Yorktown Residents Request Targeted Study for Heights Hamlet

The Committee for a Sound Plan for Soundview is continuing to apply pressure on the Yorktown Town Board to remove a proposed mixed-use project on the former Soundview Preparatory School site on Underhill Avenue from a potential Planned Design District Overlay Zone.

The Underhill Farms development is one of dozens of properties throughout the town that the Planning Department has determined would be suitable to be placed in a Planned Design District Overlay Zone.

The stated purpose and intent of the Planned Design District Overlay Zone, which the Town Board is currently considering, is to provide the town with “flexibility in land uses which bolster economic development by providing not only a diverse array of commercial businesses, but mixed-use residential and commercial parcels to both provide abundant job opportunities and contribute to the local tax base.”

Underhill Farms, being sought by Unicorn Contracting, is slated to consist of 165 units of market rate housing and 20,000 square feet on retail and office space.

But with 150 rental apartments and a new supermarket being proposed at the nearby Yorktown Green shopping center and a small boutique hotel on Commerce Street, the Committee for a Sound Plan for Soundview feels the Town Board should take “a holistic approach” and do a targeted mini study on the Yorktown Heights business hamlet.

“Take the time to do the study, put in the hard work, adjust the Comprehensive Plan and draw the Overlay Zones accordingly, with input from the community and with time for our town experts to do their due diligence—based upon what is in the long-term interest of the current and future residents of the Town of Yorktown,” Dr. Regina Kaishian told the board during a meeting last week.

Planning Director John Tegeder has stressed the concept of enacting overlay zones to spur development was first proposed more than 17 years ago, and, in 2011, were adopted as part of the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

“It is a perfect property to be considered for this overlay,” Tegeder reiterated last week. “It begs to have the flexibility that the law as currently written will provide.”

Supervisor Matt Slater appeared open Monday to considering the idea of a mini study.

“Clearly, the time has come to explore ways to reimagine and reinvigorate the Yorktown Heights Hamlet business district,” Slater said. “Creation of the hamlet overlay district provides a practical and expeditious way to foster creative thinking on how to address an expanding problem. The COVID-19 pandemic only adds to the urgency.”

“Now is the time to vet and implement needed new approaches to assure a bright future for the town and one of its signature areas,” he added. “The Town Board is committed to a fully transparent and robust review of all concepts and ideas and will rigorously follow all state and municipal environmental and planning guidelines, rules, and regulations.”