by Barrett Seaman
When the barrage of criticism of the Brightview plan had finally subsided, a man who had been standing at the back of the crowded trustee meeting room raised his hand to speak. He identified himself as Jerry Carrafiello, the current owner of the eight-plus acres off North Broadway on which Brightview proposed to build its senior living facility. He reminded the assembly that he had come to the village two years earlier to advise that he and his family wanted to sell the property, which currently houses office space, and to ask for some guidance on what use of the property would be best for Irvington.
Based on prospects he had in hand, Carrafiello put forth three options: First, stay within the current zoning and sell the property to a developer who could then “as of right” build up the six high-end single family homes on two-acre plots. Second, sell to a builder who would erect a multi-family apartment complex with a mix of middle class and affordable housing. The third was to sell to an assisted living company, which turned out to be Brightview.
Board members mulled the options over and eventually replied that they favored the apartment complex plan, with the assisted living option a close second. There was little support for adding six more $1-to-$2-million McMansions to the village.
Brightview’s offer seemed to fall within the parameters of what the village wanted, even if it hadn’t been the board’s first choice. The first round of meetings drew very little public comment, though trustees did indicate concern with the mass of the building as planned. They even paved the way by passing an amendment to the zoning law in order to allow the preservation of three stone buildings on the property for their historic value.
In that context, Mr. Carrafiello’s lament was understandable: “I wish you guys had come out [with your objections] two years ago.”
If the Brightview plan is rejected, what then would happen with the property? The most likely outcome would be that Carrafiello would return to renting out office space, a use grandfathered under current law. That would likely bring with it higher auto traffic than what the assisted living facility would generate, as hundreds of commuters would come in the morning and leave again at night, while delivery trucks and vans would run errands in and out of the property all day. The Carrafiellos would most likely look for a buyer interested in being a commercial landlord.
The next most likely outcome would be to sell to a developer who would build McMansions, as of right. That would mean tearing down all the property’s current buildings, including the three historic stone houses in order to accommodate two-acre zoning. Such a plan would almost certainly require significant landscaping on the property’s sloping hillside, changing its appearance dramatically. Consideration of these alternatives will be an important part of the decision on Brightview’s plan.