In Irvington…Continuum Continuing & Beyond the Budget

Village of Irvington New YorkA recent conversation with Irvington’s Village Administrator, Larry Schopfer, centered around the proposed assisted living facility, Continuum, before the Planning Board and what issues were front and center for the Village Board of Trustees.

“As I understand it Continuum has submitted its Draft FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) which ultimately must reflect the views of the Planning Board. It can’t be an advertising document but rather must be objective and factual. Planning Board Chairman Bill Hoffman is going through the document very carefully along with the Village’s attorney Marianne Stecich and the Village Planner and Consultant Stu Turner.” That information is available to the public on the Village’s site “Basically we’re waiting for the finalization of the FEIS and all of our questions to be answered. I cannot predict when the Planning Board will vote on the findings of the FEIS.” In addition the applicant will have to request a variance to the current zoning of multi-family (MF) which would change the regulations governing MF. Schopfer noted that approximately 1 ½ years ago Continuum first approached the Board of Trustees requesting a change in the MF regulations and were referred to the Planning Board at that time. As recently as last summer Continuum went before the Village Board with an informal presentation of their project redesign. “It was a public meeting and it gave them a chance to update the Board on where they were in the process and what direction they were taking,” Schopfer said. He added that because it’s a large project the Village Board has been monitoring the process, however has not had any formal discussions about the proposed project. “Some of our Board members have been attending the Planning Board meetings and that’s a
good thing. They haven’t spoken because it’s not the time to. They are simply trying to stay on top of the issue,” he added.

Shifting to other ongoing issues within the Village, Schopfer mentioned that the Treasurer and he had presented to the Board an update on the 2013/2014 budget and that they were underneath the 2% tax cap as of January, and considerably under by about $100,000. “We have an indicated tax rate of 3.25% at this stage and unless there is some unusual circumstance I expect that number to decrease as we get to the end of the budget process. There is room for additional cost saving measures,” he noted. Those minor tweaks would come in the form of staff efficiency measures and not layoffs. Again they would be across all areas of the Village with added attention paid to the Department of Public Works and the Recreation Department. “All of our department heads will be working hard to squeeze in additional savings,” Schopfer said.

[blockquote class=blue]With budgetary items seemingly under control due to diligence and perseverance, Irvington will likely be able to turn its attention to other matters. [/blockquote]With budgetary items seemingly under control due to diligence and perseverance, Irvington will likely be able to turn its attention to other matters. There is a concerted effort toward revising the regulations for business signage on Main Street’s business district. Over the past couple of years the Board of Trustees has been working on the issue and their most recent initiative is apparently a good compromise in terms of providing necessary regulation without being too burdensome on business owners. The Board will be talking about the draft of a law that encourages esthetically pleasing signage without over regulation. “It is a balancing act where we don’t necessarily want to create uniformity, but we also don’t want to create clutter with signage,” Schopfer said. He then added, “It is a daunting task to balance all the differing points of view on this issue. Obviously the business owners don’t want their hands tied while the Board has to take into consideration the esthetics of it all.”

The Village has taken a “Climate Smart” pledge to create more energy efficiency and energy reduction while promoting these measures to the residents. The pledge is a paperwork item from New York State and the Board has taken the time to go through it and identify the action items they can address. A plan of how to accomplish the items is in the works with Board members having come up with a good baseline of the energy the Village presently uses. “We have engaged with a fairly simple software package online to help analyze our energy usage and we have already identified certain projects that will have to be completed,” he said.

With regards to the waterfront, the Village has appointed seven members to a committee and is still looking to appoint two additional members and make one of them the chairperson. “It may sound like a fairly academic thing but it’s really not. We’re trying to create as much balance on this Waterfront Zoning Committee as possible. We want the Committee members to have a wide variety of views about the waterfront. We all believe that the Chairperson [selection] will be the most important decision we make,” Schopfer added.

Lastly, this coming March will see no Irvington Village elections, due to the passage of a referendum that moves them to November, the time of general elections. Mayor Smith, Trustees Kehoe and Bernstein are up for re-election if they so choose.

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