The Examiner

Mt. Pleasant Officials Seek to Limit Code Changes for Pace Project

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288 Pace Zoning Plan picMount Pleasant officials are considering a plan to allow Pace University to consolidate its Pleasantville and Briarcliff campuses but may limit the number of zoning text changes to prevent similar requests from other colleges.

The university’s plan, which was originally announced in late 2010, would see Pace sell its 35-acre Briarcliff campus, which opened in 1977, and add dormitories and other facilities to the 200-acre Pleasantville campus. For the project to move forward, the town board would need to change wording in the town code regarding colleges and universities.

Among the revisions Pace representatives are seeking is to increase the limit on the number of stories for student residences from two and a half floors and 35 feet in height to four stories and 55 feet.

A second text change would allow the distance between buildings on the campus to be lowered from 110 feet to 30 feet. A third change that has been requested would be to reduce the minimum distance of athletic fields from public property such as a playground, recreational field, or in this case the Taconic State Parkway, from 100 to 25 feet.

Last week Councilman Peter DeMilio stressed that the board should adopt the new town code language; however, he wanted it to apply only to Pace and not other educational institutions that could move into town. The Legion of Christ property on Columbus Avenue is one parcel that is on the market and is large enough to conceivably house a college.

“You can’t have a 55-foot-high building” unless it meets the strict criteria laid out in the code, DeMilio said.

A public hearing on the proposed town code changes has been scheduled for this Tuesday night (March 12) at 8 p.m. at town hall in Valhalla.

Plans call for the university to complete the project in five to eight years. The first phase would be to construct residential buildings for students to replace those that would be lost in Briarcliff after Pace sells that property. New athletic fields would also be built on the Pleasantville campus. The university plans to implement the rest of the phases so impact is minimized at the 48-year-old Pleasantville campus and the surrounding area.

While DeMilio and councilmen Carl Fulgenzi, Mark Rubeo and Thomas Sialiano voiced their support to limit Pace’s town code changes, Supervisor Joan Maybury questioned the legality of the move.

In response, DeMilio asked rhetorically, “What if another college came along and wants to do the same thing?”

Following the meeting, Maybury said she planned to speak to the town’s legal counsel and planning consultant Pat Cleary for their opinions on only allowing the code changes for colleges or universities within 25 feet of a state road, playground or playing surface before she would commit to DeMilio’s proposal.

The town’s planning board approved Pace Final Environmental Impact Statement last fall.



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