North Castle officials last week passed local legislation that would make it less burdensome on gas station owners in the Commercial Business (CB) zone to upgrade and modernize their properties.
The Town Board approved a resolution that now makes gas and service stations a permitted use in the CB zone. Until now, the current operations were considered a pre-existing non-conforming use and required a special permit from the Town Board in addition to site plan approval from the Planning Board if the owners wanted to make improvements.
The issue arose because the owner of the Shell station at 375 Main St. in downtown Armonk has wanted to make key improvements, including landscaping and new sidewalks, to the parcel and it is one of the most visible corners in the center of the hamlet, said Town Attorney Roland Baroni. The work would also benefit the town, he said.
“It’s very difficult to do that now, but if you change the zoning code to make it a permitted use, they then can go to the Planning Board for site plan approval without going through all the special permit criteria,” Baroni said.
Gas and service station properties in North White Plains that are in the CB district are also included in the new measure.
Under the legislation, stations are permitted to have up to 12 fueling pumps or stations on a property.
In addition to amending the zoning code regulating gas stations, the board created a new CB-A2 zoning district north of Bedford Road in Armonk to prohibit new gas stations from coming into the CB zone.
Before the board unanimously approved the legislation, Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the revision presents the town with a chance to see these stations improved aesthetically. He pointed to the Phillips station at 1 Broadway in Pleasantville as one of the best examples of a service station design that enhances an area.
“I think there’s an opportunity here to really do it right,” Schiliro said. “We’re going to get the zoning right. Let’s make sure we get nice structures and product.”
The only skepticism was expressed by Councilman Jose Berra. The Shell station’s plan include modernized pumps and a convenience store but it will discontinue its auto repair once the improvements are made. Berra posed to his colleagues whether to make having a service station a requirement.
However, the other board members weren’t interested in making auto repair mandatory, even though downtown Armonk could be left without a service station. Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said she enjoys that convenience but didn’t find it appropriate to make a service station a mandate, particularly as automobiles have increasingly sophisticated technology.
“It’s a business model that is slowly phasing out and I think it would unfair of us to put that as a mandate,” she said.