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An initial analysis of what future residential development might look like in Pleasantville’s downtown found no adverse impacts for the business district over the next 10 years.
A study conducted by the village’s consultant BFJ Planning predicted a maximum of 63 new apartments, which would increase Pleasantville’s multifamily housing stock to about 7 percent.
“We wanted to get an assessment of what has the impact the 2017 zoning revisions been on potential development in the A1 Business District,” said Susan Favate, a principal with BFJ.
The analysis considered impacts on traffic, schools, utilities and public safety. It was conducted since the six-month building moratorium was enacted in January for the downtown business district following concerns about rapid development in Pleasantville. The study is ongoing and will weigh feedback from the public and the Village Board.
Among the 10 sites considered in the study were the ones most likely to attract potential development. Of those, some were either vacant or underbuilt or are properties whose owners have submitted proposals, including those on Cooley Street and Bedford Road, The Landmark at 444 at the corner of Bedford and Wheeler Avenue, 17-19 Marble Ave. and the Tutor Time property.
Favate said all estimates in the study were conservative and applied current standard planning guidelines to determine future impacts.
The traffic analysis looked at 10 sites that are within a half-mile from the Pleasantville train station, which would be considered transit-oriented development. Based on the projection of an additional 63 units in the downtown, those units could generate 78 trips during each morning and evening peak hour.
“Seventy-eight additional trips have a negligible impact, particularly when you assume all 10 sites would be fully developed,” Favate said. “In all likelihood it would be a fraction of that.”
Addressing the potential for enrollment increases in the Pleasantville School District, the analysis showed that if the 63 additional units were built and occupied it would generate only nine additional students. Data used from the district over the past decade showed enrollment has dropped from 1,778 students in the 2013-14 school year to 1,630 students this year.
Future projections forecast a further reduction in the district’s enrollment through the 2027-28 school year.
Other factors considered when calculating future enrollment included the number-of-bedroom mix and whether developments are low-, medium- or high-rise structures.
“High-rises generally attract empty-nesters and young folks,” said Favate. “Also, recent data shows that a development within a proximity to the train station would see fewer kids.”
New developments on Washington Avenue and Toll Brothers’ Enclave at Pleasantville have seen 28 students added – one student from 39 Washington Ave., two students from 101 Washington Ave. and 25 students from Toll Brothers.
Former village trustee Jonathan Cunningham said he couldn’t trust the study.
“If you try to convince people that in 10 years there’s only 63 units in the A1 district for development, they’re going to tell you you’re nuts,” he said.
Among the proposed and potential developments Cunningham listed were The Landmark at 444 with a proposed 36 apartments, properties on Washington Avenue that could see future construction and 16 units proposed for a building in the Cooley Street parking lot.
“If you had said 120 more units, maybe you’d get a committee around that; 63 more units seems absurdly low,” Cunningham said.
The BFJ study also concluded that calls to the police and fire departments from 63 units could easily be accommodated. Objecting to that portion of the analysis was resident Tom Rooney, who spoke of ongoing challenges to increase membership for the fire department and the Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
“People will be moving into apartments and most of them I assume will come from New York City with a certain mindset that police, fire and ambulance services are a God-given right,” Rooney said. “That’s not true here with our volunteer fire and ambulance corps. You can make numbers do anything you want them to do. I don’t believe these numbers. I live in this village and I see what’s going on.”
Favate pointed out that development in the village is expected to slow.
“It’s difficult for people when they see how much development has happened and not to expect development would continue at the same pace, but more development gets harder as fewer sites become available,” she said. “There is development potential for someone to come in and buy up a bunch of properties but it’s less and less likely because of the lack of large spaces that are left.”
The village’s current requirement for new development to provide on-site parking is another reason new development would likely diminish, Favate noted.
“Unless you have a developer who can cobble together half a dozen sites or more, only then would it make sense to build a parking garage, which is a huge expense,” Favate said. “In reality, each developer has to consider what is their financial balance should a parking structure be required.”
Village Trustee David Vinjamuri asked Favate to evaluate potential impacts of a 15 percent affordable housing requirement rather than 10 percent, which is the county standard.
“I don’t know of many communities that have a higher affordable housing rate,” Favate said. “Also, we’d have to look at if that would have a chilling effect on development. It’s something we can definitely explore.”
The analysis suggested placing more restrictions on developers, such as eliminating the floor-area ratio (FAR) bonus. For example, a current FAR bonus would theoretically allow a building containing up to 10,000 square feet on a 5,000-square-foot lot. A new zoning requirement without a similar bonus would have a smaller building on a similar lot.
The discussion was scheduled to resume at Monday evening’s Village Board work session. Officials will consider expanding the analysis to include sites outside the A1 district and parcels within walking distance to the train station.
Residents may be read the study by visiting
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/