Orangetown OKs Nyack Apartments

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40-year PILOT agreement granted

BY ROBERT KNIGHT
CITY EDITOR
ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES

s expected, the Orangetown Town Board last week granted unanimous approval to a “Payment in Lieu of taxes”, or PILOT, agreement with the Rockland Housing Action Coalition allowing the non-profit agency to construct a four-story, 33-unit apartment house in downtown Nyack for homeless veterans and low income individuals and families suffering from physical and/or mental disabilities.

The complex, called Nyack Point Apartments, will replace a dilapidated building currently standing at the site at 263 Main Street, with construction expected to begin later this year.

Under the agreement, the general partners sponsoring the project will make annual payments in lieu of taxes to the four taxing jurisdictions in which the complex lies: the Village of Nyack, Nyack School District, Town of Orangetown and Rockland County. All four legislative bodies have now agreed to the arrangement, with the town being the last.

The PILOT will run for 40 years, after which the owners must begin paying the full amount of taxes owed to each jurisdiction annually, unless a future Town Board chose to extend the PILOT, as is commonly done for affordable projects such as Thorpe Village in Sparkill.

The partners in the project, one of the first of its kind in Rockland County, are the Nyack Point Limited Partnership and the Nyack Point Housing Development Fund Company, Inc.

Their plan is to construct a four-story frame apartment complex containing 33 units of “affordable” housing, with Jerri Gerri Levy’s Rockland Housing Action Coalition acting as the rental agent.

During a public hearing on the project last Tuesday, the only person to question the proposal was Heather Hurley of Pearl River, who wanted to know who would be eligible for units there, who would approve their tenancy, how much taxes would be lost to the four governments under the PILOT agreement, which of the four municipalities is the “lead” agency with the power to approve or deny the application, who is subsidizing the taxes and the low rents, why and for how much money, and because the funding is allegedly coming from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will there be “strings attached” to the funds, allowing the federal government to get involved in local zoning issues.

Levy responded to the questions, saying the funding brought no “strings,” and that tenants would be from Rockland County and would be screened for eligibility. She and Town Board members said they felt the apartment complex would be a welcome addition to a somewhat rundown commercial area of upper Main Street, while at the same time locating several dozen new residents near Nyack’s bustling downtown scene.

Zone Change

In another unanimous vote, the Council approved a zone change for two parcels of land along Route 303 in Blauvelt from residential to commercial, to permit the construction of a small strip mall on part of one of the lots.

The two lots are on the east side of the state highway, just south of the Erie Street crossing, and run through to Greenbush Road.

Both are owned by the Cuomo family, which runs a large catering hall on the larger of the two, called the Casa Mia Manor House. The hall itself is zoned CC, for retail commercial use, while part of the parking lot and an adjacent lot with an abandoned single family home are zoned R-15, or “medium density, third-acre residential” use. An auto body shop on the corner lot suffered a fire last year and was demolished a few months ago.

The Cuomos want to demolish the house and replace it with a four-store strip mall on the same site, facing the center parking lot rather than Route 303. The project would be in full compliance with CC zone requirements, according to Orangetown Building Inspector John Giardiello.

During a public hearing on the proposal, it was noted that the zone change and construction project were already approved by the Orangetown and Rockland County Planning Boards, and that no objections were raised by anyone at a series of hearings already held.

Donald Brenner, attorney for the Cuomos, said the family would probably occupy one of the new stores themselves, possibly two, and rent the others. The project would upgrade the area, Brenner said.

In voting unanimously to approve the zone changes, council members lauded the project as an improvement to that section of Blauvelt, and as being in full compliance with the town’s master plans for both Blauvelt and the Route 303 commercial strip which bisects the entire township.

Other Action

In other official action at the board meeting last week, the council:

· Appointed member Blythe Yost as chairperson of ACABOR, the town’s Architectural and Community Appearance Board of Review, for a one-year term.

· Appointed Shirley Goebel Christie to replace former ACABOR member Jill Fieldstein, who resigned from the Board last month, Yost as a member of ACABOR for the remainder of her term.

· Appointed Peter Grosbeck as a member of the Fire Protection Board for a one-year term.

· Appointed Sister Peggy Scarano of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill to a one-year term on the Community Development Block Grant Committee.

