Yonkers City Council Majority Leader and Real Estate Committee Chair Patricia McDow (1st District) presided over the February 15th meeting attended by Real Estate Committee Members Wilson Terrero (2nd District), Chuck Lesnick (Yonkers City Council President), Minority Leader John Murtagh (5th District, John Larkin (6th District), as well as Joan Gronowski (3rd District) and Dennis Shepherd (4th District) . The Real Estate Committee was considering a General Ordinance which if approved, would permit amending Section 43-15 of the Zoning Code of the City of Yonkers (CoY) with regard to an exception in lots in two or more districts or municipalities. Specifically, the call for the adoption of the General Ordinance spoke to a property owned by Linda Louise, LLC, whose tenant Metro Green, engaged the services of Matthew Smith, Esq., of the firm of Smith, Buss & Jacobs, with which Mr Lesnick has been in the passed affiliated, and may in some capacity still be associated. The tenant advises that the property upon which he operates recycling operation which turns construction debris into concrete, rock, and dirt for use as gravel. The tenant advises he has operated on this site for almost 2 years’ time and holds a 5 year lease with a first option to purchase.
The property in question straddles the border with the City of Mount Vernon. Ninety percent of the property is situated in CoY and ten percent in Mount Vernon. The City of Mount Vernon has designated the property for industrial use; the City of Yonkers has designated the property for commercial use. The tenant should like CoY to approve use of the property for industrial purposes. Mr Lesnick did not admit to recognizing that such an action would amount to “spot zoning.” Mr Murtagh recognized the issue and recoiled from entertaining the issue asserting the Yonkers City Council was not the appropriate venue for remedy of this issue and that standards of protocol would need to be followed.
Wikipedia describes “spot zoning" as the application of zoning to a specific parcel of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with a city's master plan and current zoning restrictions. The rezoning may be for the benefit of a particular owner, and at odds with pre-existing adjacent property owners. The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act states "all such regulations shall be uniform for each class or kind of building throughout each district." Courts may rule certain instances of spot zoning as illegal.The specific lot numbers were not supplied.
A Mount Vernon map was afforded the committee but was not verified by a map authenticated by the City of Yonkers.
Mr Lesnick feigned an aloof stance in arguing the merit of the tenant’s interests but maintained a steady argument in attempting to arrive at a majority consensus to move the request to next week’s City Council Meeting.
Mr Murtagh, studying the map distributed as back-up material with the proposed item noted that the property seemed to be situated within 500 feet of a green trail which would thereby demand approval by both CoY and Westchester County government.
Mr. Lesnick was found out by Mr Murtagh omitting information which whether he knew prior to its being revealed or not in the back and forth discourse should have known the issue. Mr Lesnick is a lawyer with claimed expertise in easement and other such modalities related to real estate law,
No matter how removed Mr Lesnick’s body language was in expressing disinterest in the preceding, Mr Lesnick mentioned he had gotten verbal agreement from the City of Mount Vernon that they were indeed amenable to rezoning the property.
The language presented before the Real Estate Committee did not stipulate the lot number over which one must infer the meeting was called. The inexactitude of the papers before the Real Estate Committee could, if adopted, have lead to an inadvertent rezoning of other property not specified in this General Ordinance.
Not giving up attempting to shepherd the request through, Mr Lesnick suggested it may be prudent to refer the issue to Westchester County for advisement. Ms Gronowski was adamant in promoting that Yonkers should define its own interests and concerns before asking for an opinion from the county.
Mr Lesnick was undeterred. Mr Murtagh suggested the tenant bring his request for a variance from the Yonkers Zonung Board.
Ms Gronowski advised the tenant it would be prudent for the property owner to petition Yonkers and not him.
What became evident is that Mr Lesnick conduct was an attempt to dupe the Real Estate Committee to agree to real estate and zoning issues they may have not been knowledgeable. Were Ms Gronowski’s dead on questions and Mr Murtagh legal expertise not shared with the Real Estate Committee, Mr Lesnick could have hoodwinked to Real Estate Committee to adopt a General Ordinance that could have potentially hurt the City of Yonkers.
Just as appalling is that Yonkers City Council Democrat Counsel Christian DiPalermo was deficient in comprehending the ploy or complicit with Mr Lesnick’s conduct. One must ask what the Yonkers taxpayer is paying for when the Yonkers City Council Democrat Counsel is inept in protecting Yonkersites in his role as counsel to the Yonkers City Council, or if he was in n the ploy?
Mr Lesnick’s passive / aggressive attempt to hood-wink the Real Estate Committee is potentially deleterious to Yonkersites. It brings to question Mr Lesnick ever being considered trustworthy to be maintained for present office, much less considered for higher office. Mr Lesnick’s conduct yesterday evening has proven his susceptibility to prostitute himself for the client of an associate without concern as to its possible negative ramification to The People of Yonkers.
A call to Council President Lesnick’s Communication Aide Adam Brill requesting Mr Lesnick’s telephone contact led to him defining his job was to field calls for Mr Lesnick. Mr Brill has proven himself incapable to responding to this reporter in a forthright manner. Further inquiry of Mr Brill was terminated with the advisement that this article would be sadly written without any further input from Mr Lesnick.