Sunday, October 16, 2016

Senior Housing and the Comprehensive Plan

Here’s something we don’t hear about every day, or ever see happening in Greenburgh. The City of Rye has elected to change zoning for a commercial property into residential in the hopes of repurposing vacant or unused office space in their community. Specifically, construction is slated to start on a 122-unit senior home in a former office building at 120 Old Post Road after the city's Planning Commission completes a site plan review. According to Republican Rye City Councilman Richard Mecca, “…there’s a market for this kind of property.”

The kind of property he’s discussing is the construction of a 122-unit senior housing facility that would provide luxury residential housing for seniors. The office building in question has been unoccupied since 2009. Once completed, the over-55 residents would be able to choose from one and two bedroom apartments. The current building would be razed and a new 245,000 square feet building would be constructed, roughly 3 times the size of the current building. While we question the increased size as necessary, we’re sure the developers have claimed the usual reasons, focusing on their profitability only working with this size building. We’re also sure if challenged, they have another number they are willing to scale it down to.

In Greenburgh, however, we’ve seen the new Comprehensive Plan adopted. Critics, including ABG, point out that it is more of a political document/statement and an encapsulation of what the Town currently has as opposed to providing a blueprint and true plan for the future of our Town. After 8 long years of preparation, public forums and road shows, the document falls flat on its face, allowing Mr Feiner and his Board similar carte blanche with zoning changes throughout the Unincorporated Town. This failing will be evident tomorrow night when the Town Board adopts a change to zoning specific to the Manhattan Avenue area to eliminate the existing HUD housing and build bigger buildings with mix-use retail space at ground level. It’s easy to perceive the Town Board as doing spot-zoning but they will apply this as a Town-wide endeavor to skirt that issue.

The one bright light throughout Mr Feiner’s constant onslaught to allow commercial enterprises in residential areas has been neighborhood pushback. At the former Frank’s Nursery property on Dobbs Ferry Road, Mr Feiner tried to convince residents to accept an 8-story, 83-foot sports bubble in their residential neighborhood on that property. By banding together, they were able to push back with one mantra: keep the zoning residential and build residential housing of any type at that location!

The GameOn 365 owners, who had been encouraged in private meetings with Mr Feiner and his Board  not to worry about the zoning as they would name themselves the lead agency and push the zoning change through, moved their plans to the Visioli golf driving range property next door. What Mr Feiner and crew hadn’t counted on was the resolve and intelligence of the residents. Using the Town’s own laws, they held fast and got every neighbor adjacent to the property to object to the usage. Subsequently, after Mr Feiner played his games with the property and losing more money for the Town, movement on creating a new senior assisted living facility has begun.

To that end, there will be a Public Hearing/Discussion on the proposed CHS Assisted Living Facility at the Planning Board on Wed. Oct. 19th. The meeting starts at 8:00pm. Residents of the Town are urged to attend to see and hear what the plans are for this new facility. This is a story of David beating Goliath. Right now, however, we applaud the City of Rye for taking a positive step in creating housing from commercial property and wished we could see similar thinking in our Town. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

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