Fed raises rates | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Federal Reserve officials, meeting for the first time under Chairman Jerome Powell, raised the benchmark lending rate a quarter-point and forecast a steeper path of hikes in 2019 and 2020, citing an improving economic outlook. Policy makers continued to project a total of three increases this year.

“The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months,” the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement Wednesday in Washington. Officials repeated previous language that they anticipate “further gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy.”

The upward revision in their rate path suggests Fed officials are looking through soft first-quarter economic reports and expect a lift this year and next from tax cuts passed by Republicans in December. Financial conditions have tightened since late January as investors look for signs that the central bank might raise rates at a faster pace, while forecasters predict stronger U.S. growth and tight labor markets.

The vote to lift the federal funds rate target range to 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent was a unanimous 8-0.

The latest set of quarterly forecasts forecasts showed that policy makers were divided over the outlook for the benchmark interest rate in 2018. Seven officials projected at least four quarter-point hikes would be appropriate this year, while eight expected three or fewer increases to be warranted.

In the forecasts, U.S. central bankers projected a median federal funds rate of 2.9 percent by the end of 2019, implying three rate increases next year, compared with two 2019 moves seen in the last round of forecasts in December. They saw rates at 3.4 percent in 2020, up from 3.1 percent in December, according to the median estimate.

Inflation Pickup

In another change to the statement, the Fed said inflation on an annual basis is “expected to move up in coming months,” after saying “move up this year” in the January statement. Price gains are still expected to stabilize around the Fed’s 2 percent target over the medium term, the FOMC said.

The central bank’s preferred price gauge rose 1.7 percent in the 12 months through January and officials projected it to rise to 2 percent in 2019 and hit 2.1 percent the following year, the latest estimates showed. The estimates for inflation excluding food and energy, which officials see as a better way to gauge underlying price trends, rose to 2.1 percent in 2019 and 2020 from 2 percent seen in December.

“Job gains have been strong in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low,” the FOMC said. The statement said that household spending and business investment “have moderated” from strong fourth-quarter readings.

The statement also repeated previous language that “near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced.”

Powell will hold his first post-FOMC press conference at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Supply, Demand

The Fed’s goal is to keep supply and demand in balance in the economy amid a tight labor market, without lifting borrowing costs so quickly that the economy stalls.

Officials have had to factor in the impact of fiscal stimulus signed by President Donald Trump since their previous projections.

The median estimate for economic growth this year rose to 2.7 percent from 2.5 percent in December, signaling confidence in U.S. consumers despite recent weak readings on retail sales that have pushed down tracking estimates of first-quarter activity. The 2019 estimate rose to 2.4 percent from 2.1 percent.

The committee’s forecast for the long-run sustainable growth rate of the economy was unchanged at 1.8 percent, suggesting policy makers are still skeptical of the effect of tax cuts on the economy’s capacity for growth. The 2020 gross domestic product growth median projection was also unchanged at 2 percent.

While U.S. unemployment of 4.1 percent is the lowest since 2000, wage growth has remained moderate and inflation has been below the Fed’s target for most of the last five years.

The median projection for the long-run fed funds rate ticked up to 2.9 percent from 2.8 percent in December. The Fed had been gradually reducing its estimate of the long-run neutral fed funds rate since it began publishing its calculations in January 2012.


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Consumer sentiment at 14 year high | South Salem Real Estate

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment for the US jumped to 102 in March from 99.7 in February, beating expectations of 99.3. It is the strongest reading since January 2004 as the assessment of current economic conditions reached a record high. Consumer Confidence in the United States averaged 86.27 Index Points from 1952 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 111.40 Index Points in January of 2000 and a record low of 51.70 Index Points in May of 1980.

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Canada home prices fall | Cross River Real Estate

Canadian home prices dipped in February after two consecutive months of gains, weighed by declines in Toronto and a number of other cities, data showed on Wednesday.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices were down 0.1 percent last month compared to January.

Price growth also continued to decelerate on an annual basis. Home prices were up 7.5 percent compared to last year, the smallest annual increase since March 2016.

On a monthly basis, prices were down in seven out of the 11 cities surveyed, including a 0.1 percent decline in Toronto. Home sales in Canada’s largest city have been dampened by tighter mortgages rules and moves taken by the Ontario government last year to try to cool the market.

The retreat in Toronto prices, which had climbed in January, may have been due to buyers rushing into the market ahead of the new mortgage rules that came into effect at the start of the year, the report said.

In Vancouver, one of the most expensive markets in the country, prices rose 0.4 percent to hit a record. However, the unadjusted figures, which are not smoothed to remove volatility, showed prices were down 1.3 percent, in line with cooler home sales last month.

Economists are watching to see how Canada’s housing market adjusts to the tighter lending rules and local government regulations that have come as the central bank is also raising interest rates.


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London prices falling | Waccabuc Real Estate

House prices in some of London’s wealthiest boroughs plummeted as much as 14.9% in the year to January, dragging down the average price in the capital—and in England—according to a report Monday by real estate consultants Acadata.

Prices in the capital fell 0.8% in January from December, to £593,396 (US$825,318). That’s down 2.6% annually, the report said, the biggest fall since August 2009, when the recession was still in full swing.

Price growth across the U.K. has likely been weighed down by uncertainties surrounding Brexit, along with 2016’s 3% surcharge on second homes and buy-to-let properties. “Subsequent to the introduction of this tax, the rates of price growth have been falling, and at an accelerated rate since September 2017,” the report said.

No doubt the fall is more acutely felt in London, a hotspot for international investors.

The biggest drops were logged in the priciest boroughs.

Wandsworth saw the largest dip, with the average price declining 14.9% in the year to January, to £685,567 (US$953,514) from £805,460 (US$1.12 million) the prior year. The City of London followed, where prices are now £844,768 (US$1.17 million), down 10.8% from last January and in Islington, prices are down 8.8% to £684,869 (US$952,543).

But in the city’s most expensive borough, Kensington and Chelsea, prices rose 4.6% up to £2.16 million (US$3 million).

Combined, the most expensive 11 boroughs fell by 3.8%, while mid-priced boroughs are down an average 2.7%, according to the report.

The less expensive boroughs fared better. More than half logged price rises over the last year, led by Bexley, which saw its average price rise 4.5% to £363,082 (US$504,988). In Barking and Dagenham, which has the lowest priced property in the capital, according to the report, prices inched up 0.1% to £300,627 (US$418,124).

Brent, in northwest London and home to Wembley Stadium, logged the largest price increases, up 8.5% to £587,372 (US$816,940).


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Rising real estate tax burden | Katonah Real Estate

The good news for some homeowners in one town: The average assessed value of a house in your neighborhood has skyrocketed by more than eightfold, climbing from about $212,000 to $1.8 million.

Now for the bad news: Your property taxes are going up as well, to just over $29,000 from an average of about $16,500 — and you’ll only be able to deduct the first $10,000 on your taxes.

That’s the situation facing some homeowners in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the rapidly gentrifying city performs its first round of reassessments since 1988.

The traditionally blue collar town, which sits directly across the Hudson River from New York City, is an extreme example, but it isn’t alone.

Property taxes, for instance, are up 38 percent year-over-year in Clark County, Nevada – home to Las Vegas – raising the average 2017 tax bill on a single family home to $2,445 from $1,774, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a provider of real estate data.

Home prices there have risen by 100 percent over the last five years, according to ATTOM.

Las Vegas, Nevada

RebeccaAng | Getty Images
Las Vegas, Nevada

Meanwhile, homeowners in Williamson County, Texas — just outside of Austin — experienced a 15 percent tax increase last year. Owners of single family homes paid an average of $6,697 in property taxes, up from $5,837, according to ATTOM.

