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Peekskill Planning Chairman Steps Down

Dwight Douglas, chairman of the Peekskill Planning Commission, stepped down from his position during Wednesday’s meeting in response to the Common Council's decision to appeal the site plan approval given to the Renaissance Project's methadone

Peekskill Planning Commission Chairman Dwight Douglas presided over his last meeting Wednesday.

Douglas said he resigned in response  to the Common Council’s ‘ill-advised and misdirected’ move to file an article 78 challenging the commission’s approval of a methadone clinic on 3 Corporate Dr.

The Planning Commission approved the site plan during its Oct. 10 meeting.

“Finally, my decision to resign is based solely on my own thoughts and objections to the course of action the Common Council has pursued and to at least partially lift the cloud that hangs over the Commission from the Council’s resolution describing our actions as 'arbitrary and capricious',” Douglas wrote in his resignation letter. "My decision is in no way intended to reflect the views of the other Commission members.  The Commission, as presently constituted, consists of a highly qualified and capable membership well able to carry on without me and make up their own minds as to their willingness to continue to serve the City in this important and, seemingly, unappreciated role.’’

The Renaissance Project proposes to combine the outpatient therapy program it currently runs at the Jan Peek House with Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s methadone maintenance center into one facility at 3 Corporate Dr. The facility could serve as many as 275 clients, but it’s not expected that the facility will have that many people at any one time.

The Planning Commission gave the project site plan approval in June, but had to redo the process after it was determined that the commission failed to notify the Town of Cortlandt as interested part in the state environmental review process.

Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, the law firm representing the Common Council, contends that the project is incompatible with the current zoning at the proposed site. Although the zoning allows for professional offices, the scope and usage for the proposed clinic doesn’t fit the city’s definition of a professional office, according to attorneys.

But Douglas said the city’s staff had already viewed the plan and determined that it fit the zoning criteria for the site  before the Planning Commission began its review.

“Many residents and citizens signed petitions in opposition to the proposed application,” Douglas wrote. “Generalized community opposition is not an appropriate factor for consideration in site plan review, nor, for that matter, for any decision that contravenes the laws and ordinances we are sworn to uphold.”

A copy of the resignation letter is available in the PDF attached to this story.

Frank a Catalina November 19, 2012 at 05:53 PM
still hard to believe city is in this situation... this is way too far along for it to just 'go away' but make no mistake, before the plan even became public, the common council KNEW; before the first application, the project was given a 'nod'; staff was keyed in and steered the planning commission. there were many opportunities to thwart this but none were exercised. although very different than white plains linen, WPL was an example of an administration intent on KEEPING a huge taxpayor ON the tax rolls (and the city's largest employer) while curbing the over-growth bordering a residential neighborhood. and those efforts spanned at least 2 mayoral administrations. in other words, WPL was not shown the door & city govt LISTENED to citizen complaints. those efforts, behind the scenes, WORKED for the benefit of the entire city. for the record, i only represented WPL on some Cityy Code violations, later, as Corporation Counsel, was one of many who brought about a working solution. looks like exactly the opposite happened here... an administration unwilling or unable to safeguard the city; ignoring cries of citizens and now refusing to accept responsibility.. what a mess!
Wendy Kelly November 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM
You're telling me! Appreciate all the support, guidance and advice from all. Let's keep working together and keep this at HVHC where it belongs.
Chris Hanzlik November 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM
You're right on all counts, Frank. I'd be willing to bet that the Council even knew how this would play out, knowing that the PC had to act on the application, which deflected culpability away from them. It really pisses me off that this is all happening on our, the taxpayers', backs!!
Chris Hanzlik November 19, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Tina, although this might be better answered by Frank (not to put him on the spot!), I can give some opinion. In terms of "overturning" the Neg Dec, the Council would have had to cite the EAF errors in their Art. 78 filing, claimed that these errors resulted in a false determination of no or small environmental impacts, and then prove that the correction of the errors would result in large enough impacts to meet the threshholds for triggering a Positive Declaration and an EIS. If the Council did not challenge the Neg Dec in the Art. 78, I don't believe they have any other course of action since the application was deemed to be a permitted use and the PC was the Lead Agency in the SEQRA review.
Wendy Kelly November 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Anyone else want to join Positive Directions for Peekskill Team? We have a lot of bright people out there that we could certainly use. If interested email me at w.kelly1@verizon.net Much appreciated Wendy

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