Lake Osceola Square
Location: 393 East Main Street
Contact: Site Design Consultants
Description: Proposed Country Commercial development for a multi-use facility including parking, building, landscaping, and necessary infrastructure.
Town Board, 9-27-2016
Mr. Roberta showed a new plan that was only briefly discussed. (Note: it was not clear to the CIY observer exactly what was in the new plan, although Mr. Roberta said something about a miniature golf course, restaurant and bar.)
All agreed that the parcel was a critical one for the future revitalization of Jefferson Valley but that it was a difficult piece to develop. Mr. Tegeder said he would like to see the buildings broken up and some buildings moved closer to the street to create a streetscape. Chris Sciarra, a member of Mr. Roberta’s team, was critical of Mr. Tegeder for not coming up with a plan for the site, adding that Mr. Roberta was tired of not getting anywhere on the project “so we gave up.”.
Supervisor Grace told Mr. Roberta that if what the town wants is more expensive to build, the town would have to give Mr. Roberta something to make the project economically feasible. It is envisioned that once a plan is agreed to, the site will be custom zoned.
Mr. Roberta will do a site visit with Mr. Roberta and Mr. Tegeder. Mr. Sciarra implied that for the time being, Mr. Roberta would focus on his Front Street project.
Town Boad, 3-8-2016
Although not on the agenda, there was a brief discussion of this property, as George Roberta, the owner, also owns the Front Street parcels that ws the subject of a rezoning discussion.
Supervisor Grace said he was not adverse to splitting the property into residential and commercial, explaining that while more commercial development might be desirable, the current residential plan would also help to upgrade the area. Citing the value of lakefront property for commercial development, Mr. Tegeder said that he still preferred to see a mixed use of the site. On the supervisor’s suggestion, he will work with Mr. Roberta to see if an alternate plan can be developed.
Mr. Roberta again advised the board that the abutting property owners were not interested in working with him on a proposed sewer line. The supervisor said that the property owners appeared to be holding out for a hoped for increase in their property values once the beach parcel was developed.
Town Board, 2-23-2016
George Roberta, the owner of the property, and Chris Sciarra presented a concept plan that generally followed the outline of what Sciarra had discussed with the board in January. (See January 26, 2016 below.) The plan is now for 24 apartments, all two bedroom units with lake views: 16 units would be 2-story and 8 units 1-story. The building would be either the same or similar to what had originally been proposed as a mixed use building (this was not completely clear from the discussion.)
The applicant again said that the sewer line would go in the street as the resident6ial property owners between his site and the existing sewer connection at Ceola Manor were not interested in having the line go through the rear of their properties, even though this would be the preferred location.
The main thrust of the discussion was whether the town should sacrifice a potential commercial rateable for this residential development. Supervisor Grace said that the site was key to revitalizing the hamlet; he described some of the existing properties along East Main S treet as “ crap.” Mr. Roberto said that he anticipated no trouble renting the apartments and was willing to make that investment. But, he added, he was not ready to risk his money for a commercial project he might not be able to lease. That left the trade off for the town: revitalize the area by rezoning just for the apartments and giving up the commercial rateable – or – leave the commercial zoning as is and wait for another possible commercial development plan.
Mr. Tegeder advised the board that in his opinion the site was suited to a mixed use development given the attractiveness of the lake and the volume of traffic on East Main Street.
The board also discussed the residential properties to the west of the beach property. Given the sharp drop off of the parcels to the lake which would limit parking opportunities, all appeared to agree that
it was unlikely that the properties could be developed for commercial use, even if the individual parcels were assembled into one lot. However, it was suggested that once assembled, the parcels might be suitable for single family homes with access from below from the Roberta site.
No decisions were made.
Town Board, 1-26-2016
Chris Sciarra discussed a revised concept for the development of the beach property. Before the owner proceeds further with formal plans, he was seeking a sense from the board whether it would consider the new concept.
