Discussion Site Plan
Location: 322 Kear Street
Contact: Site Design Consultants
Description: Proposed 3 story commercial/residential building planned for 12 apartment units, above the commercial space, on the second and third floors. The building has a footprint area of 3,000 sf on the first floor for commercial space and 2 floors with a blue print area of 5,000 sf, 10,000 sf total.
Planning Board, 6-27-2016
In a 3-0 vote, with Mr. Savoca recusing himself, the board approved the site plan. The text of the approving resolution was not discussed, except for the text that ruled out any of the commercial space being used as a restaurant.
Planning Board, 6-13-2016
The item was withdrawn from the agenda. No reason was given.
Planning Board, 5-23-2016
Without any discussion, it was noted that the town engineer and the applicant were “on the same page” regarding the former’s issues. The applicant will be meeting with ABACA tomorrow to go over some remaining items, including the fencing between the site and the gas station and supermarket to the rear. The applicant showed the board a photo of the proposed wooden fence. The EAF has been completed.
On the parking issue Mr. Flynn noted that the record should state that the applicant has provided evidence that the shared commercial/residential parking works and that no evidence to the contrary has been provided.
Because there were only three members who could vote on a resolution (Mr. Savoca again recused himself and the two newest members were not yet up to speed on the issue) the applicant agreed to postpone a vote until there was a full board. However, the board did approve a SEQRA negative declaration with 3 votes in favor and one abstention from Mr. Tripodi.
Planning Board, 5-9-2016
Listed on the agenda for a decision statement, the item was moved to the work session portion of the meeting. John Savoca recused himself, explaining that he may have a pecuniary interest in the project.
Most of the discussion focused on the stormwater plan and technical disagreements between Mr. Quinn, the town engineer, and Joe Riina of Site Design Consultants. At the heart of the issue was the quantity of pre and post development runoff from the site during certain storm events and the extent of the applicant’s responsibility to reduce run off that existed pre development. While the stormwater plan showed runoff to both to the rear of the former Food Emporium Building and on to Kear Street under certain circumstances, Mr. Capellini argued that that the applicant should not be required to improve what already existed on the site. Mr. Quinn, however, said that it made sense for the post development plan to improve on the existing situation. He also expressed concern about long term maintenance problems associated with the porous pavers used in the rear portion of the site and the possibility of surface run off in the parking lot creating icing problems. It was noted that the stormwater plan was based on “green infrastucture’ practices which differed from “standard” DEC stormwater practices.
The discussion ended leaving the stormwater issue up to the two engineers to work out given the constraints of the site and the possible solutions including additional underground storage and connection to existing catch basins in Kear Street and the drainage system in the rear of the Food Emporium building.
There was also a brief discussion revisiting the parking issue but it was generally agreed that the applicant had previously submitted sufficient information to justify the reduction in the required number of parking spaces.
Mr. Capellini raised the issue of needing a SEQRA negative declaration determination before DEP would begin its review of the application. He suggested that the negative declaration could be made before the board was ready to vote on site plan approval. The board’s attorney had no problem with this approach once it was determined that required steps for making the determination had been followed.
Planning Board, 4-25-2016
Mr. Capellini advised the board that with four members present at its last meeting, the ZBA had a non binding consensus vote in support of the front setback variance request. A formal vote will be taken at this month’s meeting.
When Mr. Quinn advised the applicant that there was still some information missing from the application, Mr. Riina said that he would have the information in a few days.
After advising the board that the DEP will not entertain a stormwater application until the board makes a SEQRA determination, Mr. Capellini asked if the board would approve a resolution with conditions based on the receipt of the missing plans. As with the board’s previous discussion about granting approvals with conditions, Mr. Quinn advised against this practice explaining that the plans and conditions could change based on his review.
The board wants the plan to include the recommendation that the double yellow line on Kear Street be shifted to allow for parking on one side of the street. This recommendation will have to be sent to the Highway Superintendent.
Planning Board, 3-14-2016
It was reported that before it renders a decision on the needed front yard setback variance, the ZBA is requesting more information from the Planning Board on the project’s anticipated traffic generation. As explained by Anna Georgiou who serves as counsel to both the ZBA and the Planning Board,, the ZBA needs that information in order to make a determination of significance.
