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Two Burglaries in Bronxville Last Week PDF Print Email

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By Staff

Nov. 27, 2019: There were two burglaries in Bronxville last week.

The first one was on November 17 on Elmrock Road. The second was on November 22 on Prescott Avenue on the Hilltop.

According to Bronxville Chief of Police Christopher Satriale, the incidents had similarities. Both homes are under construction. The mode of entry in both homes was the same - - the burglars used a ladder to go in through a second-floor window.

No one was home during the Elmrock incident and jewelry was stolen. The Prescott house was occupied at the time. The person at home heard glass break and then heard two men speaking in Spanish. She screamed, and the burglars fled.

According to Chief Satriale, the burglaries are also similar to some taking place in Connecticut.

The Bronxville Police are working hard to identify the perpetrators. They are reviewing video footage, DNA evidence is being analyzed and they are working with police in Connecticut.

Chief Satriale also advised homeowners of the following:

1) Set the alarm when you leave home
2) If you have cameras, turn them on
3) Report anything suspicious to the police
4) If you are considering upgrading your alarm system, pick one with cameras. They are a deterrent.
5) Finally, if you live in the vicinities of the incidents and have video footage that might be useful, please let the police know.

Additionally, a Hilltop resident who upgraded their home security system a while back reported that, according to the security company that installed their system, the most important deterrents to break-ins are cameras and outdoor lighting.

Another resident suggested that if you are going away, let a neighbor know so they can look out for suspicious activity.

 

 
Have You Noticed the Work Underway on the Midland Avenue Bridge? PDF Print Email

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By Staff

Nov. 27, 2019: Have you noticed the work underway on the Midland Avenue Bridge, which is near the intersection of Midland Avenue and Parkway Road? You will see temporary signage and barriers to help cars navigate this area.

So what's going on here and how long with it last?

According to Bronxville Village Administrator, Jim Palmer, the Midland Avenue Bridge is being repaired and the work involves "new decking, joint replacement, and repairs to a pier underneath the bridge." Con Ed is also installing a new gas line in the bridge. The current gas line has to be relocated while the new one is installed and other bridgework is performed.  The Arben Group is the contractor performing the work under the oversight of the Westchester County traffic engineers and WSP Consulting Engineers. 

Kevin Roseman, the Westchester County traffic engineer in charge, reports that the Midland Avenue Bridge is part of a larger project that includes rehabilitating two bridges and the Bronx River Parkway from the Cross County Parkway to Scarsdale Road. The total project is expected to cost $18 million and is funded by Westchester County. 

According to Roseman, the work on the Midland Avenue Bridge is expected to continue "well into 2020."

Pictured: Midland Avenue Bridge under construction

Photo by N. Bower

 
From The Mayor: Village Fall and Winter Procedures PDF Print Email

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By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Nov. 20, 2019:  As temperatures continue to plunge and winter fast approaches, this is an opportune time to refresh as to Village fall and winter procedures as well as ways to be more eco-friendly in the coming months.

Our leaf collection continues until mid-December. Almost incredulous, our annual leaf removal costs regularly top $100,000 per season, and this does not include the additional cost of cleaning clogged drains as rainstorms routinely send the leaves directly into our storm sewer system. Clogged drains have also vastly increased the likelihood of localized flooding. This year has been particularly frustrating as our DPW has spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning our clogged sewer system. We ask that you keep all leaves on your property out of the right of way and do not comingle other yard waste so we may decrease further time and money outlays.

With the first snow comes the need to rid sidewalks of ice and snow. Per Village Code, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of all sidewalks that abut one’s property, including debris removal and re-pavement, to facilitate safe passage. If you notice a sidewalk needing attention, contact the Village’s Department of Buildings, and staff will issue a “notice to cure.“ No monetary penalties attach unless the notice is ignored.

As the days grow colder, it is easier to use more energy and money than we realize. The following are some tips gleaned from Con Edison and energy conservation sources.
· Keeping doors closed within the house will trap heat in each room, thus using less energy to warm up the entire structure.
· Opening curtains on south-facing windows during the day will allow sunlight to naturally heat your home while closing them at night will reduce the chill from their cold surface.
· When not using appliances such as hair dryers or irons on a daily basis, don’t just switch them off, rather unplug. Appliances continue to use electricity even when not in use.
· If your boiler is more than 15 years old, it is most likely time for a new, more efficient version, resulting in savings of upwards of $300 a year on average.
· If out of the house for extended periods, turn the thermostat back 10 to 15°, resulting in a 10% savings on your yearly heating bill.
· The installation of a smart or programmable thermostat can make this process quite easy.
· Keep the fireplace damper closed at all times when not in use. An open damper loses the same amount of heat and energy as a wide-open window.
· Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting of 120°F. You will not only save energy but avoid scalded hands when in use.
· When purchasing new holiday lights, opt for the LED as they are significant energy savers.
· Once you finish cooking, open the oven door and allow the excess heat to warm up the kitchen.

