GovernmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Planning Board Suggests Unified Plan for Lake Osceola Area

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The Yorktown Planning Board isn’t ready to issue a recommendation to the town board regarding a proposal to expand the Lake Osceola Overlay District to include a 50-acre site where a large mixed-use development is sought.

At its June 24 meeting, planners suggested a holistic approach should be taken in the Jefferson Valley area where 254 residential units are proposed on the Navajo Fields site and a 40,000-square-foot recycling center is under consideration on Route 6.

“I’m hoping we can come up with a good, unified plan for the area,” said planner Aaron Bock, a former town supervisor. “The Town Board should take a global view of everything that is on the table in Jefferson Valley.”

“We want to look at it holistically,” said Planning Board Chairman Richard Fon. “The devil is in the details. We want to make sure we check and double check, and it’s worked in the past.”

Developer Charles Diven has requested Navajo Fields be added to the Lake Osceola Overlay District. The property is currently zoned for single-family homes on two-acre lots. Diven is looking to build 254 units, a 23,000-square-foot athletic structure and 4,000 square feet of retail space, along with expanding the existing ballfields.

The Lake Osceola Overlay District, approved in 2021, allows mixed-use developments with more than double the density permitted in the town’s current multifamily zones.

In exchange for being included in the district, Divens is offering to construct a sewer trunk line from the property along East Main Street to Hill Boulevard where it would connect to an existing line that hooks up with Westchester County’s sewage treatment plant in Peekskill.

Divens’ attorney, Michael Grace, a former town supervisor, stressed to the Planning Board last week that bringing sewers to the area was a golden opportunity to revitalize the area.

“This is a major opportunity for the town to address an area that has been a dilemma for decades,” Grace argued. “It puts in place infrastructure that is necessary to revitalize the area.”

Bock maintained that a lot of planning issues needed to be dealt with, including an environmental analysis of Lake Osceola. Grace concurred with Bock’s assessment.

“I don’t think my client has any problem doing a deep dive up there,” Grace said. “We understand further analysis needs to be done. That corridor has always been a sore spot.”

Another former town supervisor, Susan Siegel, who is running in a July 23 special election for a vacant seat on the Town Biard, is opposed to expanding the Lake Osceola Overlay District based on her experience with the Underhill Farms development that was placed in the Yorktown Heights Overlay District.

“Once the Town Board approves including a property in an overlay district, nothing is likely to stop the project,” she stated. “The only reason the developer wants his property included in the overlay district is to bypass its existing single-family zoning and win town approval for an extremely high-density mixed-use development. The Navajo Fields site has no relationship to Lake Osceola or the properties in the existing overlay district. The additional traffic from the development will exacerbate an already dangerous situation along East Main Street.”

When asked her opinion on the project, Donna Diana, who is also vying for the vacant board seat, said she did not support it.

“While housing is needed and sewers would be a bonus, I feel this is not a great fit for this area,” Diana said. “As for the applicant/developer, I understand he has the right to develop the property for what it is currently zoned for.”

Supervisor Ed Lachterman said he is waiting to get all the information before formulating an opinion.

“Right now, there is a concept that has some positives and some areas of concern,” Lachterman said. “I think it is a job of the board to keep an open mind and hear all of the facts. The matter in front of us right now is just to see if inclusion in the overlay district is better for the oversight of the project if it goes forward and if it even meets the criteria points to get there.”



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