Over the last five years, home prices there have risen by 80 percent.

“The story is that people are moving to these markets, and they’re experiencing rapid home price appreciation,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM.

“It doesn’t just affect the people who are willing to pay for the homes and the property taxes,” he said. “There is a ripple effect on neighbors who might have been there for 20 years, and their taxes go up as well.”

Here’s how to contend with skyrocketing property taxes.

Monthly crunch

For Keren Vered, a Jersey City resident, community activist and fashion industry consultant, the $18,000 tax hike on her townhouse translates to an additional outlay of about $1,500 a month.

That’s on top of the $10,000 she already paid annually in property taxes prior to the city’s reassessment. Then there are other regular monthly costs she’ll need to weigh.

“For me, it’s not just the $1,500 a month, but the private school part of it, too,” said the mother of two, ages 2 and 4. “Year over year, plus private school, I worry about the long-term sustainability of it.”

The family has a lever available to help contend with the tax increase: They already rent out one floor of their three-story townhouse. Even so, tenants can only handle so much of an increase in their rent.

“I’m trying to get the city to where other families like mine would want it to be,” said Vered. “Rents going up create a barrier to entry.”

Tax strategies

Homeowners like Vered face an additional difficulty: Prior to 2018, they were able to claim all of their property tax liability if they itemized on their taxes.

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now in place, residents can now only claim up to $10,000 in state and local tax deductions.

Residents in New York, New Jersey and California are among the hardest hit.

SALT in the wound. The $10,000 cap on state and local taxes are a blow to just a handful of states.

Plus, fewer filers are expected to itemize in 2018 because the new tax law has doubled the standard deduction to $24,000 for a married couple filing jointly. Under the previous law, about 49 million taxpayers — roughly 3 in 10 individuals — filed itemized returns, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Accountants point to a couple of strategies homeowners facing big tax hikes can take.

Home office break

An entrepreneur working from home can take a home office deduction in one of two ways. First, there’s the “safe harbor” method in which you deduct $5 per square foot for an office that’s up to 300 square feet.

You can also calculate your deduction based on your actual expenses, figuring out the percentage of your home used for the business.


Loic Lagarde | Getty Images

This method considers the percentage of home costs, including real estate taxes, attributable to the office, according to S. Andrew Smith, a CPA and principal at Baker Newman Noyes in Portland, Maine.

The “actual expense” method also deducts for depreciation, and you will pay taxes on that when you sell your home, Smith warned.

You do not need to itemize on your taxes to grab the home office deduction, but you do need to show a profit from a home business in order to take it.

Rent it out

Whether you have a duplex or a spare room, consider taking on a tenant.

“You’ll pay the property tax one way or the other, but at least you have some rental income to help pay for it,” said Tim Steffen, director of advanced planning for R.W. Baird’s private wealth management group in Milwaukee.

High-tax states on 'SALT' diet after tax reform

High-tax states on ‘SALT’ diet after tax reform  

As a landlord and a small business, if you become a pass-through entity— an LLC or an S-corporation — you may be eligible for a 20 percent deduction for qualified business income.

If you rent out your home, be sure to track your expenses and talk to your insurance agent. “If you use it as a rental property, even partially, your insurance coverage needs will change,” said Smith.

Report your rental income or loss on Schedule E when you file your taxes.

On the other hand, if your rapidly appreciating property is in a prime destination, consider that you won’t have to claim the rental income if you rent your space for less than 14 days over the year.

Fight back

Finally, if you disagree with your municipality’s assessment on your home, you can contest the findings.

Get to know your city’s appeal’s process, which can be deadline sensitive and will vary from one town to the next.

Expect to gather evidence of your home’s market value, too.

You can hire an appraiser to provide your city’s tax assessor with reports and comparable property values to back up your findings, said Brigid D’Souza, a CPA and founder of Civic Parent, a website that follows property tax developments in Jersey City.

The national average cost of hiring an appraiser is about $329, according to HomeAdvisor, a home improvement website.

You can also hire an attorney on a contingency basis to represent you through the appeals process, which typically costs one-third to one-half of your first year’s tax savings, D’Souza said.

While a licensed realtor can’t give you an appraisal, he or she can provide you with comparative sales which can act as evidence of market value, said D’Souza.

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Construction spending at all time high | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Construction spending in the US was unchanged at an all-time high of USD 1.26 trillion in January 2018, following an upwardly revised 0.8 percent increase in December and missing market expectations of 0.3 percent. Spending on private construction fell 0.5 percent to USD 962.7 billion after hitting a record high of USD 967.9 billion in the previous month, due to a decline in nonresidential projects (-1.5 percent). Meanwhile, outlays on public construction projects increased 1.8 percent to USD 300.0 billion in January, the highest level since August 2015, as spending on federal government construction projects surged 14.9 percent to the highest level since September 2011 and that on state and local government construction rose 0.5 percent to a near two-year high. Construction Spending in the United States averaged 0.45 percent from 1964 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 5.90 percent in April of 1978 and a record low of -4.80 percent in February of 1975.