The current idea is to split the property in half with 24-32 rental apartments on one side, with a dock, and a restaurant and some water feature on the other side. He added that the owner was in discussions with the owner of the boarded up building fronting on East Main Street (Wet Willies) about a possible sale but nothing had been finalized. (He told the board that the owner of the Wet Willies site has also said that he might want to redevelop his site on his own, as a restaurant. In response, Councilman Bernard said the thought the site was too small for such a use and the town would not want a new building as close to the street as the existing one.)
Mr. Sciarra also advised the board that the sewer line for the new project would go under the sidewalk as the owners of the abutting residential properties were not interested in having the line go through their backyards. He said that based on his calculations, it would be cheaper to repair the concrete sidewalk than repave the road.
Calling the parcel a “diamond in the rough,” Mr. Tegeder advised the board that the lakefront property had good potential for the right type of development. He did not think the site was suited for a “high end” restaurant, which was the owner’s original plan, but was more suited to a hamburger style restaurant. From a planning perspective, he believed the site should be developed as one mixed use project and not split into two parts. He also wanted to make sure that any plan had access to the lake.
Supervisor Grace advised Mr. Sciarra that the owner has to be creative and decide what he wants to do and then come back to the board, adding: “Who gives a damn about the zoning.” There was a consensus on the board that the members wanted to see the site developed, and wanted to work with the owner, but that the ball was in his court to come to the board with a firm plan. It was suggested that the negotiations with the owner of Wet Willies be concluded before developing a plan
Town Board, 6-23-2015
George Roberto, the owner of the former beach site, presented an alternative concept to the board that called for one or two restaurants on the first floor with apartments on top, using the same basic building configuration as in the previous plan. Alternately, the main building could be just a destination restaurant and the apartments could be on the eastern portion of the property. Using Mahopac as an example, Planning Director Tegeder noted that restaurants with lake views tend to be very successful.
With the Town Board unanimous in wanting to see something attractive developed on the site, and both the board and Mr. Roberto flexible on the parameters of a future plan, Supervisor Grace suggested that Mr. Roberto “take an eraser” to the requirements of the County Commercial zone and come up with a plan that made sense to him from a business perspective. Mr. Tegeder explained that when the zone was created, the town had little experience with it and that that the country commercial zone was more of a concept with an arbitrary set of numbers, especially the requirements governing the number of residential units.
Janice Donadio and Julie Duquet, two area residents, said they supported plans for a new development on the site but also wanted the town to do something to slow traffic on East Main Street. In response, Councilman Bernard said that the Public Safety Committee was looking into the issue. Ms. Donadio also expressed concern over the rising level of the lake but no one seemed to know for sure where the lake’s outlet might be blocked.
Chris Sciarra, who is working with Mr. Roberto on the project, indicated that any future plan might involve pulling down the derelict bar abutting the site.
Joint meeting: Planning Board and Town Board, 4-6-2015
At issue was whether the town was interested in owning or operating a beach, and if not, what type of public access to the lakefront if any, was the town board interested in having. While it was clear that the Town Board did not want to operate a beach, the board gave no indication to the Planning Board as to what type of public access it might want, with Supervisor Grace saying that that was really a planning issue left to the Planning Board. However, the supervisor did say that in general, when there are issues that involve the town accepting land, e.g. ,in fulfillment of the Code’s recreation fee or land requirement, that the Town Board be consulted. Councilman Bernard said he will be the Board’s liaison to the Planning Board and that while he will not be attending every Planning Board meeting, he will keep the Town Board informed about issues as they develop.
As the developer was not present at the meeting, there was no discussion of possible changes in the overall plan. There was a consensus from both boards that they wanted to see the project proceed and that it would be a key component to revitalizing the Jefferson Valley hamlet.
(Note: At the April 2 meeting of the Recreation Commission, the developer said that without a beach operation, retail space on the site was not viable. Instead, he talked about a high end destination restaurant and two floors of apartments. )
As an aside, the issue of the potentially unsafe condition of the nearby bar was brought up and whether the town could invoke the existing Unsafe Structure law to remedy the situation.
Planning Board, 3-11-2015
Although not on the agenda, at the end of the meeting, Mr. Tegeder showed board members a copy of a 1970s Jefferson Valley Business District plan that called for pedestrian access along the lake and a town beach.
