April 17, 2012 Until recently, those of us living in Banksville and beyond enjoyed the benefits of a local grocery store. The owners and townspeople knew each other’s names, and our children worked in the small supermarket for spending money. We could buy fresh produce, locally and organically grown, and the owners were happy to order an item not on the shelves. We visited with our neighbors while we shopped. The grocery store in Banksville anchored our hamlet.
Lately we have all heard from our elected officials about a new grocery store for Armonk. In fact, it seemed to be a cataclysmic event when Armonk’s grocery closed. But what have you heard from our elected officials about a grocery store for Banksville?
Elected officials should fight for all of their residents. I spoke out about the need for a new supermarket in Banksville at two North Castle Town Board meetings. Supervisor Howard Arden campaigned saying that he will run the town like a business and that he will utilize his network of business contacts. Our councilmen have combined job skills that include those of a real estate broker, commercial banker, CPA and senior manager for Fortune 500 companies. Our new Chairman of the Planning Board is a highly successful shopping center developer with expertise in supermarkets. If our elected officials and their key advisors would start fighting for a new grocery store in Banksville, there’s no telling what good things might happen.
Our North Castle officials need to think creatively and also reach across the state line to work with Greenwich officials. Perhaps approvals could be “fast-tracked”. Perhaps a tax incentive could be extended. Perhaps Banksville could have a grocery store again.
The benefits of a grocery store in Banksville include:
Reduced traffic going to and from other grocery stores;
Decreased fuel consumption that helps the environment;
Increased property values;
A sense of community where we gather to buy our food;
Employment for some residents; and
Healthy, fresh products.
A grocery store is an essential component of a livable and functioning community, and a perquisite for a happy electorate.
Special Meeting for Banksville Rezoning
March 22, 2012 Special Meeting for Banksville Rezoning
At a special meeting of North Castle's Town Board on March 21, 2012, a question and answer discussion was held to discuss proposed legislation to rezone the northerly side of Banksville Avenue from a General Business (GB) to a One-Family Residence District (R-1/2A).
Bob "Herbie" Farquhar, owner of Banksville Lawn Equipment for the past 31 years, stressed that we need to keep businesses in Banksville, not take them away. He believes that business owners and residents can work together to settle on a business section for Banksville Avenue, allowing appropriate development for both businesses and residences.
Banksville Community House Provides a Place To Connect
Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Yoga Classes
March 15, 2013 Friends and family are invited to bring your Easter basket and join the Banksville Community House on Saturday, March 23rd at 1 p.m. for the Easter Egg Hunt at 12 Banksville Road in Greenwich. There will be thousands of eggs to hunt for, with a special area for children, ages five and under. The Easter Bunny will be arriving at the Community House on a fire truck. This annual neighborhood event is free.
The Banksville Community House (BCH), founded in 1936, is a non-profit organization. In 1939, Herbert Bertrand bought the Jensen Farm and presented 10 acres to the people of Banksville. The Banksville Community House was relocated to the 10-acre property where it is still located today, at 12 Banksville Road. The property is near the state line of New York, less than a mile from Finch's Country Store, where the BCH first opened its doors as a meeting place for local boy scouts.
The BCH is hosting Hatha Flow Yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The classes, which started in February and will be held through April 16, are given from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Everyone is welcome, even if you didn’t start the class in February.
Nancy Hoffman, a certified yoga instructor and licensed massage therapist, has been studying yoga, dance and fitness for over 30 years. She is currently a yoga instructor with Gwen Lawrence and Kundalinin Yoga East. Nancy is also a graduate of the Swedish Institute in New York City.
The yoga class is a combination of hard work, humor and deep relaxation. All levels are welcome. The drop-in rate is $20 a class or packages of 4, 8 or 16 classes may be purchased.
Profits from community events, such as the Harvestfest in the fall, go toward building a new playground for the Community House, says Anne Marie Alonzi, vice president of the 12-member board of the Banksville Community House. Some of the money raised is also allotted toward maintenance on the building.
Other annual events include the Toys for Tots event in December, a clothing drive and many smaller, children’s events throughout the year. Last summer BCH opened its doors from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each month for a neighborhood open house. Kids played air hockey, ping pong and other games, while parents had a chance to catch up with their neighbors, Anna Marie said. The event was a success and great fun for the kids.
BCH also rents the baseball field to local teams. In addition, they rent the building at a cost of $150 for events such as birthday parties and corporate meetings.
The board is always on the lookout for new programs to offer: “We are currently looking into a sports-based program and a theater program - both after school and weekends - for kids," added Anne Marie.
The annual Harvestfest has become a very special event that everyone in the neighborhood eagerly awaits. Anne Marie says there is a resurgence of many young families moving to Banksville, and Harvestfest has become a family, fall tradition in many homes.
For the last 15 years, BCH has housed the Banksville Nursery School. The school was not run by the community house, but was a wonderful learning experience that many of the local residents’ children attended, said Alonzi. Last April, the owner announced her plans to relocate and merge with another preschool. As of September, 2013, The Banksville Community Day School opened its doors as a nursery/daycare center for children, ages six weeks through Pre-K age. The owner runs another preschool in Greenwich.
"Before and especially since the closing of the IGA store, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities to bump into friends and neighbors and catch up. The Community House’s events provide a place to connect the lives of busy people. And because of its location -- in the middle of Connecticut and New York -- it’s a great place to meet families that you may not necessarily have the opportunity to," commented Anne Marie.
