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Neighbors Of FASNY School Project Differ Over Latest Court Ruling's Impact

Hundreds have packed the White Plains City Hall courtroom and hallways for each of the FASNY public hearings. A four-judge appeals court ruled in favor of the French-American School of New York on Wednesday.
Hundreds have packed the White Plains City Hall courtroom and hallways for each of the FASNY public hearings. A four-judge appeals court ruled in favor of the French-American School of New York on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Daily Voice file

This story has been updated.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- For years, neighbors of proposed construction of a new French-American School on a golf course in White Plains were vocal opponents of the project.

This year, neighborhood supporters of the new school and park at the former Ridgeway Country Club have been weighing in.

White Plains Neighbors ACT released the following statement on Friday, reacting to an Appellate Court ruling in favor of the French-American School of New York (FASNY):

"On behalf of the thousand plus members of White Plains Neighbors ACT, we are thrilled by the City’s and FASNY’s victory against the Gedney Association in Appellate Court Wednesday."

"Enough is enough already. We want the Park and the School in our City of White Plains. We also do not want any more of our taxpayer money to get wasted fighting the endless legal obstacles that the Gedney Association has relentlessly pursued," White Plains Neighborhood Act said. "The Gedney Association has failed on every one of their legal actions. It’s time to move on. The City and School settled on a much smaller plan that should make everyone happy. We encourage our elected officials to now follow through on the FASNY Settlement and approve the School and Park.”

The revised development plan includes a Middle and High School and limits development to the 28-acre portion of the property where the former country club buildings and parking lots are located.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Supreme Court ruling that that there was no basis to the Gedney Association’s claim that the White Plains Common Council’s 6-1 vote in December 2013 violated the State’s Open Meetings Law.

The Appellate Court also ordered the Gedney Association to pay FASNY and the City for the costs of bringing their failed legal action.

The Gedney Association, which opposes the project, released the following statement: "The recent decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court concerns a procedural matter regarding the environmental findings adopted by the City of White Plains more than three years ago in connection with the French-American School of New York (FASNY) project. Even more importantly, this appeal was related to the earlier site plan review process."

"This court decision has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the current site plan that is being reviewed by the Mayor and Common Council, a process that still needs to be completed and will involve a future public hearing that will allow the voices of the community to be heard," The Gedney Association said in its statement.

The Gedney Association, representing more than 1,500 local residents, said it will continue to vigorously oppose FASNY’s "ill-conceived plan because this development, if built, will create dangerous and hazardous traffic conditions to drivers, bikers, school children and pedestrians as well as increased response times for emergency service providers. The project will also cause environmental, and economic/quality of life issues that will adversely affect citizens throughout the White Plains area."

John Botti, a member of the FASNY Board of Trustees who is overseeing the planning for the new School and Park said: “Once again the Gedney Association leadership has brought frivolous and ill-conceived litigation that is a complete waste of time, energy, and money – the City’s taxpayers’ money, and their own members’ money. The Gedney Association is 0 for 4 in Court.” The Honorable Joan Lefkowitz previously described efforts to block the School as “a war of attrition.”

With the latest ruling against the Gedney Association, Botti, a White Plains resident, said “Hopefully this will bring an end to the Gedney Association’s pointless and obstructive lawsuits and the Common Council will abide by the Stipulation and approve the reduced plan for the School as outlined in the Settlement Agreement.”

Under a court settlement with the City of White Plains, FASNY agreed to reduce the traffic impact by 42 precent and reduce the number of students from its original estimate of 1,200 students to 640 students.

FASNY has also placed a Conservation Easement on 51 acres of the property, which was recorded with Westchester County in August 2016. The publicly accessible park includes more than two miles of walking and biking trails and will be open to the public and maintained by FASNY at no cost to the city.

Earlier Daily Voice coverage of the court battles can be found by clicking here.

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