Planning Bd to Town Bd: Master Plan update should come before rezoning for Rosehill

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Editor’s Note: .  In a work session tonight, the Town Board will discuss the draft scoping document—a broad list of environmental impacts to address—for the Rosehill application to construct 60 condo units on the Legionaries property at 773 Armonk Road.

Against the advice of residents, who recommended that the Planning Board, which is more expert in planning matters, take the lead on the Rosehill application, the Town Board decided to make itself “lead agency” and then passed the draft scoping document to the Planning Board for its comments.  Below is the June 18, 2014 cover letter that accompanied the comments from the Planning Board to the Town Board. 

In short, “The consensus of the Planning Board is that the much awaited Master Plan Update should be completed prior to any further consideration to rezoning the subject property.”

June 18, 2014 Planning Board comments to Town Board on Rosehill application

Prior to offering comments on the above noted documents, the Planning Board would like to
express its concerns that this project remains outside the recommendations of the Town
Development Plan which call for protection of the eastern and western sides of New Castle and
the use of these areas as low density (R-2A) residential zoning as these areas of our community
are rich in environmental resources. In fact, the Town promulgated the environmental
protection overlay zoning district, which includes the subject property, in 2002 as a response to
the Town Development Plan. The Town Board should determine whether review of the
amendments to the Town Development Plan are more appropriately conducted before moving
forward with this project. The consensus of the Planning Board is that the much awaited
Master Plan Update should be completed prior to any further consideration to rezoning the
subject property. The Planning Board believes that to conduct the review of this project under
circumstances that differ from its current zoning and the Town Development Plan would be
putting the cart before the horse.

With that said, should the Town Board decide to move forward with the proposal, the Planning
Board offers the attached tracked changed comments on the draft Scoping Document. In
addition, we have comments pertaining to the proposed zoning text amendment for a UPP
Floating Zone which can be found below:

Proposed UPP Floating Zone

In general, the Planning Board feels that the proposed zoning text amendment was prompted by
the interests of a particular applicant for one of the largest properties in our community. It was
drafted for the purpose of providing an as-of-right regulatory framework for the proposed
development. Yet, the proposed floating zone (as drafted to date) would apply to all properties
larger than 75 acres. As such, it is intended to be the zoning that regulates our last remaining
large properties. Before the Town Board takes action on such a proposal, the following
questions should be considered:

1. What is considered a “Large Site” that would qualify as “unique properties”, what
qualifies them as such and where are they located? 

2. How do the attributes of these sites and their locations combine to affect the overall
character of the community and the quality of life for the Town’s residents?

3. What are the appropriate land uses for such sites? Are the sites to be limited to
residential or would subsequent applicants need variances or new floating zones to
proceed with their developments?

These questions should be addressed to understand the opportunities for this category of
properties in the context to which the proposed legislation applies. The most appropriate
avenue to answer these questions is not within a Planning Board/Town Board response to a
developer’s initiative, but rather through a thoughtful master plan update process, or strongly
encouraging the developer to propose a project that adheres to existing zoning.

Findings, Purpose and Intent

A statement is made in association with the purpose and intent that “such developments shall
be designed to meet the objectives of the applicant.” The Town does not have an obligation to
insure the objectives of any applicant are met. To wit, we recommend that the Town Board not
consider this project at this time.

Location Criteria

Specific limitations regarding lot size and frontage are provided. The criteria should be
developed based on an actual survey of large lot candidates.

Permitted Uses

These should be derived through a master plan process.

Density Standards

These should be derived through a master plan process.

Site and Structure Requirements

The height restrictions limit new buildings to the height of any existing structure. This can be
intrusive. New buildings should be limited to the height as currently permitted by the Town

All specific site restrictions should be determined only after a Master Plan review of the sites
and their context within the community is conducted.

Affordable Housing

As currently written, the proposed zoning text amendment does not include provisions for
affordable housing. These provisions should be incorporated.

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