PETER FINE OF ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT
INVESTIGATORS AS THEY RAID THE OFFICES OF ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT
Mount Vernon taxpayers will now have to pay additional costs because of the reckless and negligent actions of the administration of Mayor Clinton Young, The Mount Vernon City Council, The City of Mount Vernon Planning Board, and Atlantic Development.
On Thursday, August 12th, 2010, an Article 78 proceeding was commenced in New York State Supreme Court against the above mentioned defendant-respondents. On September, 28th, at 9:30 a.m. an application will be made to the court for the following relief:
(a) Annul, vacate and set aside the following interrelated approval ordinances adopted by Respondent City Council of the City of Mount Vernon (the “City Council”) concerning property located at the intersection of Gramatan Avenue and Oakley Avenue (Map Page 165.54, Block 1122, Lots 1, 19 and 20) on Oakley Avenue (Map Page 165.54, Block 1135, Lot 10) and on Crary Avenue (Map Page 165.54, Block 1135, Lot 1) (collectively the “Property”) approving zoning text amendments to the PUD-2 Zone to allow residential and non-residential mixed use development within one-half mile of the Mount Vernon East Train Station subject to certain restrictions;
(b) Annul, vacate and set aside the ordinances adopted by Respondent City Council which established the PUD-2 District (as amended) for the Property;
(c) Annul vacate and set aside the Resolution of the City Council adopting the SEQRA Environmental Findings for the proposed development;
(d) Annul, vacate and set aside the Resolution of the Planning Board of the City of Mount Vernon (the “Planning Board”) approving the site plan for the Project and any environmental findings in connection therewith;
(e) Enjoin Respondent City of Mount Vernon (“Mount Vernon” or the “City”) from issuing any building permits in furtherance of the challenged Ordinances and Resolutions; and
(f) Enjoin Respondent Atlantic Development Group, LLC (the “Applicant” or “Atlantic”) from taking any action in furtherance of the challenged Ordinances and Resolutions.
Bob Dadarria, a Mount Vernon resident, and community activist, was one of the aggrieved parties that retained counsel to bring the Article 78 action against Mount Vernon officials and Atlantic Development. Dadarria and others retained high profile attorney, Albert Pirro Jr, who is perceived by many to be one of the best land use attorney’s in New York State. Albert Pirro is also the ex-husband of former Westchester County District Attorney Jeannine Pirro.
The lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court contains numerous explosive allegations of incompetence and corruption of Mount Vernon City Officials. One of the allegations contained therein, is that City of Mount Vernon officials did not make public many of the documents pertaining to the Atlantic Development project as required by law. There have also been allegations that Mount Vernon City Council members were bribed in exchange for a favorable vote for the Atlantic Development project. The lawsuit as filed with the court validates this theory. This lawsuit comes as no surprise as Mount Vernon taxpayers were skeptical of Atlantic Development, a company under criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for hiring undocumented workers and bribing City officials.
Atlantic Development also retained Kenneth Plummer of Kensworth Consulting as a lobbyist for the massive, controversial low income skyscraper recently erroneously approved by incompetent Mount Vernon City officials. It has been reported that Mayor Young is a financier and silent partner of Kensworth Consulting.
Mount Vernon taxpayers must remain vigilant in the fight against corrupt Mount Vernon officials. Just today, August 15th, 2010, the was an article in the Journal News about another Mayor Young crony looking to steal 8 city owned properties valued at over $2M dollars for $150,000.
EXCERPTS FROM THE LAWSUIT V CITY OF MOUNT VERNON
The City Council failed to take a “hard look” and simply approved the project as presented by the Applicant without regard to multiple adverse environmental and economic consequences. The Planning Board members did not review, or have a reasonable opportunity to review, the most recent revisions to the proposed site plan before voting to approve that site plan with the most recent revisions to that site plan. When questioned following the vote, only one member of the Planning Board acknowledged having reviewed the site plan as then proposed on July 7, 2010 prior to voting on that site plan on July 7, 2010. Due to the last minute submission of the site plan, the Planning Board did not and could not properly review and evaluate the final site plan prior to voting to approve that site plan on July 7, 2010.
Based on the foregoing, The Planning Board’s approval of the site plan on July 7, 2010 was arbitrary, capricious, contrary to law, without any rational basis and not based upon the record before the Planning Board.
One of the most significant issues presented to the City Council as part of the SEQRA review of this project is the potential impact on the public schools should the proposed project be constructed and occupied.