· Appointed Margaret Raso to a five-year term on the Historical Areas Board of Review.

· Tabled the re-appointment of Robert Tomkins to a five-year term on the Orangetown Housing Authority, on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Andrew Stewart opposed.

· Declined, on a 2-3 vote, to re-appoint Robert Dell as chairman of the Planning Board. Dell was one of two members of the Planning Board, along with Michael Mandel, who voted against approving Anellotech’s application to construct a BTX research facility on the Pfizer campus last year. Opposing Dell’s re-appointment were the board’s three Republicans; Denis Troy, Thomas Diviny and Paul Valentine, while the council’s two Democrats, Stewart and newly elected Jerry Bottari supported Dell.

· On the same 3-2 vote, the same councilmen chose Planning Board member Kevin Garvey to serve as the new chairman.

· Appointed Michael Mandel to another five-year term on the Planning Board.

· Appointed Charles (Skip) Vezzetti to a new five-year term on the Sanitation Commission.

· Appointed Daniel W. Sullivan to a new five-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals and as chairperson for another one-year term.

· Appointed five members to the Bureau of Fire Protection Committee including Michael Bettmann, Paul Raso, John Ahlf Jr., Tom Bade and Robert Morrison.

· Appointed seven members to the town’s Parks Development Advisory Committee, including Watson Morgan, Mary McCloskey, Micki Leader, James Castagna, Kimball Parker, Brian Terry and Anne Byrne.

· Appointed six members to the town’s Project Review Committee, which provides in-house review of new construction and planning projects within the township, including top officials of the building, highway, sewer, fire prevention and attorney offices.

· Appointed four members of the senior citizens advisory committee including Josephine Urban as senior leader and members Kay Ferrara, Veronica Blaine and Shirley McGowan.

· Appointed four members of the shade tree committee including Rebecca Gmucs, Mary Vail, Joy Macey and Laurie Peek.

· Appointed 11 members of the Traffic Safety Board including six town employees and civilians Paul Raso, Lisa Shaumante, Robert Morrison, Margaret Warren and Robert Schelin.

· Appointed three members of the TV advisory committee including David Chilson, Kathleen Troy Maier and David Bell, along with the town’s IT coordinator Anthony Bevelaqua and a faculty advisory to the be appointed by Tappan Zee High School.

· Appointed 13 members to the Office of Emergency Management Committee, all of whom are ranking employees of various town departments including police, highway, parks and building, as well as local fire departments and ambulance corps.

· Appointed 14 members of the Environmental Committee, including Alexis Starke, Peggy Kurtz, Martyn Ryan, Watson Morgan, Lawrence Vail, Rosemarie Raccioppi, June Starke, Eve Millard, Don Steinmetz, Tom Reilly, Fran Oldenburger, Larry Soehnel, Deby Turner and Michael Andrew.

· Appointed 13 members to the Substance Abuse Committee including principals and guidance counselors from Tappan Zee and Pearl River High Schools, three ranking police officers and officials of non-profit agencies Candle and SOCASA.

· Appointed 12 members of the Blue Hill Golf Course Advisory Committee, including Lawrence Costello as chairman and members Julia Regan, Chris Bauer, Bruce Jensen, Sean Burke, Mike Hogan, John Hickey, Sean Walsh, Joseph Green, Evelyn Beckerle, Matt Reid and Tom Lynch.

· Appointed five members to the Health Advisory Services Committee including Maryann Portoro, Donna Alise, Paul Morer, William McDowell and Police Officer Harold Johnson.

· Appointed 15 members of the Youth Recreation Assessment Advisory Committee including Joe Onatavia, William Lee, Frank Payne, Andy DiDomenico, Alex Tencic, Robert Iorio, Kevin Powers, Jim Walsh, Bob DeRosa, Joseph Chiappa, Kerry Beckmann, Manny Larenas, Tom Morales, Chris O’Brien and Chris Smith.

· Appointed Sylvia Welch as the town’s official grant writer, to be paid $60 per hour for her work for a maximum of $12,000 per year.

· Appointed Joseph E. Wooley as a disciplinary hearing officer to hear charges brought against employee No. 3213, who is unidentified, as are the charges against him or her.

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