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Ossining Group 'Close' on Briarcliff Annexation Signatures

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Former Ossining Town Supervisor Barbara Fratianni thinks she might want to be in Briarcliff Manor. And she’s not the only one.

Fratianni, who served as Ossining town supervisor for eight years, is one of about 200 residents in the Town of Ossining’s election Districts 17 and 20 who have signed a petition to put the possibility of annexation into Briarcliff Manor to a vote of the people. Village of Briarcliff Manor officials held a public meeting Thursday to discuss the possibility of the two districts being annexed into the village. The Briarcliff Manor Board of Trustees and the Town of Ossining have also held several meetings on the topic, which would affect roughly 1,600 residents in the two districts.

While annexation would mean changes to property taxes and services, Fratianni said it’s important to get the item up for a vote so that people can do more than just talk about annexation.

“Petitioners have gone door to door and they’ve been at several meetings, but what it does and all it does is bring the question to a vote,” Fratianni said. “We’re very close on the signatures. But by signing the petition, no one is saying they agree to it. They’re simply saying they have questions and it needs a vote.”

For annexation to be put to a vote, 5 percent of registered voters in Districts 17 and 20, or roughly 225 voters, would need to sign the petition to both the Village of Briarcliff Manor and the Town of Ossining. If the referendum does go to a vote, it would go only to the residents of Districts 17 and 20, officials say.

Buy why annexation? Fratianni explains that for many it’s about “quality of life,” possible tax changes and representation.

 “As residents in the unincorporated part of Ossining, we pay Town of Ossining taxes, but a lot of us feel we’re not properly represented on our Town Board,” Fratianni said, adding that only Town Board member Peter Tripodi lives outside of the Village of Ossining. “I feel like I’m more of a resident of Briarcliff, but I can’t use or be a part of Briarcliff’s recreation programs. For me it comes down to my quality of life.”

Tripodi, who does not live in District 17 or 20, said that even though annexation could negatively affect his taxes, he agreed it was the right of the residents to take the question to a vote.

“It’s really a referendum on the Town Board and the Town Board’s inability to represent outside residents in an effective manner,” Tripodi said, later agreeing that a recent meeting with unincorporated town residents “was a start.” “It would negatively affect me, but when you look at the residents who are doing this, you can see why. They’re voting for something better than what they have. Whether it will be better, I’m not sure. But I can certainly understand their frustration, and they have the right to put it to a vote.”

Briarcliff Manor Village Manager Philip Zegarelli confirmed he had a conversation with Ossining Town Supervisor Susanne Donnelly about the possibility of Briarcliff Manor purchasing the town police station at 507 N. State Road. But Zegarelli said Friday that it’s too soon to say where future discussions might lead.

“You’re putting the cart before the horse to say we’re going to buy it and not let the people have the referendum,” he said. “The first item that has to be addressed is annexation. Thereafter the board would look at taking over, or whatever the proper operative term is, of the Police Department. We’re sort of pushing on a string. There are a lot of people that want to at least have the chance to vote. And that’s an issue that needs to be addressed first.”

Donnelly, who posted a message on the issue to residents on the town’s website, could not be reached for comment Friday. 

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