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Tuckahoe Planning Board Gives Apartments Go-ahead

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – Developers of a proposed 123-unit rental apartment complex will take the next step after the planning board voted 6-1 in favor of accepting the developers of Glenmark Properties' environmental impact statement.

Now that the planning board has accepted the statement, developers Glen Vetromile and Phil Raffiani will present floor plans and other details in order to win site plan approval for their project.

But the project, which according to plans, would be built on three vacant and overgrown lots located on the corner of Main Street and Midland Place, does not have the support of many community members and at least one planning board member.

Trustee Melba Caliano voted against accepting the environmental impact statement.

Caliano said the board was behaving inconsistently, sending much smaller projects back to the zoning board of appeals when significant changes in the original proposal were made.

Caliano also explained she felt the number of modifications to the original proposal should have prompted the planning board to send the proposal back to the zoning board for another look.

"I have never been against the building," Caliano said. "But there were too many changes from the original plan."

Caliano was referring to the mixed use variance Raffiani was granted about three years ago. At that time the zoning board had approved construction of a three building project that would house 88 residential condominium units, comprised of studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units and 18,000 square feet of commercial space. The space was zoned for commercial use only at the time.

After the economy took a downturn, Raffiani teamed up with Vetromile, of Glenmark Properties, and reconfigured the project several times but settled on the construction of 123 one and two bedroom units and 1,800 square feet of commercial space instead.

"When does a proposal become a new project as opposed to being a modification?" Caliano asked. "I think a project that adds almost a third more units is more than just a modification, it's a whole new project."

Eastchester resident Joe Pregiato, who lives in the Tuckahoe School District is one of many residents who opposes the project. Pregiato has gathered letters from residents against the project including one from Dr. Julio Urbina, president of the Tuckahoe Board of Education

Urbina said a study funded by the school district indicated the rental property would cause a significant, and costly increase in the number of kids attending Tuckahoe schools with a projected increase of up to 40 new students. But the developers study indicated that only a small increase, around nine new students, would result from the expanded project.

Planning Board Chair AnnMarie Ciarmella called the study by the board of education "flawed" because it included enrollment projections that included private homes, as well as those from the rental property -- as opposed to the one funded by the developer that only factored in children from condos, coops and rental units.

Pointing to two specials hearings held during the month of August, Ciarmella said she believes members of the community had ample time to voice their opinion on the project.

"We have given everyone an opportunity to speak and the police, the department of public works, the tax assessor and the fire chief said that there would be no negative impact on the village," Ciarmella said.

Still, Tuckahoe resident Antoinetee Martino did not feel she was heard by the planning board.

"We raised many issues -- not just the impact the project would have on our schools -- and they were ignored," she said.

Eastchester resident Stephen Pagnotta said that any project that would increase the population of the village by close to 5 percent should be closely examined.

"I think that the way the board behaved tonight is very discouraging," he said. "The community's voice was not heard."

The planning board will meet again on Sept. 6 for a work session to be held at Village Hall.

What do you think of the Planning Board's vote? Let us know below or on Facebook.

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