage in action !!! … ” I was FOR that housing project before I voted AGAINST my own plan ” ….
Ok so here’s a link for MyRye readers that hopefully will bring them to the now spotlighted Item 9 of the August 10, 2011 Rye City Council Meeting.
Viewers might be interested in counting the number of times over 18 minutes that Mr. Palais has to return to the podium to politely but firmly counter the multiple assurances of Rye City Staff that this is no really big deal and that everything is just all fine and normal here…
hey hey hey ….. look at our elected officials denouncing the Spano agreed to plan to force certyain Westchester towns to build 750 low income housing …
GOP challengers call on Dems to support Astorino on housing
“Suzanna Keith lamented the agreement as an attempt to socially engineer communities, while essential government services suffer. “Judy Myers voted in favor of spending $51 million in taxpayer subsidized housing units, when that money could have gone toward addressing flood mitigation for the Sound Shore communities she purports to represent,” Keith said. “We need to be realistic about the core duty of government and how we spend precious taxpayer dollars.”
For all concerned about city business, the latest Planning Commission agenda has been published. Nothing from the city itself – because it doesn’t have to follow regulations applicable to business and private property owners. If you want to get the agendas as they are published, go to:
and set up your own subscription. Pretty easy. And once set up, the materials are directly available to you – no hunting through web sites, going to the city hall to ask for copies, etc.
Brandeis’ dictum that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” seems to be easily applied in Rye.