"A good community is identified by the degree to which it successfully solves and
avoids problems and builds a better place to live." - Edward Plotkin, (In a 1971 letter published
as a preface to the 'Master Plan Update Report, Village of Dobbs Ferry,
Virginia Avenue neighbors recently obtained a copy of the document that was drafted, many
years ago, to guide future development in Dobbs Ferry. This 77 page document is called the
'Master Plan Update Report, Village of Dobbs Ferry, New York', to be precise. It was
prepared by Sanders and Thomas of New York, Inc., Consulting Engineers and Planners, Massapequa,
New York, and released in December of 1971. The preparation of the report was funded
by HUD, project no. NYP-196.
On the very first page of this report appears a letter from the Planning Board,
signed by Edward Plotkin, the chairperson of the Board at the time. It reads (in part):
December 21, 1971
The Planning Board is charged with the responsibility
of planning - of caring for present and future needs of
the Village - of preparing the Village to accommodate the
effects of growth and change more smoothly and more
beneficially. As an appointed advisory group, we are to
- the welfare of the whole community, not only individual
- the use of land, not properties;
- the future needs more than current pressures;
- the solution of problems, yes, but, even more important,
the avoidance of problems and the direction of growth and
change for the greatest benefit to the village.
- Planning problems, and the situations from which they
generate, are a fact of life in all Villages. A good community
is identified by the degree to which it successfully solves and
avoids problems and builds a better place to live. This takes
planning. It has been found that those who don't know what
they want, aren't happy with what they get.
To aid the Planning Board in its decisions, the Village retained
a Planning Consultant to prepare this Master Plan. This plan is
a guide for Village growth and change, and may be altered to
conform to future desires. It must be flexible to meet requirements
of economically feasible programs and the effects of adjacent
community development. ..... [remainder of letter]
Edward Plotkin, Chairman
This is the same Edward Plotkin who is CURRENTLY the chairperson of
the Planning Board. It was he who said that the Planning Board 'does not do that kind of planning'
when neighbors asked, back on June 6th of this year, that the Planning Board take responsibility over seeing to it that the development of Virginia Avenue take place in an orderly and planful manner that addresses the many significant problems that the proposed development project presents in that neighborhood.
It was also he who said, when asked at that same meeting what guides development, 'There is no Master Plan'. And it was he, as chairperson of the Planning Board and facilitator of the June 6th meeting,
who failed to direct concerned residents to the Site Plan Review process - the one mechanism in the Code that spells out, in any detail, the concerns that are to guide development planning in Dobbs Ferry. For the 'Site Plan Review' is the pocess whereby development plans are reviewed with nine 'purposes and objectives' in mind, as delineated by Section 300-71, 'Zoning and Land Use', in the Dobbs Ferry Code:
... In its deliberations, the Planning Board shall consider each site plan
with the following purposes and objectives in view:
- To protect the character of the neighborhood and
prevent the depreciation of adjoining properties.
- To achieve a harmonious relationship and maximum
compatibility among the uses shown on said site plan
and uses located in adjacent districts.
- To assure the adequacy of buffer landscaping,
screening and building setbacks.
- To prevent the overcrowding of land with buildings
and the inappropriate concentration of same.
- To lessen and, where possible, prevent traffic
congestion and hazards on the streets which provide
access to the site.
- To assure the adequacy of vehicular ingress,
egress, interior circulation, parking and loading
facilities, particularly in regard to traffic and
- To conserve significant environmental features
- To prevent the inappropriate sitting of buildings
and other improvements without due regard for the
limitations of slope soils, hydrology and vegetation
on the site.
- To provide adequately for the cumulative effect
on infrastructure, particularly roads and utilities,
of reasonably anticipated future development.
Had such a review been done, the Planning board could only have found the Virginia
Avenue development proposal severely wanting - for reasons articulated, in detail, in
the information packets recently submitted to both the Planning Board and the Board of
But the Planning Board refused to require a site plan review as a condition of
subdivision approval of the Virginia Avenue development project. Interpreting
Section 300-70 of the Code , which states that
the Planning Board is 'not required' to do a site plan review in certain situations, as saying
that the Code 'does not PERMIT' the Planning Board to conduct a site plan review in those
situations, the Planning Board refused to avail itself of the Site Plan Review
Not only is such an interpretation questionable on the face of it, given the wording
of Section 300-70 , it is an interpretation that contradicts earlier interpretations of the Code given by Village attorneys. .
Nevertheless, the Planning Board has decided not to require a Site Plan Review, and has
thereby relinquished its responsibility for development planning in the case of the Virginia
Avenue development. It has handed over all further development planning decisions to the developer,
who may make decisions solely on the basis of the profit motive - as Chairperson Plotkin
so eloquently put in on the night of June 27th. To hell, apparently, with "communities
that successfully solve and avoid problems and build a better place to live." [above]
See the following, for more on:
- why the 'Master Plan' has not been updated since the early '70s, despite the fact that a
'Land Use Committee' that has in recent years been empaneled to look into this matter finds the current zoning and land use Codes in Dobbs Ferry outdated and insufficient:  , and
- on the controversy regarding whether the 'Master Plan' was ever fully adopted in the first place: .