RYE BROOK, N.Y. – A proposed affordable housing project on the border of Rye Brook and Port Chester is running into red tape as the Village of Rye Brook continues to question potential environmental and safety issues on the site.
The Board of Trustees originally set a public hearing for Oct. 30, but due to Hurricane Sandy, it was postponed until Tuesday night.
An application was filed a year ago by Frank Madonna, owner of 80 Bowman Avenue, to create 16 units of apartments on the lot, to be called Bowridge Commons. The proposal calls for eight one-bedroom rentals and eight two-bedroom units for ownership.
"Fair and affordable" housing has become a major project for Rye Brook after a 2009 settlement between Westchester County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandated that certain municipalities must increase the number of affordable housing units by 2017.
The proposed housing site is located on the southwest corner of Bowman Avenue and Barbara Place. There are two existing residences on the parcel that would be removed as part of the project. The new buildings will be sold as condominiums, and include parking areas as well as an open space area to lessen the visual impact of the buildings, according to Anthony Federico, architect and planner for the project.
Westchester County housing officials who reviewed the proposal wrote a letter to the village with concerns, namely its impact on the neighborhood and possible “green” treatments they felt the proposal missed.
“They’re asking for permeable pavement and perhaps rain gardens in open areas around the site," said Marilyn Timpone Mohamed, village planning consultant. "This site is fairly good in terms of the amount of open space, and I don’t know that either of those would be practical." She added that the stormwater management plan for the site has been approved by the village, despite county suggestions that "it be greener."
Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein said the board must take into consideration the small size of the site when it comes to open space and “green” additions, including bicycle racks and an expanded recycling area. Federico said the "green" suggestions were not considered in the planning of the project.
Westchester County officials and the village board also expressed shared concern about possible environmental impacts from previous development on the site. While soil and water samplings were taken and preliminary reports have been returned, the board is still awaiting an analysis of the raw sampling data before it completes its environmental review.
In terms of safety, members of the village’s Emergency Services Task Force suggested that, in order to feel comfortable in responding to a fire or other crisis at the site, they would like to see Barbara Place widened. Federico said the planners had no problem widening the street, but asked the village board to encourage utility companies to absorb the cost of moving telephone and utility poles in the way of a two-foot widening.
Feinstein said the subject would be taken under consideration, and suggested the public hearing reconvene later in the month.
“It would feel very uncomfortable if our emergency services feel there is something that needs to be done; if we don’t agree to do that, it’s on your part, and on ours, as well,” she said, referring to the board and developers.
To check out the full plans for the project, visit the Village of Rye Brook website. The public hearing concerning plans for 80 Bowman Avenue will continue Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Rye Brook Village Hall, 938 King Street.