Tarrytown Proposes Changes in Station Area Zoning Rules

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by Robert Kimmel – 

Tarrytown’s Board of Trustees has proposed changes in the Village’s Station Area Overlay (SAO) District plan following a series of public hearings during which residents voiced concerns about what can be built along the village’s waterfront.

The SAO was originally developed for areas both east and west of the Metro North railroad station “to create a built environment that implements the goals and objectives for the station area as detailed in the Tarrytown Comprehensive Plan.” The SAO plan’s intent also was to “allow exceptional and signature developments that are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.” The Village Board would determine whether any project met the SAO standards.

The unease expressed by residents was ignited partially by news of a developer’s plan to purchase the Tarrytown Boat Club and acquire additional parcels of village property to build a 186-room hotel and updated marina along the river. However, the village has made clear it had not accepted a formal proposal by the company, YZK Development Group. Hotel structures reportedly could reach as high as 10 stories. Residents’ concerns focused on the impact such buildings would have on the environment, traffic and river views.

Village Administrator Rich Slingerland outlined the six changes in the SAO zoning code at a January trustee session during which residents were given a further hearing to express their opinions. “Based on their discussions, the board would like to redraft the SAO plan so that it does not apply to properties west of the Metro North Railroad tracks,” he noted as the initial change. “Existing zoning for properties east of the Metro North Station would remain in effect.”

Slingerland added that if an owner or developer wanted to pursue something different, they would have to submit a zoning petition for any changes they were seeking.

The second change in the SAO stated, “The village should clarify the language in the proposed law such that if an applicant applies to request an SAO designation for a property, that designation is both property and project specific. A SAO designation cannot be used by an applicant for one project and then switch to an entirely different project after the SAO designation has been granted. It will be both project and site specific.”

The third change dealt with a concern many residents had regarding the height of any proposed structure in the area. “The maximum building height allowed will be amended to sixty feet (60’), including all mechanicals and other protrusions, HVAC, or even potted plants,” it read.

Listed fourth was a change in what the SAO had established as a point system whereby proposed projects would be awarded a certain number of points, based on certain objectives, in order to be given approval by the Village Board. These objectives ranged from promoting sustainable development and growth, to connecting and enhancing open space resources, to promoting open space and neighborhood character as well as affordable and senior housing. There would also be  “bonus points” awarded for certain categories, noting that a minimum score would be required regardless of bonus points before a project could be approved.

The fifth SAO alteration clarified that if a project scored a zero in any of the categories listed in the point system, “the entire project fails,” and changes would have to be made in the project before it could be reconsidered.

The last item called for an amendment in the SAO relative to public viewsheds. A viewshed is the geographical area in the line-of-sight from a given location. A required visual analysis within the village’s Master Development Plan states that proposed projects, based on the analysis, “must demonstrate no significant impact on public scenic viewsheds, including views to the Hudson River and Palisades.” The amendment noted, “The Village Board wants to identify additional public viewsheds for consideration and rediscuss.” This amendment also stated the need for photographs, adding, “A public viewshed the Board would like to protect and define better is the public viewshed along Main Street from Broadway down to Depot Plaza.”

Additional verifiable photo montages from certain viewpoints in the village have been identified to ensure other important viewsheds. They include the view of the Hudson River from along Wildey Street at North Broadway, from Neperan Road at Grove Street, west/northwest toward the river along Altamont Avenue, along Rosehill Avenue at Benedict and along Main Street from Broadway.

Further hearings on the proposed amendments are scheduled prior to a vote by the trustees which will likely affirm them.

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