Planning for the future of Millwood, its Task Force will make a list
See NCCMC video of meeting in “Read more…”
March 16, 2012
by Christine Yeres
Millwood Task Force members met at Westorchard with the town board last Tuesday to discuss the future of Millwood and how to proceed, now that a $6,000 Phase One study has come back from Project for Public Spaces. The two parties found themselves in a chicken-and-egg situation, with town board members asking MTF members to engage more of their fellow citizens in the process of imagining Millwood’s future before they will commit more dollars for a next phase of consultant assistance. On their side, Millwood Task Force members and several residents wanted to know—before beating the bushes for participants—that the town board will support them by committing more dollars.
“It’s OK to go to residents to say ‘What do you want to see in Millwood?’” said one resident, “but not if we don’t know the parameters of what we can have. On the next level of report can they tell us what is possible, what we can have, so that we can say to our neighbors ‘This is the menu’? Can PPS tell us that?”
The discussion was punctuated several times by a return to the subject of sewers. “Everything changes if we have a trunk sewer in front of Spaccarelli’s,” said Don Weisstuch, a MTF member. “The location of the sewers has to be developed in the context of the town development plan.” Weisstuch also repeatedly urged board members to update the town’s development plan, which is, in fact in the works. See Planning board tucks into 1989 town development plan with an eye to revision and participation, NCNOW.org, 3/16/12.
“Yes,” said town board member Jason Chapin, “the town made an initial investment. I believe there is interest in spending more because we don’t know what needs to be done. We need to begin to put together a wish list, then frame that to see what’s do-able, and make a timeline.”
“But if we’re going to be successful,” said Sara Brewster, a West End resident and former planning board member, “we need leadership and guidance from the town board, written out as to what their expectations would be, what the MTF would be able to do.”
“It sounds as though we need to know what is the relationship between the community groups, the town board, the Millwood Task Force and the Chamber of Commerce, then have an outreach,” added Tom Curley, also a former planning board member.
Supervisor Susan Carpenter responded to pleas for a sewer line for Millwood by reminding MTF members, “We do not control who gets sewers. If funded, they’ll be funded by New York City and their main focus will be Random Farms, Yeshiva and Riverwoods.”
“There’s a bigger future for Millwood if the sewer comes in, but we don’t want to wait with planning,” said Curley.
“What’s the center of town?” asked Jordan Schiffman. “The bike path, the Route 100 corridor, the stand-alone Country Deli, Spacarelli’s, Gedney—things aren’t really connected.”
“It’s more about closing the gap between multiple centers,” offered the town’s departing planner, David Brito. “It won’t ever be a continuous hamlet, but it wound’ be so separated.”
“What about crosswalks?” asked Carpenter, “And improvements along the bike trail? I haven’t given up on moving the train station. We need some kind of facility along the bike path.” “So people stop in Millwood,” added town board member John Buckley.
Crosswalks from the A&P side of Route 100 to the little church, the vet, the hardware and Rocky’s would help, many thought, as well as the signage near completion. “And in our old master plan there’s the Millwood-to-Gedney sidewalk,” said Carpenter. “Someday when the state is solvent again we’ll do it.”
“People have said some of the things they’d like to see,” Chapin summed up, “We have to see what’s do-able in the short and long term.”
“We can put a list together now,” said MTF member Phil Rice.
This is how they left it. Rice will compose a list. If you want to get up to speed on the PPS study, below are several segments of it, including some existing documents from which to work.
For an idea of how to view planning for towns’ futures, see NEW: Planning board tucks into 1989 town development plan with an eye to revision and participation, NCNOW.org, 3/16/12.
Useful Summary of Info on Millwood Improvement Possibilties
As follow-up to the meeting between New Castle’s town board and the Millwood Task Force last Tuesday, NCNOW has reprinted below some pertinent parts of the Project for Public Spaces report that was the subject of discussion on Tuesday. We’ve included brief summaries of the Millwood Design Guidelines, zoning advice from F.P. Clark, and a primer on the existing zoning and permitted uses.
