The 'Master Plan' and the 'Site Plan Review'

The 'Master Plan Update Report, Village of Dobbs Ferry, New York (1971)' states:

Residential uses are shown in Map No. L-2, the Village Land Use Plan. The major aspects of the Plan as they pertain to residential uses are as follows:

1) All residential areas should be stabilized at existing densities. In this connection, the practice of converting single-family homes into two- and three-family houses should be discouraged. If this were to become wide-spread, as oft-times happens in older communities, the Village's population could double, causing overcrowded schools, increased traffic congestion, and overtaxing of various community facilities. The community's suburban character would be drastically altered as well.

2) In the central business district, the prevailing pattern of co-existing residential and non-residential uses should be encouraged to remain. In connection with this, uses which may be incompatible with the residential function because of nuisances should be relocated elsewhere in the CBD [Central Business District]. Emphasis should be on restoration and rehabilitation in deference to the area's heritage of buildings and architectural values.

3) The present industrial site, which extends from Palisades Street to the River, is an enclave within a residential neighborhood. The very old, multi-story factory building situated on the site is obsolete and inefficeint for modern manufactoring purposes; it has been used only intermittently over the years. Even if this site were to remain for industrial purposes, the mixture of uses would ultimately have adverse effects on the surrounding residential area, by allowing a high volume of industrial traffic to be routed through residential neighborhoods, and over steeply-inclined streets. This site should, more appropriately, be improved for residential uses at a scale and a density compatible with development in and around the business district.

What residents of the Virginia/Lefurgy area are saying [1] is consistent with the spirit of what is said in the excerpt from the 'Master Plan' quoted above - about 'stabilizing existing densities' in residential areas, about relocating 'uses incompatible with residential function' and about concerns regarding the 'adverse effects on the surrounding area' (such as increases in 'volume of traffic') of non-conforming uses.

As the 'Master Plan' suggests, when in doubt development planners in Dobbs Ferry should follow the principle that states that the site in question 'should, more appropriately, be improved for residential uses at a scale and a density compatible with development in and around the [existing] business district'.

The concerns voiced in the above-excerpted section of the 'Master Plan' - about 'stabilizing residential areas at existing densities', '[relocating] uses which may be incompatible with the residential function', converting single-family areas into two- and/or three-family areas, and the 'adverse effects on the surrounding residential area' of non-residential development - are concerns that are reflected in the current Dobbs Ferry Code, in the section on land use and zoning (300-71) that specifies how a 'site plan review' shall be conducted:

... In its deliberations, the Planning Board shall consider each site plan with the following purposes and objectives in view:
  1. To protect the character of the neighborhood and prevent the depreciation of adjoining properties.

  2. To achieve a harmonious relationship and maximum compatibility among the uses shown on said site plan and uses located in adjacent districts.

  3. To assure the adequacy of buffer landscaping, screening and building setbacks.

  4. To prevent the overcrowding of land with buildings and the inappropriate concentration of same.

  5. To lessen and, where possible, prevent traffic congestion and hazards on the streets which provide access to the site.

  6. To assure the adequacy of vehicular ingress, egress, interior circulation, parking and loading facilities, particularly in regard to traffic and pedestrian safety.

  7. To conserve significant environmental features and lands.

  8. To prevent the inappropriate sitting of buildings and other improvements without due regard for the limitations of slope soils, hydrology and vegetation on the site.

  9. To provide adequately for the cumulative effect on infrastructure, particularly roads and utilities, of reasonably anticipated future development.

But such a 'review' was not required in the case of the Virginia Avenue subdivision application. Yet, as Trustee Dengler told the Planning Board on June 27th [1] , 'If any site called for planning, itís this one'. So the failure of the Planning Board to invoke its powers to require a Site Plan Review amounts to an egregious failure on the part of the Village to pursue development planning in an 'orderly' and 'responsible' fashion, as required by its own Code.

If a Site Plan Review had been done for the Virginia Avenue subdivision application, the Planning board would have found the development plan severely wanting - for reasons articulated, in detail, in the information packets recently submitted to both the Planning Board and the Board of Trustees [2]. For more on the Master Plan, and how it relates to the Virginia Avenue development project, see: [3]