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Legislators let Ferncliff proceed on long road
The Westchester County Board of Legislators agreed on Monday to study a proposed lease that would allow Ferncliff Manor, the Yonkers school for developmentally disabled children, to move to a former homeless shelter on county-owned property in Greenburgh.
The lawmakers' decision to transfer the draft lease to three legislative committees for further discussion was good news for Ferncliff, whose administrators want to move from their antiquated facility to the WestHELP, an unused homeless shelter near Westchester Community College in Valhalla.
But the board's decision doesn't necessarily mean the school can relocate. The committees could discuss the lease for months or longer, and it's still not clear whether enough lawmakers would approve the agreement if it came up for a vote.
Democrats who control a majority of the board have been reluctant to let Ferncliff move to county land. The Town of Greenburgh has a lease to the property that requires the land be used for low-income housing. The Democrats have said they would like to see new affordable housing rise on the site.
In recent months, however, a few Democrats have signaled their openness to letting the school relocate. Republican County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, as well as GOP lawmakers on the board support the move.
Under county law, at least 12 out of 17 legislators need to approve the new lease because of the magnitude of the change in land use. About 10 legislators, seven Republicans and three Democrats, are now prepared to vote in favor of the new lease.