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August 30, 2013

‘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

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  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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Bedford farms added to county ag list


By EVE MARX
Robin Queen in the fields at SunRaven in Bedford.
 

In a unanimous vote of approval, the Westchester County Board of Legislators announced earlier this month the authorization of six new parcels of land to be added to Westchester County’s Agricultural District Number 1. Among them are the 4-acre Sun Raven Farm on Guard Hill Road and the 24.79-acre Mill Pond Farm on Stone Hill Road, both in Bedford.

“Westchester’s agricultural district distinctions are part of a legislative push of the board to protect open spaces and maintain a farm-based business initiative, especially in the northern part of Westchester,” said Tom Staudter, a spokesman for the board of legislators on Monday. “This push from our county to protect open space and maintain a farm-based business initiative has become a model for New York State law. It’s not easy to get the designation. Not every property that files for the designation is accepted.”

The designation provides some property tax breaks if properties meet the specified criteria, and also places some restrictions on the land’s usage. While the Agricultural District does not enable its members, as individuals, to obtain grants or government funding, the County, on behalf of the farms, may apply for state grants, like those in the Purchase of Development Rights program.

Along with the two Bedford properties, other District 1 properties to receive the designation are three farms in the Town of North Salem and one in the Town of Lewisboro, encompassing a total of over 65 acres. The new parcels in Ag District 1 are Sweet Water Farm on Peach Lake Road in North Salem, which is 13.30 acres; Gossett Brothers Nursery on Route 35 in Lewisboro at 5.50 acres; Sun Raven Farm at 4 acres; Canterwood Farm on Titicus Road in North Salem at 19.11 acres; 102 Titicus Road in North Salem at 1.31 acres; and Mill Pond Farm at 24.79 acres.

Mill Pond Farm is the former country estate and gentleman’s farm originally owned by the family of the late ambassador Francis Kellogg family since 1919. It was sold in July 2012 to Martin Gubernick and Robin Ashley.

The Sun Raven property at 501 Guard Hill is owned by Dr. Michael Finkelstein and is used for programs and events by holistic practitioners as well as for farm activities. A garden program there is directed by Robin Queen.

According to Bedford’s assessor Harold Girdlestone, a property owner may apply for a town or a county exemption, and each is considered on an individual basis.

Among the requirements are a minimum of 7 acres for horse farms, 10 horses or more and at least $10,000 in gross sales. A property owner must also commit the land to agricultural purposes for a minimum of either five or eight years, depending on which type of exemption is sought. Bedford has about 23 properties with exemptions, Mr. Girdlestone said.

According to the county’s planning board, Westchester’s agricultural district is defined as a geographic area consisting predominantly of viable agricultural land. Agricultural operations within the district are considered the priority land use and afforded benefits and protections to promote the continuation of farming and the preservation of agricultural land.

According to Mr. Staudter, a strict set of rules and requirements must be met when applying. Simply having a couple of horses or sheep or raising chickens and selling eggs won’t cut it.

Along with types of usage, the types of soil and land are among the factors of a restricted assessment, said Mr. Girdlestone. He said that properties could still get an agricultural exemption from the town, which has its own set of benefits. They have to gross a certain amount in sales and must be qualified farm or horse boarding operations. If they are outside an agriculture district, they have to commit the property to agricultural use for eight years.

Despite the stringent regulations, every year new properties meet the board’s criteria. “Every year we’ve added a number of parcels and properties to the list,” Mr. Staudter said. “This benefits the county for the future and strengthens these communities and keeps them interestingly diverse. There are multiple approaches to combating suburban sprawl, and designating agricultural districts has proven to be successful so far.”

Mr. Staudter credited the hard work of county legislator Pete Harckham and county legislator Mike Kaplowitz along with the chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Ken Jenkins as “the real forces behind the initiative.”

“The whole farm-to-table movement is predicated on the idea that our farms are not miles away,” said Mr. Staudter. “They’re partners and neighbors in our community, and that to me is a way of letting our young people know there are healthy eating and employment options in our area.” He said the whole green model is not just about energy but feeding ourselves “with good food that doesn’t have to be trucked in from Southern California.”

An abundance of farmers’ markets throughout the county is one of the benefits of the farm district.

“We’re walking in the right direction to a sustainable future,” Mr. Staudter said. “These three individuals have done an amazing job moving us all into the future. It’s nice to see the community partnership working so well. It’s folks from the communities that are involved in helping to make the decisions.”

The Westchester County Board of Legislators created the Westchester County Agricultural District and the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board to help preserve and protect the county’s natural resources and assure a diverse and interconnected system of open space.

“It makes sense in terms of protecting our environment and maintaining open space in Westchester for the board of legislators to approve this increase in the County Agricultural District,” county legislator Peter Harckham said in a statement. “Farming should remain a viable economic activity in Westchester where appropriate, and this legislative action keeps farmland in active use and gives farm owners certain protections under New York State’s Right to Farm laws.”

Additionally, the county’s planning board has long supported the protection and enhancement of agricultural land in Westchester as a means of reducing the wide environmental impact associated with development and suburban sprawl.

According to the legislators, Westchester was the first county to opt into New York State’s Agricultural District program. While the Agricultural District does not enable its members as individuals to obtain grants or government funding, the county, on behalf of the farms, may apply for state grants like those in the Purchase of Development Rights program. The properties designated are used primarily for growing crops, dairy production and horse raising, all of which contribute to Westchester’s unique character and prosperity through agribusiness.

Traditionally agricultural land in this area, which includes family farms and homesteads, was passed from generation to generation. More recently, it has been converted to other land uses, most often subdivided for residential or large-scale retail development. Designating the land as an agricultural district contributes significantly to the quality of life in Westchester by preserving open space and maintaining habitats for wildlife and vegetation.

Mr. Harckham on Monday said he is “very glad” the parcels that were recently designated made the grade and looks forward to the process for new designations to begin again in January when the agricultural board once again starts reviewing new applications.


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