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Tesla has proposed 12 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at the Millwood Town Plaza for the general public, but the New Castle Planning Board first called for a parking study to avoid overwhelming the site.
In a recent submission to the town, the electric automaker would install the dozen “superchargers” in the parking lot of the shopping plaza at 238 Saw Mill River Rd. by using 15 of the current parking spaces on the just over two-acre property owned by Jagar Realty. The 12 spaces would be nine feet wide instead of eight to accommodate the equipment, causing the loss of three spaces. One of the chargers would be ADA-compliant, said Henry Misas, a site manager for Tesla.
A typical session for car owners who use superchargers would last up to about 30 minutes, the applicant’s supporting materials indicated.
However, Planning Board members last week said they needed to learn much more about the current utilization of the lot and whether chargers would generate greater activity. It should also determine whether that activity and loss of a few spaces would negatively affect businesses at the shopping center.
Board members’ interest was also piqued because Misas said non-electric vehicles would be allowed to park in the 12 spaces with the new chargers in hopes of avoiding a parking capacity loss. Currently, there are 85 spaces at Millwood Town Plaza, the minimum required number under the town code.
“I’m not suggesting that all of a sudden at the same time, 12 people are going to come off the freeway to occupy the spaces to charge the cars, and they won’t be able to anyway because some of the spaces will be used by other people who don’t have EVs,” said board member Tom Curley.
“But it really would be good to know the relative impact of a logical use of this, the real-world use of this facility and the existing parking ratio that we have in order to decide whether this is the right way to do it.”
Potentially complicating the issue is that the plaza is on Route 100, a well-traveled thoroughfare, and is a short distance from the Taconic Parkway.
The plaza, which includes a little more than 7,500 square feet of retail space, was approved in 1998 and built within a few years thereafter. It also contains more than 2,500 square feet of restaurant space, currently occupied by Spaccarrelli’s Restaurant.
Curley also suggested to Misas that Tesla consider installing about half the number of requested chargers as a trial run to monitor the type of demand for the chargers.
But Misas said something similar was tried at the site of a convenience store in Walkill in Orange County, when eight chargers were requested. Within two years, Tesla returned to the Planning Board to install the second set of four chargers.
“I think the concept of starting with half, let’s say, and then coming back, we will come back,” Misas said. “I, 100 percent, can tell you that.”
Board member Kanan Ajmera said a parking study at the site is the best way to learn of the impacts, which would be helpful because chargers will only increasingly become required infrastructure.
“Let’s find out how in our town it’s not going to have a negative impact at this particular location, and I think the best way around it is if you’re open to the parking study,” Ajmera said. “That’s the simplest way for us to understand the problem totally.”
Curley also called for Misas to see if Tesla has any data that might suggest how much demand would be generated by the chargers.
Misas said the company is open to completing a study to get a firmer grasp on the utilization of parking at the site. The board directed him to work with town Planning Department staff to determine how best to focus the study to obtain the information that is being sought.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/