Also, below, we’ve embedded New Castle Media Center’s on-demand video of the joint meeting. [The first hour was taken up by public comment on the affordable housing proposal for Hunts Place in Chappaqua. You can fast-forward, once the video loads, to the MTF discussion of next-steps for Millwood. NCNOW’s account of the meeting will follow on Monday.]
FINDINGS FROM MEETING WITH THE HAMLET SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE MILLWOOD TASK FORCE
Meg Walker and Sarah Crowell of PPS met on October 28, 2011, with David Brito and Janice Friend of the Town of New Castle and the following members of the Hamlet Subcommittee: June Farnham , Diane Kleinmann, Don Weisstuch, Michael Stern. The meeting included a discussion of goals for the planning process, destinations in the Hamlet of Millwood and a walking tour of the Hamlet. In the discussions, some of the subcommittee members envisioned a new role for the Hamlet as a neighborhood center and community gathering place, while others were concerned about competition from a multitude of destinations in the area. All saw obstacles to future development in the Hamlet, including the lack of a municipal sewer system and a shortage of developable land in key locations, due to the power lines. The following are the findings from the discussions:
I. Goals for the Millwood Study
• Determine what business and property owners want.
• Create an identity for Millwood.
• Create a sense of community or feeling of belonging
• Capitalize on great location (transportation hub).
• Expand retail to serve the subregional market better.
• Provide more services
• Determine what new businesses to bring here. (e.g. medical and professional offices).
• Provide more parking. Increase commercial tax base.
• Create a viable commercial center with retail and services that will provide one‐stop shopping and reduce driving.
• Improve walkability (e.g. build sidewalks on Route 100)
• Transform Millwood into an attractive, well‐maintained hamlet.
• Millwood becomes a destination location, not just a place to pass through.
• Build on Millwood’s assets: leverage bike trail; capture contractors drawn to existing lumber yard & nursery .
II. Suggested Uses
Other new uses were suggested:
• Professional offices
• More convenience retail and services
• Clothing stores
III. Primary Destinations in Millwood
Meg described the Power of Ten concept: every town needs at least ten great places or destinations and every destination should have at least ten things to do. The group identified the major destinations in Millwood:
• Tazza Café
• Dry Cleaners
• Hardware Store
• Liquor Store
• Post Office
• Garden Center
• Millwood Animal Clinic
• Gedney Park
• North County Trailway
• Spacarelli’s Restaurant Nail Salon
• Gas Station/Convenience Store
While many residents in the area like to shop in Millwood because it is convenient, it does not offer a full range of retail goods and services that may be found in the larger towns of Mount Kisco and Ossining. Therefore, it does not serve as a “center” for the community as well as it could. Many outsiders, especially contractors, come to Millwood because of the lumberyard, hardware store and garden center. Both locals and visitors like to eat at Rocky’s Deli, which is a well‐known institution in the area.
Millwood does not provide “one‐stop” shopping because of the difficulty in walking between the Millwood Plaza Shopping Center and the crossroads near the old station. The power lines essentially cut the hamlet in two.
IV. What are the Major Destinations in the Area?
The group was asked where they went to meet their needs: groceries, clothes, entertainment (e.g. dinner and movie), community events, government services):
Mt. Kisco A&P
Mt. Kisco Target
Whole Foods in White Plains
Jacob Burns Cinema, Pleasantville
Restaurants in Mt. Kisco and White Plains
Clothing stores and major shopping in White Plains
Town Hall and Senior Center in Chappaqua
Susan Lawrence for lunch and take‐out in Chappaqua
Euro Pizza in Briarcliff Manor
Starbucks in Briarcliff Manor
Value Drugs and Mrs. Greens in Briarcliff
Home Depot on Route 6
Food shopping in Croton, Briarcliff and Mt. Kisco
Ossining Farmers Market
Medical offices in Yorktown Heights
Shoprite in Thornwood or Croton
Recreation/sports in Ossining
Walking and bike riding on local trails and in Gedney Park
It was clear from the discussion that Millwood and West End residents are drawn to a variety of destinations in the area, and particularly outside New Castle, based primarily on: 1) proximity and ease of driving to where they live and 2) where they have developed an allegiance and sense of community through the school district. For example, some frequent grocery stores, parks and the library in Ossining because their children were in the Ossining school district and that is where their friendships evolved and recreational activities took place. Others find it easier to drive north to Mount Kisco or south to Briarcliff, rather than drive the more circuitous east‐west road to Chappaqua.
