More than a dozen residents opposed to Sustainable Playland Inc.’s proposal to build a 95,000-square-foot sports facility in the Playland parking lot asked the Rye City Council to demand answers and better inform the community about what might be built on their own land during a city council meeting last night. Although the council has supported SPI from the start, they acknowledged the SPI plan has changed and said they were unsure of what their legal authority would be if the County Board of Legislators approves the plan.
Because the project would be part of SPI’s lease management agreement with Westchester County, Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson said the city's legal authority over the project is unclear, even though it would be built on Rye City land.
During the council meeting, Councilwoman Catherine Parker
read a statement from SPI that claimed to address all of the “vocal minority’s
concerns,” and told the crowd that the council received 70 emails in favor of
Residents presented a petition against the plan that has collected more than 125 signatures in one week. Mack Cunningham said residents have formed a “No Field Zone” group that started meeting last weekend to organize their opposition. Residents concerns revolve around traffic, loss of parking spaces, property values, construction over the summer, height and size of the facility, public safety and flooding.
The Council agreed that more information is needed and said they will ask SPI and expect them to come forward with answers.
Wilson said the law is unclear regarding whether or not Rye zoning laws apply but that she believes the Court of Appeals balancing test, which factors in things like community interest, how local laws work, benefit verses inconveniences, would apply in this situation.
Councilman Peter Jovanovich said the city will exercise whatever rights it has to have the project go through Rye planning and zoning approval.
Wilson also explained that the State Environmental Quality Review process has not yet started and that Rye would be part of that process.
In the event that the plan is approved and Rye does not have any authority over the project, Wilson believes that Rye could challenge it in court and win that authority.
The SPI Playland Improvement Plan is currently in front of the Westchester County Board of Legislature, which will need to approve it by a majority vote by Dec. 31 in order for the management agreement to be finalized. County Executive Rob Astorino has been pushing the SPI plan since he announced the management agreement last October, but several legislators have questioned the plans financials and other elements since then. They continue to say they are not yet convinced that SPI’s is the best plan for the county, so its approval is not guaranteed at this point.
SPI will hold a meeting on Nov. 20 to discuss community concerns and explain their plan. SPI did not respond to Patch request for comment on points their opposition has raised.
Read more on the field zone here.