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OneCommunity

The County’s “One Community” campaign to promote the benefits of diversity arrived at the County Airport on April 6. Two large wall boards now grace the walls of the airport terminal building. The theme “One Community Many Cultures” promotes the rich diversity that already exists in Westchester. According to the 2010 Census, Westchester was the fourth most diverse county in New York State – tied with Manhattan.

The “One Community” campaign was launched in September 2015 with a website and was expanded in January with poster placement on 300 County Bee-Line buses and at 30 bus shelters.

For more information on the campaign visit the webpage.

DevelopmentInventory

A new version of an interactive map is now available on a Planning Department Web page. The map, which debuted last year, has been updated to identify the location and details of all major development proposals county-wide. Included are all residential proposals that have 50 or more new dwelling units and all non-residential proposals of 15,000 square feet or more. The data is current as of the end of 2015.

Click to link to the map.

AFFH NorthSalem

On March 30, non-profit developer A-HOME sold the fair and affordable single-family home located at 602 Route 22 in the Croton Falls hamlet of the Town of North Salem to an income eligible household for $223,000. This home was sold to a first-time homebuyer identified through a lottery held on June 22, 2015 as part of the affirmative fair housing marketing efforts conducted by Housing Action Council, the County’s Housing Marketing Consultant. The new owner has an annual income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income.

The County contributed $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds and $40,000 from a 2010 NYS Affordable Housing Corporation grant to support the acquisition and renovation of the three-bedroom home. The house has a floor area of 1,600 square feet. The renovations included removal and replacement of the underground oil tank, construction of a new alternative septic system, a new roof, replacement siding, new kitchen and bathrooms plus upgrades to the electrical system with installation of energy efficient windows, and appliances. The unit will remain affordable for a minimum of 50 years in accordance.

As of March 31, 349 affordable Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) units have been occupied consistent with the terms of the Housing Settlement.

EnvirothonThe Hudson Valley Envirothon was held on April 14 at Camp ABC in Fishkill with competing teams from around the Hudson Valley. This year Westchester County was represented by eight teams from five high schools: Ossining, Yorktown, Greenburgh, John Jay and Walter Panas. One Ossining High School took first place among the Westchester teams and third place in the overall competition. The Ossining team will now continue on to compete at the State level in May.

The Envirothon is a series of hands-on contests in which teams of five students compete to solve environmental problems in five subject areas: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a current issue. Each team is also required to give an oral presentation based on the current issue, which this year was "Invasive Species."

The Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District coordinates the Hudson Valley Regional Envirothon with schools each year to incorporate environmental studies into the curriculum and expose students to career options in conservation. Beyond motivating students to learn more about the environment, the Envirothon emphasizes the development of practical skills such as research, teamwork and public speaking.

On March 29, the county closed on the purchase of a single-family house at 437 Saw Mill River Road in Millwood hamlet in the Town of New Castle and conveyed it to Habitat for Humanity. Habitat will rehabilitate the property to create two affordable housing ownership units. The house, which was purchased from an estate for $250,000, had been listed in poor condition – prospective buyers were warned to not enter the house. Habitat for Humanity, with the help of volunteers and a $50,000 grant from the county, will gut the building and add a second floor. The total number of bedrooms will be established after an engineer is brought on board to identify the septic system capacity and to determine if expansion of the septic system can be accomplished.

The demolition and subsequent construction will likely take until the end of 2016. The sales price of the ownership units will be determined after the septic evaluation and a bedroom county is determined.

Referrals of Interest

Referrals to the Planning Board

Between March 16 and April 15, the County Planning Board received 55 referrals of proposed planning and zoning actions from Westchester’s municipalities. These referrals include notifications submitted pursuant to the NYS Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). Of the referrals received, 43 were determined to be jurisdictional and 12 were determined to be non-jurisdictional. Of the jurisdictional referrals, 25 (58%) were for an actions pre-determined by the County Planning Board to be a matter of local determination that require notification only; acknowledgements of receipt were sent back to the referring municipality. No further action is required on these matters.

Planning Board action is needed at the May meeting to approve actions taken by staff in response to 15 referrals received with response letters dated from March 16 and April 15, 2016:
•    Comment letters sent in response to 10 referrals
•    Local Determination letters sent in response to 5 referrals.

