The public hearing on a DGEIS for a zone change requested by the owners of the Westchester Pavilion, former home of the White Plains Borders bookstore, continued at the Monday, Aug. 4 meeting of the White Plains Common Council.
William Null, partner in the White Plains-based law firm Cuddy & Feder explained that the change from a B-6 to a CB-3 District would allow Urstadt Biddle, the Connecticut-based owners of the property to build the 3.58 acre parcel at 60 S. Broadway to new specifications more in line with current market realities.
The existing B-6 zone only allows the big box mall with interior parking. Much of the 185,000 sq. ft. retail space (87 percent) now remains vacant. A change to the CB-3 zone, which incorporates much of the White Plains downtown Central Parking District would allow much taller buildings, including towers up to an allowed 280 feet, and a mixed use application including residential, offices, hotel and retail.
Null explained that the owners had investigated three possible conceptual scenarios that studied the shadow impact of towers positioned at different locations on the site on the Carhart neighborhood and other close-by buildings. He also noted that the final site plan for approval in the CB-3 zone would not necessarily include towers reaching the 280-ft height.
Traffic studies were also conducted and indicated that less, not more traffic would be attracted to the area by a mixed-use development, rather than a regional retail use.
Ken Kristal, president of the Carhart Neighborhood Association told the Council that the association board had polled members of the association and had received unanimous approval for changing the zoning to CB-3.
Kristal did note that since the initial designs were conceptual and worked with the maximum floor to area ratios permitted by the CB-3 zone, that if the zone change was made, the developer would not necessarily design to the maximum height allowed as had been discussed.
Councilwoman Beth Smayda also commented that she would prefer to see a final design that did not include 280-ft. towers.
Carhart resident Claudia Murphy, who owns a pet care business, said she would like to see the Borders mall revitalized and supported a zone change that would do that.
Murphy noted that her business would improve with the addition of residential units to the area.
FASNY Hearing Adjourned to September 8
The second session of the public hearing on the discontinuance of a portion of Hathaway Lane and the public hearing on the Special Permit and Site Plan for the French American School of New York were held one after the other at the same council meeting.
With fewer speakers than the July hearing and significantly less than is anticipated for the September adjourned hearings, many signed in for a five-minute slot at each of the two hearings for a total of 10 minutes speaking time. In addition to comments pro and con regarding FASNY’s application, several speakers requested the September hearings be held at a larger venue than City Hall because big crowds were expected.
Patrick Lee, resident at 57 Hathaway Lane, who would be most affected by the discontinuance of the road, said he felt like “this is government-sanctioned taking of my property.”
Lee also noted that no one had ever contacted him about the discontinuance and requested information about the proposed closure protocol.
While there were speakers both for and against the FASNY proposal, comments continued in much the same fashion as previous meetings with residents questioning the validity of the proposed conservancy, mandatory busing of FASNY students, and the impact of traffic on the neighborhood.
White Plains resident and local environmental activist, Carrie Kizivat, asked the council for information about how all the studies, reports and information that residents had paid for and prepared and then delivered to the council for consideration would be handled. “How is this information being managed?” she asked.
The Hathaway Lane partial discontinuance hearing was adjourned to Monday, Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m.
The FASNY Special Permit and Site Plan public hearing also was adjourned to Monday, Sept. 8.