Bridges at site of Cooper's Corner (rendering courtesy of National Development

Coopers Corner Lawsuit Fails, Senior Housing Development Moves Forward in New Rochelle

Written By: Robert Cox

WHITE PLAINS, NY — New York State Supreme Court Justice Hon. Anne E. Minihan has ruled against several New Rochelle residents from the Bonnie Crest neighborhood of New Rochelle who sought to block development of a senior citizen facility on the site of the former Coopers Corner nursery.

National Development, in partnership with EPOCH Senior Living, have proposed a 64-unit “memory care” facility for Alzheimer’s patients to be located at at 11 Mill Road across the road from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. The site is the former site of Cooper’s Corner Garden Center.

The September 14, 2017 decision describes “overboard allegations of negative impacts on neighborhood character and diminution of property value,” and petitioners claims as “specious claims of proposed harm”.

Shmuel Vasser, Joseph Raf Alowicz and Daniel Krasner filed the hybrid Article 78 and Section 3001 complaint on May 5, 2017, later seeking to add Harry and Jacqueline Stone to an amended complaint. The complaint was filed against the City of New Rochelle, the City Council of the City Of New Rochelle, and the City of New Rochelle Planning Board and ND Acquisitions, LLP, owned by National Development, the property developer.

Bridges’ boutique assisted living residence will fulfill an underserved need in New Rochelle for specialized housing for elderly residents of the community and their children that want them nearby.  It will provide far more taxes than the currently allowed garden center use at Cooper’s Corners while producing less traffic and otherwise having minimal impacts to the community.  

“We’ve had a good dialogue with area residents, which has resulted in a beautiful site plan, that will fit in well with the surrounding institutional and residential community, said National Development Vice President Michael Glynn. “We look forward to working with the rest of the City administration and area residents to make this the best possible project for New Rochelle.”

Deb Blatt, wife of Shmuel Vasser, and a leader in the effort to block the development was not deterred.

“Her ruling is bogus,” said Blatt, who plans to appeal the decision.

In her decision, Judge Minihan found the plaintiffs did not have standing to file a complaint because their homes were too far away from the development site to be impacted by the development any more than other residents of New Rochelle. For similar reasons, she disallowed amending the complaint to add additional parties.

The lawsuit sought to “invalidate a City Council resolution dated January 17, 2017 granting the application of ND Acquisitions, LLP to amend the Senior Citizen Zone District Overlay Chapter, S 331-85 of the City’s Zoning Code; to amend the Zoning Map; and to apply the Senior Citizen Zone Overlay District to II Mill Road, located in the City of New Rochelle; and an order vacating a second resolution dated January 17, 2017 issuing a negative declaration of environmental significance pursuant to SEQRA concerning the approval of the petition to amend the zoning code and the zoning map.”

The court noted that the petitioners concede that they live outside of the two hundred fifty-foot radius of property owners that are required to receive mailed notice of the hearing pursuant to the Zoning Code S 331-146. She found that Petitioners did not state they were within close enough proximity to the proposed facility to overcome the motions to dismiss or to be entitled to an inference of injury as a matter of law.

New Rochelle Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon told the court the petitioners are not from the adjacent Kensington Community but rather The Bonnie Crest neighbor: Vasser resides approximately 1,200 feet from the site, Krasner residing approximately 1,400 from the site, and Rafalowicz residing approximately 1,800 feet from the site.

“Petitioners’ arguments concerning standing merely based on proximity would essentially negate the element of a distinct injury, and such a strained interpretation of the requirement finds no support in the case law,” wrote Minihan.

RELATED: Lawsuit: Neighbors claim New Rochelle rezoning for Cooper’s Corner proposal is illegal

UPDATE: The New Rochelle Planning Board approved the project at a meeting on September 26, 2017.