Mr. Riina indicated that the site would generate approximately 80 trips daily, based on a mix of residential, office and retail use. The peak number would change on the weekends, depending on whether the commercial space was office or retail.
Mr. Tegeder said he would transmit the numbers to the ZBA and that he did not see the traffic generation as resulting in a significant impact.
Planning Board, 2-22-2016
Noting that the proposed stormwater treatment under the cul d’sac would be expensive for the town to maintain, the Board asked the applicant to consider revising his stormwater plan, possibly utilizing the existing detention pond on the site or creating a new one. The Board noted that it was not clear who was responsible for maintaining the pond that was constructed in 2000 to accommodate regional stormwater.
In response to the Board’s request that the applicant consider some alternate road configurations, the applicant said he had already done this and that what was being presented to the Board was the best of all the possible options. In response, the board asked to see the earlier sketches. The ultimate “best” plan may be a tradeoff between the extent of an incursion into the wetland buffer and the most appropriate stormwater plan that takes into account long term maintenance costs and responsibility.
Board members will arrange for individual site visits with the applicant to review topographic issues.
The applicant also needs to verify the FEMA flood plain line.
Planning Board, 2-8-2016
Engineer Joe Riina responded to several of the comments made by the board and the public at the earlier public hearing.
Loading area. The plan includes two loading areas for delivery, one on the side and one in the rear, with the possibility of a door in the rear of the building. While the applicant preferred not to show the door on the plan until it was clear what tenant/s leased the space, at the suggestion of Mr. Flynn who noted that tenants change over time, the applicant said he would indicate on the plan where the door would be – if needed.
Parking. This remains an unresolved issue. The applicant repeated his contention that the residential requirement of 2.2 spaces per unit was onerous and not needed based on his experience at similar type developments. The commercial requirement is 4 spaces/1,000 SF. Under the Zoning Code, the board can reduce the requirements by 25% and/or combine and reduce the residential and commercial requirements.
The owners of the abutting dental office, citing existing parking problems in the area, and the traffic and narrowness of the street, expressed concern about the parking impact of the new building. They said they had 12-15 people in their building at any given time. Another resident who uses Kear Street spoke about traffic problems on the street.
Robert Giordano, speaking for the Small Business Association, talked about his group’s efforts to address the lack of parking in the area with the Town Board, all of which had been unsuccessful. He said his group supported the plan, but that if the parking isn’t wasn’t addressed, businesses couldn’t survive.
Councilman Bernard advised the board that the parking issue is complex and that there was no immediate or clear solution. He said the Town Board was not willing to install 2-hour parking signs. Also, the parking lot in front of the highway garage could not be expanded or be re-configured to provide more parking because of environmental issues.
Mr. Riina pointed out that there was a lot of parking available in the area but that it wasn’t utilized properly, i.e., it wasn’t connected. He said that the Marathon project has provided for its own parking needs and that its plan should be judged on its own, and not as part of a larger area-wide problem. In response, Mr. Fon said it was the board’s responsibility to look at the area globally.
Other suggestions for dealing with the parking problem included connecting the site to the Food Emporium site at the rear of the property, asking UPS not to use Kear Street, shifting the double lnie on Kear Strreet, or putting up signs at Yorktown Glass indicating that there are six additional spaces available there.
Tax issue: Ed Ciffone, representing the United Taxpayers of Yorktown, objected to the use of taxpaper money (even if it was coming from the county) to build more affordable housing. He said his group would have no objection to the project if it was for Yorktown seniors.
The hearing was closed with a 30 day written comment period left open. The applicant will return to the board later in the month to continue the parking discussion while the Planning Board awaits a ZBA decision on the front yard setback variance request.
Planning Board, 1-25-2016
The applicant asked the board for a “warm and fuzzy” memo to the Zoning Board in support of the variance application for the front yard setback; in response to earlier Planning Board discussions, the applicant moved the building closer to the street so now it needs a 10’ front yard variance. Despite the misgivings of some board members about the overall size of the building, because they like the general plan, they agreed to provide the memo. It was understood, however, that even if the ZBA grants the variance, the Planning Board would not be locked into voting for the site plan.
