The Mount Pleasant Planning Board granted final approval to a 153,000-square-foot warehouse and office facility on Route 9A in Hawthorne despite strenuous opposition from the board’s chairman.
Acquest Development Company, a western New York-based developer, obtained the approval on July 2 for a 10.5-acre portion of the former Green Valley Nursery site on Saw Mill River Road. There is currently no occupant that has committed to moving into the location.
While board Chairman Michael McLaughlin said he had no objections to the use, the hundreds of parking spaces that will be built at the site and the intense traffic that is likely to be generated during peak times threatens to overwhelm traffic on Route 9A. That will be true not only along the well-traveled thoroughfare in Hawthorne but from Elmsford north to Ossining, he warned.
“It’s going to be very intense,” said McLaughlin, the lone dissenting vote of the board’s five members who attended the meeting. “It’s going to change the traffic on 9A, so I believe this board should be looking at some limitations.”
Acquest Development’s plan calls for 136,214 square feet of warehouse space and 16,848 square feet of offices with surface parking of 40 car spaces, 10 van spaces, 62 van loading spaces and 12 truck loading spaces. The project will also contain a two-level underground parking garage with 141 car spaces and 587 van spaces.
McLaughlin also pointed to questions about the proposed crosswalk across Route 9A to the nearby northbound Bee-Line bus stop.
However, Acquest Development Vice President Michael Huntress said that the addition of a traffic signal on Route 9A at nearby Belmont Road and reducing the project from two buildings with more than 281,000 square feet will help ease traffic concerns. The project was first talked about more than five years ago and has been before the board since 2016.
“I know what we’re doing here is helping by creating an improvement on (Route) 9A so that’s what I’ve been doing for six years,” Huntress said. “I appreciate your concern. I do. But what I think we’re doing here is making an improvement on 9A and that our traffic isn’t going to be as impactful as one may think during peak travel hours, which is what our traffic study proves out.”
The applicant has received approval from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to install the light at Belmont Road.
McLaughlin responded that the project will generate as many as five cars a minute at certain hours of the day, which is far too intense for the location.
“What I’m looking for at this point in the game is what can we do, the applicant and the Planning Board, to ensure that this area doesn’t get basically overpowered,” he said.
But none of the other board members in attendance agreed with McLaughlin. Joan Lederman said the county Planning Department has known about the traffic light and the proposed crosswalk and wrote a letter of recommendation for the project.
“I think that this application is going to improve Route 9A,” Lederman said. “This is the first time we’ve got somebody to put traffic controls up on this road.”
Board member James Collins said there has been robust discussion about the traffic that the project would likely generate and with the addition of a signal and the reduction in square footage, he felt comfortable approving the application.
“I don’t now if we had another couple of weeks or months on this that we’re going to come up with a new solution,” Collins said.
Huntress said that Acquest Development has a couple of other properties that it owns in Mount Pleasant, including in the general vicinity of this parcel, and indicated that the company would be returning to the board with additional applications.