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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

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January 24, 2014

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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Pound Ridge

Neighboring Grace Church plans get a little bigger


By DON HEPPNER


Residents of Pound Ridge, Lewisboro and New Canaan, Conn., are watching carefully a state court case in Connecticut involving the three towns versus Grace Community Church. If the residents prevail, they could halt construction of a 900-seat sanctuary in New Canaan, whose worshipers would access the facility by Pound Ridge roads. According to residents, the first stages of construction began after the town of New Canaan approved the project in 2012. The residents say the project should cease immediately because no traffic study has been performed addressing the impacts on homeowners in neighboring towns.

“We hope to persuade the court to agree with us that the zoning commissions approvals of the 2012 application for an amendment to the special permit and the 2012 site plan application are illegal and should be reversed,” said Lewisboro resident and attorney Sanjit Shah this week. “And if the approvals are reversed, they have to stop building and will not be able to complete this project.”

In September 2012, the church applied for an amendment to the special permit approved in 2007 allowing the construction of a permanent sanctuary with a capacity for 900 worshippers.

The revised plans include a library, sanctuary, gym and a living and dining and living facility, with an overall size of 77,800 square feet. The previously proposed structures combined totaled 71,000 square feet.

In addition to Sunday worship, the church suggested in its application that the space could be used to support nonprofit organizations such as the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, the Volunteer Architects Network and Partners in Health.

“This means that the usage of the facility would be much more intense than it was in the past,” Mr. Shah said.

Officials from Lewisboro and Pound Ridge have said they would like to see an updated traffic impact study, since the roads in those towns used by the parishioners are narrow and winding.

In late 2012, then-Pound Ridge supervisor Gary Warshauer wrote to the planning and zoning commission about his concerns. Lewisboro supervisor Peter Parsons has also requested traffic analysis and consideration for roads in their communities.

The church has refused to submit an updated traffic study, according to Mr. Shah, who said the zoning regulations require a new study on Luke’s Wood and Puddin Hill Roads, as the previous one was from 2007.

Mr. Shah said that if he and other area residents fighting the project win in court, the church entrance will be moved to Route 123 in New Canaan instead of visitors using Luke’s Wood Road in Pound Ridge and Puddin Hill in Lewisboro for access. New Canaan residents living on Route 123 fought the idea of locating the entrance on Route 123, and they prevailed.

The Town of Pound Ridge had difficulty getting New Canaan planning and zoning commission members to listen to their concerns and even more trouble getting the consideration of the Grace Church.

The cooperation of the commission came only after several visits to public hearings by then-town councilman Dick Lyman. But even after those meetings he wondered whether his words were making an impression.

He said at the time that Grace Church “appeared deaf” to his pleas and that he was rebuffed by a church official at one planning board meeting. But members of the planning board, he said, were paying attention to Pound Ridge concerns.

Attorney for New Canaan’s Grace Church John Hammer appeared before the Pound Ridge Town Board during its work session in April 2012. His appearance came at the request of the New Canaan Planning Board to provide an update on the project’s impact on Pound Ridge roads.

New Canaan put conditions on the special use permit issued to the church, according to Mr. Lyman in 2012. One of the conditions was that the church conduct a pre- and post-construction engineering survey of Puddin Hill and West roads.

If damaged, the roads would be repaired at the expense of the church, or the special use permit would be revoked.

Mr. Hammer’s visit to the Pound Ridge town board came after a meeting held two weeks ago and attended by Lewisboro town supervisor Peter Parsons, Pound Ridge councilman Dick Lyman, New Canaan town planner/senior enforcement officer Steve Kleppin and New Canaan first selectman Rob Mallozzi.

“We told them how frustrated we were,” Mr. Lyman said after the meting. “During our meeting with Mr. Kleppin and Mr. Mallozzi, we said that something has to be done here. I think we have come a long way with this. I am pleased that New Canaan decided to listen and to help us.”

Mr. Lyman said he is comfortable with the current level of protection for the Pound Ridge roads. If the protections could not be agreed on, the town would have enacted laws limiting the size or weight of vehicles on Puddin Hill and West roads. The protection of the Pound Ridge roads is built into the church’s special use permit.

Mr. Lyman said if the town put weight limits on the roads, Pound Ridge could be liable to a lawsuit by the church. “The amount of money these people have, and the way their attitude has been, it would not surprise me in the least to have them try to sue us,” said Mr. Lyman.

The legal case against the Grace Church project began in earnest in 2007, when neighbors became concerned about the increased traffic on narrow winding roads in Pound Ridge and Lewisboro.

Neighbors, worried about the traffic and of development uncharacteristic of a rural area, filed suit against the planning and zoning commission. The suit was based on the commission’s 2007 approval of the permit allowing the church to proceed with the first phase of a two-part plan for the erection of a temporary 900-seat sanctuary, a 200-car parking lot and the renovation of existing buildings already on the property.

The church wanted more than was granted by the planning and zoning commission and filed suit against the town for restrictions placed on its special permit. Among them were conditions on the proposed 1,200-seat permanent sanctuary and the additional parking needs associated with the expansion to 1,200 seats.

A compromise between the town and church would have seen the construction of the sanctuary, but New Canaan residents would not agree to the new proposed facility.

In May 2008, the church filed a lawsuit against the town and the commission approved an amended special permit. About the same time, a lawsuit, which included Mr. Shah, was filed by neighboring Lewisboro over the approval of the amended special permit.

A Superior Court judge dismissed Mr. Shah’s lawsuit on the grounds that out-of-state neighbors can’t appeal a local zoning decision in Connecticut, regardless of its impact on those out-of-state residents. The neighbors appealed to the appellate court, and upon their request the case was transferred to the state’s Supreme Court, which eventually overturned the Superior Court’s decision and ruled in their favor, giving them the right to appeal.


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