Given the upcoming holiday, it’s comforting to know an empty refrigerator wastes far more energy than a full one because the fridge has to work harder to keep everything cool. If food is compacted together, it keeps cooler.

Continuing under the kitchen/food umbrella, try to eliminate plastic bags from your inventory. Bring reusable canvas bags to the grocery store, and if you forget, be sure to recycle your plastic bags on the next store visit. In addition to grocery bags, our Acme market has a bin that will also accept dry cleaning bags and newspaper sleeves for recycling.

You can recycle plastic/foil-lined boxes such as those that contain juice, chopped tomatoes, and soup. You could now even recycle the paper milk cartons that seem to have a waxy surface.

When possible, consider buying items made of glass, metal, or a biodegradable material instead of plastic. PBS recently reported that the fish we eat now contain microscopic plastic in their flash, and when we digest it, we incorporate same into our systems.

The Village’s very energized Green Committee has prompted the Trustees and me to be more mindful of many of the issues above. I thank them for all their efforts and for keeping me educated and focused on sustainability.



Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.




 
Ever Wonder Exactly What the Bronxville Village Board of Trustees, Planning Board, and Zoning Board Do? Here's Your Answer PDF Print Email

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By Susan Miele

Nov. 13, 2019:  What's the secret to preserving Bronxville's character and charm? Credit our village code and the boards that uphold them. While homeowners and landlords might wish they could alter their property without the hassle of approvals, the safeguards ensured by the Village Board of Trustees, the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) help prevent Pondfield Road from becoming home to a mega mall and your neighbor's deck from abutting your driveway. Despite the important role they serve, these boards remain unclear to many people in terms of their role and function. What do they do exactly? 

In a nutshell, the Board of Trustees establishes local laws and codes; the Planning Board ensures adherence with respect to development efforts, and the ZBA considers appeals from constituents to deviate from the code. This is the highly simplified explanation for a complex system whose execution must abide by both local and state laws.

Members of the Village Board of Trustees are chosen via general election. In contrast, members of the Planning Board and of the Zoning Board of Appeals are appointed by the mayor with approval from the Board of Trustees. Members must be Bronxville residents, and all are unpaid volunteers.  The meetings of all three boards are open to the public and may be either attended in person at Village Hall or viewed on TV via Bronxville's public-access channel.

Village Board of Trustees

According to New York State law, the Village Board of Trustees—headed by Mayor Mary Marvin--is empowered to "regulate and restrict the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lot that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts and other open spaces, the density of population, and the location and use of buildings, structures and land for trade, industry, residence or other purposes." Village government is entrusted with this power in the interest of promoting the community's overall health, safety, morals, and general welfare. The State requires that no laws shall be codified until after a public hearing on the subject is held, and these must be announced via published notifications at least ten days prior. 

Planning Board & Design Review Committee

Once local laws and codes are established, it's up to the Planning Board to maintain them. The Planning Board evaluates assorted proposals—from the selection of street lights to a store's choice of an awning to the demolition of a house to the installation of an apartment-building ramp. Part of their task is to consider the pros and cons voiced by both residents and commercial interests.

Whereas straightforward applications like a store awning might take only a short time to deliberate, projects with a greater potential for impacting the Village could require the engagement of architects, traffic studies, revised plans, re-revised plans, and even re-re-revised plans. 

Another layer of review may be performed by the Design Review Committee, which advises the Planning Board from the viewpoint of architectural integrity. The Planning Board also draws on the expertise of outside consultants with technical knowledge of matters such as traffic patterns, road construction, and the like.

According to Gary Reetz, the current President of the Bronxville Planning Board, when NewYork Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital applied for permission to build a wing for its proposed cancer center, the Planning Board spent a year and a half reviewing drawings, working with architects and designers, and collaborating with the hospital to arrive at a plan that would be compatible with village code while accommodating the hospital's desire to expand. Another large-scale project was the Kensington Road project—now the site of Villa BXV--whose design underwent three iterations, involving three different developers over about 15 years. 

Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)

When an application calls for construction that is not in compliance with the Village's Zoning Code, a property owner can petition the ZBA for a "variance." Both commercial and residential variances are considered. According to Bill Fredericks, current President of the ZBA, the most frequent variance requests that the ZBA receives concern the Village's "setback" requirements, which mandate that the footprint of a home be a minimum distance from the property line. 

Factors that affect these Boards' decisions, says Reetz, include the impact on parking, traffic, population density, neighbor objections, and demand on public resources, like waste disposal and school enrollment. Reetz notes that population density is an important factor when considering proposals to erect housing projects like apartment buildings. A critical factor is the potential impact on the public school, whose reputation for excellence serves as a magnet for home buyers. Housing propositions, he notes, must avoid school overcrowding. 

