The first step before the approval of the proposed two-building, 54-unit complex is the re-zoning of the property. The land near the intersection is currently zoned for "General Business" and "Neighborhood Business," and would have to be re-zoned as "Senior Citizen's Apartments." The city's Planning Commission has recommended that the City Council approve the re-zoning of the property.
According to Council member Laura Brett, the liaison to the Planning Commission, the Planning Commission recommended the zoning change because of the city's long commitment to developing affordable housing on the property. In the early 1990's a non-profit partnered with the city to build affordable housing on the site, but those plans were stalled in 1993 when sub-surface contamination was discovered on the property.
Clean up efforts were undertaken, and the city continued to advocate for the development of affordable housing on the site. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation discovered more contamination in 2011, but has since declared that a residential development can be built there. According to Norma Drummond of the Westchester County Department of Planning, the site is safe as long as there are no residential units on the first floor. The current plans for the development call for a parking garage on the first floor.
Brett said that the environmental conditions are still a concern.
"We need to make sure that they have been adequately addressed, so that the property is suitable for development," Brett said. The Planning Commission recommends that the city receive written confirmation from the County Health Department on the status of the sub-surface contamination and all environmental clean-up before moving forward.
The city will host a public hearing on the proposed zoning change at its February 26 meeting. Mayor Joe Sack said that he also wants to have a public hearing on the site of the property one weekend, so that neighbors and other residents can fully understand what is being built.
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