Board attorney Anna Georgiou advised the board that there is a statute that could limit liability for passive recreation around the lake where there was no direct supervision. She will provide the board with more details.
Planning Board, 2-23-2015
Due to the expense, the Recreation Commission recommended against the Town taking ownership of the beach on this site and operating it as a public swimming facility. The applicant thinks that without the beach to draw people in, the retail shops proposed for the lower level of the new building will not be profitable. He’s now proposing a high end, destination restaurant for the building’s ground floor. The upper level office space appearing on earlier plans will be eliminated and replaced by apartments (two bedroom) above the restaurant. Mr. Kincart asked to see plans comparing two different sized apartments.
There was lengthy and heated discussion about public access to the beach area and Lake Osceola via this site. Mr. Tegeder maintained that town residents should have access to the beach and lake. He thinks the site plan doesn’t take advantage of the site’s outdoor amenities. He also said that the plan doesn’t invite people in and makes it physically difficult for them to access the beach and lake. The applicant said he is not interested in operating a beach for swimming and in fact he’s not interested in attracting people to the site at all, except to patronize the restaurant. He expressed frustration that the Town refused his offer of the beach as a Town recreation area, yet still seemed to expect him to provide the recreation facility for town residents. Then in response to questions from Anna Georgiou, the applicant back-peddled and allowed how as he wouldn’t be opposed to passive recreation on the beach, such as a walking path connected to other lakeside paths. Nevertheless, he had difficulty envisioning how a public access easement would be written and enforced to allow activity compatible with a destination restaurant while blocking undesirable use of the site (the example given: A child tossing pebbles into the lake with his grandfather vs teenagers throwing rocks at each other on the beach). While not necessarily opposed to passive recreation (such as a walking path), the applicant was opposed to the beach becoming a town park, because it would draw too many people which would be incompatible with the desired ambiance of the destination restaurant. As the discussion continued, it became unclear what the applicant wanted and what he was willing to accept re public use of the beach. Mr. Kincart said that if the Town didn’t want the beach as a park, it shouldn’t dictate to the applicant how he has to use the resource. A representative of the Recreation Commission, in attendance, was asked if the Rec Commission would be amenable to the Town taking the site for passive recreation. She said she couldn’t speak for the Rec Commission, but it would certainly consider that possibility if it received the referral. Mr. Fon asked the applicant to meet with the Rec Commission to explore the possible passive use of the beach as a Town facility and to meet with the Planning Staff to work out a compromise. The applicant repeatedly emphasized what an asset his proposed restaurant would be to the Town and that his site improvements will greatly improve the property, regardless of the opportunities for public access. The Planning Board, especially Mr. Kincart, agreed with this. The applicant also pointed out that “all this exploration cost me money” and that “no one is a winner here”. Mr. Fon repeatedly reassured the applicant that the Planning Board recognizes the value of the project and that the planning/approval process is difficult, but it’s important to get it done right.
Planning Board, 12-8-2014
The applicant described a change in the location of the site’s entrance driveway and sidewalk to slightly further east in order to take advantage of the view of LakeOsceola as entering. This necessitated a change in the landscape plan. Trees originally proposed along old route 6 will be replaced by shrubs. Twelve foot spruce trees have been added to screen the west edge of the site. In all, the landscaping includes planting 76 trees, about 800 shrubs and an equal number wetland plants. There will be very little grass on the site.
Mr. Flynn asked about creating a lane for the bus that stops near the site which would serve as a turning lane for entering traffic. Project engineer Mr. Rina will look into the feasibility.
The applicant said he had the impression the Town Recreation Commission did not want the beach as a town park. The applicant says he would encourage people to come to the beach, but not to use the water, for insurance reasons, unless the Town takes over and operates the beach. The Planning Board will recommend to the Town Board that it accept deeding of the beach to the Town.
Water quality of LakeOsceola was discussed. Most likely water quality will improve with this proposed use, since the current use is a significant pollution source.
None of the adjoining residential property owners followed up with any interest in sewers, so the applicant will have to use the alternate sewer route.
DEC stormwater concerns were discussed. The property’s stream is a Class C stream so is not protected. The lake is Class B but no activity impacting the lake is proposed so a permit is not required.
