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Council Closes Hearing on White Plains Comprehensive Plan

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The White Plains Common Council closed the public hearing on the city’s draft comprehensive plan last week after listening to more input on the document.

It has been more than a quarter of a century since a comprehensive plan for the City of White Plains was adopted.

“It’s not set in stone. It’s a draft,” Planning Department Commissioner Christopher Gomez said at the start of the two-and-a-half-hour March 4 session in the packed council chambers. “Significant input came from all corners of White Plains.”

The 440-page draft blueprint for the city, dubbed One White Plains, has 147 initiatives, ranging from short term to long term.

“It’s a long-range planning document that provides policy guidelines for future growth, development, land use, housing, infrastructure and public services,” Gomez said.

City officials kicked off the process two-and-a-half years ago with a listening tour in 12 locations and a zoom meeting. The council named 15 members to a Comprehensive Plan Committee that held 11 meetings. In December, the council declared itself the lead agency in the process. The city has received more than 2,000 comments on the plan to date.

“This is the first step in a long, long process,” Mayor Thomas Roach said. “If the Comprehensive Plan is adopted it doesn’t mean some provisions will ever be used. I don’t agree with everything. It will be different when we get done.”

The draft plan includes possible changes for several large properties in White Plains, including the Farrell property, a former golf course. There are suggested modifications to existing zoning, subdivision, and environmental regulations, particularly in the R1-30 Zoning District for lots over 10 acres, which would allow attached housing. Current zoning only permits single-family detached homes.

In addition, the draft plan proposes an evaluation of potential amendments to current zoning regulations for conservation developments, permitting attached housing units on parcels greater than five acres.

However, city officials stressed no zoning changes were being pushed in the plan, just general policy recommendations.

“This document is not changing the zoning of White Plains,” Gomez said. “You cannot plan in a vacuum.”

Leaders of a dozen neighborhood associations, representing about 4,000 households in White Plains, penned a letter to the council on March 1 expressing concerns about zoning changes and policy proposals in the plan that they maintained would impact single-family neighborhoods.

They also expressed frustration that neighborhood associations were not largely represented on the Comprehensive Plan Committee.

“We’re not happy with some of the suggestions,” Michael Sanchez, President of the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CAN), a history teacher in the White Plains School District and lead writer of the letter, said at the March 4 public hearing.

“Developers buying out of their obligations to provide affordable housing defeats the most useful, cost-friendly, and productive way to diversify housing in White Plains,” CNA presidents stated in their letter. “A second major concern for CNA members is the proposal for Accessory Dwelling Units. This proposal sacrifices the single-family neighborhoods that contribute so much to the character and desirability of White Plains as a place to live.”

Joshua Paul, a 25-year resident, said Accessory Dwelling Units provided many benefits, such as added income for families and opportunities for young adults to remain in the city.

“My experience is they’re terrific,” he said. “They work. The housing crisis in not going away. You’re going to have to deal with it.”

The Common Council will be accepting written comments on the Comprehensive Plan until March 18.



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