In response to Mr. Flynn’s concerns at the previous meeting about the loading area and potential congesetion on Kear Street, the architect indicated that changes could be made in the rear of the building to allow for loading from the rear. While this might negatively impact on the retail stores (it would require a new door), it would resolve the loading issue. No final decisions were made.
Planning Board, 1-11-2016
The public hearing was opened and adjourned to the February 8 meeting as the hearing notice for January 11 was not advertised.
Presentations were made by the applicant’s representatives regarding the site, zoning, and architectural treatment.
In response to Mr. Flynn’s question whether solar panels could be used, the applicant said this could be looked into. Noting the narrow width of Kear Street, Mr. Flynn also expressed concern that delivery trucks were likely to park in the street instead of pulling into the site, off loading their items and walking them through the store’s front door. In response the applicant’s architect said this boiled down to a policing issue on the part of the retailer.
Mr. Kincart expressed concern for what he considered to be the overcrowding of the site.
Mr. Flynn noted that since the site has been vacant (he said a former house was demolished sometime in the 1990s), the only proposed new development for the site was a bar and grill. The project was abandoned, however, because of inadequate parking. The site’s sewer permit dates back to before the sewer moratorium.
Albert Padavani, the owner of the medical laboratory across the street, expressed concern over the possibility that visitors to the Marathon site would use his limited parking. He said his other concerns, which he did not identify, could be dealt with. Mr. Flynn noted that the board has not made a final determination on the number of required parking spaces.
Citing three other existing affordable housing developments in Yorktown (Underhill Crossing, Crompond Crossing and Crompond Terraces) Ed Ciffone questioned the need for any additional affordable units which he said would change the demographics of the whole town. He said the town should stop any new affordable housing units unless they were for Yorktown residents. He also wanted to know if the development would be part of the 750 housing units the county was required to build as part of a legal settlement.
In response, it was noted that while Yorktown has no affordable housing requirements, the 12 Marathon units would be included the county’s required count. Also, although the units would have to be advertised to the region, the applicant said that when the renovated units at Underhill Crossing were rented, the majority of the new tenants came from the general area. Mr. Kincart noted the general need for rental housing, adding that while he would prefer to see preference given to Yorktown residents, that was not how the system worked; the private sector was not interested in constructing rental housing.
Mr. Ciffone was advised to check with the Planning Department for details on how the original site plan has been changed during the review process in response to the board’s concerns.
Mr. Capellini explained that the 60 units at Underhill Crossing, built in the 1960s as part of urban renewal , replaced substandard housing and was a valuable addition to the Yorktown community. He added that the 26 units at Crompond Crossing were fee simple townhouses for families with incomes in the $80,000-$85,000 range. When Mr. Tegeder said that there were about 11,000-12,000 housing units in Yorktown, Mr. Capellini said he didn’t think that adding 12 affordable units would change the demographics of the town.
Planning Board, 12-21-2015
The board was pleased with a new illustration that showed the mass of the building from a different perspective. Mr. Kincart repeated his concern that while he liked the building, he thought it was “too tight” for the site. Mr. Tegeder noted that while the building does overwhelm the site, he felt that the building was attractive.
After a discussion, it was agreed that the applicant would need a variance from the ZBA on the building alignment issue. (See meeting notes from 11/9/15 below.)
Still unresolved is the issue of how many parking spaces will be needed. Mr. Tegeder advised the board that while the parking survey for the Underhill Apartments was helpful, it was not necessarily on point with the proposed development.
Planning Board, 12-7-2015
As requested at the previous meeting, the applicant provided the board with a photograph showing the proposed new building superimposed on the existing streetscape. Most board appeared satisfied that the mass of the proposed building would not overwhelm the street although Mr. Kincart continued to express concern about the mass of the building, pointing out that the visual impact depended on the perspective the photograph was taken from. They also liked to changes to the facade that softened the look of the building.
The remaining issue remains the number of required parking spaces; the code requires 37 but the board can reduce that by 25% to 28 under certain circumstances. While the latest plan does show 28 spaces, the board will consider whether fewer spaces should be built initially, leaving some in a natural landscaped state as conservation spaces to be improved if and when it becomes clear that additional spaces are needed. The applicant provided the board with a traffic study of the Underhill apartments that showed that fewer spaces were needed for similar type units.