Bedford Town Supervisor news | Bedford Real Estate

Note: Please also check my February 28 Monthly Report, as there are several items which may be of interest to you. Thanks.
The tragic events in Florida are every parent’s nightmare.   Our Bedford Police Department for many years has been at the forefront of training its personnel to respond effectively to such horrific events. The Bedford Police Department has been one of the foremost in the County in being pro-active on school safety.   For many years, the Town has collaborated with the Bedford Central School District in a “shared service” (before the term became popular) with one of Bedford’s Police Officers serving as a full time School Resource Officer embedded at the Fox Lane Campus (response time can’t be faster than that). Just this past weekend and as previously scheduled, our Police Department led the multi-agency, full scale active shooter training exercise as they have done on a regular basis over the years.  The Town Board long has given high priority to training and increased financial resources in the 2018 budget for training.   It is of paramount importance that our police force are fully versed in the best practices and responses to whatever emergency confronts us.
  1. Detective Sergeant Vincent Gruppuso to Police Lieutenant effective February 6, 2018
  2. Sergeant Andrew Bellantone promoted to Police Lieutenant effective February 24, 2018
  3. Sergeant Joseph Comunale to Detective Sergeant effective March 6, 2018
  4. Police Officer Patricia McGraw to Sergeant effective February 26, 2018.
  5. Police Officer Jeffrey Gulick to Sergeant effective February 26, 2018
  6. Police Officer Peter C. Sikoryak to Sergeant effective March 7, 2018
  7. Appointment of Gabriel Beltre to the position of Code Enforcement Officer.
  8. Promotion of Frank Zipp to Lead Maintenance Mechanic effective March 7, 2018.
  9. Appointment of Marc Graniero as an MEO Parks Groundskeeper.
The Board will be holding a work session at 7:00 PM (re-scheduled from 7:15 PM) to consider the following:
  1. Proposed Amendments to Filming Law   The Town Board met with the Filming Committee on February 20 in Work Session and had some comments on their recommended revisions in the Filming Law to help make Bedford more film industry friendly. The revisions streamline the permitting process while retaining safeguards against undue noise, light, traffic and other disturbance.   The Town Clerk would review applications with discretion to refer them to the Town Board.   An applicant would also have the right to appeal to the Town Board if an application is denied.   We thank the Filming Committee and Town Clerk Boo Fumagalli for their work in moving this forward. We are hopeful that we can set a public hearing on the proposed amendments for March 20.
  2. Proposed Sewer Law   The proposed law is mentioned in the February 28 Monthly Report, and in addition, we will schedule a public information session to discuss the draft law with the public. Click here for the draft law.
  3. Propose Local Law clarifying escrows for professional fees for application review; The proposed local law is to codify existing law and practice in which for substantial applications before Town permitting boards, the Town may be reimbursed for its out of pocket costs for professional services in reviewing and advising on the application.
  4. Proposed Local Law regulating “vape” shops   This will be a preliminary discussion on possible regulation of “vape” shops. The Town of New Castle has adopted such a law and we are considering acting in the area as well.
The Board will continue a hearing from our February 20, 2018 Meeting regarding an Appeal of determination of the Historic Building Preservation Commission affirming the Tier II classification of property at 270 Hook Road, Bedford.
Cold War Veterans Property Tax Exemption  The Board will consider a recommendation of the Veterans Advisory Committee regarding the expiring exemption which the Town Board had set in March 2008 by the adoption of a Local Law, which at the time had a 10 year sunset provision. In 2017, state legislation amended the Cold War Veteran’s exemption (RPTL 458-b) which allows, at local option, the ability to grant the exemption beyond the 10 year sunset limit. The Veterans Advisory Committee recommends revising the current exemption limits for the Cold War exemption to the equivalent level of an Alternative Veteran, and commensurate with the level at which Westchester County has adopted. The financial impact to the Town is minimal. In a memorandum to the Town Board, Town Tax Assessor Harold Girdlestone advises as follows: “As town assessor, I concur with the Veterans Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Their recommendations will simplify exemption administration, provides tax equity and recognizes all Veterans service regardless of time period served. For instance, a Bedford taxpayer receiving the Cold War Veterans exemption saved app. $40.90 in town taxes compared to a County tax saving of app. $180.07. The total town tax impact in adopting the Cold War Veterans exemption at the same level as Westchester County would be app. $2,300 in additional town tax saving.”
VACANCY ON THE BEDFORD PLANNING BOARD  The Town’s Planning Board is currently in need of a new member. The Planning Board oversees site plan reviews, subdivision approvals, and a number special permits, and also frequently advises the Town Board on general planning issues. Generally the Board meets two evenings a month, and often takes one daytime site visit a month as well. A willingness to spend additional time reviewing environmental and engineering reports and plans is also required. The most important qualification is an open mind and a desire to immerse oneself in the details of planning.  At present the Board has members with specific expertise in engineering, architecture, environment and health policy, and historic preservation and planning. Applicants whose interests and/or skills would complement and add to these skill sets are particularly encouraged to apply. If you are interested, please send your resume with a cover letter or e-mail tosupervisor@bedfordny.gov and copydcourtneybatson@bedfordny.gov andbrhodes@bedfordny.gov.

Click here for the flyer
Click here
