City Council’s August Highlights; New Rochelle’s North Avenue Rezoning Revisited by Peggy Godfrey Westchester Herald, August 17, 2009
The late Rabbi Jacob and Debbie Rubenstein who died tragically in a house fire were honored by naming the pathway at Carpenter’s Pond for them. A hearing was set on the Hotel Occupancy tax for September 8 at 8 p.m. Governor Patterson signed this bill into law on July ll. This law, if approved, would tax any hotel with more than four rooms. Anyone who was not a permanent resident in a hotel would be taxed, but certain exemptions for religious, educational and charitable nonprofits would apply.
The surprise of the City Council special meeting on August l0 was that the proposed North Avenue rezoning was not discussed or scheduled for a public hearing. Rather it will be re-introduced in September. Two council members were not present and it was announced by Mayor Noam Bramson that both Councilman Albert Tarantino and Councilman Richard St. Paul had asked that this item be held over for September.
The new proposal for the North Avenue rezoning as described on the city’s website lists several changes from previous plans. Property owners with 25,000 square feet of a parcel would be able to ask for alternate parking locations which could include municipal lots. The distance allowed from the property to the parking area would be increased from 250 to 450 feet. Greater building heights would be permitted.
While vehicle queuing especially at traffic lights along North Avenue except for Station Plaza and North Avenue is not currently considered a problem, there are seven intersections named that would revert to “F” traffic ratings during rush hours if this rezoning is approved by Council. The mitigation measures include the intersection at Station Plaza, Garden Street and North Avenue, where southbound traffic would be prohibited from turning left. Mitigation measures suggested are signal rephrasing and re-timing.
More density in downtown is also proposed and 925 dwelling units would be constructed. The City of New Rochelle has been under a mandate not to add any new sewer connections. Interestingly, this report suggests increased sewage flow “would occur incrementally” over a period of years.
Vincent Malfetano, a community leader, stated, “My brief review of the North Avenue Plan reveals many problems. The zoning idea of not requiring enough on-site parking only furthers the lack of parking in town. The idea of adding a parking deck over the City Hall lot and requiring residents of new buildings to walk 450 feet to their car is crazy. What new tenant would want to park in the City Hall lot late at night and walk down North Avenue to their apartment? Think of the safety concerns. Don’t forget about bad weather. A last thought: I understand there is a proposal to mitigate the horrendous traffic on North Avenue by no longer permitting a left turn onto Garden Street (for access to the New England