V. Walking Tour
The group walked the Millwood area beginning at the existing Fire Station #1 on NY Route 120/133, heading east to the lumber yard and new firehouse locations, then south along the Westchester County Trailway and Station Road to NY Route 100, making its way north up NY Route 100 and ending at the Millwood Park.
Topics discussed during the walk:
New Firehouse. The new firehouse will be set back on a parcel to the north of Route 120, with access from the existing Allen Avenue right‐of‐way. It will provide community meeting rooms and serve the community much like the existing firehouse does.
Old Firehouse. The building will be sold and could be redeveloped as retail with residential above. It is recommended that if a new building is built, that it be set back from Millwood Road to improve sight‐lines.
Intersection of Millwood and Station Roads. The intersection has a stop sign for ?. The group said that no one particularly wants a traffic signal at this intersection.
Parcel along tracks, north of Millwood Road. This long parcel is owned by Millwood Realty, the same owner as the lumber yard. The
retail store on Millwood Road is vacant and the property in the back is used for storage of trucks and materials of local contractors. This parcel runs parallel to the Rail Trail and could offer excellent access for bike riders and walkers.
Schumann Road. The parcels are zoned for industrial use, and include light industry, offices and a school. Parcel 39 is being redeveloped with a cell tower, offices and parking.
Lumberyard area. Millwood Lumber is a major anchor in the Hamlet and a destination for contractors from all over the region. The property is owned by Millwood Holdings, which also owns the station parcel. The lumberyard will be improving the parking area and its drainage.
Station parcel. The property is used for additional parking by Millwood Lumber employees and customers. The historic station building is in poor condition, but the owner is looking at restoring it, and building an addition, so that it can serve as a small café or ice cream shop with a total of 1500 sf. New landscaping and benches were recently installed at the north end of the property.
School on Station Road. We talked to an employee from the Devereux School who told us that groups of students often walk to the Millwood Plaza Shopping Center, but have difficulty crossing Station Road at that location.
North County Trailway. The trailway is viewed as an opportunity to take greater advantage of, both as a recreational destination for the community as well as a tourist destination for people from all over the region. The parking lot is on Con Edison property, under the power lines, and is not easily accessible from either of the commercial nodes. Crossing Station Road at that location is difficult.
The Millwood Plaza Shopping Center. Designed as a conventional strip shopping center, it is the primary destination in Millwood for residents in the area. In addition to the A&P Supermarket, it provides most of the community services: a small café, a post office, a liquor store, drug store, etc.
Millwood Park. Located adjacent to the busy Rocky’s Delicatessen, Millwood Park has a small softball/Little League field, tennis courts and a small playground. Subcommittee members did not know how frequently the field or other amenities are used and had little knowledge of who the users are.
Crossing Route 100 and sidewalks. Subcommittee members mentioned how difficult it is to cross Route 100 at Millwood Park because of the lack of crosswalks and the fast moving cars. Families would like to cross the street for pizza after games, but this poses a hazard.
Traffic. The group noticed that cars were moving too fast on all the routes through the Hamlet, making it difficult to cross the streets.
VI. Community Workshop and Next Steps
The group suggested that business owners be invited to participate in the public workshops in Phase 2 of the planning process. They also suggested that surveys of local business owners and residents be conducted to gather additional data and ideas. Workshops will be open to the public and we discussed how to reach out to the community to encourage a good turnout.
