The Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees will soon make their determination on whether or not Rivertowns Square developers have adequately mitigated all potential impacts for their proposed development off the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Developers say their project, on the 17.7 acre four parcel site formerly owned by Akzo Nobel in the middle of Lawrence Street and Ogden, Livingstone and Stanley avenues, would be an asset to the community and would include:
- 18,000 sq. ft. gourmet market
- a 123-room hotel (probably run by a division of Hilton hotels, yet to be determined)
- a 33,600 sq. ft. eight screen Sundance movie theatre
- 62,028 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant space
- 202-unit rental apartment (which includes 10 percent of affordable housing, per Village code)
- and 1,228 parking spaces
Some local residents and the Ardsley School District oppose the project citing that it would have negative impacts on the local economy, traffic and neighborhood character.
The Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees will be required to make a positive or negative declaration in its findings statement, which is the final step in the state mandated environmental review process that has taken about two years. The findings statement will represent the board’s opinion of the project and may also make suggestions for the project.
On Monday, the board met in a public work session, where they questioned the village’s consultants for the project, to help board members come to a consensus to draft the findings statement.
Click on our video for a word from Mayor Hartley Connett on the board’s process for coming up with a findings statement. The full meeting will be shown on Dobbs Ferry TV on Sunday.
According to a Sept. 21 memo from Connett:
SERQA requires that the lead agency must prepare its own written “Findings Statement” before the agency makes a final decision. The findings certify that the requirements of Part 617 have been met. A positive findings statement means that the project or action is ‘approvable’ (not approved) after consideration of the FEIS, and demonstrates that the action chosen is the one that avoids or minimizes adverse environmental impacts presented in the EIS and weighs and balances them with the social, economic and other essential considerations. If the action is not approvable, a negative findings statement documenting the reasons for the denial must be prepared.
One of the first questions board members asked consultants Monday was whether or not the traffic study done for the proposed Sundance Film Cinema was adequately done using proper methodology.
Traffic consultant Philip Greely, of John Colins Engineers P.C., said that he evaluated the applicant’s traffic reports, which detailed times that movie theatre usage would be at its peak, such as Friday and Saturday nights. They also evaluated data directly from Sundance Films, as well as information from the Institution of Transportation Engineers.
Greely said that traffic shouldn’t be negatively impacted with the implementation of proposed traffic improvements and fact that evening traffic on the parkway about 50 percent less after 7 p.m. (which is the cinema’s peak traffic hour) than compared with afternoon peak traffic and that traffic on Ashford Avenue is reduce by 70 percent.
“I think we looked at it in enough detail to know how it will function, the amount it generates and the appropriate mitigation needed to deal with that,” said Greely.
Trustee Donna Cassell asked how it was possible to accurately predict future increases in traffic for the proposed retail outlets when retail tenants have yet to be selected. Greely explained that the databases for traffic patterns on retail uses are “conservatively high.”
“Traffic generation for potential restaurants, and residential use is cut and dry and fairly consistent in terms of number of trips [generated from the use],” said Greely. “Same thing with the hotels, there’s not a lot of variation in those. Retail and restaurants would have some flexibility or variability because of the size.”
Trustee Victor Golio questioned who would determine whether or not a “stabilized occupancy” was achieved during the one-year trial of a proposed shuttle that would travel from Rivertowns Square to Dobbs Ferry's downtown and train station, which is aimed at helping to reduce traffic. He also and whether or not a one-year was an adequate trial period.
“The applicant originally proposed the trial as a 60-day period, which we thought we was totally inadequate,” said Greely. “The percentage of occupancy is something the board will have control over in terms of finalization.”
Greely said the stabilized occupancy level and start and ending date of the trial period could be spelled out in the findings statement, and that ridership levels should be apparent within the first six months of the trial period.
Connett questioned whether the neighborhood character would be negatively affected and whether Ogden Avenue residents would be adequately shielded from the development.
“Yes, I think the evergreens will make a really big difference,” said Lucille Munz, a landscaping consultant with Munz Associates Architecture and Landscaping. “The supermarket is no longer the same size and the location of the cinema allows for more land to be left undisturbed. Originally, there were a much larger areas to be carved into that hillside. That’s no longer going to happen.”
One of the consultants from Tim Miller Associates noted that there still is underground fuel oil tanks, previously used to heat building, on site that need to be removed by a qualified asbestos and lead contractor per state and federal guidelines, as soil was previously found to be contaminated with low levels of perchloroethylene, a cleaning solvent, in two catch basins.
Tim Miller Associates suggests creating a health and safety plan for those who come in contact with the soil on the site, to be spelled out during the site plan review process, and which will offer a chain of responsibility for monitoring the site.
Check back with Patch as this issue continues and click here for all of Patch’s coverage on Rivertowns Square.