The Examiner

Mount Kisco Trustees Considering Plan for Downtown Mixed Use Development

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Mount Kisco Mayor Gina Picinich discussed a plan for an overlay district for the downtown village-owned parking lots that would permit residential and commercial development during an interview last week in her office.

The Mount Kisco Village Board of Trustees is exploring a plan to lease village property for downtown mixed used development.

Mayor Gina Picinich said last week the trustees are exploring zoning changes to provide an overlay district in the village-owned North and South Moger Avenues parking lots that would allow not only additional commercial development but residential development in the downtown.

Picinich said the village board is exploring the overlay zone concept as part of its work to revise the village’s Comprehensive Plan. The trustees were scheduled to accept a draft revised Comprehensive Plan from the Plan Steering Committee at its Aug. 13 meeting. Also at the meeting the board was scheduled to adopt the scoping document for the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Comprehensive Plan and potential zoning amendments.

Picinich said the board’s goal is to have the revised Comprehensive Plan and the overlay district approved by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Many new leases for commercial properties downtown have been signed recently, Picinich said. “That’s just simply by implementing a customer service attitude. Trying to work closely with people and move folks through the system,” she said. “So things are going well with these short term fixes.” But more needs to be done to foster development.

The board is looking at creating an overlay zone, which would change the current zoning of the parking lots, which are CB (Central Business) 1 and CB2, and now only permit commercial use. Existing residential properties in the downtown were in place before the current zoning was implemented. An overlay district would permit residential development, Picinich explained.

“More recent urban design planning says you need to have the people where the business is,” Picinich said. “Lots of communities have adopted transit orientated development. The notion is that you build close to where public transportation is, i.e., the train.” Transit orientated development also translates to less need for cars.

An overlay zone would consider “where and how things are built and what the structures are like,” Picinich described. Other items would be limits on lot coverage and the size of new buildings, as well as establishing design guidelines.

Picinich said the village would enter into long term leases with developers who would build on the North and South Moger parking lots. Though some commercial uses would be permitted, the main focus is to bring residential development to the downtown.

There would be three areas in the proposed overlay zone: the Moger corridor, the Main Street area “and a piece on the other side of the tracks, which is on Maple Avenue,” Picinich said.

Current zoning for the area limits building height to 40 feet. The trustees are considering changing the height limit to 50 feet, Picinich said, adding some of the new parking lots would be constructed underneath buildings. There would also be setback requirements for the top story, she said.

Commercial and business uses would be limited to the first floor for the most part, with housing created on the upper floors.

The plan is for 200 to 250 new housing units to be constructed, Picinich said. The units could be a combination of market rate rentals and potentially some lower priced workforce housing.

Each of the three overlay areas would have individual standards. The maximum building height on North and South Moger Avenues would be 50 feet (four stories) with a setback of 42 feet; on Main Street the maximum height would be 45 feet with a 37-foot setback and 40 feet high on Maple Avenue to protect the character of that neighborhood, Picinich said. “We are a small village. We’re a hometown and we don’t want big, giant buildings. That’s not Mount Kisco.”

There are currently about 600 parking spaces in the North and South Moger lots, Picinich said. To prevent a net loss of spaces, decked parking lots would need to be constructed in addition to the underground lots. “If that’s not included we can’t do it,” she said.

The overlay district will also include some undeveloped areas “to be left for the public realm” in a village green concept, Picinich said. And, some of the commercial development could include visual art spaces, such as galleries.

Picinich said it is “quite likely” the overlay district will be approved by the Board of Trustees.

The trustees will approve a Request for Proposals (RFP) from developers interested in building in the proposed overlay district, Picinich said.

Deputy Mayor Jean Farber said last week she supported the overlay district concept.

“The proposed overlay district for the downtown holds the key to the future of new development and great economic growth for Mount Kisco,” she said. “Any design plan should include a mixed use program that incorporates some residential development with retail/restaurant use, personal service and/or cultural/civic uses plus parking. Parking is a huge concern in that we do not want to forfeit any spaces that we currently maintain.”

“The challenge will be developing a site to encompass all these things while maintaining the neighborhood character of our downtown in size, scale and charm,” Farber said.

“We are looking to enhance downtown as a vibrant, attractive destination, integrating new residents of all ages while improving areas of congestion, sidewalks and crosswalks, traffic and parking. We want to fill the empty storefronts while improving lighting, landscapes, and safety for all our residents to enjoy,” Farber said.  “I know this is a tall order, but if we can develop the right plan it will be well worth the effort.”

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