According to the calculations conducted by the City Council, its consultants and the consultants for the Applicant, the projected student generation from the proposed project is sixty-two (62) school children and, significantly, thirty-five (35) of those children would attend elementary school. Upon information and belief, the designated elementary school for the children who reside in the project area is Lincoln Elementary School. Upon information and belief, the designated elementary school for the children who reside in the project area is Lincoln Elementary School.
However, upon information and belief, Lincoln Elementary School is currently approximately one hundred forty-five (145%) percent of capacity and cannot possibly accommodate an additional thirty-five (35) students without severely adversely impacting the school’s ability to properly educate its student population.
The City Council, while aware of the potential severe impact on Lincoln Elementary School, failed to either avoid or mitigate the significant over capacity the construction and occupation of the proposed project would generate.
Instead, the City Council’s only response to this severe and adverse impact was to require that, as a condition to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, the Applicant use its “best efforts” to work with the Board of Education to change the attendance zone for the project area so that children living in the proposed project will attend either Pennington School, Columbus School, or Traphagen School.
However, upon information and belief, while these alternate schools are not as overcrowded as Lincoln Elementary School, they are also over capacity.
In addition, no study was undertaken as to the potential impacts to these proposed alternate schools, which are a significant distance from the project area, which is less than a half mile from Lincoln Elementary School.
No review was done to determine how the shift of attendance zones would impact bus routes or the increase in number of children requiring busing or the overall impacts such a disruption of established attendance zones would cause.
Further and more significantly, there is no provision in the findings or any of the approvals in the event the Applicant’s “best efforts” to work with the Board of Education do not result in a resolution of this issue.
The City Council has effectively abdicated its responsibility and obligation as lead agency to study and mitigate this significant, adverse and far reaching impact that could potentially cause seriously detrimental consequences to one or more elementary schools and the education of hundreds of young school children who attend those schools.
Rather than address this significant problem, the City Council has shifted that responsibility to the Applicant and to the Mount Vernon Board of Education to determine how to avoid severe impacts to the children who attend these schools from both existing residences and those who will reside in the proposed project.
The City Council, as lead agency, has for all intents and purposes washed its hands with respect to this significant adverse impact and told the Applicant and the Board of Education to resolve a situation the City Council refused to address.
The City Council not only refused to take responsibility for this severe impact, the findings, as adopted, allow the project to move forward without any mitigation to address the overcrowding issue at these elementary schools should the Applicant and the Board of Education be unable to resolve the issue.
Even if a resolution is eventually reached, the findings are fatally flawed because the lead agency did not address this severe impact, and the City Council has not and will not be able to study whatever solution is reached, if any solution is ever found.
There is now no way to determine what secondary or unanticipated impacts will result from any resolution of this issue if some solution is worked out and, more concerning, what impacts there will be if no solution is ever agreed upon. The City Council has clearly failed to take a ‘hard look” at this extremely significant adverse impact.
Once the Applicant demonstrates “best efforts” the project will go forward and only time will tell what significant impacts will result in the absence of mitigation or what impacts will result from some unknown agreement between the Board of Education and the Applicant.
Based on the foregoing and the City Council’s complete failure to meet its responsibility as lead agency, the Findings Statement adopted on June 29, 2010 is arbitrary, capricious, contrary to law and without a rational basis and must be annulled, vacated and set aside.
Upon information and belief, some of those documents, studies, reports and reviews that the City Council relied upon were and are not included in the public record maintained in connection with the review and approval of the proposed project.
The failure to include all relevant documents relied upon by the City Council in the review and approval of the proposed project in the records available for public review constitutes a violation of SEQRA and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
Based upon the failure to include all relevant documents, studies, reports and reviews in the public record, the findings and approvals were adopted in violation of law and lawful procedure and must be annulled, vacated and set aside.
In connection with the review and approval of the proposed project, the Applicant and the City on June 11, 2009 entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) governing the process and procedures to be followed in connection with the environmental review and development of the proposed project.
The MOU, among other things, set certain deadlines in connection with the environmental review of the project which unreasonably restricted and limited the City Council’s review of the project and the public’s ability to participate in and review the SEQRA process undertaken by the City Council.
The MOU was made in violation of applicable law and constitutes a violation of SEQRA and the regulations promulgated thereunder and illegally committed the City to a course of action without required environmental review.
The MOU also contains numerous terms and conditions not included or studied as part of the environmental review of the project in violation of law and lawful procedure.Based on the foregoing, the findings and approvals adopted in connection with the proposed project must be annulled, vacated and set aside.
Developer Looks to Steal Mount Vernon Properties