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White Plains Council Extends Moratorium on Ridgeway

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Debbie Oleson, 55, who lives near the fourth hole of the former Ridgeway golf course, said the White Plains Common Council’s decision to extend a moratorium blocking buildings on four White Plains properties, including Ridgeway, didn’t alleviate her worries about the French-American School of New York (FASNY) opening a school in the Gedney Farms neighborhood.

"I'm definitely not any more optimistic," said Oleson, who has lived on Northdale Road for 25 years. "We’re very unhappy because FASNY said they were going to be good neighbors when they bought (Ridgeway). They’ve cut the grass maybe four times this summer. And they leave all the brown tips there. It’s disgusting."

Oleson and others in the neighborhood say FASNY’s proposal to build a campus for approximately 1,200 students would create traffic problems and overburden the sewage system near the former Ridgeway Country Club.

The city has begun the multi-year long process of reviewing FASNY’s application for the special permit needed to run its $60 million school while also considering a proposal to create an open-space recreation district on Ridgeway and three other golf courses located in or partially in White Plains.

The council unanimously voted to extend a ban on any construction in these open spaces through May 17. In the meantime, a contracted firm will continue to study how the open space recreation district and its zoning changes may affect the city.

Geoff Thompson, who handles press for FASNY, said the school was pleased that the city was continuing to process the special permit application. However, FASNY sensed the moratorium and its extension were targeted at the Ridgeway parcel.

"We feel it is redundant and really unnecessary,” Thompson said. “The city just did a study of the properties a year ago. The timing of the moratorium, just happened to coincide with our acquisition of Ridgeway and our plan to build a campus there."

If passed, the open space recreation district would alter zoning laws and limit FASNY to building on 5 percent of the Ridgeway property.

What are your thoughts on FASNY building a school on the former Ridgeway Country Club? What do you think of the moratorium extension? Join the conversation below.

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