do not provide adequately for the cumulative effect on infrastructure
of the proposed development [point 9].
Let's consider these points one or two at a time.
The code requires that the Planning Board take it as an objective of theirs to:
1) Protect the character of the neighborhood [point 1], and
2) Achieve compatibility with areas adjacent [to the development] [point 2]
In the plans under consideration for Virginia and Lefurgy, it is being proposed that
nine two-family houses be constructed in an area roughly equivalent in size to a football
field (300 by 200 feet) - an area that is currently populated exclusively by ONE FAMILY
structures. The neighborhood is now, and has been for the past century, a ONE-FAMILY neighborhood
One side of Virginia Avenue (the north side) is, for the most part, zoned one-family.
Although a few houses on that side, near Lefurgy, are zoned two family, the houses are
in fact one-family dwellings. Although the other side of Virginia Avenue (the south side)
is 'in theory' two-family (i.e., is zoned for two family residences) there are IN FACT
no two-family houses there. Virginia Avenue is a neighborhood of one-family residences!
There has NEVER been a two family house on that side of the street. Even the old
Delmerico family house (which actually fronts on Lefurgy) - although it was used as a
two-family residence, was originally built as a one-family dwelling.
The only reason that property on the south side of Virginia Avenue was zoned two-family in
the first place was that all of it was/is comprised of long lots that front on Ashford Avenue, and Ashford Avenue IS (in fact and under the zoning laws too), two-family in character. It is a mistake to think that if and when those parcels are divided in half, the land fronting on Virginia should
automatically maintain a 'two family' designation in the code.
To permit the construction of two-family houses there would be to drastically change the CHARACTER
of that neighborhood - in a fashion that is clearly red-flagged in Point 1 of the section of code reproduced above.
Section 300-72 E.7 also refers to the need for site design to enhance and protect
the character of the adjacent neighborhood and to demonstrate building types and styles consistent
with the adjacent neighborhood:
Building quality and site design shall enhance
and protect the character and property values of
the adjacent neighborhood and demonstrate architectural
styles, bulk dimensions, materials and location on
the site and, in relation to adjoining development,
natural terrain and vegetation, a harmonious relationship
with the surrounding neighborhood.
The surrounding neighborhood, like the Virgina Avenue houses adjacent to the property, are all one family houses IN FACT, even when the properties are zoned two family.
The code also requires that the Planning Board take it as one of their objectives:
To prevent overcrowding of land with buildings [point 3]
The proposed development plans would not be unlike squeezing 9 two-family houses (plus one commercial business, and a number of parking lots) into the lower field in Gould Park (where the baseball diamond now is).
This project would, in one fell swoop, double the number of families in
the neighborhood under consideration; it would also double the number of units housing
families in that area. This fact alone - a sudden radical increase in the density of structures
and families in that very small area is in its own right enough to warrant speaking of
Another criteria for establishing whether an area will become 'overcrowded' as a result
of new development is to assess the impact that the proposed development is likely to
have on the existing infrastructure in the area. This is most likely why the code also
requires the Planning Board -
- To consider whether development plans assure the adequacy of vehicular ingress, egress, interior circulation, and parking and loading facilities, particularly in regard to traffic and pedestrian safety [point 6]
- To strive to lessen and, where possible, prevent traffic congestion and hazards
on the streets which provide access to the site [point 5]
- and, in general, to seek to provide adequately for the cumulative effect
of future development on infrastructure, particularly roads and utilities
Another section of the Dobbs Ferry zoning code (Section 300-72 E.4) reiterates
the above mentioned concern for pedestrian safety:
(4) Siting of buildings, walkways, driveways,
roads and other improvements shall provide for safe, adequqate and convenient
pedestrian and vehicular traffic circulation, both on the site
and in the surrounding streets. ...
Doubling the number of housing units in the neighborhood in question would put additional
strain on the existing infrastructure there - the streets and sewage system. It would aggravate
current parking, traffic congestion, speeding, and sewage problems - all of which pre-exist the
current development proposal as significant unsolved problems in the area. These problems, along with related pedestrian safety problems, have repeatedly been formally brought to the attention of the village Board of Trustees and other village officials. These problems have not been adequately looked into, let alone addressed, and the impact that further development would have on these problems
has not been studied and is not understood.
According to code, it is the responsibility of the Planning Board to take into consideration the points raised here and in previous Planning Board meetings and Board of Trustee meetings, and to see to it that development in the Virginia/Lefurgy area addresses these concerns and thus complies with existing code, in letter and spirit.
Adequate study should be made of the impact of the proposed development on the area,
not only so that objective solutions to these problems can be devised, but also in order
to ensure that future development in the Virginia/Lefurgy area does not aggravate pre-existing
situations. Since such a course of action would, of necessity, take time - a moratorium
on further building in the Virginia/Lefurgy area is a prerequisite to planful decision-making.
It is understood that a moratorium would require a vote of the Board of Trustees. We
therefore encourage the Planning Board to inform the B.O.T. of the need to take such action,
which would enable the planning board to fulfill its responsibilities under the existing Code.
In a recent meeting, the Board of Trustees had no problem whatsoever unanimously approving
of a moratorium on cell-phone tower development in Dobbs Ferry, until such time as adequate planning could take place. A similar moratorium, on building in the Virginia/Lefurgy area, would not only permit
the necessary impact studies to be conducted, it would provide time for discussion of a re-zoning
of the area so as to bring future development in that area into compliance with the character of the neighborhood as it actually exists - as opposed to how it exists 'on paper' (i.e., according to current zoning, which is anomalous).
According to Section 300-72 E.6 of the Code, it is, after all, ultimately the Village
Board's responsibility to ensure that site plans be modified to ensure conformity with
" ... Variances granted by the Board of Appeals
need not be regarded by the Village Board as
satisfying the requirement of conformity with
this chapter for purposes of this review and
approval. The Village Board shall review any
such variances and may deny approval or require
modifications pursuant to this subsection in the
event that it finds such variances produce or
permit an unsatisfactory condition or arrangement
in the site plan."