Tarrytown stands ready to settle out of court a costly, long-running legal dispute with Sleepy Hollow over the Lighthouse Landing project, Mayor Drew Fixell said Monday.
While expressing little optimism over prospects for negotiating a deal, Mayor Drew Fixell said that “we . . . have always been, and continue to be, open to resolving our differences with Sleepy Hollow outside the courtroom.”
"It is our hope," Fixell said, "that either the judge or Sleepy Hollow will provide some real assurances that there will be some true mitigation of the enormous traffic this project will create."
His remarks were contained in a prepared statement the mayor read at Monday night’s board of trustees meeting. They followed a Patch report last week that Tarrytown has already run up a legal bill of almost $100,000 while unsuccessfully suing to halt the large-scale redevelopment of the General Motors site.
State Supreme Court Justice James Hubert dismissed Tarrytown’s lawsuit in September, clearing the way for a proposed $800 million complex that would blend residential, commercial and other uses on 96 acres overlooking the Hudson River. But Tarrytown filed notice that it might choose to appeal Hubert’s decision.
At issue is the “unacceptable traffic” such a mixed-use complex would generate, Fixell said in his statement, which must inevitably impact Tarrytown’s “already overburdened roads.” Saying village officials “do not believe that the traffic mitigation measures [proposed by Sleepy Hollow] would be very effective,” Fixell suggested that only a smaller-scale project would be likely to reduce traffic to manageable levels.
The centerpiece of Sleepy Hollow's traffic-mitigation proposal, Fixell said, would require Tarrytown to remove 35 parking spaces from various points on Broadway, providing room in which to create bypass lanes. That proposal, he made clear, was a non-starter. "Sleepy Hollow also proposed a few other minor mitigation measures, all of which were again to be done in Tarrytown," Fixell said.
“Although we have made clear our willingness to talk about solutions,” Fixell said, “Sleepy Hollow has refused, and continues to refuse, to take a serious look at the alternatives suggested by Tarrytown or to propose any other reasonable mitigation measures that would bring traffic impacts down to acceptable levels.”
In addition to Tarrytown’s legal and associated expenses, which the Patch report put at $98,921.03, Sleepy Hollow so far has spent $64,835.08 to defend against its neighbor’s lawsuit.
Asked Monday whether the two villages, which share a common school district, have ever discussed their Lighthouse Landing differences, Fixell said he has had conversations with Sleepy Hollow officials. But he acknowledged that the villages’ respective boards have never sat formally to try to hammer out a compromise resolution of their differences.
After Tarrytown’s notice of appeal was made public, both Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray and Trustee Brian Campbell deplored the outlay of multiple “thousands of taxpayer dollars” pursuing what Wray predicted would be “a fruitless and costly appeal.”
The lawsuit and its costs have also inspired some murmurs of discontent among the public at-large. Still, no residents turned out to speak Monday as trustees briskly wrapped up an 18-minute meeting in a virtually empty village hall chamber.
Addressing an abbreviated agenda, the trustees also:
SET a fee of $10 for cabbies to obtain a village version of the driver’s license issued by the Westchester Taxi and Limousine Commission, this one enlarged and laminated to meet Tarrytown’s requirement for its “conspicuous” display.
APPOINTED Joseph G. Hynes, a partner in the Tarrytown law firm of Kissel Hirsch & Wilmer, to the Ethics Board, succeeding David Cellante, who was named last November to a term expiring in 2014.
ADOPTED regulations to govern the handling of leaf loads at the organic-waste transfer station. The board also advised residents that do-it-yourself leaf-mulching by mower could prove an effective alternative for ridding a lawn of autumn’s castoffs.