Together with Filippine de Haan and the Reusable Bag Task Force, I hosted on February 26 a meeting for Westchester Mayors and Supervisors interested in developing strategies and local laws to reduce waste from single use plastic bags and paper bags.   Fifteen of the 41 Westchester municipalities attended.   There are two basic laws being considered: one is an outright ban on single-use plastic bag (with certain exceptions) with a fee for a bag required to be charged to a customer who comes to the check-out counter without a reusable bag; the second does not impose a ban, but does require the retailer to charge also to charge a fee for a bag for the customer who comes to the check-out counter without a reusable bag (the fee would be charged for either a plastic bag or a paper bag with the customer given the choice). A number of Westchester County municipalities have a single-use plastic bag law in place.   Suffolk County adopted a law which went into effect on January 1 which takes the no ban/fee approach with a 5c minimum fee Retailers seek a “level playing field” among municipalities, especially those adjacent to one another. The purpose of the multi-municipality meeting and our work after it is to try to develop a common strategy leading to a uniform or similar local law. The author of the Suffolk County law, County Legislator Dr. William Spencer, joined by telephone to explain the development of his proposal (which had started as a ban on single-use plastic bags). All in attendance emphasized the need to change how we all go about our shopping and simply get into the habit of taking reusable bags with us when we go shopping. A robust education campaign with the participation of community organizations, schools and retail community, all agreed, should precede the imposition of any local law. All but one municipality expressed interest in adopting a local law sometime in 2018. The Town of Bedford is in the information gathering phase and will continue to work with other municipalities.
Are you interested in a terrific community service opportunity? Would you like to receive state-of-the art lifesaving and firefighting training?
Katonah Fire Department eagerly welcomes applications from 16-year-olds for its Under 18 Program. Interested candidates can fulfill their John Jay High School Community Service obligation, as well as service hours required for other organizations, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Membership in the department as a firefighter is a great way to have your college application stand out as well!
Any person who is between the ages of 16 and 18, who is physically fit, morally and mentally sound, and who, having met with the membership committee and satisfactorily passed the committee’s investigation (as established in the Katonah Fire Department, Inc. Constitution and By-Laws), may be selected for membership status.
The goal of this program is to carefully instill, enforce, and monitor the practices that lead to well trained, respectful, hardworking members once they reach their 18th birthdays and/or the conclusion of their first year of membership.
In addition, it creates a culture in which these members both realize their age- and experience-related limitations, but also feel as though they are learning and being prepared for taking on the duties of full-fledged, non-probationary members of the Katonah Fire Department.
An oversight committee and a training coordinator act as a resource to these members – in all aspects of KFD membership: firefighting, training, rules and regulations, etc. – and set example for the types of behaviors expected from our entire membership.
Applicants who join receive all training and equipment at no expense to them. They also become eligible for various scholarship opportunities. If you’re interested in finding out more, please sent an e-mail to chief2211@katonahfd.org

is now available in Spanish. We have added a plug-in allowing for the website’s automatic translation to Spanish.  Please note that this does not apply to linked PDF documents. http://www.bedfordny.gov/
Click here  (please note that the calendar is posted on the Town’s website home page usually before the distribution of the e-news and also posted on the Supervisor’s Facebook page, click here


Work Session
Horse Properties – Following nearly two years of discussions with horse property owners and others supporting the horse community, the Town Board had referred to the Planning Board their petition requesting revisions in the Zoning Code to allow for a half bath in barns and stables, the purpose of which is to enable property owners to engage daytime grooms. The Planning Board recommended a revision to allow half baths in accessory structures, while expressly prohibiting sleeping facilities and kitchens. It also required that the owner apply for a Special Use Permit.   The Town Board agreed with the Planning Board recommendations, except for the requirement of the Special Use Permit. We will keep the community posted as to developments.
The Town Board held a hearing, as provided in the Historic Building Preservation Law, at the request of owners of property at 270 Hook Road in Bedford appealing the designation of the property as a Tier 2 property (which requires an administrative permit for demolition). The owners appealed to the Town Board to re-classify the property as a Tier 3 (historic resource) property, for which no administrative permit would be required. The Board heard from the owners as well as the Historic Building Preservation Commission and held the matter and record open through March 6. The Board either as a group or individually will visit the property prior to the March 6 meeting at which the Board will consider making a determination.
Shelley Smith was re-appointed to the Katonah Historic District Advisory Commission for a 5 year term to end on 1/20/23 – we thank her for her invaluable service to the Town
The Town Board unanimously passed a resolution adopting “Think Differently” an initiative to assist individuals with special needs and their families
Cherry Street
There was further discussion of  the January 24 Report of John Canning of Kimley Horn, Town’s traffic consultant, regarding possible further traffic calming measures for Cherry Street.   The Board asked staff to review the request of some in the community for speed tables or cushions on trial basis and will take up the matter again either at the March 6 or March 20 meeting.
 Leaf Blowers
The Leaf Blowers Task Force held a public forum this past Tuesday evening at the Katonah Village Library. Over 75 people were in attendance.   As I mentioned in the invitation to the meeting, the Town is considering adopting regulations as we have heard from many in the community that the noise from leaf blowers is an ever growing nuisance and impairment of quality of life. We also have heard from Bedford 2020 and others of the significant pollution which gas powered leaf blowers emit, as well as significant health concerns and other environmental impacts.   We also have heard from landscapers, gardeners and property owners regarding concerns of adverse impacts on the ability to maintain properties at reasonable cost.
    As I mentioned in introducing the topic at the meeting, neither the Task Force nor the Town Board has yet formulated a proposed local law, as we first want to hear from the community. The Task Force has been looking into the issue for several months reviewing local laws in other Westchester County municipalities and elsewhere.
    Following a presentation by the Leaf Blowers Task Force, we heard the views of many in attendance both those favoring and those opposing regulation as well as those with questions.   We are asking the Leaf Blowers Task Force to develop a proposal for presentation to the community after which the Town Board will consider what next steps it may take. No action would be taken without a public hearing on a proposed local law. I am hopeful that we can find a reasonable, balanced proposal and take action before summer.
    For the notes, click here

