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North Street Neighbors Awakened By Bulldozers, Treecutting In White Plains

A view of the property on Thursday where the German International School plans an access road for parking off of North Street less than a half-mile south of White Plains High School. Four single-family homes also will be built as rental property. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
This stretch of North Street (Route 127) in White Plains was a rush hour nightmare this past week as bulldozers leveled land to the left, formerly lined by tall trees. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
One of the last trees left standing near the south end of the German School property along Route 127 (North Street) on Thursday. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Police and construction crews were gone during a break in work on Thursday, but their traffic cones were left behind, confusing some motorists who plowed into them on North Street. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- For years, residents near White Plains High School have succeeded in delaying plans by the French American School of New York to build a new campus near Route 127.

But in less than a week, a half-mile stretch of the route, also known as North Street, looked like a construction battle zone to clear way for a new parking lot and four homes near the German International School, which has no ties to the FASNY school proposal. Bulldozers are leveling nearly five acres of once tree-bordered land for an entrance and 38-car parking lot near the German School -- in addition to new single-family homes.

The German School for pre-K through 12th grade is a 35-year-old private school at 50 Partridge St., formerly nestled away out-of-view from Route 127.

German School Administrator Ed Schlieben said on Friday that the parking and new access road was proposed many years ago and approved by the White Plains Planning Board in July 2013. It did not require White Plains Common Council approval.

"The road that is being built is primarily an access street for the four houses and will also lead to the small parking lot that will have significant restrictions placed on its use.  . .  . The main entrance will remain the same," Schlieben said. "This is a 14-year process and many millions of dollars,"

"There was tremendous regret" about the removal of mature trees along North Street, Schlieben added.  "I know it looks like a nuclear wasteland right now. . . .. We look forward to a beautifully landscaped phase."

Schlieben said buses will continue to access the school via Partridge Road even after the North Street entrance is finished. Work is due to be completed in November.

The German School, founded in 1980, has about 400 students. Enrollment growth is capped at 25 new students per year under the approved zoning plans.

The German School will rent out the four new single-family homes built on the property, measuring 3,500- to 4,000-square-feet apiece. Legally, there is enough land to build 11 homes on the site, according to Schlieben.

Schlieben said "many more trees than were removed" have to be planted by landscapers including established eight- to 10-foot-tall trees along the perimeter of the site.

"The tree-planting is very clearly specified,'' Schlieben said. "I personally regretted very much the tree removal."

Schlieben said White Plains city planners required a stone wall to be moved back 30 feet from North Street, requiring the removal of the tallest, mature trees.

Nonetheless, residents who just two weeks earlier held a protest of FASNY's plan outside White Plains High School said they were totally caught off guard by the sudden toppling of trees and earth movers.

"The entire neighborhood is appalled by the clear-cutting,'' said Gedney Association President John Sheehan,

The White Plains Common Council has yet to vote on the FASNY plan.

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