Two Rose Hill Shopping Center storeowners expressed concern last week about a new mall planned for Thornwood that could make an already challenging business environment more difficult.
Michael DiNardo, owner of Silvio’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, and Artuso & Sons Pastry & Cafe owner Bobby Artuso told the Mount Pleasant Town Board they were concerned that an influx of new stores could saturate the market in the neighborhood and jeopardize the health of existing businesses.
Artuso said while there has been recent new construction of retail buildings in town, there are plenty of vacant storefronts.
“There’s more building but nothing’s going in,” Artuso said.
During the town board’s May 20 meeting, Supervisor Joan Maybury said she met the previous week with other Rose Hill Shopping Center merchants who said they were also troubled about local resident Chris DeMartino’s plan to construct a 16,700-square-foot shopping center on a nearby 5.1-acre parcel on Columbus Avenue less than a mile away.
The board has been asked to consider rezoning the parcel from OB-1, which allows office use, to the CPS zone to permit retail.
Maybury said part of her concern is that the parcel has a steep cliff and soils that could be prone to erosion.
Owners of Rose Hill Shopping Center businesses have also told her that they are worried that if the proposed shopping center is approved and built, the area may be unable to support all of the Columbus Avenue establishments.
At a previous town board meeting, DeMartino said he would like to attract the types of businesses that aren’t found elsewhere in town. For example, he would pursue a nonchain food store that would sell fresh meat, seafood and produce.
Maybury said the town board is not close to making a decision on whether to rezone the property. Town officials must speak with town planning consultant Pat Cleary and town attorneys before reaching a decision, she said.
The board should “review any action scrupulously before considering a rezone,” Maybury added.
“Legislatively, the town board can decide against entertaining an application at all,” Maybury said. “New York State law clearly prohibits piecemeal or spot zoning. The benefit of a particular property owner cannot be part of the decision making.”