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APRIL 18, 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

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  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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Family zoning feud


By ANTHONY R. MANCINI

A contentious feud between neighbors heard at the Bedford zoning board on April 3 resulted in the board making significant decisions concerning buildings with grandfathered uses and building coverage. The feud also spilled over to the town board, when a request for filming was denied after board members cited the potential for litigation.

Ruth Toporoff and Michael Richman, who live off of Alice Road, a short, dirt road stemming off of Succabone Road, appealed the zoning board to make interpretations on their next-door neighbors’ property, owned by Suzanne and Stefano Galli. The appeals requested that the board make a decision regarding whether or not the horse stable on the Gallis’ property was properly permitted and whether a different building on the property was built according to the dimensions listed on the property’s building survey.

Both appeals were ruled in favor of the Gallis.

Ms. Toporoff and Mr. Richman, who are horse owners, have been opposing many of the Gallis’ efforts to legitimize their use of their property as a small horse farm through arguing in town public forums that the property’s outbuildings do not conform to Bedford’s town code.

Ms. Toporoff and Mr. Richman’s attorney, Katherine Zalantis of the firm Silverberg Zalantis in Tarrytown, said that the Gallis did not have the right to house horses in their stable because it is too close to the property line. Bedford currently restricts barns or stables from being less than 50 feet from a property line. The Gallis’ stable is closer than 50 feet, but it was built before the town enacted the policy in 1982. Ms. Zalantis said the fact that the stable, which dates back to the 1960s, did not receive a certificate of occupancy from the building inspector until 1996 means that the stable should not be grandfathered as a nonconforming structure. She said that the structure should not be grandfathered because there was a decade in the building’s history where it did not house horses. In Bedford, nonconforming uses are nullified if an owner does not exercise them for more than six straight months. She also said that the building did not deserve to be grandfathered because it had been renovated.

“I’m saying that the use was not legal to begin with, that they didn’t have the right once there was a lapse in the use to reuse that structure,” Ms. Zalantis said at the meeting. “They just can’t use it to put horses in there once the usage lapsed.”

The Gallis’ attorney, Donald Rossi, of firm Hogan & Rossi in Southeast, said that the stable should be considered legitimate because it has been consistently used to house horses and since it does have a certificate of occupancy permitting that use. He said Ms. Zalantis’ legal strategy has been unfair.

“Ms. Zalantis has done a wonderful job to pick through every aspect of the zoning code that possibly could be massaged into an argument here to contest this legitimate use,” he said at the meeting. “The Gallis purchased the property with a certificate of compliance with the barn. They have to get some credit for that.”

Many of the zoning board members were reluctant to side with Ms. Zalantis’ argument that the stable could no longer be used to house horses because the usage expired. They said that determination might have a deleterious effect on buildings around Bedford, including houses that no longer conform to property setback requirements and have been vacated for more than six months.

The zoning board avoided the determination that the building by coming to a consensus that the stable was only nonconforming in a dimensional sense, not a usage sense, maintaining the building’s ability to house horses.

The one outlier on the board was Andrea Schaefer, who sided with Ms. Zalantis’ argument, even though she said she did not agree that it was proper policy. She said the town code should be changed to reflect the fact that sometimes owners of historic horse properties decide not to keep them for a period of time.

“Under the current code in our town, if your horse is not in your barn for six months and it was a pre-existing nonconforming, our code is very clear that it says you’ve lost that. I don’t agree with it,” she said at the meeting. “That’s not how people with horses live their lives with their horses.”

In their other appeal, Ms. Toporoff and Mr. Richman requested that the zoning board determine if a building labeled a shed was built according to its approved plans.

This building, on the south end of the Galli property next to Alice Road, was reduced in size after it was determined by Bedford’s building inspector to be too large. Ms. Zalantis said the building should still be considered oversized because its eave hangs over more space than is shown on the building’s survey.

The zoning board said the building was an appropriate size because most surveyors measure building coverage through a foundation or at the base of the building. Members said measuring from an eave could affect many houses in town.

“We would have to go back and redo every raised ranch that has one of those extended,” said zoning board member Lisa Spano, at the meeting.

The board also granted the Gallis’ property a variance allowing a manure storage dumpster in an area which would normally be considered too close to the property line. The Gallis originally wanted to approve a method of spreading the manure throughout the property’s paddocks to encourage pasture growth, but the zoning board denied this. Ms. Toporoff at the meeting objected to the manure storage dumpster being located in its approved area because she said it is too close to her house and that the manure smell has been drifting toward her property. She broke down crying in front of the board and called Ms. Galli a murderer, saying that the Gallis’ horses’ manure created unsanitary conditions that killed her horse of 22 years, through attracting rodents, which can carry a parasite deadly to horses.

At past public meetings, Ms. Galli herself has accused Ms. Toporoff of poisoning one of her horses through altering a drainage watercourse that runs through both neighbors’ properties. Ms. Galli said this change has created flooding and toxic grazing conditions on her property due to large amounts of road fill becoming washed onto her pastures.

The zoning board’s approval of the dumpster might become complicated by the result of a lawsuit between Ms. Toporoff and Mr. Richman and the Gallis, where Judge Robert DiBella of the Westchester County Supreme Court barred the Gallis from storing manure 50 feet from the property line, due to complaints over the manure’s stench.

The feud between the neighbors has spilled over into unrelated matters. During a Wednesday town board meeting, the town council turned down an application to film on the Galli property in late May due to fear of repercussions from Ms. Toporoff and Mr. Richman. Producers were seeking to use the Gallis’ property in a film adaptation of “The Great Gilly Hopkins” by children’s author Katherine Paterson. The film is set to be directed by Stephen Herek, who has directed “The Mighty Ducks,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” and the live-action “101 Dalmatians.” It is set to star Glenn Close, Danny Glover and Kathy Bates.

Ms. Toporoff and Mr. Richman have separate lawsuits pending against Bedford’s wetlands control commission, the zoning board and the Gallis themselves in Westchester Supreme Court. Bedford’s town attorney Joel Sachs said on Wednesday that the zoning determinations on April 3 are going to change the course of the three lawsuits. He sent a letter to the courts arguing that the cases should be handled by a special arbitrator to ease the burden the dispute is creating for the town.



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