The applicant was also asked to see if the plan could incorporate a rear entrance into the retail stores for deliveries. As presently planned, delivery trucks could park on site but deliveries would have to be made from the front entrance on the street. The applicant is still not sure if the 2,700 square feet of retail space will be used by one or two tenants; he did not think three tenants were feasible given the reduced size of the project.
The applicant was asked to return to the board on December 21 prior to scheduling a public hearing.
Town Board, 11-24-2015
Marathon representatives appeared before the board seeking a general letter of support for their proposed project that they would submit with their application to the state housing agency that will be providing funds for the mixed use development. The project will also be part of the county’s affordable housing project. The board indicated its general support with Supervisor Grace adding that the overall aesthetics of the project were important. There was some discussion over the height of the proposed building and the setback from the street, issues that are currently being reviewed by the Planning Board.
Rents for 9 of the 12 units will be set at 60% of the area’s median income and 3 will be at 50%. There will be no rent subsidies. One bedroom rents would range from $1,012 to $1,250. Two bedroom rents would range from $1,215 to $1,502. Income limits would depend on the number of persons in the household and for 9 units would range from $44,400 for a 1-person household to $57,120 for a 3-person household. For the remaining three units, the income limit would range from $37,000 to $47,600. In comparison, it was noted that 20 of the units at the Underhill Apartments, also owned by Marathon, rent at less than 40% of median income and many other units receive Section 8 subsidies. No one had information about the rents for the apartment above Yorktown Glass.
Planning Board, 11-9-2015
The applicant presented two alternative plans. Both move the building closer to the street, allowing for double stacked parking in rear. The board preferred the plan that centered the building on the site, allowing for separate ingress and egress driveways. The preferred plan shows 28 parking spaces. It was noted that while street parking in front of the site is permitted, it would be advisable to shift the double yellow line along Kear Street so that the lane with the parking could be wider.
Whether the applicant will need a variance for the reduced frontage remained an open question; there’s a provision in the zoning code that allows the board to modify the setback if it is conformity with existing structures along the street and creates a uniform alignment. The two existing buildings would be the dentist’s office and Mavis Tire. If the plan meets this requirement, the applicant would be able to avoid the delay of having to get a ZBA variance. The applicant is anxious to move the project along by the end of the year in order to facilitate an application to the county’s affordable housing program and also a state housing program.
In response to the concerns of several members over the mass of the building (described as a “wall” by Mr. Kincart), Mr. Tegeder asked the applicant to prepare a photograph of the street that would show the existing structures and the proposed new building. The board also asked the applicant to work with his architect to see if the mass of the 3-story building could be reduced.
Asked if the number of apartment units could be reduced, the applicant said No; the economics of the project needed all 12 units (six 1-bedroomm and six 2-bedroom). Mr. Kincart said that 12 units were too many and he felt that the 28 spaces were not sufficient, a point the applicant rejected.
Planning Board, 10-5-2015
Once again the discussion centered on the number of parking spaces the project needs and the number the site can provide. In order to increase on-site parking, the building has been shortened, parking made head-on rather than parallel and the trash facilities reoriented, which yields 27 spaces. Assuming the Planning Board grants a 25% parking reduction, the project is still short one space.
Mr. Capellini, attorney for Marathon Development Group, repeated his contention that the proposed use of this site is a hybrid of commercial and residential uses, and therefore simply adding together the parking requirements for each is not appropriate. Ms. Georgiou, counsel for the Planning Board, read a section from the Town Code (300-182) which stipulates the required number of spaces for commercial and for residential uses, but not a combined use, but the code does allow the Planning Board to set parking requirements for uses not listed in the code. Mr. Capellini is asking the Planning Board to use this authority in this project. Ms. Georgiou suggested the ZBA could be asked for an interpretation of the code on this point.