Cell Towers and Cell Facilities

Earlier this week, the Planning Board further considered the application of Verizon for a cell tower on Hickory Lane in Bedford Village.   Under the Federal Communications Law, the Planning Board has 150 days within which to make a determination regarding the application. The Planning Board had provided the applicant a possible alternative location which would be Indian Hill Park, and has asked Verizon to evaluate the site within 45 days. The Planning Board also received a memorandum from Police Chief Melvin Padilla and a letter from the Communications Committee (attached) to the effect that the Planning Board should consider
the installation of additional cell towers at various locations throughout the Town due to gaps in coverage adversely impacting the ability of police and emergency personnel to respond to emergency calls. Public and officer safety were cited.
Proposed Bike Area/Pump Track Park at Katonah Memorial Park
As previously reported, the Recreation and Parks Department and Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee have been evaluating the proposal of those requesting the siting of an approximately one acre bike area/pump track in Katonah Memorial park. The evaluation has been exhaustive considering matters including area, stormwater drainage, potential impact on existing programs and activities, potential impact on neighbors, cost and oversight, among the factors.
    The Department, RPAC and the proponents have moved away from evaluation of any proposed sites within the developed portions of the park and now are evaluating the undeveloped 10 acre “Zema” property as a possible location
(click  here for the Google earth document). The same exhaustive evaluation would be undertaken. Should the Zema location be a possibility for siting the Bike Area/Pump Track, we need to allow sufficient time for the Town Board to evaluate it in discussions with the proponents, the neighbors and the community generally. In light of the timelines, I have asked that the Town Board be provided the evaluation by the third week in March.   The evaluation should consider the same criteria/points applied to previous sites.   I attach a satellite view marked with an outlining of the entire Zema site, though, as mentioned above, a bike area/pump track would occupy approximately one acre of site with access from Anderson Road.
Please see the notice below just received from Con Edison regarding resumption this Spring of the gas line work and restoration of the roadway.
Con Edison’s paving contractor is scheduled to permanently restore the Southbound side of North Bedford Road between Norm Avenue and Woodland Road.
Milling and paving is scheduled to begin in Early Spring.
Preparation work involves milling or removal of the existing top layer of asphalt, to contour the roadway. Typically, roadways are paved within two days of being milled, weather permitting.
During paving operations sections of roads will be closed with limited traffic, including driveway access.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and we appreciate your patience during any inconvenience this work may cause.
For more information please contact Westchester Regional & Community Affairs at 1-914-925-6361or e-mail dl-WestchesterRCA@coned.com
  1. Work Session: Review of draft Sewer Law; review of Filming Committee proposed amendments to Filming Law – the Board will be meeting with the Filming Advisory Committee to consider amendments to the law to make the Town more “film industry friendly” while at the same time minimizing intrusive impacts such as noise, traffic and light.; review of recommendations of the Planning Board regarding horse properties; review a draft of the Sewer Law to be adopted prior to the summer to stay on schedule for commencing construction of the sewer system this fall
  2. Hearing: Appeal of determination of the Historic Building Preservation Commission affirming the Tier II classification of property at 270 Hook Road, Bedford.
    1. Resolution calling on Town of Bedford to adopt “Think Differently” initiative to assist individuals with special needs and their families
    2. Recommendations of Filming Committeeregarding amendments to Filming Law. Consider scheduling Public Hearing for March 6, 2018 at 7:50 PM.
    3. Cherry Street – As mentioned to the community last month, the Board will consider further “traffic calming” measures which the Town’s traffic consultant, John Canning of Kimley Horn, had mentioned to the Board as possibilities and hear from the community.
Bond Resolutions to Implement 2018 Portion of 2018-2027 Capital Plan The Board approved a SEQRA resolution and bond resolutions (several of which are subject to permissive referendum).   In a February 1, 2018 memorandum to the Town Board, the Town Comptroller summarized the Capital Plan (which is posted to the Town’s website under the Finance Department page):
“Click here for the Town Board approved Capital Plan for 2018 through 2027. The projects included in this ten year capital plan were submitted by the department heads in an effort to give the Town Board information about their department’s needs over the next decade.   At the end of 2017, the Town’s outstanding debt will be $39,895,073. That amount includes $16,470,000 of debt attributed to the water filtration plant. The approved capital plan adds $23,445,638 in debt for all funds over the next 10 years and based on the amount of debt being retired on a yearly basis over the next ten years, the projected additional amount of borrowing required to finance the projects is manageable and taking into account the fact that the Town amortizes outstanding debt at an accelerated rate, the projected additional debt would be absorbed with little or no impact to the tax levy. A breakdown by fund is outlined below:
            General Fund              $ 7,040,850    30%
            Highway Fund            $11,418,537    48%
            Park Districts              $ 1,883,000    8%
            Water Districts           $ 1,769,917    8%
            Sewer Fund                 $ 1,200,000     5%
            Lighting Districts       $   133,334       1%
Included in the plan are projects for traffic safety throughout the Town, vehicle replacement for the police department, recreation, building and highway, equipment replacement for various departments. The plan also includes funding for facility improvements at the three hamlet parks, town owned cemeteries and other municipal facilities, as well as IT upgrades, road rehabilitation, and parking in Bedford Village and in an effort to continue with the Town’s pledge to reduce its carbon footprint, the plan includes funding for new zero emissions or “green” parks equipment and engineering for geo-thermal systems for the Town House and 425 Cherry Street.
As in the past, this capital plan will be updated every two years in order to address additional needs unforeseen at the time this 10 Year Capital Plan was adopted.”
With respect to the Bond Resolutions which the Board approved at the February 6 meeting, Comptroller Zambrano made the following remarks to the Board:
“Good evening there are five bond resolutions before the Town Board for approval. These resolutions will allow borrowing to fund 2018 projects approved by the Town Board. The first resolution “A” is for $1,037,767 majority of money going for projects that have live of 5 years or less like equipment, minor expenses like cameras, safety equipment and decentralization of waste water treatment as well as IT upgrades throughout the Town. The second resolution “B” is for $125,000 for 10 years and it includes funding for projects like septic replacement and sewer hookup at Town owned buildings that would hopefully happen later this year or in early 2019 as well as paving at 21 Park Avenue for the recreation department. Resolution “C” is for 15 years and it’s for $1,713,295; this money is for repairs and upgrades at the town parks in the three hamlets. Resolution “D” is for $311,750; this money is for improvements to town owned buildings. The last resolution “E” is for $700,000; this money is for work at the new highway garage.”
Appointments and Re-Appointments to Boards, Committees, Commissions and Task Forces
I am pleased to report that the following individuals were appointed or re-appointed:
  • Donald R. Gordon, a Bedford Hills resident, was appointed to the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee to fill an unexpired three year term ending 12/21/18.
  • Kate Terry was appointed to the Historic Building Preservation Commission to fill a three year unexpired term ending 8/10/19.
  • Clayton Rose was re-appointed to the Bedford Village Historic District Review Commission (3 year term expires 1/20/2021).
  • Carol Parker was re-appointed to the Wetlands Control Commission for a three year term ending 1/20/21.
  • Fred Pollack was re-appointed to the Conservation Board for a two year term ending 1/20/20)
  • Andrea Schaeffer was re-appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for a five year term ending on 1/20/2023.
We thank them and are grateful for their service to the Town.
Revision for July and August 2018 Town Board meeting schedule
Summer months are away months and many of our residents are unable to attend two meetings in July and two in August. The Town Board approved the following changes to these summer month meetings. We have cancelled the July 3 meeting and retained the July 17 meeting which was previously scheduled. We cancelled the August 7 and August 21 meetings and have replaced them with a single meeting to be held on August 14.
Reusable Bag Task Force
The Town Board appointed a Reusable Bag Task Force, comprised of all members of the Town Board, serving as ex-officio members; and Filippine Hoogland (Chair), Allison Chernow, Midge Iorio and Rosemary Lee; and Associate Members (non-residents), Alan Antin, Jay Peltz, John Rhodes and Steve Wolk.
Approval of Re-Issuing Request for Proposals for Solar Installations – Municipal FacilitiesYou may recall that last July the Town issued a Request for Proposals for solar panels and other systems for Town facilities. We received no proposals, which we learned was due to the fact that New York State had not settled with the electric industry on incentives and utility obligations regarding solar power provided back to the grid.
In late 2017, New York State published guidelines that define the future value of distributed energy resources (a/k/a, the VDER value stack). As of early 2018, solar developers can now use this value stack to estimate future project income from the local utilities, based on specific project locations. We understand that New York’s resolving these future values of solar electricity means that solar developers will be more attracted to investing in potential solar projects such as those in our RFP.
The NYS Public Service Commission issued an “implementation order” in September on the “value of distributed energy resources,” following which was substantial work in sorting out valuations with electric utility distributors in the State, such as NYSEG and Con Edison. We understand that there now is a “level playing field” and basis on which solar developers would take an interest in our RFP.
The Board approved re-issuance of an RFP. The RFP which we’ll be issuing hasn’t significantly changed from what we issued last July, however, we now are cautiously optimistic that we will receive one or more proposals which would benefit the Town.

