More than 150 people jammed into Cortlandt Town Hall last week to voice their opposition to two mixed-use projects planned in the vicinity of New York Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital on Route 202 in Cortlandt.
Setting the tone for the public hearing was Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, who maintained the Evergreen Manor and Gyrodyne developments that would separately occupy almost 42 acres across from the hospital were too much for the area to handle.
“The proposal in the full build out is too big in my opinion,” Puglisi said to rousing applause. “It would be in everyone’s best interest to reduce it significantly. We cannot sustain it. We should scale it back to one use per property.”
The Evergreen Manor project involves the redevelopment of three vacant contiguous parcels totaling 28 acres with a 120-unit assisted living facility, a five-story, 100-room hotel with 13,000 square feet of retail space, 30,000-square-foot mixed-used retail/office building, 166 residential units (152 studios and one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom) and a 7,000-square-foot restaurant.
The Gyrodyne site includes the redevelopment of eight contiguous parcels totaling 13.8 acres with 100,000 square feet of medical offices, 4,000 square feet of complementary retail, 200 market rate apartments, 180 structured parking spaces and 383 at-grade parking spaces.
If approved, both projects are projected to generate more than $4.5 million annually in tax revenue, along with 780 construction jobs and 195 permanent on-site jobs.
The go-ahead for the projects was the zoning creation by town officials of the Medical Oriented District (MOD), the intent of which is to encourage economic revitalization in the area surrounding the hospital and implement the goals and recommendations outlined in the town’s 2016 Sustainable Comprehensive Plan.
However, the Town Board, which is the lead agency, must approve rezoning the properties to MOD for the projects to proceed.
The developers have insisted their plans are consistent with the town’s vision as outlined in the most recent Master Plan.
“Density alone is not something to create fear,” said David Steinmetz, attorney for VS Construction, developers of Evergreen Manor. “Both projects are designed to follow the mandates of the Master Plan. We think economically it’s a great thing for the town.”
A petition with 825 signatures was presented to the Town Board opposing the MOD. Another petition contained the signatures of 75% of residents on Buttonwood Avenue who asked to be removed from the MOD. One resident suggested a public referendum be held on the matter.
“I don’t think these proposals will improve the quality of life,” said Stacy Rivera, a resident of Buttonwood Avenue. “The magnitude of these developments will impact much more than the surrounding neighborhoods.”
“You have a situation that no one wants. We should say we won’t allow this unless it is scaled back,” said Sal Farina of Northridge Road. “This is a town. This is not a city. We have to look at the integrity of the town.”
Acknowledging the existing traffic problems in the area, the development teams are committing $3 million for studies and traffic improvements along Route 202. Currently five new traffic signals in the area are planned and turning lanes, along with sidewalks and other enhancements.
“You have two major developers at the table willing to fix the problems,” Steinmetz stressed.
After the hearing, the developers refuted a statement from Puglisi about the density of the project, saying both the Evergreen Manor and Gyrodyne proposals have already been scaled back by 30 to 40 percent.
“The owners look forward to working with the Supervisor, the Town Board and their consultants to address and mitigate issues that have been raised by the town or the residents,” the developers stated.
The public hearing before the Cortlandt Town Board was adjourned to April 14 at Cortlandt Town Hall.
“We can’t stop change, but maybe we can manage it,” said Cortlandt Councilman Dr. Richard Becker. “Rather than a revolution in this community, a slow evolution would probably be better. We’ll make sure we come up with the proper decision.”