Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

3 comments - (Comments closed)

Pinebrook Residents Call for Safety Study

At their October 5 meeting, the Larchmont Village Board heard pleas from architects seeking changes to the zoning code and from residents advocating for a safety study of streets they fear are too dangerous for walking.

Pine Brook/Mayhew/Soundview  Residents Plea for Traffic Safety Study

Blind curves, blind intersections and missing sidewalks were among conditions listed by a contingent of residents seeking a commitment from the board for a safety study “in this budget cycle” so improvements can be in place by next September. Beth Belisle, who lives on Mayhew Avenue near Stuyvesant, said her group had already met twice with the Traffic Commission, and although some changes have been implemented, the residents  would like a comprehensive, professional assessment.

The Traffic Commission lowered the speed limit for the length of Mayhew and Stuyvesant from 30 to 25 miles per hour; added a new stop sign and crosswalk at the intersection  of Soundview and Stuyvesant; and restricted commercial traffic to local deliveries.

The residents have additional concerns.

Megan Hildebrandt, who lives on Stuyvesant Avenue at the intersection with Pine Brook Drive, noted there was no safe way to get from her home to the nearby park, which is on the other side of a triangular traffic island.  Gretchen Liebowitz said she has to dash madly across the wide intersection at Stuyvesant and Soundview,  unable to see cars coming around the winding road because of a towering rock wall. “People come flying through there,” she said, but there are no sidewalks or nearby crosswalks. (See the Google map below or click: View Larger Map.)


Despite a large number of elementary schoolers in the neighborhood, it’s been difficult to recruit parents to lead a “Walking School Bus” reported Liz Fitzgerald, Chatsworth School coordinator for Walk to School Week, which began on Monday. There are eight “bus routes” from the Manor, but barely two from Pinebrook. “No one wants to volunteer because it’s so dangerous,” she said.

Board members did not dispute the existence of difficult intersections, but did not commit to the study.

Trustee Anne McAndrews said, “We can’t commit: we have no idea what this is going to cost.” She said the board needed specifics on the scope of the study and would then have to issue requests for proposals and follow other bidding procedures.

Trustee Marlene Kolbert was not unsympathetic to the residents, but called for a reality check. She predicted a traffic study could be expensive and  beyond this year’s budget.

“We’d all like to make it a bikeable, walkable community,” she said, “But Larchmont was laid out 100 years ago in ways that are not ideal for the situation we’re in,” she added.  She also noted that her own children used to walk from Shadow Lane to school, beginning as five-year-olds, despite the lack of sidewalks.

Ms. Belisle and Mr. Engel, speaking as vice-president of the Pine Brook Neighborhood Association, argued that times had changed: traffic is up, cars are larger and drivers are on cellphones.

The residents got the most support from Trustee Richard Ward, who said he would be “happy to work with the Traffic Commission and the group to make sure everyone has input into the design of the RFP.”

Mayor Feld said “we’ll get something together real fast,” perhaps in time for the next board meeting on November 9.

Change at Planning Board? Not So Fast

Members of Larchmont’s Planning Board are having second thoughts about proposed changes to the zoning code that would relax rules adopted in 2005 requiring homeowners to get approval before constsructing additions larger than 250 square feet. (See: Stricter Zoning Code Passes.)

Public hearings have been dragging on at board meetings for months, with little public input. However,  there  appeared to have been a consensus building among members of Larchmont’s three land use boards (Planning, Zoning and Architectural Review) and the Board of Trustees to bump up the threshold for required review  to 250 square feet on larger lots (outside of the RC, R.5 and R7.5 zones).

However, on Monday night, two Planning Board members voiced support for keeping the 250 square feet rule.

Asked by Trustee Marlene Kolbert to explain – in one sentence – why “we should keep it exactly the way it is now,” Michael Edelstein, vice-chairman of the Planning Board, said the legislation passed in response to “bulking up” of homes is a “very valuable addition.” If the minimum size is increased, there may be instances that his group “will not be able to catch.”

Ralph Engel, also from the Planning Board, said a review of their cases showed many problems with additions on larger lots, precisely “because they are the largest, they can cause the biggest problems.” The only way to “attempt to do what you’ve asked us to do is to cover everyone equally,” he said.

Mr. Edelstein agreed that some of their procedures need “greater transparency” to make it easier for applicants to understand how and when to submit required documentation. John Parkinson, another Planning Board member confirmed earlier in the hearing that there was a draft proposal for changes, with the aim to create “as smooth a process as possible.”