Mr. Capellini will check out affordable housing possibilities for the residential units above the commercial space.
There will be a public hearing on January 12, 2015.
Planning Board, 11-10-2014
The board opened the public hearing. The applicant’s development team described the project, including some plan changes that had been made in response to the board’s earlier concerns.
Wood Street intersection. In order to improve sight distance, the highway department has agreed to replace the existing vegetation with some ground cover and also to remove two sumac trees.
Traffic: The applicant’s traffic consultant has recommended some additional stripping on Hill Boulevard at intersection with East Main Street and has suggested a list of possible traffic calming devices to slow speeds along East Main Street.
Sewers: the exact location of the line remains to be worked out, but the most likely route appears to be under the existing sidewalk. (If the line went through the street, it would cause traffic disruptions.) While this option would enable the neighboring homeowners to connect to the sewer line, the owner is still exploring the possibility of running the line behind the homes which would be better for the homeowners and avoid the need to dig up and replace the sidewalk. The stumbling block is two town owned parcels along the possible route that may or may not be parkland.
Building height: As requested by the board, the architect has lowered the pitch of the roofs in order to minimize the bulk look of the building.
Landscape plan: details remain to be worked out.
Ownership of the beach: there has been no indication from the town whether it wants to keep the beach.
Planning Board, 10-20-2014
Based on a board site visit, the discussion focused on site distance issues along East Main Street and the need to eliminate/clean up some vegetation on both sides of the street, and especially at the Wood Street intersection which would involve a town-owned parcel. Also discussed was what type of new plantings would be appropriate, e.g., maple trees or other shrubs.
The board also expressed concern about the bulk of the building and how it would look from across the lake. While they liked the overall design of the building, the board asked the architect if he could explore some changes that would soften the overall appearance.
A public hearing on the site plan will be held on November 10.
Planning Board, 10-6-2014
The applicant showed a new map with few changes based on feedback from the last meeting, mostly dealing with landscaping. The board also wanted to see a cross section that would show the height of the building from East Main Street. When it was suggested that the applicant arrange for a balloon height test, Mr. Capellini noted the cost of setting one up. No decision was made. The future ownership/operation of the beach remains to be decided. The property owner said that if the town is not interested in operating the beach, he would limit the use to boat launching; the public would be able to walk around the lake area.
The board will do a site visit and most likely schedule a public hearing in November.
Planning Board, 7-14-2014
Traffic: Highlights of the applicant’s traffic study prepared by traffic consultant Phil Grealy were presented. According to Mr. Grealy, the problem along East Main Street is speed not volume; although the street is marked for 30mph, his analysis showed that the speed was at least 40mph for the 85th percentile. Most of the volume, he said, was from commuters. While he suggested some stripping and signage improvements for the street, he said that enforcement was the major solution to the speeding problem. Although he did not anticipate any major increase in the volume of traffic as a result of the new development, he said that the stripping and signage improvements should be done regardless of whether or not the new d3evelopment went in. He suggested the town use a longer lasting and more visible type of paint for the stripping. He said the traffic volume did not reach the threshold where a traffic signal was warranted.
The traffic study analyzed traffic accidents through 2010 and Mr. Grealy said he is waiting for more recent accident data. Regarding the Wood Street intersection, it was noted that while the situation is not perfect, it is better than it was, but that physical constraints limited any additional improvements to the intersection.
Stormwater: Mr. Tegeder questioned the design for what the applicant called a “pocket wetland” between the building and the sand beach. The area is part of the project’s stormwater plan. His concern was that the area physically and visually created a separation between the building and the beach. In response, Mr. Riina explained that because of the site’s groundwater conditions, the stormwater options were limited. He said that at the board’s next meeting, he would provide a landscape plan for the pocket wetland which he explained was more of a site “feature” than a typical detention pond. He will also consider some modifications to the path around the “pond’ to provide better access to the beach. In a related issue, there was a discussion about whether a “wetland’ that has developed on top of earlier asphalt paving should be considered a wetland. The wetland delineation has not been completed.
