By Don McHugh
Teardowns are changing the character of neighborhoods.
Clearly, we need a more rational, long-term, sustainable approach to residential building in Rye.
Privacy and sunlight are sacrificed due to inappropriate oversized homes being allowed on small lots.
At the start of each year, our country, state, county, and city all appropriately take time to reflect on their state of affairs. At the national level, there are numerous takes on the new administration, which need no amplification. My current focus is local. I am greatly concerned by the recent flurry of home construction sanctioned by the City of Rye, presumably for the sake of “progress”. Unfortunately, my comments arrive too late to spare my immediate neighborhood. I simply never anticipated the speed or furor with which the City would allow an entire area to be bulldozed and replaced, or how little attention would be paid to the concerns of those most heavily impacted. But, perhaps some reflection will lead to better planning elsewhere in the City, and avoid some long-term unintended consequences.
Since last summer I’ve found myself in a situation not unfamiliar to my neighbors, with construction projects on two adjacent properties: one to the left and one behind. Both involved “teardowns,” where the new construction is dramatically larger than the old (the house to the right — a partial teardown — was replaced two years ago). Similar projects have dotted almost every block of Glen Oaks for each of the past few years; and they have greatly changed the character of the neighborhood. The new home designs are beautiful on paper, but they are not appropriately scaled to the lots on which they stand or neighborhood in which they reside. Multiple colonials with four to five bedrooms and an equal number of baths are misplaced, in a neighborhood consisting largely of ranches and Cape Cod homes that sit on properties an eighth- to a quarter-acre in size — especially when the new homes include three floors of living space, each with ceilings up to 10 feet high that clearly dwarf nearby homes. I am uncertain as to the angle created by the line-of-sight from the sidewalk to the roofline (perhaps a reasonable addition to zoning considerations), but the structures are uncomfortably imposing to passersby.
My list of personal grievances is long:
• A loss of privacy, as admittedly modest homes, previously barely visible through mature native foliage, are replaced by massive modern structures with multiple windows peering down on my previously private backyard, from their raised vantage point atop newly denuded properties.
• The impact of reduced sunlight on my lawn, flowers, trees, and bushes planted and nurtured for over 25 years, that now lay in the shadow of these structures.
• Almost certain water run-off thanks to the vastly expanded foot print of the new homes, steep pitch at which earth is re-distributed around the small remnant property, and radical reduction in vegetation.
By Paul Hicks
In the seventy-five years since Rye became a city there have been sixteen mayors. Some of the earlier mayors are still remembered, such as Livingston Platt (for gaining the city charter) and Edmund Grainger (for defeating the bridge). Others have long been forgotten by most of the community, including Karl T. Frederick, who served as mayor from 1948 to 1950. A multifaceted man, he was an Olympic gold medalist, a prominent conservationist, and a respected head of the NRA who favored gun controls.
The Frederick family finally settled in the Finger Lakes area, where Karl Karl Telford Frederick was born in 1881 in Chateaugay, a town in upstate New York on the Canadian border. His father, a Presbyterian minister, moved the family frequently to various communities in the region, and, in the process, Karl developed a lasting love of the Adirondacks.
After completing high school at the age of 16, he enrolled at Princeton University, his father’s alma mater, but family financial problems required him to cover the tuition costs by tutoring. He won the premier senior prize at graduation and was also awarded a fellowship for graduate study in Economics and Politics. Graduating from Princeton in 1903, Frederick spent a year at its graduate school, financing his studies by teaching at Lawrenceville School.
By Peter Jovanovich
At the March 1 City Council meeting, Mayor Joe Sack indicated that Crown Castle’s latest proposal to install cell phone towers is “not one that this Council is likely to approve.” On February 24, the company submitted a further iteration of their proposal to build cell phone towers around Rye. Action on the application must be taken by the March 15 Council meeting.
The Mayor acknowledged that the City has been in discussion with Crown Castle, but this latest plan to build towers, a so-called “Plan C” would not meet the approbation of the Council. All other Councilmembers, including the plan’s principal opponent, Councilmember Emily Hurd, concurred.
The Council is also considering the approval of a new local law governing cell towers. After input from the community, a new draft of the law will be made available to the public in advance of the March 15 meeting. The Mayor thanked the citizen’s committee for their advice, which “we may incorporate in whatever final product is put forth at the next Council meeting.”
Regarding the new law, Joseph Van Eaton, recently hired consultant-attorney representing the City in the Crown Castle affair, “We want the priority to be for construction on existing towers or existing supporting structures. New towers will not be permitted in existing right-of-ways.”