"I look at things in terms of what its impact will be 50 years from now—because I remember what it was like in Bronxville 50 years ago," Reetz, a longtime Bronxville resident, said. "Our job is to maintain the village character and quality of life." To that end, the Planning Board also contributes to village comprehensive plans, which establish goals and policies for both short- and long-term public planning. 

According to Fredericks, the ZBA exists to provide some flexibility, recognizing that even well-conceived rules may not need to be upheld precisely as stated in every situation. However, "the burden is always on the applicant to establish that there is a genuine need for the variance and that an alternative with a lesser impact is not an option," Fredericks noted. "We want to allow reasonable modernizations of existing properties, but we don't want to lose the existing sense of scale and proportion that we are all familiar with." 

Fredericks reports that the ZBA generally rules on applications at the hearing when they are first presented but cautions that applicants who may require a variance should do their homework to ensure an efficient procedure with respect to both time and expense. "Do not assume that the ZBA will rubber-stamp your plans – to the contrary, think of your neighbors, the impact of your plans on the character of the local neighborhood as a whole; above all, make a serious effort to explore all reasonably available options to make sure that you really do need a variance to meet your project objectives." 

All these boards work collaboratively to consider policy refinement, such as in response to the spate of storefront vacancies that occurred several years ago. Because the longstanding zoning law discouraged service and food providers from obtaining variances (businesses are "zoned" to house retail, service, entertainment, or dining establishments; thus, a variance is required to allow an alternative use), the zoning law was modified to be more accommodating, based on the changing nature of commerce and the reality of its effect on local trade. 


Photo by N. Bower

 

 

 
Local Author Meaghan Winter Speaks on Progressive Fight for the States PDF Print Email

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By Bill Gaston

Nov. 6, 2019:  The late Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was often heard to say “all politics is local.”  If O’Neill were alive today, he would probably add to that:  all government is local too.

On that theme, Meaghan Winter, a native of Bronxville and the author of All Politics is Local: Why Progressives Must Fight for the States, spoke eloquently at the Bronxville Field Club in October about the contentious battles being fought out today in local governments across the country.  At state capitals, town halls, and village commission meetings, she said that the institutions of self-government increasingly find themselves under attack on many fronts from a variety of well-funded corporate interests – the same forces that President Teddy Roosevelt, during the Gilded Age, once referred to as the “malefactors of great wealth.”

In her book, Ms. Winter, a freelance writer with a MFA from Columbia University, spotlights these battles as they have played out in three battleground states:  Missouri, Florida and Colorado.  In each of these states, progressives have found themselves on the defensive, in some cases (as in Colorado) successfully holding off reactionary and libertarian legislation; in others (Missouri) collapsing under the weight of the right wing onslaught.  Her on-the-ground reporting from these states is clear-eyed and sobering.

Fueled by the rise of the Tea Party in 2010, the GOP has leveraged tremendous success at winning elections at the local level and passing conservative legislation on issues ranging from abortion and gerrymandering to climate change and union rights.  Ms. Winter explained how these defeats have left state level Democratic parties flat-footed and dispirited.  By 2016, the GOP controlled legislative chambers in 32 states and governor’s offices in 33 (although those margins were somewhat trimmed back in the 2018 midterm elections).

Winter argued that Republican success at the state and local level is due to several factors.  Among them, liberal interest groups have been vastly outspent for years by a flood of corporate money that has disproportionately been funneled into GOP coffers.  Second, these same liberal groups have for decades concentrated their funding and organizational efforts at the federal level, mainly because civil rights were a federal concern.  However, on a tactical level, that emphasis had the unintended effect of ceding the battle in the states to the Republicans. 

Also key has been the success the GOP has enjoyed campaigning on cultural resentment and so-called “wedge” issues that have won over some traditionally conservative pockets of Democratic Party strength in “red” states.

For their part, Republicans have never relented in their multi-decade project of building dominance at the state and local level, pocketing those victories and creating a foundation for strength at the national level. 

Another factor, said Winter, is the collapse of local journalism, and the void in public attention paid to what is happening.  Much of the under-the-radar right wing legislative agenda in “red” states over the past decade has been barely covered, if at all, in most local media outlets for the simple reason many of them no longer exist or have gone bankrupt.  National media outlets, more cost-conscious than in the past, simply do not have the wherewithal or inclination to cover state or local politics with the in-depth focus it deserves. 

So are we at a dangerous tipping point between the power of organized wealth and the strength of our political institutions?  Or are we past it?

Ms. Winter was by turns hopeful and pessimistic (“at times, I’m filled with nihilism”).  She urged that citizens devote greater attention to local issues, and channel their donor dollars and efforts to local chapters of national affiliates where it may be more efficiently spent (and the outcomes are more visible). In any case, progressives will face an uphill climb to restore the health of our democracy without continued citizen engagement from the ground level up.

Pictured:  Meaghan Winter

Photo courtesy of Simon Ramsey.

 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 

 

 
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