The Northern Westchester Examiner

Preservation of Rear Portion Key in State Land Rezoning

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It appears any decision on the rezoning of a portion of a 100-acre site on Route 202 in Yorktown envisioned for commercial development could hinge on stipulations that preserve the rest of the land as open space

During a Town Board work session last week, Al Capellini, representing property owner State Land Corporation, said his client was not willing to voluntarily donate 70 acres in the rear to the town, despite stating several times in the past it was the intent of State Land to do so

The site, located across from Parkside Corner, was once proposed by Homart Development Corporation for a 400,000-square-foot shopping center, and later a 27-lot subdivision. Now, State Land Corporation has plans to construct 230,000 square feet of commercial space in a few buildings over 30 acres. In order to pursue those plans, the Town Board must rezone the property from R-160 (four-acre residential) to C-1 (commercial).

Councilman Nick Bianco said he supported the rezoning of the lower portion of the property but expressed concern about how best to protect the upper portion, especially if the property was sold after it was rezoned and the new owner wasn’t bound by any previous agreements. He pointed out that the SEQRA Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) clearly stated that the rear 70 acres of the site was to be left as open space.

“What we do now it’s almost for a lifetime,” Bianco remarked afterwards.

Councilman Dave Paganelli agreed, saying, “I made it clear that my biggest concern is the decision we make we’ll have to live with for 50 years. We need to make sure the open land will not get developed.”

Capellini later maintained his client was willing to modify the rezoning application to apply only to the lower portion of the 100-acre parcel, causing the board to review two alternative scenarios for where the rezoning line would be. Both sides agreed to a line that would rezone approximately 50 acres and would include the proposed right-of-way for a future Bear Mountain Parkway extension.

Supervisor Michael Grace said while he did not want to see any development on the environmentally sensitive rear portion of the site, he wasn’t sure if the town should eventually acquire the land or have an easement placed on the land. He also said he hoped the applicant would change his mind and voluntarily agree to have the site included in the Sylvan Glen Forest Management Study.

If the wording of a proposed rezoning resolution is satisfactory to the board, a vote may likely take place at the board’s December 17 meeting.

“Our goal is to ensure the sanctity of the upper parcel. If we can do that and also the owner can get a tax deduction, all the better,” Paganelli said.

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