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Bedford Playhouse Site Proposal Draws Mixed Feedback

The Bedford Playhouse building, which includes the movie theatre and retail. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
A photo of a preliminary sketch showing the proposed development of a vacant part of the Bedford Playhouse site. It was presented at a Tuesday meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Kenneth Horn, founder and president of Alchemy Properties. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
A photo of a site plan for the preliminary proposal. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

(This is the second of two articles about the new proposal. To read the first, click here.)

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. -- Feedback regarding a preliminary development proposal for a vacant part of the Bedford Playhouse site was a mix of concern and receptiveness at a public meeting on Tuesday, July 22.

Residents who were wary expressed concerns about changing local character and of traffic, while some were open to the proposal because of its housing component. Some speakers, including a few with concerns, praised the visual part of the plan.

The three-building proposal for the Bedford Village property - it was presented at the meeting, which was held by the Planning Board - would have 32 housing units, along with retail and restaurant space. Some of the units would be affordable housing.

“It looks fantastic,” said Martha Hennig, who lives near the site. However, her concern was about septic and the lack of a local sewer system.

Kenneth Horn, president of site developer Alchemy Properties, noted that a new septic system would have to be developed. He also expressed confidence in addressing the issue. An engineering firm was engaged for the matter, Horn disclosed. Based on the engineering feedback, there is also a possibility that excess septic capacity could be added, which could be used by others in the area.

Anne Kronenberg’s concern was about having more volume in town. She praised the sleepy nature of Bedford and worried that the hamlet would be “hurt.”

Ellis Cousens expressed concern about changing character due to the quantity of people who would be coming to the site.

John Stockbridge, the town’s historian, called it a “terrific development” but added that it is in the “wrong place.” 

Howland Robinson, who opposes changing the vacant area's current single-family residential zoning, called the proposal a “multiple person application,” and mentioned traffic and people living there. He was concerned that the development could impact the school district due to new kids coming in.

Horn denied that there would be anything done that is detrimental, and said that “we get the fact that Bedford is Bedford.”

He also does not plan on pursuing a project that the public is against.

“We’re just not going to,” Horn said.

However, Horn also brought up the financial aspect of project massing, suggesting a relationship between size and what is economical.

Some residents spoke favorably about having more housing in the area for older people.

David Menken noted the challenge that his parents have, which involves using an expensive rental, and was supportive of having housing locally that is more affordable.

Helen Banks Iral, who grew up in Bedford Village, spoke in favor of housing for older residents. Iral, who now lives in Yorktown Heights, did have a concern about traffic configuration for nearby Court Street, one of a few speakers who brought it up.

Planning Board Vice Chair John Sullivan gave a message of not fearing change and said that a single-family house is “not right there either.” He noted past examples of change to Bedford Village, including the addition of the Playhouse itself and development across the street.

A man who is a longtime resident and has children and grandchildren who live locally, had a similar message. The resident also noted that his 1780 house, which he plans to sell, had a subsequent addition.

Written comment about the project is being accepted until Sept. 3, according to Donald Coe, the meeting's moderator.

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