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Tarrytown Trustees Continue To Wrestle with Station Area Re-Zoning Plan

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March 3, 2021

By Barrett Seaman–

Tarrytown’s efforts to impose a new zoning protocol on the area surrounding the Metro North train station, known as the Station Area Overlay, continue to slog their way through public hearings that have been marked by broad opposition. Dozens of residents have objected to the potential density of the structures and their impact on river views, as allowed under the plan, and hundreds have signed petitions against it.

At the close of the one-hour public hearing during the March 1st Board of Trustees meeting, two trustees indicated they were willing to shelve the plan altogether, though in the end, only one, Trustee Doug Zollo, voted against keeping the public hearing open for at least another meeting.

It is not clear, however, whether the 6-1 vote to keep the hearings open reflects actual board support for a plan, years in the making, that would allow a mixture of industrial, retail and multi-unit residential structures reaching from the Sleepy Hollow border to the north down to the Washington Irving Boat Club at the south end of Green Street.

Two public petitions—one against the first actual building application for a 300-ft. long, 60-ft. high apartment complex built on top of self-storage units at 29 South Depot Plaza, and a second against the Station Area Overlay plan in its entirety—drew 270 and 449 signatures respectively. Opponents cited problems ranging from procedural errors in the legislative process to underestimates of the potential density and damage to the “viewshed,” a term referring to the scenic views of the Hudson River from various perspectives in the village.

Public opposition to the apartment complex at 29 South Depot Plaza did succeed in persuading the board to reduce the height of the building from its original 60 feet down to 48 feet, albeit with exceptions for air conditioning towers and other minor extensions. Other objections, the mass of the building on a 300-ft. by 80-ft. plot in particular, fell on deaf ears, however. On February 16, the board voting unanimously to approve to application.

Many of the same residents who objected to 29 South Depot Plaza re-appeared at hearings on the Station Area Overlay proposal, held via Zoom. And many of their objections were essentially the same: too much density, too little acknowledgement of the traffic that would accompany the buildings and not enough appreciation for the environmental impact, notably on the viewshed.

Mark Fry, a professional planner who lives in Ossining but works in Tarrytown, charged that the new zoning would allow for as many as 700 new residential units that would bring unacceptable traffic increases. He also decried the extension of the new 48-ft. height limit from 29 South Depot Plaza to new buildings regardless of the elevation of the land on which they were built. There were, he said, no limits to the width and depth of buildings, no limits on site coverage and no limits on setbacks.

Others questioned the proposal’s assumption that the planned apartments would attract young professionals who wouldn’t need cars. “Don’t confuse Brooklyn with Tarrytown,” advised Barbara Barnett of Main Street. Another caller questioned the need for such a preemptive zoning scheme when applicants already have the opportunity to apply for a variance on current zooming.

There was some pushback from the village officials. Administrator Rich Slingerland called the assertion that the plan would invite 700 residential units “an exaggeration,” noting that there was no proposal to build 700 units and not enough developable land on which to build that many units.

At the close of the meeting, board members seemed unwilling to reach any conclusion and voted to keep the public hearing open until the April 5th meeting.

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