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White Plains Appeals French-American School Lawsuit

White Plains residents at one of several public hearings at Common Council chambers on the French-American School of New York proposed building a new campus at the Ridgeway Country Club. The city has appealed a lawsuit filed by FASNY.
White Plains residents at one of several public hearings at Common Council chambers on the French-American School of New York proposed building a new campus at the Ridgeway Country Club. The city has appealed a lawsuit filed by FASNY. Photo Credit: File photo

This story has been updated.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The City of White Plains has appealed a lawsuit filed by the French-American School of New York that challenges the city's denial of a proposed school at the former Ridgeway Country Club.

In an appeal to the Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Second Department, lawyers for the City of White Plains questioned whether state Supreme Court Judge Joan B. Lefkowitz can order the city to close part of Hathaway Lane and approve a site plan for a pre-K through 12 school on property purchased by FASNY.

"Put simply, if Donald Trump sued the city to compel it to sell him a portion of Main Street to allow him to build a luxury condominium building, no one would even seriously consider the argument. FASNY is no different," the city wrote in its appeal.

White Plains Corporation Counsel John Callahan said, "There is no date set yet for argument on the appeal."

Geoff Thompson, a FASNY spokesman, reacted: "The Court was clear, correct and definitive in its decision. We hope that the City will not continue what the Court characterized as a 'war of attrition' against the School. Continuing the appeal is not only a waste of taxpayer dollars but it is a losing cause."

Robert Marich, a White Plains resident since 1999 and FASNY critic, said, "Let’s recap. The FASNY school bought a tract of land not zoned for FASNY’s purpose and then demanded it be given a public street too (Hathaway Lane), despite its main land parcel being huge."

Marich added: "There are a half-dozen neighborhood groups in the city; not one has endorsed FASNY, yet FASNY promoters continually say it’s talked to everyone, implying it has endorsements."

In January, Lefkowitz ordered the Common Council to vote on a special permit and site plan for FASNY to convert the former country club into a school campus and park.

FASNY's $60 million plans, under review for almost five years, would consolidate its schools in Scarsdale, Larchmont and Mamaroneck on the 131-acre site of the former Ridgeway Country Club.

FASNY's proposal was scheduled for a Common Council vote last August, but was tabled after the council voted 4-3 to close a portion of Hathaway Lane, which was needed to accommodate the school's site plan. That vote, which was one shy of the super majority required for the road closure, prompted FASNY to sue the city in September 2015, claiming the council acted illegally.

Thompson added, "FASNY looks forward to creating the school and public nature park that will be an asset for the entire White Plains community."

Marich reacred: "Time for FASNY to quit and sell the property, which is a golf course."

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