By Barrett Seaman–
At its April 5th meeting, the Tarrytown Board of Trustees voted to replace Dr. Stanley Friedlander as chair of the village’s Planning Board with another member, Ron Tedesco. Friedlander had been chair of the committee for 48 years.
The vote was narrow, with three trustees joining with Mayor Tom Butler in approving the motion to change command of what is considered the second most important body in village government, while three trustees, including Deputy Mayor Becky McGovern, voted not to replace Dr. Friedlander. The timing of the vote was unusual, coming nearly four months into the one-year term stipulated for the chairmanship that normally runs from December to December.
Almost a dozen citizens called into the April 5th Zoom meeting to protest Friedlander’s ouster and question the reasons for his removal. Many of these same callers were vocal opponents of the 300-ft, long, sixty-ft. high apartment building proposed for 29 South Depot Plaza, adjacent to the Metro North station. That plan was approved by the Planning Board on a 3-2 vote where chairman Friedlander was on the losing side and wrote a detailed dissenting report.
“I must ask why now,” demanded Main Street resident David Barnett. “Couldn’t it wait until his term expires? I would hope it was not his opposition to 29 South Depot Plaza. Please tell me my hunch is wrong.”
Indeed, Mayor Butler insisted that the decision to replace Friedlander “had nothing to do with” South Depot Plaza. “We need new leadership,” he said as he cast his vote in favor of Tedesco as the new chair. “Ron is the stabilizing individual. with the Planning Board at this time”
One interpretation of that is that Dr. Friedlander was not a stabilizing influence on the Planning Board he ran for decades. In a subsequent interview with The Hudson Independent, the mayor said he has long been a believer that such positions should rotate on a regular basis—“not just Planning but all committees,” he said. “It’s important that people don’t get entrenched.”
Butler said he had several conversations with Dr. Friedlander beginning last December in hopes that he would step down voluntarily. When Friedlander refused, the mayor called for the vote to replace him.
The Board of Trustees plans to issue a proclamation celebrating Dr. Friedlander’s long service to the village at its next full board meeting. “We’re not disrespecting Stanley in any way,” insisted the mayor. Whether Dr. Friedlander will join that meeting to accept the encomium remains to be seen. His term as a member of the Planning Board runs until December 2022.
As for 29 South Depot Plaza, the proposal sent by the Planning Board to the trustees late last year was subsequently returned to the Planning Board requesting that the height be reduced from 60 to 48 feet. Final approval is still pending, but there are other zoning proposals for other parts of the so-called Station Overlay Area (SOA) that many of the same opponents of 29 South Depot Plaza fear would create too much density. They considered Stan Friedlander to be a bulwark against overdevelopment.
Reaction to the Planning Board change can be seen in Letters to the Editor