REFERRALS OF INTEREST

1. City of New Rochelle - Zoning Text Amendment: Affordable Housing (NRO 16-007)
Description: A proposed local law to amend the text of the City’s Zoning Code with respect to requirements for affordable housing. As proposed, the amendment would lower the number of units constituting a residential development requiring affordable housing from 11 units to three units. The amendment would also change these regulations to apply them city-wide and not with a focus on the downtown area. Technical modifications to the payment-in-lieu procedure for affordable housing are also proposed.

Comments: No objection to the New Rochelle City Council assuming Lead Agency for this review. The proposed amendments are consistent with Westchester 2025 because they will help encourage a range of housing types in the city with different levels of affordability.

2. Village of Rye Brook - North Ridge Street Subdivision (RYB 16-002)
Description: Lead Agency notification for a proposal to subdivide a 3.96-acre property located at 259 North Ridge Street into three parcels. One parcel would retain an existing single-family home which would be renovated. The second parcel would be developed with a new single-family home. Both of these lots would retain their existing R-15 zoning designations. For the third lot, the applicant is seeking an amendment to the Village Zoning Map to rezone the property to the FAH District so as to permit the construction of eight units of affordable affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) in two buildings. It is our understanding that a site plan approval would also be required for this action.

Comments: No objection to the Rye Brook Board of Trustees assuming Lead Agency status for this review. We respectfully request that we be sent additional information on this proposal as it moves through the review process. We are supportive of the proposed application as it will bring eight additional affordable AFFH units to the Village.

3. Town of Somers - Somers Crossing - Final EIS (SOM 16-004)
Description: Final EIS for the proposed “Somers Crossing.” The applicants are petitioning the Town Board to establish a new Multifamily Residence Downtown Hamlet (MFR-DH) floating zone district in the Town Zoning Ordinance and to apply this new district to a 26.68-acre site within the Somers hamlet. The site surrounds the existing Somers Towne Centre shopping center and has frontage on both Somerstown Turnpike (NYS Route 100) and Somers Road (US Route 202). The site is currently zoned R-40 and R-80, for single-family development, and is within the Groundwater Protection Overlay district.

If the zoning petition is approved by the Town Board, the applicant intends to seek site plan approval to develop the site with 65 condominium residential units and a 19,000 square foot grocery store with 422 total parking spaces. The proposed grocery store would be located on Route 202 and would function as an extension of the existing Somers Towne Center shopping center. The condominium units are proposed to be arranged around a new private road system with access from Route 100 and a vehicular connection to the Somers Towne Center. The proposed unit mix is 35 two-bedroom units and 30 three-bedroom units. One additional unit is proposed to be donated to the Town as a two-bedroom “special needs unit,” which may be made affordable as per the Town’s discretion.

Because the site is encumbered with a sizable amount of wetlands, the applicant is proposing to preserve 10.58 acres of the site as open space, which is primarily comprised of wetland or wetland buffer. Water and sewer for the development will be provided via extensions of the Heritage Hills Water District and the Heritage Hills Wastewater District, for treatment at the Heritage Hills Sewage Treatment Plant.

Comments: The County Planning Board previously reviewed the draft EIS and responded to the Town in a letter dated April 15, 2015. We have reviewed the final EIS and we find that a number of our responses have been responded to adequately. Furthermore, we note that the applicant has made several changes to the site plan in response to the comments received on the draft EIS. It is our opinion that the currently proposed plan is an improvement over the draft EIS plan.

4. City of Yonkers - 1111 CP Avenue, LLC (YON 16-003)
Description: The applicants propose to demolish the vacant Boulder Creek Steakhouse at 1113 Central Park Avenue (NYS Route 100) and construct three separate restaurants, each with its own separate drive-thru and parking areas. All three restaurants (Starbucks, Sonic and Popeye’s) would share a common vehicular ingress from southbound Central Park Avenue. Three common vehicular egress points would also be provided, all right-turn only. Two would be directly on Central Park Avenue. One would exit to an existing jug-handle U-turn, providing access to northbound Central Park Avenue.

Because the site is located in the OL District, where drive-thru restaurants are not a permitted use, the applicants are seeking use variances. In addition, seven area variances are sought for insufficient parking, parking within front yard, parking within 10 feet of the street right-of-way, parking within side yard, retaining wall within front and side yards, retaining wall height and required drive-thru setback.

Comments:
•    This form of development on the subject site may not be consistent with the City’s land use policies. The referred material did not include any statements from the applicant addressing the rationale behind the requested variances.
•    The proposed layout of the vehicular ingress/egress as it relates to the entrances and exits of the three separate fast-food drive-thrus and parking areas may present a confusing layout for motorists trying to enter any of the three proposed development sites.