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Planners Discuss Right Study for Underhill Farm Project

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The Yorktown Planning Board recently discussed several issues connected to Underhill Farm, a proposed mixed-use project on Underhill Ave. as it considers the type of in-depth study it will require the developer to complete.

Underhill Farm is planned on the former Soundview Preparatory School 13.8-acre site. Unicorn Contracting is proposing 148 residential units (64 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, 52 three and four-bedroom townhouses and 32 one and two-bedroom condominiums), 11,000 square feet of commercial space and an adaptive reuse of the property’s historic mansion.

As part of the $60 million project, the historic Underhill House is slated to be transformed into a community resource and gathering spot. In addition, the pond will be completely restored with a $150,000 investment and complemented by walking trails, sitting areas and a new pedestrian gateway at the estate’s original entrance at the intersection of Rte. 118 and Underhill Ave. Approximately $1.5 million in traffic improvements are also being offered.

At its July 25 meeting, planners talked about having Unicorn submit an Expanded Full Environmental Assessment Form (EFEAF) instead of a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Study (EIS).

“They did a lot of work to date and we should build on that,” said planner Aaron Bock. “Can we accomplish this kind of review without using the positive dec process?”

‘Everyone here wants to see what is best for Yorktown,” said Planning Board Chairman Richard Fon. “When you get the right plan in place, things work.”

The four planners present all agreed traffic issues had already been adequately addressed by the applicant, but maintained sewer infrastructure, wetlands, historical characteristics and density of the development still needed further review.

Protecting Yorktown’s Quality of Life Foundation, Inc recently stated an EIS was the right option for Underhill Farm.

“Because of its potential far-reaching impact and complexity, the Underhill Farm development project screams for the Planning Board to declare that a comprehensive, in-depth Environmental Impact Study (EIS) should be undertaken,” the organization stated in a submitted letter. “Why? An EIS involves YOU in identifying YOUR critical issues and impacts early in the process, ensuring they are not overlooked or selectively omitted. The EIS option, by law, requires YOU, the public, have an opportunity to comment on the EIS scoping document, the document that determines what must be included in the EIS to ensure that your issues and impacts are considered; unlike the EFEAF, this option also requires that the public have an opportunity to comment on the draft EIS and the potential for a future Public Hearing to discuss the EIS. And importantly, the EIS option requires an examination of all reasonable alternative site plans.”

Planning Board legal counsel James Glatthaar cautioned planners about the importance of its deliberations with Underhill Farm.

“This application, unlike most, has issues clashing,” Glatthaar remarked. “What you do here is it. It’s permanent. It’s really important to get this right. A decision here could have impacts that last forever and impacts other people.”

The next Planning Board meeting is Aug. 15.

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