Mr. Flynn didn’t think 2.2 parking spaces/one bedroom unit was excessive, pointing out that a working couple could well have two cars. Mr. Kincart wanted to see a plan showing vehicle traffic circling around the building, because the one-way pattern shown means cars will have to back out onto Kear St or make 3- or 4- point turns within the parking lot. The possibility of leasing off-site parking was mentioned. Mr. Tegeder suggested the building be moved 5 ft closer to Kear St. to open up more space for parking and circulation in the back. This would mean the elimination of a planting strip between the sidewalk and curb, but Mr. Tegeder thought this would give a more urban feel and be acceptable.
Planning Board, 9-21-2015
The site is bordered by the Shell gas station, a dentist’s office, the empty Food Emporium building and commercial building across Kear St. According to Mr. Capellini, attorney for the applicant, this site held a farmhouse 35-40 years ago, but has been vacant since then. He maintained that the proposed combination of commercial and residential uses is consistent with other parcels in the center of Town and is a good way to revitalize this “forgotten” area. The residential units will be affordable housing. Parking is an issue with this proposal. The building size requires 38 parking spaces, but in a mixed use development, the Planning Board has the discretion to grant a 25%, bringing the required number to 29 spaces. The proposed plans show 27 spaces, so the applicant would need a variance to eliminate 2 spaces. The applicant hopes these allowances would be made, but is looking into reducing the size of the building and reconfiguring the site.
Public Comments and Questions:
Ed Ciffone, Yorktown resident, stated that he was opposed to affordable housing. He pointed to the situation with the Underhill Crossing development where the affordable housing designation had been eliminated, causing rents to increase and forcing tenants out of their homes. He also questioned “what type of people” affordable housing brings into the Town.
Tony Grasso, Yorktown resident, pointed out that retail development is good for the Town because it provides sales tax revenue. He also explained that affordable housing usually has a 50 year contract, which expired in the case of Underhill Crossing, allowing the rent increases mentioned by Mr. Ciffone.
The Public Informational Hearing was closed.
Planning Board, 8-24-2015
Adequate parking is a big issue. The applicant analyzed the number of parking spaces with respect to the number of units and the number of bedrooms at nearby Underhill Apartments. In both cases, the result was far fewer than the number of parking spaces required for this project, a mixture of commercial and residential. The project is short 11 parking spaces, but only short 2 if the Planning Board uses its discretion to reduce the required number. Mr. Capellini, lawyer for the project, urged the Planning Board to be even more flexible in its parking requirements, pointing out that the proposed use is a hybrid and therefore it’s more correct to consider a weighted combination of parking requirements, not to rigidly sum the parking needs of both commercial and residential. He also said that the Town codes doesn’t have a provision for this type of hybrid use, but Mr. Kincart compared it to Yorktown Commons and asked what parking formula was used there. The Planning Board decided to refer the parking requirements to the Planning Department staff.
The Planning Board saw an area map, showing surrounding buildings and their relative heights, and Mr Fon noted that the proposed 3 story building “doesn’t tower too much” over its neighbors. The project does not need a variance for the height of the building. The building will be 384 ft from the nearest bus stop.
Mr. Savoca thought the site was a little small for all being proposed. Mr. Flynn shared his concern, adding that a residential development should have more open space. Mr. Riina, project engineer, pointed out that the area surrounding the site is totally developed and paved, so this project will not be atypical.
The Planning Board asked for a business plan in order to evaluate how the site will be used and differences between day/night parking needs.
Planning Board, 8-10-2015
A pre-application plan was reviewed for a proposed 3-story building of approximately 23,000 sf on a 0.4 acre vacant parcel abutting the Shell station with retail on the first floor and rental apartments on the second and third floors, including 12 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units. The apartments would be built as part of the county’s affordable housing program. (The developer is the current owner of the Underhill Apartments.) According to town regulations, the site would require 39 parking spaces based on the commercial 4 spaces/1,000 sf and 2.2 spaces per apartment. The current plan shows only 27 spaces. (The Planning Board has the authority to reduce the parking requirements by 25% but the applicant would need an additional reduction of three spaces. The applicant advised the board that based on the company’s experience with other affordable housing products, 2.2 spaces per unit was not needed.
Concerned about the height of the building, the board asked the applicant to return with elevations showing the height of the surrounding buildings. The applicant said that reducing the building to two stories did not work.