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Land Use Committee Talks Development

The Land Use Committee met on January 28 to discuss three key sites that could be used for future development in the Village of Scarsdale.

The Land Use Committee's intent at their last meeting was to discuss three key sites that could be used for future development in the village of Scarsdale. 

Instead, the Jan. 28th meeting on amending the 1994 Village Comprehensive Plan, strayed towards the lately contentious topic of housing.

 The Comprehensive Plan is a guideline to be used as a blueprint for many Land Use decisions. It stipulates that no development is required, but Villages are encouraged to come up with possible plans every 15 to 20 years in case development is enacted. The current amendment discussions began over two years ago.

"If at one point a private owner or the village decides to develop, there should be a document that serves as a 'menu' to offer potential options for development in each area," said Trustee Sharon Lindsay, explaining the role of the plan.

First, the Committee decided that these three sites had been correctly identified:

  • Spencer/Christie Place,
  • Scarsdale Avenue, and
  • the Freightway

They then went on to discuss what could be developed in each of these sites, which included potential plans for a movie theater, arcade, and new housing developments.

Resident Jay Rosen, who owns a business downtown, expressed concern about development on Spencer/Christie.

"The board has to realize that if/when there's development, people will stop coming to businesses here," Rosen said.

Developer Rush Wilson was in the meeting, and tried to alleviate Rosen's concerns.

"I'm not an out-of-towner here," Wilson said, noting that he was committed to his Village tenants through 2022.  "Any development will be done piecemeal."

One of the most animated arguments came out of usage of the term "workforce housing," which refers to lower-cost housing options.  Some were in favor of removing the word "workforce" from the planning document, while others wanted to keep it as it was.

"Developers like low-cost housing – it makes amenities more affordable," said Planning Board member Beverly Sved.  "And the stakeholders said they wanted to put more life in the village... nothing would bring more life to [Scarsdale Village] than having people live there."

Others disagreed.

"People will come once amenities are put in," said Dennis Convoy, a resident who lives at Christie Place, expressing the village's need for more late-night hotspots like the Chat Cafe. 

A recent federal court order requires that 100 low-income housing locations be selected throughout various Westchester communities by the end of next year. The implementation plan was released yesterday by the county.

"We're hoping that it won't happen," said Trustee Miriam Flisser.  "To ask people to view a change in their zoning, housing... is just not appropriate.  I don't think the time is right for that right now."

It was ultimately decided that the word "workforce" should be left as is.

Tonight Land Use will meet again to discuss the Comprehensive Plan at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Village Hall. Following the meeting the Law Committee will discuss the creation of a preservation advisory committee for determining which buildings in the Village may be of historic value.

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