SUMMARY OF RELEVANT INFORMATION FROM EXISTING DOCUMENTS
1. Millwood Design Guidelines, 1993, Amended 1999
The Guidelines were created to:
• Maintain small hamlet‐scale in new development
• Introduce elements that encourage walking
• Orient buildings toward the street with parking behind the buildings (avoid strip development)
• Encourage irregular building forms with interior walkways and courtyards
• Emphasize landscaping, signage and harmonious design treatments
The Design Guidelines require that new development be located close to the street and that parking lots be located to the rear of the buildings. To retain the small‐scale character of the Hamlet, building walls are limited to 60’ [in height]. Two sidewalk treatments are recommended in the Hamlet, depending on whether or not the sidewalk runs adjacent to a building. No sidewalk is required on the east side of Station Road or on the south side of Station Road, across from the Millwood (A&P) Shopping Plaza, presumably because the trailway runs along the road in these areas. New sidewalks require curbs, decorative brick paving, street trees and pedestrian‐scaled, decorative street lights. Consistent street furniture – benches, planters, bus shelters— and plantings are encouraged throughout the Hamlet.
The Guidelines recommend that pedestrian cross‐walks be installed at the three major intersections/gateways leading into the Hamlet. Mid‐block crosswalks would be added as needed. Crosswalks would be of a different material from the asphalt paving, such as imprinted asphalt, concrete pavers or concrete.
The Guidelines propose designs for the gateways to the Hamlet that include landscaped areas, street trees, medians and bus stops. It appears that the south entrance has been built according to this design.
The Guidelines recommend that buildings be harmonious in color, scale, height, roof lines and roof type. Even awnings should be consistent in color and style. Only gable roofs are permitted, and buildings are limited to two stories with a third floor in the attic.
The document requires the Planning Board to determine compliance with the streetscape and site design guidelines, and the Board of Architectural Review to be responsible for signage and architectural guidelines.
2. Millwood Hamlet Center Zoning Analysis and Area Site Plan Study, Frederick P. Clark, 2009
General Recommendations (from meetings with Planning Board and Millwood Task Force):
More retail development at street level.
Small village‐like clusters of buildings on large parcels desirable.
Locate off‐street parking in the rear portion of properties.
Limit number of curb cuts on Millwood Road.
Give more prominence to the North County Trailway in future site planning and create pedestrian links to adjacent properties.
Improve pedestrian circulation. Construct sidewalks between the Hamlet and Gedney Park and Westorchard School.
Re-examine building height and set‐back requirements in zoning and Millwood Design Guidelines to avoid too much bulk close to the street. Permit more diversity in architectural styles and roof design.
Site Specific Recommendations
Station Parcel: Relocate and restore the former station building, and expand it to create a 1,500 sf carry‐ out restaurant and a 15 space parking lot. Create a “village green” at the northern end of the site and connect directly to trailway.
Current Firehouse: Relocate or reconstruct the building to create a two‐story building with 2700 sf of retail on the ground floor and 3 apartments above. Provide a 23 space parking lot to serve both uses. Relocate the building to improve sightlines at the access to the driveway.
Industrial Property North of Millwood Road: Redevelop the property in compliance with the I‐G zoning district provisions (retail and office). Construct multiple two‐story buildings around an open plaza with links to the trailway and off‐street parking in the rear.
Off‐street parking requirement is a major determinant in the amount of development on these parcels. Creative solutions, such as shared parking, could be considered on these and other properties. Environmental and stormwater management constraints may limit development further, however.
3. Zoning for Millwood Hamlet: Permitted Uses Summary
B‐R (the predominant zoning district in the Hamlet Center): Permits a broad range of institutional, retail and commercial uses, including gas stations and offices. Permits multiple dwellings, apartments above street level commercial uses and workforce housing. Does not permit single‐family houses and does not require commercial uses on the ground floors.
B‐D (Millwood Shopping Plaza area and across Station Road): Permits retail and office uses, restaurants and multi‐family housing.
I‐G (Schumann Road and large parcel north of Millwood Road): In addition to any non‐residential use permitted in B‐R and B‐D (retail, restaurants, institutions), it permits labs, light industry, public garage. Only residential use permitted is workforce housing.
Related: Town board reviews PPS report on Millwood and ponders next steps, NCNOW, 2/10/12, which includes some demographic and income info from the PPS report.