FOR THE 2/9/2018 SEWER DESIGN UPDATE click here
We have added a page to our Town’s website, Bedford Loves Horses, click here for the page. It’s filled with wonderful pictures. My thanks to the group who made this possible with special thanks to Nancy Nygreen who developed the template for the page.

Drive past the Police Station undergoing renovation. You’ll notice some significant progress with steel for the additions and front having been installed and the “shell” going into place.  The excavation is now behind us, both inside and out.  We’ve also gotten over some humps in the road (structural steel fabrication, replace entire existing concrete floor slab found to be insufficient due to high moisture content with no vapor barrier and previously mentioned removal of contaminated soils).   We are doing our utmost to hew to the revised project schedule for completion in late summer.   We are pleased with the quality of work, construction management and the overall oversight of the project.  You will find more information in my monthly report, click here.
Click here for the video

TOWN INITIATIVE ON REUSABLE BAGS   For decades all over Europe shoppers bring reusable bags to their grocery stores or wherever they shop. That’s simply the long standing practice.   We’d like to do the same here in Bedford.   Several Westchester County municipalities have adopted local laws to encourage the use of reusable bags and discourage the use of single use plastic bags.   I will be asking the Town Board at our February 6 meeting to appoint an advisory task force to develop such a law. We will work with our business community so that we all are acting collaboratively and cooperatively toward a common objective.   We also envision an energetic outreach program and distribution of hundreds of no-cost or low cost reusable bags to help kick start the effort.
Work Session on Draft Sewer Law Planning Director Jeff Osterman and Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn discussed with the Board the outlines of the sewer law which will be the basis for sewer rates, for connection to and use of the system as well as the rate structure for financing its operation and maintenance.
  • Cherry Street – Traffic Calming Measures and Gateway Signs  The Town’s traffic consultant, John Canning of Kimley Horn of New York, P.C. presented possible further traffic calming measures including reconfiguring the intersection of Cherry Street and Croton Lake Road to create a standard “T” intersection, which will be less confusing to motorists (the planting island would be expanded and moved slightly to the north); reconfiguring the intersection of Cherry Street and Quicks Lane to provide a “bump out” along the southbound lane (just north of Quicks) to calm traffic; and gateway signs to help alert drivers that they are entering a residential area.  We also are considering a beautification of the area adjacent to the gravel parking for the DEP boat area at the north end of Cherry Street.   Chief Padilla reported that recently posted portable speed boards thus far have been effective in calming traffic.
  • County Executive George Latimer spoke about the County’s good neighbor policy. He wants to strengthen the relationship between county and local government within Westchester to enhance the quality of life for all who reside here.  He signed an Executive Order on January 2, 2018 regarding this policy.  The legislation will allow municipalities and their residents to have input with the decision making process regarding the use of County land.  For the executive order click here.
  • Appointments and Re-appointments
    George Henschel was re-appointed to the Bedford Village Historic District Review Commission for a three (3) year term to expire on 1/20/2021; David Beckett was re-appointed to the Conservation Board for a two (2) year term to expire on 1/20/2020; and Betsy Weir was appointed to the Leaf Blower Task Force.
    We thank them and appreciate their dedicated service to the Town.
  • For the webcast, click here
The Town is pleased to provide once again this year mobile paper shredder events at the Town Recycling Center at 343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM on March 17, September 15, and November 17; and at 1 Crusher Road, Bedford Village (Crusher Road highway yard), Bedford Village from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on May 5.  A Mobile Shredding Truck will securely destroy documents. The company’s customer service professionals never physically touch your documents so the entire process is “touch-free”. The company can shred paper, paper clips, rubber bands, staples and even the black clips. They cannot shred 3-ring binders, or anything that is non paper (CDs, tapes, DVDs, hard drives, etc.).
A few residents asked about how to avoid and deal with frozen pipes. This is a good site from another utility on preventing pipes from freezing: https://www.aquarionwater.com/CT/preventing-frozen-water-pipes-and-meters
For frozen pipes that are not leaking, a hair dryer or space heater can work to thaw them. People must be careful to know where the main water shut off in the house is because a pipe can start leaking when thawed. When in doubt, call a plumber.
Are you 16 years of age (or have a child who is 16 years old) and looking for a well-established youth community service oriented program?  The Bedford Hills Fire Department – Firefighter Candidate Program is always accepting applications from ambitious 16-year-old youths.
Since 2001, our Firefighter Candidate program has introduced well over 50 local youths to the Fire Service in a safe and controlled environment.  While we emphasize “Teamwork”, participants also develop a strong sense of community service, personal development and leadership skills.
Participation in the Firefighter Candidate Program is creditable towards the Fox Lane High School Community Service Requirement and is an excellent addition to your college application.  Candidates are eligible to apply for the Bedford Hills Fire Department Annual Scholarship during their Senior Year at Fox Lane, as well as numerous other scholarship opportunities only available to First Responders.
If you are interested in joining the Firefighter Candidate Program or would like more information, please contact Deputy Chief – Joseph Lombardo (FF Candidate Advisor) at jlombardo@bedfordhillsfd.org
Following five months of meetings with staff, department heads, Town Board work sessions and a public hearing on December 5 (followed by a public comment period which expired on December 5), the Town Board adopted the 2018 Town budget.  The budget complies with the NYS Property Tax Cap, provides for a modest increase in service to the community and is fiscally prudent.   Click here for the Supervisor Budget message and click here for the Comptroller’s budget message.  For the adopted budget 1 of 2 click here, for 2 of 2 click here.
      Adoption of 2018-2027 Capital Plan   The 10 year Capital Plan is an update from the 10 year plan adopted in 2016.  Apart from ensuring that physical assets of the Town, such as buildings, equipment and vehicles, are properly maintained and replaced, as needed, the plan reflects recommendations and requests from the community.  We adopted the plan at the December 19 and it will be posted to website shortly.
The Town of Bedford, Bedford 2020 and Energize NY have worked out a deal for residents: get your free or reduced-cost home energy assessment by January 2018, and receive a 10% discount on improvements to make your home more comfortable and to save energy. Energy efficiency improvements also save many homeowners money! Click here for more information.
The Town of Bedford is always looking to appoint members to several of our Boards, Commissions and Committees as we look to fill vacancies as quickly as possible. We are committed to bringing these Boards together with residents that have a strong skill set.
If you are interested in serving on any of our Boards, Commissions or Committees, please submit letters of interest and resumes to Supervisor Chris Burdick at Supervisor@BedfordNY.gov. Email submissions are preferred; however you can mail hard copies to Supervisor Chris Burdick, Town of Bedford, 321 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills, New York 10507.  In your submission, please indicate all appointments that may potentially be of interest to you.
You may apply at any time, regardless of whether there is a current or upcoming vacancy, as vacancies occur periodically throughout the year.
Are you interested in bringing the benefits of more low-cost clean energy to residents and small commercial property owners in your community? Due to popular demand, Solarize Westchester campaigns are returning! Click here for more information.
Fall is right around the corner and with it the unofficial start of the flu season.  Attached you will find information on the 2017-2018 influenza vaccine.  Please follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for flu prevention and treatment:
a. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
b. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
c. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs spread this way.
d. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
4)     STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100 degrees+) or signs of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
For more information on seasonal flu, you can go to the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu .
   The Board approved a Take It or Leave it event in Parking Lot 8 in Bedford Hills from 9 AM to 12 PM every other Saturday between the months of May and October each year, starting as early as this October. The event is modeled after similar programs in other communities, and allows residents to drop off unwanted household items that are still in good/working condition, or pick up and repurpose some. B2020 is providing a 12′ x 16′ shed in the corner of Lot 8 for this purpose. The location will not eliminate any parking spots.  Volunteers organized and managed by B2020 will run the program. The event is an excellent way to recycle and reuse items, and reduce consumption and waste. This program will preserve natural resources, reduce waste, and save residents money.  This is another example of a well thought out program by B2020.  Our thanks to Bedford 2020’s Peter Kuniholm who worked with Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn to make this a reality.        
A number of residents have reported bear sightings.  “Wow, a bear!” may be our first reaction, but here are some safety tips, click here.  And click here to see a picture of a bear that was taken and shared with us by a resident.
I wish to augment the below information (e-news 8/25) with the following request for motorists:
Sharing the road d with bicyclists
When parked on the street, check for bicyclists approaching from behind you before opening your car door.
Always exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person walking or bicycling.
Always be vigilant when pedestrians are present, especially those with visual or physical impairments.
Bicyclists are fully entitled to use the road and have the right to “take the lane” by positioning themselves at or near the center of the lane when needed to avoid hazards or if the lane is too narrow  to safely travel side by side with motorists.
Pass bicycles only when necessary and safe: pass to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear. When in doubt, wait until you can pass at a safe speed. Before making a right turn, let bicyclists clear the intersection. When turning left or entering a roadway, yield to oncoming bicyclists as you would to any vehicle.
 Some of you may have heard of the tragic death earlier this month of a cyclist in Stony Point.  Another was killed yesterday.  We also are concerned about the safety of walkers and pedestrians.  While we implore drivers to observe speed limits and other rules of the road, we also wish to share with you rules and tips for cyclists and pedestrians some of which a Bedford resident compiled and sent to me.
New York State law mandates the following related to cyclists:
  1. Travel WITH traffic (i.e. on the same side of the road) and obey all vehicle laws (stop at stop lights, etc.)
  2. Are not allowed on sidewalks
  3. Helmets (protective head gear) are required
  4. No headphones, ear buds, or other noise cancelling devices are allowed in more than 1 ear.
  5.  Horn/bell audible for 100 feet
  6. Lighting required a half hour before dusk until a half hour after dawn.
  7. Cyclists are required to use appropriate hand signals.


  1. Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk always walk facing traffic.
  2. Dress to be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for drivers to see you during the daytime. At night, wear special reflective material on your shoes, cap or jacket to reflect the headlights of cars coming towards you.


  1.  Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks.
  2.  Stop at the curb, or the edge of the road.
  3.  Stop and look left, then right, then left again, before you step into the street.
  4.  If you see a car, wait until it goes by. Then look left, right and left again until no cars are coming.
  5.  Keep looking for cars while you are crossing, and remember, Walk. Don’t run.
  6.  If a car is parked where you are crossing, make sure there is no driver in the car. Then go to the edge of the car and look left-right-left until no cars are coming.
Click here and enter location you would like information about.


