The Examiner

No. Castle Officials Refer SoulCycle Application, Hear Objections

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The North Castle Town Board last week referred to the planning board a special use permit application requesting that a boutique cycling center move into an Armonk nursery despite the objections of a handful of residents.

With the backing of three council members, the board narrowly made the Nov. 9 referral of SoulCycle’s application for 56 stationary bikes within Mariani Gardens on Bedford Road to the town and county planning boards and declared its intent to be lead agency.

However, for close to an hour several residents engaged the board in a discussion on why it would be detrimental to downtown Armonk and that it would be out of character with the Bedford Road Historic District.

“A cycle and fitness studio doesn’t belong in a nursery, nor does it belong adjacent or across from a historic district,” said Armonk resident Linda Fernberg, who is also a town Landmarks Preservation Committee member. “We’re concerned about its impact on the historic district, and we feel the integrity of the historic district would be compromised by more parking, less greenspace, more cars and sweaty cyclists.”

Last month, representatives for SoulCycle presented their plan for a roughly 3,500-square-foot acoustically sealed room built within Mariani Gardens. Sessions are typically 45 minutes with a 15-minute gap between classes.

With the potential of more than 50 cars entering and exiting the property every hour, the constant turnover will cause traffic jams in the area, especially during the morning and late afternoon, some speakers noted.

Rev. Nils Chittenden, pastor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church across the street from the site, said Bedford Road would be under even more stress than now.

“Our experience, as has been echoed already, is that these intersections are already under considerable pressure, especially at peak hours with traffic backed up,” Chittenden said. “Also, Maple Avenue and the addition of many additional vehicles will place a detrimental burden on our traffic infrastructure along this corridor and considerable extra traffic noise in this residential area.”

Co-Town Historian Sharon Tomback appealed to the board to stop the application in its tracks because of the burdens it would impose.

Fernberg also told officials that Mariani Gardens has been returning frequently to apply for incompatible uses. In addition to the nursery and greenhouse, they have received prior approvals for a café and to sell limited retail items.

During the discussion, the attorney representing SoulCycle, P. Daniel Hollis, objected to the extended public comment last week.

“I could fill this room with people in favor of this project, and I don’t think a vocal minority should prevent us from having our chance before the planning board and town board,” Hollis said.

While the entire board raised concerns over traffic and parking, a three-vote majority said they wanted to collect information to learn more about the plan. They stressed that a referral does not mean approval.

“We need more information on this and we need to see that to go down that road,” said Councilman Stephen D’Angelo.

Councilman Jose Berra said he is aware that many people in town would like to see the application progress. He favored moving forward to see if the applicant will be able to assuage the parking and traffic fears.

But Councilwoman Barbara D’Giacinto, who along with Councilman Barry Reiter dissented, said she feared SoulCycle would add to the congestion downtown.

“You could probably have 100 people coming in and out of Mariani Gardens in that 15-minute window and that really concerns me,” DiGiacinto said.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro supported referral after he was assured by Hollis that   traffic and parking study will be completed.



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