Against Planning Bd advice, Town Bd seems set to go forward with Rosehill scoping
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
by Christine Yeres
Judging from last Tuesday’s Work Session, Town Board members seem inclined, as “lead agency,” to approve tonight the draft environmental scope—the laundry list of all environmental impacts to be considered—for the Rosehill application to construct 60 condos with a health club, tennis and a theatre at 773 Armonk Road. Neighbors of two-acre residential zoned property pointed out to Board members during the work session that the Planning Board had directly advised against proceeding with the application until the Master Plan review is completed.
See Planning Board to Town Board: Master Plan update should come before rezoning for Rosehill, NCNOW.org, 7/1/14.
It the Town Board decides tonight to adopt the scope—the list of all potential environmental impacts that must be addressed—the applicant will, Stephen Oder of Soder Realty, will proceed with studies and reports on the potential impacts and suggested mitigation measures. Together, these would make up the Draft EIS, or DEIS.
“When does the town bring in its own consultants?” asked a resident. “The applicant does its reports first,” the Town Board’s counsel, Nick Ward-Willis, explained, “after the Draft EIS is submitted—and at the applicant’s expense—” then “Sabrina [Charney-Hull, New Castle’s Town Planner] will make her recommendations on drainage, septic,” and any other areas in which she decides the Board needs further information.
“Can we hire our own environmental expert?” asked the resident.
“Residents can do that,” said Ward-Willis.
Then would come a public hearing on those studies in the Draft EIS, Ward-Willis continued. After the close of public hearings, the applicant would prepare a final Environmental Impact Statement, or FEIS, which the Town Board then accepts as the final document.
At that point, the Town Board can—but need not—hold public hearings on the Final EIS, then issue a “Findings” statement. If the “Findings” are positive—which means, said Ward-Willis, that the Board finds that the impacts of the proposal could be mitigated, then the Board would proceed with the change in the town’s zoning law to permit the project.
For the benefit of neighbors of the property attending the Work Session, TB member Elise Mottel estimated that it could be nine months before the applicant submits his draft. And another two months for the town to review it, before holding the public hearing on the Draft EIS.
Planning Board involvement
The Town Board is “lead agency,” so the Planning Board must review the Draft EIS and comment on the Final EIS, but won’t have any decision to make until the positive “Findings” statement is issued and the zoning is changed by the Town Board.
“So the Town Board is moving forward despite the Planning Board’s recommendation not to?” asked a resident. “Because the Planning Board says the application should not continue at this time.”
“The Town Board will consider what to do,” responded Ward-Willis.
“We’re not going to ignore our Planning Board,” said Mottel. “We will seriously review the Planning Board’s comments.”
So assuming positive Findings and the zoning change by the Town Board, at that point the Planning Board would receive the application for “site plan approval.”
“If the Town Board approves the proposal with positive Findings statement and approves the zoning,” asked Sharon Greene, “and it then goes to the Planning Board for site approval, what happens if the Planning Board doesn’t approve it?”
“Then the project is denied and the applicant files an Article 78 [challenging the Board’s decision] if he wants,” said Ward-Willis.
Since the zoning change by that point will have been made by the Town Board, the new “floating” zoning would remain in place, said Ward-Willis, and in theory could be applied to a property—but any other applicant or any applicant for any other property to which the zoning might “float” would have to go through its own application process.
All five Town Board members have now visited the property (the three new Board members had not until two weeks ago) and they promised to return in fall to view it again when the leaves are gone.
Related: Open Ltr-Community group responds to Greenstein interview on development at Armonk Road property, NCNOW.org, 4/11/14
Video of the TB Work Session of July 1, 2014
The Work Session begins with the Rosehill discussion; it runs for about 15 minutes