Banksville Community House is located at 12 Banksville Road in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit the website at www.thebch.org or call (203) 550-1167 for more information.
Banksville Market License Extended, As Zoning Amendment Is Considered
March 6, 2013 Banmonk Realty, which is owned by the DiGiacinto family, is the owner of the property at 23 Bedford Banksville Road. The current tenant is George Bridge, who has been renting the parking lot for almost three years; he uses the property as a storage for trees slated for high-end landscape- designs.
George Bridge is operating according to a market license issued by the Town Board, which expired on February 28, 2013. Attorney Mark Miller of Veneziano & Associates said the license had been renewed approximately six times and there have never been any complaints. A market license is usually issued for a flea market or a farmers market, said Director of Planning Adam Kaufman.
At the November 8, 2012, Town Board meeting, the Town Board said they wanted to have a more permanent business on the property. The market license was extended for ninety days in November and was set to expire on February 26. Superviosr Howard Arden and Councilman John Cronin asked why the applicant waited to extend the market license until the day before it was due to expire. Apparently, a meeting between Miller, Kaufman and Town Attorney Roland Baroni was scheduled after the holidays and the process took time. After considering all the options for a more permanent solution, Kaufman and Baroni recommended that the permitted uses in Banksville’s Central Business (CB-B) zone be amended, Miller said.
At the February 27th Town Board meeting, Miller asked for a one-year extension to the market license; the extension would allow for the owners to operate the nursery business during the process to amend the zoning; in turn, it would provide an income to cover the owner's property expenses. Supervisor Arden referred to Town Attorney Baroni, who said the process of a zoning change could take from four-to-six months.
"The use of the market license is intended for a temporary use," said Howard Arden, “and I have an issue with rolling it again and again."
Councilman Mike Schiliro asked if there was any time limit to a market license. Town Attorney Baroni promptly answered, "No.” Schiliro commented, “I have no issue with the renewal of the license for either six months or one year because that is allowed in the code.” And Schiliro added that if we were to issue a license to a farmer’s market, the license would be considered for an annual renewel.
Howard Arden said Councilman Mike Schiliro made a good point; if the application is being worked on and they hold a public hearing, he'll roll the license over for another three months and see where they were at that point. "But we want to see good faith effort on this. We're not trying to hurt the applicant -- we understand the economics of it. We want to make sure it is handled the right way for everybody," said Arden.
Miller said considering all the meetings, the public hearing, and the required Westchester County Planning Board review, six months is a more realistic time frame; in addition, it saves everyone the administrative task of returning in three months for a renewal. Deferring to the town experts, Kaufman and Baroni, who said the process would take four-to-six months, Arden agreed to a six-month extension.
Councilman Steve D'Angelo said if there was no problem with the business’ use to store the trees, then why not reissue the permit? Councilman John Cronin then asked D'Angelo, "Is that how we are supposed to measure these kinds of things, whether someone complains or not?" It is a nursery business operating for three years, said Cronin, and the application should have been made two years ago. Cronin was opposed to reissuing the market license.
For the first time in more than a year in office, Supervisor Howard Arden voted along with Councilman Mike Schiliro and Councilman Steve D'Angelo, as the majority; they voted to extend the market license for six months, while the applicant proceeds through the process of requesting a change in the CB-B zoning code. Town Attorney Roland Baroni said that they should “hold the property owner's feet to the fire,” as they work through the process for the extended six-month period.
After the vote, Arden said, "That's a first." Over the past year, Councilman Diane Roth, Councilman John Cronin and Supervisor Howard Arden have typically voted on the same side, yet it was the first time Arden voted on the same side as only Shiliro and D'Angelo. The Town Board voted unanimously to send the application to the Planning Board.
Banmonk Realty will be referred to the Planning Board, who will review the application for the zoning amendments and prepare a report, said Kaufman. The Planning Board will then refer the application back to the Town Board, who will conduct an environmental review and hold a public hearing. The Westchester County Planning Board is also required to review the zoning amendment.
Mark Miller will also be responsible for preparing a zoning petition to allow additional uses in Banksville's CB-B district. The CB-B district zone is restricted to a small section of properties on the east and west sides of Bedford Banksville Road. Miller said the changes would give the property owners in the area an opportunity to make productive use of their properties. "We are seeking a zone text amendment to allow several additional uses in the CB-B zoning district, including nurseries, recreation centers, arts and crafts occupations, and storage to expand the pool of potential tenants,” Miller said in a letter addressed to the Town Board.
Supervisor Arden said he wanted the requested inclusion of a warehouse as a possible-permitted use to be removed from the application for amended changes to the CB-B district.
In the meantime, Banmonk, the property owner, is looking for a tenant, and the zoning-change application could be moot if they find a tenant that meets the criteria of permitted use in the CB-B zone. Permitted uses in the CB-B Central Business in Banksville include; retail stores; restaurants; bars; cabarets; carry-out restaurants; fast-food restaurants; theaters in completely enclosed buildings; banks; businesses; personal-service establishments and professional offices and studios.
After the vote to extend the license (which Councilman Diane Roth had voted against) and the referral to the Planning Board, Roth said, "I just hope this applicant is as friendly to other people as this board has been to them."