After more than eight years of study, the Town’s proposed comprehensive plan for land use in unincorporated Greenburgh over the next 20 years got a thumbs down from residents who spoke last night at the Town Board’s first public hearing to consider adopting it. Not one person spoke in favor.
ECC president Bob Bernstein announced that the directors of the Edgemont Community Council had earlier this month unanimously recommended against the plan.
“Not having a plan in place exposes Edgemont residents to ad hoc zoning, which puts residents at risk of developments being approved regardless of impacts and regardless of what the zoning code may provide, by a town board driven by its own priorities rather than those of the community where the project is to be built,” Mr. Bernstein said.
“But putting a plan in place which codifies that status quo, which the current proposal does, is even worse,” he said.
Town councilman Francis Sheehan, who chaired the comprehensive plan steering committee, defended the plan by saying that when Edgemont residents demanded that a prior plan calling for hundreds of new apartments in “nodes” along Central Avenue be removed, the committee did exactly that, and “everyone thanked us.”
Mr. Bernstein said that the risk of leaving in place the status quo became much greater and more worrisome to Edgemont residents in light of the Town Board’s two-year campaign to win approval for the Shelbourne Formation 94-bed assisted living project in a residential neighborhood at the corner of Underhill and Sprain Roads.
“When the Town Board unanimously decided to support a project that was more than a mile outside of the area in Edgemont that was specifically zoned for it, and when it further concluded two weeks ago that none of the impacts on the residents who would be affected by the project were even worthy of study,” Mr. Bernstein said, “a comprehensive plan which codified the status quo offering no vision for the future shows Edgemont residents how truly at risk they are, whether it’s on Central Avenue, or in any of Edgemont’s residential neighborhoods.”
Mr. Bernstein urged the Town Board to engage a consultant and take the time to determine what each individual school district in the Town’s uninincorporated areas needs to remain economically sustainable over the next 20 years, and to craft a vision based on their particular needs – since each school district consumes 60% of each taxpayer’s property taxes – and not focus so much on the Town’s short term needs to raise revenue from new construction projects.
He added that the ECC, which speaks for Edgemont on zoning and planning issues, had not only been denied a seat on the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, but that its recommendations over the years for a plan that protected Edgemont’s future economic viability by taking into account, among other things, that Edgemont already has 900 apartments which is roughly one-third of its entire housing stock, had been ignored.
Other residents who spoke included several from the Ardsley School District who were concerned about a 272-unit apartment complex known as the Jefferson that was proposed off Route 9A in the Ardsley School District.
They were concerned about the plan’s lack of criteria for what should be built in areas deemed to be “complementary” to the Town’s new research and development districts. The Jefferson project was to be built on property zoned “General Industrial,” which allows multifamily housing by special permit.
However, after the hearing last night ended, Ardsley residents were notified that Akzo Nobel, the company that owned the land, had terminated its contract with JPI, the Texas-based company that had proposed building the Jefferson, and would put the property back on the market – but this time offering it only for commercial and industrial uses as opposed to the residential use which sparked community protest.
In other action last night, the Town Board held a second public hearing on a major proposal to upgrade underground water mains, including a project that will require construction next year along Underhill Road, starting at Paradise Road off Central extending to Sprain Road. Residents pointed out that the same town official who was in charge of planning that project was in charge of the repaving this summer of Underhill Road, which will now have to be torn up after only a year.