Hurricanes and Tropical storms can wreak havoc in many ways, with lashing winds, torrential rains, and inundating storm surges.
Prepare for a hurricane by stocking up on food, water, protective clothing, medications, batteries, flashlights, important documents, road maps, and a full tank of gasoline.
As a storm unfolds listen to local authorities on radio or television (battery operated in the event of an outage). Evacuation routes often close as a storm develops. Dedicated professionals and improved technology have made hurricane forecasting more accurate than ever before-but it’s far from precise.
If forced to weather a storm, get inside the most secure building possible and stay away from windows.
Avoid downed wires – they can be live.  Report downed wires to your local utilities.  In the case of an emergency call 911. Click here for more information regarding hurricane and tropical storm preparedness.
The sidewalk on Court Road will be replaced.  The sidewalk is 30 years old and has deteriorated over time.  The new sidewalk will also be wider. The sidewalk will run from Route 22 to the elementary school. The sidewalk will be replaced with the same brick and concrete pattern that currently exists. The low bidder, Lascon Inc., is familiar with the scope and has provided good references for similar projects. The contract value will be the base bid of $55,150 plus a not to exceed value of $12,750, for a total not to exceed value of $67,900.
Given that it does not appear that the County enforces the County’s Anti-Idling Law (click here for the text of the law) (at least in Bedford), a number of Bedford residents have asked the Town to step in.   Working with Police Chief Padilla and Town’s counsel, we have determined that parking enforcement officers have the authority to enforce the law.   The Chief is developing a plan for such enforcement without diverting significantly from parking enforcement duties.
To improve safety at the Lawrence Circle in Katonah, the Traffic Safety Committee requested shrub removals at 2 intersections by Lawrence Circle to improve drivers’ line of sight.  Three shrubs were removed and transplanted elsewhere and two shrubs were removed and disposed of.
Additionally, it was requested that minor tree branch trimming be performed as well as pruning back a large shrub for greater sight lines.
  As I mentioned previously, the Town Board has asked the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee (RPAC) to thoroughly review the proposal (below is from my June 2 explaining the process).  I take responsibility for this taking longer than anticipated, because I have asked that all reports and studies be in writing, as all concerned are entitled to the documents themselves rather than a recap, summary or synthesis of them.   I anticipate that the RPAC will be submitting a memorandum to the Town Board regarding the proposal within the next couple of weeks.  [The Family Bike Area Community Proposal can be found by visiting bikekatonah.org].
Given that it will be delivered to the Town Board while many are on vacation and out of town, I do not consider it appropriate for the Town Board to take action on the recommendations until after Labor Day.   We will post the recommendations and the back-up documents to the Town’s website and give ample advance notice to the community of the date when the matter will be scheduled for Town Board consideration.
                I thank all, whatever your views, for continued patience and understanding.
Town of Bedford Police Department has received information that residents are being targeted by phone scammers. The caller ID on the calls received by residents show a caller ID identifying the Town of Bedford as the caller. Residents are reminded to not provide any personal information over the phone and to not call numbers provided by the caller. If you receive a call from one of these scammers please hang up. Additional information on phone scams, and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim, can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0076-phone-scams. If you believe you have been targeted, please call the police desk to report it: 914-241-3111.
It was pointed out that cars coming out of DeCicco parking lot on the Arroway side frequently make a left turn, violating the “No Left Turn” sign. There also is concern that tree/vegetation may be blocking the line of sight. We are doing/have done the following:
1. Our Police Department will be ramping up enforcement.
2. We checked and did not find that the tree/vegetation is blocking the line of sign.
3. Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn is having two new signs installed (7/21) to provide enhanced reliability.
I was asked about addressing the difficulty of crossing over from Cottage to Valley (the crosswalk at New Street not being easily accessible due to the guardrail). We will stripe a 4′ shoulder using a white fog line on Valley between Cottage Place and New St. This would guide cars toward the middle of the road and allow pedestrians and cyclists to carefully use the south side of the road to walk to New Street and cross to the sidewalk.
For information on parking at the Town of Bedford Offices During Police Department Construction click here 

 Customers can report power interruptions or service problems, view service restoration information and our outage map on line at www.coned.com as well as on their mobile device or by calling   1-800-75-coned.
Town of Bedford residents can choose to dispose of their solid organic waste at the Town Recycling Center via Community Compost, a new program brought to you by Bedford 2020 and the Town of Bedford. Community Compost can accept a wide range of materials including meat, dairy, paper towels, teabags, fruits, vegetables and more. Residents can sign up for this program by paying a one-time fee of $25. They will receive training and a compost kit with a small bucket (1.6 gal), perfect for easy kitchen access, and a large bucket (7 gal), with a sealable lid for storage outside the home and transport. Participants will drop-off their organic waste to the Town Recycling Center, located on Railroad Avenue, on Saturdays between 8am and 3:00pm. To learn more about Community Compost or to sign up for the program visit bedford2020.org/communitycompost/ or contact Bedford 2020 at (914) 620-2411. 2017
Phase I Environmental Studies to Be Performed Bedford Village Parking
The Town Board authorized a Phase I environmental review of property off of Court Road owned by The Presbyterian Church which the Town is interested in acquiring for municipal parking.
Open Space
The Town Board will consider a request to authorize a Phase I environmental review of property bounded by Route 172/Route 22, Crush Road and Country Kids Lane for possible acquisition for open space, as recommended by the Open Space Committee.
Several residents have expressed concern about the noise, dust and other impacts created by leaf blowers. You may have seen letters to the editor of the Record Review advocating regulation of blowers. .A number of communities in Westchester County and in New York State have adopted local laws regulating blowers and other power equipment. I would like to approach the matter in a deliberative manner in which all views are considered. We need to listen and weigh all concerns; ranging from those who would ban the use of gas powered leaf blowers to those who want no hand of government in the matter. Bedford 2020 has concerns about the significant emissions from gas powered leaf blowers and the topsoil which it carries away. Residents complain about the noise. On the other hand some homeowners object to the enactment of any local law which deprives them of choice in tending to their landscaping. Many landscapers are opposed to any regulation which adversely affects their livelihood or imposes significant capital outlays for new equipment. Over the next few weeks we’ll be considering the means for a thoughtful and calm discussion with the community, landscapers and other interested parties regarding the matter. I’ll keep you posted.
The Town’s financial operations for the year ended December 31, 2016.Click here for the audited financial statements that have been prepared by PKF O’Connor Davies LLC. In addition to the Town’s audited financials, click here for the results of the review of the Town’s Justice Court. Among the highlights are that the Town spent less than the adopted 2016 budget and revenues in most areas were higher than budgeted, resulting in a substantial increase in General Fund balances (over $1.1 million) and in Highway Fund balances (over $400,000). The Town Board adopted a policy last year which states in part “The Town of Bedford finances will be managed so as to maintain balances of the various funds at levels sufficient to mitigate current and future risks, such as revenue shortfalls, unanticipated expenditures, stabilization of tax rates and user fees, protection of the Town’s creditworthiness, and to provide for adequate cash flow needs.” The General Fund balance now is at approximately 35% of 2017 budgeted expenditures and the Highway Fund balance at approximately 20% of 2017 budgeted expenditures. The Town Board believes that such levels are responsible, prudent and not excessive.
Please be advised that during the renovation work at the Police Station, parking at both 425 Cherry Street and 321 Bedford Road will be limited. Please note that starting on Monday, February 6, there will be “Resident Parking Only” for certain spaces in the parking lots. We would also strongly recommend that if you need to visit the Town Offices, you consider doing so on a day other than when the Justice Court is in session. For the Justice Court schedule and other information regarding parking, please click here .
I have been working with Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and Police Chief Mel Padilla to address the danger posed with power outages knocking out the traffic lights at the three major intersections in Katonah: Routes 35 and 22, Route 35 and the I-684 overpass and Route 25 and Woodbridge Road. As was recognized in the discussion of the outage, posting officers either to direct traffic or place flares in a multi lane highway with additional turning lanes in dark rainy/icing conditions is extremely dangerous (especially with some careless, heedless drivers disregarding the intersections and basic traffic law). We are exploring other means of addressing the problem. Because there have been previous incidences of power outages at these locations, I have contacted NYSEG to ask what measures NYSEG is taking to “harden” the circuit which power the traffic lights. I have also asked whether there might be a “dual feed” whereby if one circuit goes down, another circuit might pick up the load. It’s not a likelihood, but I still felt I should ask. I also placed a call to the regional office of the NYS Department of Transportation to discuss our concerns, given that the traffic lights are owned by and the responsibility of DOT. Most important is getting the traffic lights back into operation as quickly as possible. Given that FEMA did not grant our post-Sandy request for funding generators, we purchased them ourselves. The generators are portable and may be used in emergency situations throughout town. As such, the generators are not fixed in a given location but are transported from safe storage to where most needed. Commissioner Winn and Chief Padilla are instituting new procedures for mobilizing the generators more quickly. They are confident that doing so should significantly reduce the time that the traffic lights are out.
To report an outage or an electrical emergency, please call us at1.800.572.1131 or go to our Emergency Preparedness web page, “Outage Central,” at click here
You can sign up for Outage Alerts to receive notifications regarding power outages and the estimated restoration time here NYSEG urges customers to stay away from downed power lines – even lines that appear dead can be deadly. NYSEG customers should call 1.800.572.1131 to report downed power lines or other hazardous conditions.


