Ann Gallelli: Katz In Context

Dear Neighbors,ann2016

Recently the Village’s proposed rezoning process has resulted in much attention being given to one particular parcel – the so-called Katz property at the intersection of Maple and Municipal Place.  This Village-owned parcel is currently part of the Municipal Place Gateway zone and is designated C-2 allowing for 2 stories of mixed use development at a maximum height of 35 feet by special permit from the Board of Trustees. 

Currently, the property is vacant with tree and bush growth over most of it.  It was identified in the 1977 Master Plan, the 2003 Comprehensive Plan and the 2017 Comprehensive Plan update as being a recommended focal point for commercial and mixed use development.

Although for most of us, the Katz property seems to have always been more or less the same as now, it has an interesting past that belies its current status.  

Going back in the records of the property, it appears that the site was construction-related from the early 1900’s to somewhere in the 1960’s.  The site, which was mostly cleared, was used to store construction materials as a contractor storage area according to a 1935 map. Earlier, in the 19th century,  it appears from some early maps to have been a brickmaking site. 

 The Ottaviano-owned Hudson Concrete Block Company sought a Building Permit in 1942 to add to its existing building on site.  In the early 1960’s, due to its non-conforming use adjacent to a residential zone, the Village required its termination. It was cited in 1966 and 1967 for being used as an open storage yard for materials and equipment and for having “steel boilers, tanks, hoppers, timbers and other construction materials not removed.”  In 1972, Irwin Katz acquired the property and subsequently sold it to Strichlin Realty in 2000.

It apparently remained in limbo for some time and reappeared in 1994 with the proposal for a MacDonald’s Drive-in business at the location.  Ultimately, MacDonald’s withdrew its application in 1995 but drawings from that application show three buried broken concrete foundations on the site, one dating from 1972. They have not been removed.   At the time, a proposal to rezone it to RA-5, single family residential, was considered but did not move forward. In 1998, there was a proposal for a 19,555 square foot, 1-story retail space which also did not proceed.  In 2005, the Village purchased the property as part of a legal settlement. A retail/office was tentatively proposed in 2005 called “The Gateway” with 2 stories and 19,200 square feet. It was later withdrawn as the developers wanted a quick review and approval.  Genovese drug store also showed interest in building a big box drug store there as well.   

In 2010, the Village Board did a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the site under the zoning in place.  Four such proposals were submitted (one as a high school class exercise). None met the requirements of proving financial viability, mostly requiring Village investment in its development.

Since then, the updating of the Comprehensive Plan in 2017 reaffirmed the property as an important focal point of this Gateway Commercial area.  The current zoning consultants have looked at what the present market for commercial properties requires. Their proposal for the zoning amendment reflects this market as well as the Village’s Comprehensive Plan goals of maintaining a vibrant, neighbor friendly environment in the Village.

The proposed amendment as it affects this lot, would permit 3 stories at the same 35’ maximum height, require publicly accessible open space including amenities such as paths and benches. It would also preserve a 50’ Right of Way as a vegetated buffer along the properties on Wells avenue.  Additionally, only one curb cut would be permitted. Any future development proposal would be reviewed by the Planning Board for meeting parking requirements, design factors such as lighting, landscaping, traffic impacts, sidewalks, etc. The Board of Trustees would also review these factors as part of their special permit review. 

This week, the Village opened the Public Hearing on the draft zoning amendments. The proposed amendments must also be reviewed by our Waterfront Advisory Committee to ensure it is consistent with our Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) as well as a review by the Planning Board.  While all this is taking place, the Board must seek further input on the zoning amendments. 

Only when all these steps are completed will the Board be able to makes its decision on the proposed amendments. The length and scope of the approval process is meant to ensure that all aspects of any zoning amendment are duly considered before any decision is made.

I encourage you to follow and engage in this process.

 

Ann Gallelli

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