Architecture: Michael Piccirillo, the project architect, advised the board that he will be presenting the latest plans the ABACA and that they will not necessarily be the same as the original concept plan. In response to a question from the board, he said the building’s mechanicals would be located inside the building. (This became a concern after the board realized that it had not considered the location of the mechanicals for the Mt. Kisco Medical Building on Hill Blvd.)
Signage: The board asked for more details about the location of the signage along East Main Street as well as the site’s landscape plan along the property line with the street.
Beach: The Rec Commission has not yet commented on the ownership/operation of the beach and it was noted that the Commission will not be meeting until September 4.
The board will do a site visit on September 6 and possibly schedule a public hearing for September 8.
Planning Board, 6-9-2014
The applicant advised the board that a formal application had been made with a plan “almost exactly” the same as what the board had previously seen, and that a stormwater and landscaping plan have been prepared. A traffic study is underway that might include some suggestions for how traffic could be slowed along East Main Street. The wetlands delineaton has not been completed.
Sewers: The applicant has had discussions with other property owners along the south side of East Main Street regarding their hooking up to the sewer line that will connect the new development to the existing sewer main on Hill Blvd. In response to Mr. Kincart’s question about the possibility of sewering the properties on the north side of East Main Street, Mr. Riina said he didn’t think the applicant would have any problem as long as the project could be considered a private one and not involve the creation of a sewer district.
Beach: Still undecided was the future operation of the beach. The owner does not want to operate the beach and would either want the town to take over the operation or gave the town an easement. The Planning Department will refer the issue to the Recreation Commission for its input, although Assistant Planner Steinberg advised the board that in an earlier conversation with the Rec Commission chairperson, it was stated that it was costly for the town to operate a beach. There are two existing docks on the lake.
The applicantwill return to the June 23 work session before a date is set for a public hearing on the site plan.
Planning Board, 10-7-2013
The applicant is before the ZBA for three variances: erecting a free standing sign where none is permitted in the CC zone; the width of the building, and parking closer to the street. Because the ZBA is concerned about the substantial size of the variance request dealing with the width of the building, the applicant asked the Planning Board, which likes the proposed plan, to send a memo to the ZBA explaining why the variances were desirable.
Width of building. The plan, which angles the building on both sides, was done deliberately to break up the massive look of a single linear building. Earlier, the Planning Board indicated its preference for the angled building as opposed to two separate building.
Parking closer to the street. This provided a viewshed to the lake from the street and also enlarged the beach area which the applicant proposes to give to the town.
Sign. The Board has no problem with a free standing sign; the actual wording and other details would be determined much later.
Planning Board, 9-9-2013
A neighboring resident on East Main Street expressed concern over traffic, drainage to the lake, sewers, whether the existing bar on the site, which she described as an “eyesore” would remain, and whether access to the beach would be for anyone or just town residents. In response, the developer’s attorney, Al Capellini, said the issues would be addressed in future submissions.
The applicant will need a variance because of the shape of the building doesn’t conform to side yard setback requirements.
The hearing was closed.
Planning Board, 8-12-2013
After discussions with Planning Department staff, the applicant has moved the building closer the road in order to open up the space along the lakefront. The change, which will necessitate a variance from the Zoning Board, will create 21 parking spaces above the requirements that could be used to provide public access to the lake. The applicant would like the town to accept dedication of the lakefront area.
The applicant will submit a formal application and a Public Informational Hearing will be held in September.
Planning Board, 6-10-2013
The Board indicated its support for a pre-preliminary conceptual plan to build a new multi-use wing shaped building on the site of the former Osceola Beach Club. The new three story building is being planned for a restaurant on one level, offices on the second level and eight residential units (one and two bedroom units) on the third floor. Each floor will be about 8,000 square feet. The rear of the building will feature a terrace and patio that will overlook and step down to the beach. The project’s goal is to make the site a destination location.
The plan calls for public access to the beach, although the details have not been worked out. One option, preferred by the applicant, would be for the town to assume ownership and maintenance responsibility for the beach area.
An existing building on the eastern portion of the site will be retained and a second existing building will be demolished.
The plan calls for 119 parking spaces.
Given the Board’s positive response to the conceptual plan, the applicant will now make a formal application.