Yorktown officials announced a proposed overlay zone Tuesday and an accompanying marketing campaign designed to attract developers and new businesses to help the town revitalize its business hamlets.
Supervisor Matt Slater said the Town Board was scheduled to introduce legislation at its work session last night for a Planned District Design Overlay Zone. It would provide the town with flexibility in its current commercial districts to encourage the development of mixed-use projects, diversified housing and pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets.
During a morning press conference outside Town Hall, officials also unveiled the Destination Y campaign to promote investment and the relocation of businesses to the municipality. A website, DestinationY.org, and a #destinationY social media campaign, have been created and will be active through November. Its theme is Yorktown: Up where we belong!
Slater said the zoning in the five business hamlets will remain the same but the overlay zone would recognize that each area is unique and allow some currently prohibited uses, making it easier for property owners and developers to adapt.
“We believe the overlay zones are the answer,” Slater said. “They will focus on live-work retail-residential spaces and encourage the construction of diversified housing options and new economic development opportunities within our business hamlets.”
The town’s Comprehensive Plan has identified three areas of town, Lake Osceola, the Bear Mountain Triangle – about 23 acres surrounded by Route 202, the Bear Mountain Parkway Extension and the Taconic Parkway – and pieces of Shrub Oak that are well-suited for the overlay zones, said Director of Planning John Tegeder.
It could also benefit properties such as the Yorktown Green Shopping in Yorktown Heights, which has been frequently plagued over the years with massive vacancies.
“It’s proposed to add certain different types of uses,” Tegeder said. “We’ll be looking at mixed uses, residential, it’s not allowed right now, so we’re looking to have overall flexibility so that we can plan for the best outcome rather than just stuck into parameters that are existing in underlying zones.”
In addition, there will be a streamlined review process for projects in the overlay zones such as pre-application meetings with developers, expedited building permit processes and the waiving of fees for businesses to operate outside.
Many other communities in Westchester have adjusted zoning to revitalize their downtowns near Metro-North train stations, which Yorktown does not have. But Slater said Yorktown has other advantages it can offer. National chains such as Nestle Waters, which was approved in May for a distribution center in town, and Tractor Supply Co. and many smaller operations have been looking to move to Yorktown.
“While we don’t have a mass transit train station, we do have Bee-Line bus service that comes through Yorktown, and may I also point out that we are the only northern Westchester community that has a north-south, east-west corridor with the Taconic (Parkway) and Route 202,” Slater said. “It’s a big selling point.”
Meanwhile the Destination Y campaign will also help the town and its business organizations attract businesses of all sizes to Yorktown with the goal of generating good paying jobs and expanding the local tax base. It comes at a time when virtually all municipalities are worried about their finances, Slater said.
“We’re not just going to say we’re open for business, we’re going to prove it,” he said.
Business Council of Westchester Executive Director John Ravitz applauded Yorktown’s re-branding effort and for looking to make its business district zoning more flexible to deal with today’s unprecedented challenges.
“We are in such uncharted waters,” Ravitz said. “We are dealing with things that probably none of us thought we would have to deal with, and now, more than ever, we need business and government to talk with each other and come together to come up with ideas, outside-of-the-box ideas, strategies that maybe three or four years ago we never thought we would even discuss.”
Nancy Stingone, executive director of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce called Destination Y the biggest initiative ever taken to promote the town while the overlay zone proposal is “one of the single most important pieces of legislation positively affecting our business community.”
Councilman Ed Lachterman added the steps being take by the town will help businesses of all sizes.
“This will help us sell the product of Yorktown ad it’s a very, very exciting time,” he said.