Port Chester's Republicans employed blunt terms while the Democrats on the board chose their words more carefully.
But the trustees acknowledged a consensus this week by saying they'll oppose any effort by neighboring Rye Brook to build affordable housing in Rye Brook's District 4, which would result in more children enrolling in an Port Chester School District.
As part of an that dates back to when Democrat Andy Spano was county executive, Rye Brook is one of more than two dozen Westchester communities their neighborhoods by building affordable housing. Although District 4 falls within Rye Brook borders, children who live in the district are sent to Port Chester schools.
Early documents and statements from Rye Brook leaders indicate there's a strong chance Port Chester's more affluent neighbor could build affordable housing units in District 4. An "Affordable Housing Discussion Paper" dated from January identifies several potential locations for affordable housing, the majority of them within District 4.
Local leaders are also alarmed at some of the details in a potential housing plan, including the use of "floating zones" to bypass current zoning law in Rye Brook.
"Floating zone is a euphemism for spot zoning. That's all it is," said Trustee Sam Terenzi. "I don't care what they call it over there, it's just a way for them to put affordable housing where they want to put it."
Port Chester's leaders said this week they'll put up a fight if that happens.
"This puts everybody on record...that we're not going to ignore this, it's not going to get lost on our desks," said Trustee Bart Didden. "We're going to be there, we're going to have an opinion."
Didden said he's heard from concerned taxpayers, and said it's the board's responsibility "to exercise our right as a neighboring community."
Rye Brook has a public hearing on the matter slated for Oct. 25, but Port Chester leaders say they haven't received information they've requested from the neighboring village. It isn't clear how far along Rye Brook's plans are, and aside from the January discussion paper, the most recent document regarding affordable housing on Rye Brook's website is a notice about the public hearing five days from now.
Democrats on the board said they won't have enough information to provide feedback at that hearing.
Terenzi was more direct, acknowledging he's already had an e-mail conversation with Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein "that wasn't a very pleasant back-and-forth," while Village Attorney Anthony Cerreto was more circumspect in describing how he perceived Rye Brook's cooperation.
"There may be some issues we have with what the Village of Rye Brook has given us so far," Cerreto said.
Although he stopped short of saying he believes Rye Brook leaders are intentionally moving to put affordable housing in District 4, Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla said he'd oppose any such effort. In the meantime, the board will wait for a reply from Rye Brook and an update from Cerreto before its next move.
"Tony, I think you hear the sentiment of this board loud and clear," Pilla told Cerreto. "We will look for your guidance."
Follow Port Chester Patch!