Zoning Changes to Stimulate Economic Growth the Main Topic at Stony Point Board Meeting

BY CHERYL SLAVIN

Zoning changes designed to promote economic development dominated the conversation both before and during the Stony Point Town meeting Tuesday night. Town planner Max Stach of the Turner Miller Group presented two preliminary studies—one for the waterfront, and one for the Letchworth Village property—as the first steps towards making changes that would encourage investment and promote development of those sites into revenue producing engines for the Town.

The waterfront presentation took place during an informal public workshop scheduled at 6 p.m., just prior to the regular Town Board meeting. Stach presented a study which compared two other local waterfront development projects, in Haverstraw and in Tarrytown. Using this data, and applying it to the unique qualities and features of the Stony Point waterfront, he then outlined his recommendations for proposed waterfront zoning.

These included setting standards for land use and riverfront use, and setting requirements for parking, public access to the river, and adjusting density standards. The study was open for public comments, and several residents of the waterfront area did speak. The board emphasized that this was only a preliminary meeting, but an important first step towards creating a viable, accessible and revenue producing waterfront area.

Later, at the regular board meeting, resident George Potanovic, president of the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment (SPACE), criticized the board for not sufficiently publicizing the workshop on the town website or by means of a press release. He also questioned how this plan fit in with the previous recommendations drawn up by the Local Waterfront Revitalization Committee, of which he was a member.

Supervisor Geoff Finn responded that this was just a preliminary workshop designed to get the public involved, and there would a lot more work necessary before any plans would come to fruition. He also claimed that the legal notice of the workshop, published in the newspaper, was sufficient public notification of the workshop.

The board also heard a detailed presentation about possible zoning changes and uses designed to stimulate economic development for the Letchworth Village property. The study analyzed the property building by building, as well as by its proximity to the Palisades Interstate Parkway and popular destinations such as Woodbury Commons, West Point and the state parks. Based on this data Stach recommended that the zoning for the property not change, but that an “overlay zoning” be added to permit expanded development.

Suggested uses included a hotel/conference center, a specialty sporting goods or large destination retailer, private recreational or indoor sports centers, medical offices and restaurants/neighborhood retailers. He also proposed the possibility of a gas station/retail shop to be located near Willow Brook Road, given the proximity to the parkway.

Overall, according to Councilman Tom Basile, the completion of the study marks substantial progress towards finally developing the property which has been underused since the town acquired possession. An informal public workshop to further discuss the recommendations will be held at 6 p.m., just prior to the regular board meeting on October 14.

In other business, the board discussed the development of a policy for the use of its portable sound stage, and decided to continue to do research and have a policy in place by the end of the year. The board also reported that progress has been made with regard to the waste heaps that have been piled up at the Little League parking lot.

After discussion with Highway and Parks Department heads, a portion of the lot will be walled and fenced off for storage of the rubble, and the rest of the lot will be refurbished to accommodate more parking. Basile, who had brought the issue to the board’s attention last meeting, stated that he was pleased with the progress, although there is still more work to be done.

In his report, Finn noted that the RHO Building bathroom renovations are finally underway, and are expected to be completed in about a month. He also directed attention to the PAL Family Fun Day scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 20. Basile also announced that Senator Bill Larkin had secured a $20,000 state grant to benefit the Stony Point Police Department.

During public input, Rockland County Times Editor-in-Chief Dylan Skriloff informed the board that in anticipation of the town’s sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary he has started a Facebook page “Stony Point Sesquicentennial” as a way to stimulate interest and encourage local involvement in planning commemorative activities. The board unanimously agreed with his suggestion to start a committee to plan the celebration.

On behalf of the Rockland County Times, Skriloff also offered to donate the town a full page ad in the newspaper to announce the activities once they are set. The Rockland County Times has been widely read in the towns of Stony Point and Haverstraw since the paper’s founding in 1888.

Historical Society president Susan Filgueras voiced her support for Skriloff’s ideas while also noting that the Historical Society is planning several sesquicentennial programs including presentations by descendants of such Stony Point luminaries as Daniel Tomkins and James A. Farley. She volunteered for the committee.

Switching focus, Filgueras then called upon the board to proactively advocate against CHPE by writing letters to elected officials clearly stating that Stony Point is against the power line and also repeated her concerns with the safety of the Spectra gasline slated to be installed near her property.