-outages and emergencies You can sign up for text alerts from NYSEG by going to click here and from Con Edison by going to click here. In addition, here is some useful information if you need to contact either NYSEG or Con Edison. Both NYSEG and Con Edison encourage customers with special needs to enroll in special services for them. “NYSEG is committed to providing their customers with safe, reliable energy delivery. They also offer many services for special need customers, including: Special Identification for households where everyone is elderly, blind or disabled. Large print, sight-saver Bills for visually-impaired customers. Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grants NYSEG’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) Project SHARE emergency energy assistance program. If you or someone in your household relies on life-sustaining equipment, you should contact NYSEG immediately! How to call NYSEG: Electricity interruptions or emergencies: 1.800.572.1131 (24 hours a day, every day) Customer relations center: 1.800.572.1111 Payment arrangements: 1.888.315.1755 Hearing and speech-impaired: Dial 711 (New York Relay Service)” Message from Con Edison: Customer Central Special Services Safety for Special Customers: It is important that we have a record of everyone who uses electrically operated life-support equipment or has medical hardships so we can contact them in an emergency. To learn more and complete the survey, please visit the link below. You can also let us know by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). Con Edison customers can enroll for this service by visiting www.conEd.com
I would like to take this opportunity to urge residents to check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Warns Customers Not To Fall for Scam Callers Refer Suspicious Calls to Police or 1-800-75CONED NEW YORK- Con Edison is warning customers not to fall for scams in which a caller threatens a service turnoff unless the customer purchases a pre-paid card or arranges for a transfer via MoneyGram to pay a bill. These callers are not from Con Edison and Con Edison does not accept payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards, or by MoneyGram or similar transfers. The company has recently seen a spike in reports from customers who were contacted by the scammers. Con Edison believes the scammers are calling customers randomly, not targeting just those who owe back payments. The company has received complaints from residential and business customers. The scammers sometimes even tell the customer about a store near the customer’s home that sells pre-paid cards. The scammer instructs the customer to pay cash to put money on the card and to then provide the number on the card to the person who called. Once the customer provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money on the card. There have even been reports of these scammers making a Con Edison phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID. With MoneyGram, scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. The money goes into someone else’s bank account or is available for the receiver to pick up in cash. Be alert if anyone asks you by telephone to arrange for pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer as payment for your bill, or to send money to an out-of-state address. Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to a Con Edison representative. Anyone who feels they may have been a target of an impostor or a payment scam should call their local police department. They may also call Con Edison at 1-800-75CONED. Con Edison’s website, click here, offers a variety of approved and convenient options for bill payment.
Over the last couple of years, I have brought together about quarterly the chiefs of our fire departments and the president of the Katonah Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps to discuss matters of mutual concern. Results of some of the last couple of meetings was the Town agreeing to assume the expense of a larger monitor and certain other improvements to the OEM center housed on the second floor of the Bedford Hills Fire House. In addition, we have discussed ways to reduce false alarms which result in unnecessary deployment of emergency forces and unnecessary charges to property owners.
A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week. I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it. In response to the comment, however, you will see that I’ve divided the newsletter into two sections “New Posts” and “Continuing Posts”. Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review. I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I’ve not only changed format but added content based on them (for example, why the flags are flown at half-staff.

Pending home sales fall | Bedford Real Estate

After seeing a modest three-month rise in activity, pending home sales cooled considerably in January to their lowest level in over three years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions experienced monthly and annual declines in contract signings last month.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 4.7 percent to 104.6 in January from a downwardly revised 109.8 in December 2017. After last month’s retreat, the index is now 3.8 percent below a year ago and at its lowest level since October 2014 (104.1).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says pending sales took a noticeable step back to start 2018. “The economy is in great shape, most local job markets are very strong and incomes are slowly rising, but there’s little doubt last month’s retreat in contract signings occurred because of woefully low supply levels and the sudden increase in mortgage rates,” said Yun. “The lower end of the market continues to feel the brunt of these supply and affordability impediments. With the cost of buying a home getting more expensive and not enough inventory, some prospective buyers are either waiting until listings increase come spring or now having to delay their search entirely to save up for a larger down payment.”

Added Yun, “Even though contract signings were down, Realtors® indicated that buyer traffic in most areas was up January compared to a year ago1. The exception was likely in the Northeast, where the frigid cold snap the first two weeks of the month may have contributed some to the region’s large decline.”

The number of available listings at the end of January was at an all-time low for the month and a startling 9.5 percent below a year ago. In addition to new home construction making progress closer to its historical annual average of 1.5 million starts, Yun believes that two other factors must start occurring to alleviate the excruciatingly low supply levels that are slowing sales: institutional investors beginning to unload their portfolio of single-family properties back onto the market, and more hesitant homeowners deciding to sell.

“As new multi-family supply catches up with demand and slows rents, some large investors may begin putting their holdings of affordable single-family homes up for sale, which would be great news, particularly for first-time buyers,” said Yun. “Furthermore, sellers last year typically stayed in their home for 10 years before selling (an all-time high)2; although higher mortgage rates will likely discourage some homeowners from wanting a new home with a higher rate, there are possibly many pent-up sellers who may look to finally trade-up or move down this year.”

In 2018, Yun forecasts for existing-home sales to be around 5.50 million – roughly unchanged from 2017 (5.51 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 2.7 percent. In 2017, existing sales increased 1.1 percent and prices rose 5.8 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast dropped 9.0 percent to 87.0 in January, and is now 12.1 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 6.6 percent to 98.2 in January, and is now 4.1 percent lower than January 2017.

Pending home sales in the South declined 3.9 percent to an index of 121.9 in January, and are now 1.1 percent lower than last January. The index in the West decreased 1.2 percent in January to 97.9, and is 2.5 percent below a year ago.


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Bedford Hills Nor’easter update

Storm Update – Warming Centers
            Our thanks to the Bedford Hills Fire Department and the Katonah Fire Department for opening their facilities (2d floor of each fire house) as a warming center up to 10 PM tonight.   We ask that you take extra care in driving over there as there are downed trees and wires throughout town.
The forecast for strong wind gusts have proved correct with resulting downed trees and wires in several areas in Town.   There are outages for approximately 1700 NYSEG customers and 100 Con Edison customers.  We have been working with NYSEG and Con Edison to expedite making conditions safe (de-energized lines to allow removal of downed trees/limbs).  NYSEG’s press release (click here) describes the protocol.  Our Highway Department, of course, is working to ensure safe passage on the roads.
Be safe – do not approach any downed wires.  To report power outages, downed lines, utility poles or damaged equipment, for NYSEG call 800-572-1131 or online at nyseg.com/outage and for Con Edison 800-752-6633 (electric) https://apps.coned.com/cemyaccount/CSOL/ReportOutage.aspx?lang=eng and 914-921-3720 (gas).  Call Bedford Police at 241-3111 or Bedford Highway at 666-7669 to report downed wires or trees blocking roads. We also have been coordinately closely with NYSEG and Con Edison should power outages occur and they activate their storm damage assessment reporting systems.  Our objective is to respond quickly and effectively to the situation.
Also, please do not hesitate to contact me  at  supervisor@bedfordny.gov or call me at 666-6530.

Monthly home price up .3% | Pound Ridge Real Estate

The average prices of single-family houses with mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the United States increased 0.3 percent month-over-month in December 2017, following an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain in November and missing market expectations of 0.4 percent. Year-on-year, house prices went up 6.5 percent, the same pace as in the previous month. Housing Index in the United States averaged 0.29 percent from 1991 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 1.20 percent in January of 2000 and a record low of -1.80 percent in November of 2008.



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