Zoning at Edgemont

The EIC’s claim that local Edgemont control will significantly alter land use decisions in Edgemont is incorrect. It is important to understand that new potential development in Edgemont is severely limited by both available land and economic factors.

First, there are few, if any sites available which could be zoned for large multi-family projects which could overwhelm our school system with a large influx of children. Second, with the high property tax rates, increased interest rates and extraordinary cost of construction in today’s market, the development of large, rental complexes could be economically challenging in our community.

New York State land use law requires all land use boards to consider the impact of a particular, proposed development on the surrounding neighborhood. That is why property owners within 500 feet of a proposed development are noticed on all projects requiring Zoning or Planning Board approval. Ignoring the impact on the immediate surrounding community in favor of some perceived town-wide benefit would violate land use law and subject the land use board to litigation.

New York State law gives property owners the right to develop their property in a manner consistent with the zoning and planning codes. Planning boards, for example, cannot reject a project because they don’t like it or because they think the property can be put to better use. A planning board’s discretion is limited to revisions to the plan that take into account the interests of neighboring properties and overarching priorities of the jurisdiction (e.g. landscaping, preservation of wetlands, etc.).

The discretion of land use boards is further limited since they must evaluate a project based on the facts outlined in SEQRA (the State Environmental and Quality Review Act). These evaluations must be conducted based on facts and expert opinion. Public comment is taken to help uncover the issues and facts and best evaluate the impact on the surrounding community. However, public opinion not backed with factual evidence (like a petition for instance) cannot be used to make a decision.

The proponents of incorporation have offered absolutely no vision of how zoning or the zoning process would change if an Edgemont village had “control” of the process.

According to the EIC, land use is one of the major, if not the major reason they want to incorporate. Yet they provide no vision, no proposals, and cannot point to any evidence or facts that local control would improve land use in Edgemont. Before you vote, ask for their vision. Just saying local control is better is an empty statement and without foundation.

Would a new village change the zoning in Edgemont?  If so, how?  

Would a new village change the planning process?  If so, how?

Greenburgh has and continues to be responsive to Edgemont’s concerns. In response to objections from Edgemont residents, the Town revised the Comprehensive Plan to eliminate “nodes” and multifamily housing and ensure that the “impact on school districts” is a consideration in all future developments along Central Avenue.

The Town rejected the Midway Shopping Center expansion because the added traffic and fewer parking spots would endanger pedestrian safety, and the developer agreed to improve traffic safety in the parking lot despite the rejection.

The Planning Board recently addressed neighbors’ concerns over “24 Hour Fitness” (former A&P) to ensure that the facility does not negatively impact the quality of life of the adjacent residential neighborhood.

The Town has been building sidewalks in Edgemont to ensure better pedestrian safety, particularly for our children walking to and from school. The sidewalk program began prior to the incorporation campaign.

Last year the Town passed code provisions to eliminate illicit activity in massage parlors in Edgemont (in concert with Chief McNerney and Bob Bernstein) while protecting the rights of legitimate massage businesses. The plan has been effective, although enforcement activity has been made more difficult by legal requirements.

For many years, there have been two Edgemont residents on the Planning Board. They are not “advocates” for Edgemont but must make decisions in accordance with the law, particularly considering the impact that any project has on its immediate neighbors (and requiring any changes necessary to mitigate such impacts). These two Edgemont residents can, however, attest that the concerns of affected Edgemont residents have always been considered, and acted upon, by the Planning Board.

The EIC’s states, it’s only specific objection is that the Special Permit process is “spot zoning.”  It most definitely is not.

Special Permits are designed to manage certain uses permitted under the zoning code but requiring that certain criteria be met by such uses to ensure compatibility with the neighboring community.

For example, without the need to obtain a special permit, the “24 Hour Fitness” health club proposed for the A&P site could have been approved without public comment. Because of the special permit requirement, the Planning Board, and the community, at a public hearing, had the opportunity to review the plan and work with the developer to ensure that the project is in harmony with the adjacent residential neighborhood. Suffice it to say, the needs of the community have been heard and were taken into full consideration before the project was approved. Again, this would not have happened if it were not for the Special Permit process.

Special permits are not a process unique to the Town of Greenburgh. They are a well-accepted tool utilized by many municipalities to help ensure that development is done in harmony with the surrounding community.

The EIC ignores the cost, in terms of money, time and the uncertainty of adopting a Village code and zoning ordinance.

The EIC has budgeted $300,000 over four years to adopt a comprehensive plan, but it ignores the next step: drafting and adopting a village code and zoning ordinance. That process can only begin after the comprehensive plan is adopted. This would involve retaining counsel and professional planners to draft these codes, submission to the public, amendments and revisions as required, and rounds of public hearings.

The code adoption process could take years to complete and could easily cost as much as the comprehensive plan, an additional $300,000 of funds, currently not included in the EIC budget.

An important factor, difficult to quantify, is the uncertainty which would be engendered during this many year process. Will developers risk investment, if they do not know what will be included in the final zoning code? Will development along Central Avenue and the tax revenue such development brings, stagnate during the multi-year process of adopting a comprehensive plan and then adopting a zoning code?

Can Edgemont risk this kind of uncertainty?