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An Approval and a Denial for Controversial P’ville Developments

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The Pleasantville Planning Commission & Architectural Review Board made decisions on exterior aesthetics for two controversial projects, approving one application and denying the other for now.

Exterior changes made to the apartment building at 52 Depew St. received approval as most of the commission was willing to accept revisions aimed at softening the look of the building. The dissenting vote came from David Keller.

At 70 Memorial Plaza, the commission opted against granting final approval because the building’s rooftop AC units failed to meet the standard of appearance. That issue has been a point of contention since mid-2022, prompting the commission to request developer Pleasantville Lofts LLC to mitigate the appearance and lessen the “saw-tooth” look.

For the Depew Street building, known as The Atwood, some minor changes still must be completed, including the installation of the faux ivy on the new chain link fence and additional plantings of native vines.

Once all the changes have been made to the 71-unit building, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued by the Building Department. A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy was granted last spring.

In September, the commission declined to sign off on the exterior appearance because some of the changes had not yet been completed.

Tim Mattison, a nearby resident who has regularly voiced frustration about the building’s aesthetics and what he believes is a failed permitting process, angrily called out comments as he was leaving the meeting room at Village Hall. Moments earlier Chair Russell Klein had warned Mattison he would be ejected from the room if he continued to speak out of turn.

“Your vote is telling everybody don’t bother with the permitting process; apply for a permit and then build whatever you want,” Mattison said. “If this was in your neighborhood it would never happen.”

The board reached a different conclusion for 70 Memorial Plaza. Fred Daniels, the attorney representing applicant Pleasantville Lofts, presented an update and asked the board to vote to approve the changes so his client could move ahead and apply for a Certificate of Occupancy. The developer had planned to formally open the building later this month or in early November.

Klein said the appearance of the rooftop was raised when the AC units appeared more prominent than the original plans had indicated.

“They appeared higher and closer to the building edge and were more visible,” he said. “We’ve spent several months unsuccessfully resolving this issue.”

Daniels said his client had most recently complied with the board’s requests by painting the AC units, the manufacturer’s stickers and the hood for the trash chute black.

He asked for a roll call vote, and for any members voting against an approval to explain their basis for denial.

“The applicable code calls for evidence on the record for a denial to be warranted, and that the existing visibility (of the rooftop) would be detrimental to property values or developments of surrounding areas,” Daniels told commission members.

According to Daniels, the personal preferences of aesthetics and architectural style shouldn’t be applied in evaluating the application.

The commission rejected approving the application 6-1. Erik Brotherton was the lone vote in favor of approval.

Klein explained what was objectionable regarding the roof. “Efforts to paint the rooftop mechanicals black has mitigated some of the visual impact. But the highly visible nature of these large-scale rooftop mechanicals of this new building is inappropriate and the design is detrimental to the surrounding area,” Klein explained, a sentiment that was shared by other members. “My vote is not based on personal preference; it’s based on the review and assessment of the application.”

Klein suggested additional screening would create the appearance of a wall.

“It’s a simple solution and perhaps the use of black fabric zip-tied around the units would work,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that complicated.”

The next Planning Commission & Architectural Review Board meeting is Oct. 25, but it isn’t known whether the issue will be addressed at that meeting.


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