Pleading the case for a higher threshold for planning review were two local architects, who had also voiced opposition to the rules in 2006.  (See: Pros Oppose New Larchmont Building Rules.) Arthur  Wexler said he was curtailing the size of additions so as to avoid the Planning Board.  “It’s a step that’s dangerous – there are no guidelines, we don’t know what we have to present.” He called for greater leeway for larger lots, and complete elimination of Planning Board review for additions that remain within zoning setbacks.

Rick Yestadt noted there is no clear definition of “bulk,” so architects don’t know how to respond to Planning Board concerns. He concurred that the thresholds are too low. “To a person, the architects in town were taken aback when the rule was enacted,” he said.

Ms. Edelstein suggested the Planning Board now had sufficient experience with the rules and would be open to taking feedback from architects.

Mayor Liz Feld, who has regularly questioned the rules, noted that few other communities require site plan reviews for residential lots smaller than one acre. Mr. Engel reminded the board, however, why the stricter rules were enacted: “You had monstrous houses towering over others,” he recalled. It’s not enough to notify neighbors of impending construction, he said, “They need to go somewhere with the authority to say no.”

The public hearing will continue on November 9.

PrintFriendlyTwitterGoogle GmailYahoo MailShare

Related Articles:

3 comments to Pine Brook Residents Call for Safety Study

  • Ted Utz

    Even 25 miles per hour in this neighborhood is excessive! There are too many blind curves and residents like to park their cars in places that make navigating the area very difficult and dangerous.

  • Barry Silverstein

    In order to save the town the time and money required for a traffic study, as a Pine Brook resident, I took the time to do a quick study myself. The following changes would make the neighborhood safer and greatly lower the chances for the kind of accident none of us ever want to see, hear about or experience.
    1. Eliminate the right on red from Palmer onto Pinebrook.
    2. Change all Yield signs in the area to Stop signs. This has already been done at the Howard/Stuyvesant intersection near the new crosswalk. It’s a good idea in all cases.
    3. Place crosswalks and four-way stop signs at the dangerous 3 way intersection of Stuyvesant, Iden and Rockwell.
    4. Place 4 way stop signs at intersection of Mayhew and Howard.
    5. Place stop sign on Howard at entrance to Stuyvesant.
    6. Place stop sign at base of Rockwood, where it intersects with Pine Brook.
    7. Place stop signs at Pine Brook and Brookway intersection.
    8. Place stop sign on Mayhew at Brookway.

    These changes will make the neighborhood safer for our children, which has been an issue for many years. The neighborhood is used as a cross-through for cars wanting to avoid the Palmer Avenue traffic in the village.

    If this is too much for the town to take-on, let us know where we can get Stop signs and white paint and I’m sure the community can get these changes done in a weekend.

    Barry Silverstein
    58 Stuyvesant Avenue

  • Penny Dana

    We’ve lived at the corner of Howard and Mayhew for 18 years. I have written to the Traffic Commission several times over the years about the need for additional STOP and other signage in the neighborhood, only to be rebuffed each time.

    Not only is the Pine Brook neighborhood a cross-through for cars looking to avoid Palmer traffic, it is a major cross-through from Palmer to the Boston Post Road. Coming from Palmer, going onto Pinebrook, Mayhew – there is no stop until you get to Lincoln – nearly all the way to the Post Road. As I’ve told the Traffic Commission, when drivers come out of what I call the Mayhew “curves”, they accelerate – reaching max velocity near my driveway on Mayhew. [I was told by the Commission, that signage is used ONLY to indicate right-of-way, and not to reduce speed. Frankly, if a STOP sign doesn't reduce speed, I don't know what will.]

    In recent years, several of our neighbors have taken to parking their cars out on Mayhew during the day, operating as a physical inhibitor to speeding – thank you neighbors. You are doing what the Village of Larchmont and its Traffic Commission won’t do.

    The indicator is the number of DEAD SQUIRRELS on Mayhew – many of which I pick up because I can’t stand to look at them. I have verbally offered to pay for the signs myself.

    WE DON’T NEED A TRAFFIC STUDY. Here’s a comparison – Prospect and Kane have STOP signs on EVERY BLOCK! I had pointed this out as an example of traffic control, which was “explained away” by the Traffic Commission in its responses.

    What is even MORE RIDICULOUS than spending precious tax dollars to do a traffic study, is that the SPEED LIMIT ON PALMER AVENUE by Jack’s Automotive is LOWER than the speed limit on Mayhew!!!!!

    Thank you Barry Silverstein, for listing some of the problem areas. I don’t know if your list is comprehensive, but I am happy that you made one. And I am glad that FINALLY someone is really taking notice of this problem. Thank you Pine Brook Association for moving this forward.

    Flooding and speeders – the Pine Brook Neighborhood needs some attention from the Village of Larchmont!

    Penny Dana
    6 Howard Street