By Rick Pezzullo—
The Tarrytown Board of Trustees voted Monday not to designate a controversial Station Area Overlay District (SAO).
Before a scheduled public hearing took place on Zoom, where more than 90 people were watching, board members expressed reservations with the proposed zoning change near the train station on the east side of the tracks that had been reviewed since November 2019.
“I feel strongly it’s not the right thing for Tarrytown,” said Trustee Becky McGovern. “It’s not what Tarrytown needs.”
“I feel our village is losing its small-town feel,” Trustee Robert Hoyt said. “You can’t move in this town now. Imagine how it will be in the future. We need to listen to the residents. They make up this community.”
The stated intent and purpose of the SAO was to “create a built environment that implements the goals and objectives for the station area as detailed in the Tarrytown Comprehensive Plan. The SAO is designed to allow exceptional and signature developments that are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan along with a flexibility that will allow different types of uses and forms while still protecting the village’s interests.”
The SAO zone, which encompassed approximately 20 acres, was supported by the Comprehensive Plan Management Committee (CPMC), which was comprised of members of the village’s planning and zoning boards, along with business and community leaders.
The CPMC maintained the SAO would have helped the village control the development process “by assuring that the village gets to establish the rules of the game up front, not the developer.”
“The protocols that the CPMC developed for the SAO set specific and high standards to assure that a project reflects the goal of the Plan and delivers the best projects for the village,” the CPMC stated in a memo to the Board of Trustees.
“The Committee is also keenly aware of resident’s desires to retain the very qualities of the village that they treasure, particularly in comparison to the dense, urban-like development being constructed next door! (Sleepy Hollow)” the CPMC continued. “Residents of Tarrytown, understandably, want to maintain the character of the Village of Tarrytown. Yet we must be aware of the fact that to do so we also need growth—managed growth—but growth. We must maintain a viable tax base so that it’s still affordable to live here.”
Mayor Tom Butler, who never officially cast a vote after his six colleagues all turned down the SAO, stressed the village needed to find more sources of revenue.
“This can’t be a community for the rich. It has to be a diverse community,” Butler said. “I do have a problem that the community is divided over this because of misinformation.”
Residents who spoke during the public hearing thanked the board for not supporting the SAO.
“The best plan in the world doesn’t work if everyone is pushing back,” said Katy Krider, a resident of North Washington St. “There is a lot of emotion behind this. I think everyone needs to take a step back and take a breath.”
Dr. Howard Smith, a resident of Main Street and former Superintendent of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, said the proposed SAO was a well-intended effort for the village to be pro-active, instead of reactive.
“To sit back and do nothing is not a good idea,” he said. “We have a large group of people that really care about the community.”
Trustee Karen Brown, who mentioned a slew of emails trustees received from residents on the SAO, applauded residents for their involvement.
“We’re a community of engaged people that care and we work out our differences,” she said. “Thanks to the residents for holding our feet to the fire.”