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New Drama School Proposed for Armonk Industrial Zone

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Dramatic Arts School
Engineer Robert Peake discussed a proposal for a dramatic school at last week’s North Castle Planning Board meeting

The North Castle Planning Board heard plans last week for a proposed drama school near downtown Armonk.

Representatives for Dramatic Arts Schools unveiled plans at the June 18 meeting to move a 6,000-square-foot drama school and a 2,500-square-foot language and occupational therapy suiteinto an existing warehouse and office building at 1 Labriola Court. The building is located on a four-acre parcel in an industrial zoning district (RELIP).

The applicant is seeking a zoning text amendment from the town board to permit the operation to move into an industrial zone. It would also require site development plan approval from the planning board.

Project engineer Robert Peake told the planning board the school would generate little additional traffic since there wouldn’t be more than three cars arriving at any time, Peake said.

A new one-way drive would provide entry access for vehicles that are dropping off students in a designated area, further mitigating traffic impact, according to the applicant’s plan.

Director of Planning Adam Kaufman said the town board is looking for the planning board’s comments regarding the zoning text amendment to allow the use. Planning board chairman Robert Greene said he supported the concept of the project.

“It makes perfect sense that the use should be permitted,” Greene said.

In a letter the day after meeting on June 19 to Supervisor Howard Arden and the town board, Kaufman stated that the application comes at a time when the office market vacancy rate in industrial zones throughout Westchester is rising. The letter stated the overall Class-A vacancy rate for the first quarter of 2012 increased to 21.1 percent, a nearly 2 percent jump from the same time period in 2011 and a 1.2 percent increase from the end of last year.

Kaufman’s letter also mentioned that the planning board recommends the town consider allowing further expansion of “reasonable” uses in the industrial zone, including the addition of fine arts education facilities in all industrial districts. The town board could also consider revising the town code to include recreation centers in industrial zones.

Last week, the planning board voted unanimously to declare itself lead agency for the environmental review of the project. The zoning text amendment issue is scheduled to come before the town board at its meeting on Wednesday night. No date was announced for when the project will return to the planning board.

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