YORKTOWN, NY – The Planning Board held a special meeting on March 8 to address concerns about the Underhill Farm project.
The project has been in development since 2020, with plans to create 148 housing units and 18,000 square feet of retail space. The 148 units will consist of 52 townhouse units, 32 condominiums, and 64 apartments.
The meeting brought other circles together to discuss their thoughts and doubts.
“Our goal today is to hear from each of the boards and get input,” said Richard Fon, Chairman of the Planning Board.
Other boards consist of the Town Board, Conservation Board, Heritage Commission, Housing Board, and Recreation Commission.
Each board has a maximum of five minutes to present their thoughts. The Planning Board followed each presentation with responses or questions. There was also a moderated open discussion.
“After this meeting, the applicant may have some additional work to do,” said James Glatthaar, the Planning Board’s attorney.
Glatthaar added that due to possible changes in the applicant’s end, the Planning Board will eventually hold a second public hearing.
The Conservation Board said their presentation was based on information they got from the June 1, 2022 meeting.
The Board advises that the applicant must explore, evaluate, and clarify the function and extent of wetlands A, B, and C, as identified in the report dated June 18, 2022 by Tim Miller Associates.
They said they wanted the applicant to revisit the wetlands on the property. They also want to see a mitigation plan with the stream following a meandering path that would slow the flow of water and capture sediment before reaching the pond on the property.
“At this point, the plans do not adequately address environmental impacts and may raise additional concerns,” said Minnie Dineen-Carey of the Conservation Board.
“We feel that this plan, as it stands, should not move forward.”
Steve Miller of Tim Miller Associates responded to the presentation saying he understands the Conservation Board’s concerns about a functional analysis, and said they will provide more information about the function of the wetlands on the site.
Miller also added that the plans have been changed since the Conservation Board last saw them and the plans no longer extend to the stream, and the buildings have been moved.
Lynn Briggs, Chairman of the Heritage Commission, said the “elephant in the room” was the thickness of the project.
According to Briggs, the 13.8 acre site is among the last of the historically significant parcels left in Yorktown. The property also belonged to a founding family, The Underhills.
He said the commission has submitted several memos over the past year to the Planning Board expressing their concerns.
Briggs identified six “failures” on the part of the applicant that affect the historic significance of the property:
1. The failure to exclude archeological artifacts from Revolutionary War camps.
2. The non-removal whether or not the property is used for the underground railway.
3. The failure to address the adverse effect finding.
4. The failure to recognize Underhill Farm as an important historical property.
5. Constantly changing plans for the main mansion.
6. The failure to address how to respect the mansion as well as present an alternative plan that does not affect historical significance.
In response, John Tegeder, Director of Planning, said the historic consultant under contract with the town submitted a proposal and was allowed to proceed. He expected to hear from them in about two weeks.
Patrick Cumiskey, Vice Chairman of the Commission, raised concerns about the possible waiver of recreational fee requirements for the site.
According to Cumiskey, the commission understands this requirement to mean that for the 148 proposed units on the site, the project developer would have to pay $4,000 per unit. This project could have a $592,000 recreational fee.
Cumiskey explained that the commission hopes to see those funds, as it will also need them for the improvement of other parks around town.
Ken Belfer, Chairman of the Community Housing Board, expressed some concern about the housing status on the site.
The project describes the residential units on the site as “senior friendly.” Belfer raises the question of what exactly this means. He described it as a confusing concept because it doesn’t specifically identify them as senior living.
He also said that while there is a need for senior housing, there is also a need for young singles as well as young families in the town. Belfer also points out that downsizers need options.
Following Belfer’s comments, the Planning Board inquired and opened a dialogue about the diversity of the project’s residential units, the potential of affordable housing units on the site, and asked for Belfer’s input.
“I want to thank everybody,” said Supervisor Tom Diana. “All the committees, boards, commissions for their diligence here. The applicant, our planning directors, our attorneys who are here tonight, and the citizens who are here to find out what’s going on.”
Aaron Bock of the Planning Board said they did not bring up the topic of traffic at the meeting because it was discussed at length. Nothing is decided with an end.