[Ed. Note — This letter was submitted to River Journal in response to a letter from a local resident. You can see her letter HERE.]
Dear Ms. McCarthy,
Thanks for your letter and the thought you put into it. Your points align with our recollection of your public comments at a recent ADU public hearing and subsequent trustee meeting in Tarrytown. Your concerns are important for us to hear.
But your premise that the village did “everything they could to try to ‘pull one over’ on the residents” is untrue. On behalf of the Tarrytown Board of Trustees, we’d like to clarify the process followed by the Village regarding the ADU legislation.
The Village’s Housing Committee was assigned the task of researching and developing a draft ADU policy following the 2018 ADU recommendation set forth in the Village’s comprehensive plan – a recommendation that itself was the result of extensive public participation and discourse. Please note that the Housing Committee is a volunteer group of Village residents who act in an advisory capacity only. It is up to the Trustees to determine whether the Village should proceed with any proposed legislation.
Upon receiving the Housing Committee’s ADU recommendations, which were first presented to the public in May 2022, the Board of Trustees sought feedback through four public hearings, with at least one more scheduled. Under New York law, it is through these publicly noticed hearings that the Board of Trustees receives input from residents on proposed legislation.
In addition to the public hearings, information about the legislation and FAQs summarizing public questions have been shared though seven e-newsletters, each one sent to thousands of Tarrytown subscribers. This information remains available through the village website and is regularly accessed. In response, many residents continue to weigh in both for and against the legislation, all of which is considered by the village and added to the public record.
Because of this process, and the extensive feedback we have received from Tarrytown residents, the proposed ADU legislation has substantially changed from the original recommendations of the Housing Committee. Public discourse – from before 2018 to this very moment as we consider and respond to letters like yours – has always been central to the process of shaping an ADU policy for Tarrytown.
Still, we stand by our belief that our Village must continue to learn from its experiences with constituents and prioritize its communications strategies so that residents like you do not feel “horrified,” as you shared, by the legislative process. That is truly the last way any of us want you to feel – particularly if it inspires, as your letter suggests, suspicion towards volunteers on Village task forces, their children, and other Tarrytown residents who choose to exercise their right to weigh in on ADUs.
We respect that many Tarrytown residents are opposed to the ADU legislation, including friends and neighbors who know that our respect is genuine. Many others have voiced strong support for the ADU legislation, which we also acknowledge. For the record, we personally believe the following with confidence: if Tarrytown’s ADU law passes, time will show that our homes and our streets will retain the same charm, safety, value, character, and density. The ADU law is intended to help our neighbors age in place and continue to be our neighbors, with minimal to no impact on our neighborhoods. We would not support this legislation otherwise.
With thanks for your thoughts,
Mayor Karen G. Brown and Trustees Robert Hoyt, David Kim, Effie Phillips Staley, Paul Rinaldi and Thomas Mitchell
Thank you for this letter – I truly appreciate the clarity provided regarding the extensive process that has taken place regarding the proposed ADUs. ADUs are a valuable tool for a community looking to support residents that want to stay in their homes as affordability becomes an issues or is an issue for another family member. As the Chair of the Housing Taskforce, I am grateful for your thoughtful and comprehensive approach to getting to the right place regarding a potential ordinance, and I applaud your leadership during an, at times, difficult process. As always, I am truly thankful for your public service and hard work making Tarrytown a wonderful place to live and raise a family.