NEW ROCHELLE, NY – The New Rochelle Planning Board unanimously approved a resolution on March 19, 2013, to recommend that the City Council approve the Echo Bay Draft Environmental Impact Statement as long as certain considerations were addressed.
Their concerns, filed with the City on March 28th, include the following (emphasis added):
• The design in general is inadequate in its architectural finish and its planning. The massing of the buildings is simplistic and does not represent a positive solution to its scale. It is a big box without enough formal articulation to break down the scale. The design treats all the facades the same; Main Street is very different then the water and the design should reflect the difference. The current project massing does not step down to the water; the water side of the project is taller than the Main Street side.
• There is no integration of the retail environment and the public right-of-way. Main Street should be considered a strong retail corridor and the current plan appears to indicate a shallow retail depth and possibly too little retail. While the developer should be commended for the addition of a public waterfront promenade, the entry to that walkway is not adequately designed to invite the public into the space and the proposal “walls off’ the development to the public. This is a key public portal to the water and should be designed accordingly.
• Considering what is on the site now, this project should have’s positive impact on its neighboring properties and on the view shed from the sound.
• The public “Echo Bay Walk” appears to occur ‘In Phase 3; It should be manifested in Phase 1 with a bond from the developer to ensure it is built.
• Out of 524 new residents, 22 children seem low. Population trends appear to take into account only what was, the numbers should be scrutinized to make sure they don’t limit the project’s impact on, New Rochelle.
• Is New Rochelle verifying the fiscal benefits and costs that are suggested in the DEIS?
• The section on Hazardous Materials seems vague. Who is responsible for cleaning the site up and who pays for the cleanup?
• The development is on the right track with the parking, burying it within the development. It is unclear from the ground floor plan where the parking is above grade. Is the parking count commensurate with current Transit Oriented Development (TOD) thinking? If it’s a true TOD development does New Rochelle have an alternate parking count in mind?
• Does New Rochelle know how this development fits in with the larger vision of the waterfront?
• Is there a long term plan to have a continuous public walkway along the waterfront?
• Should New Rochelle consider upgrading the sidewalks between this project and the train station? Should New Rochelle consider a bike lane between this project and the train station?
• It doesn’t appear that the current plan takes into consideration the current FEMA recommendations for floodplain and freeboard? This could have an impact on shoreline protection. The plans don’t indicate any of the baseline mechanical systems that need to be located above the FEMA flood plain or the life safety issues that are being addressed related to flooding.
• With respect to additional stress on New Rochelle infrastructure; the Planning Board trusts that New Rochelle city staff is verifying Forest City’s baseline assumptions for use. Has the City’s Traffic Engineer commented on the impact of this proposed development?
• Appendix IX-1 mentions a sustainable benchmark goal of LEED Silver. This Is a good thing but depending on which version of LEED it doesn’t mean a whole lot. A higher level or using the current version of LEED would yield a much greater benefit to New Rochelle and to this project. The impact of this project should be measured in both population and in infrastructure.
• A higher LEED goal would have a positive benefit on both.