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Development of the Route 202 "Economic Development Corridor" in Yorktown

Healthy public discourse about the Route 202 Economic Development Corridor

There are two distinctly separate developments proposed for the subject area which is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Route 202 and the Taconic State Parkway (TSP). The outcome of these applications will affect Yorktown. Forever.

One is at the parcel located right on the northwest corner of the intersection of 202 and the TSP. It is zoned C-3, which accommodates a Costco as of right- meaning without any variances or special approvals. If Costco, or any other big-box retailer, wants to partner with the developer that owns it, there's not too much we can do to stop that. Our current zoning and building codes allow them to do develop their land in that manner. They are within their right, as property owners in that zoning district, to establish that occupancy and use.

The traffic issue, while addressed in the Yorktown Comprehensive Plan, is not a "fatal flaw" to their proposal.

The biggest issue along the so called "Route 202 Economic Development Corridor" is the proposed rezoning of a one hundred (100) acre parcel that abuts the Sylvan Glen nature preserve. The owner of that parcel bought it knowing full well that it was zoned for residences on big lots. He can build them without the parcel being rezoned.

At the end of the day, Route 202 is a two (2) lane road.

I think we need to carefully examine how the area should be developed. I look forward to a constructive dialogue between Yorktown residents, the developers and the Yorktown government to move us forward, closer to the appropriate balance between development and open space.

I think we should think about what types of retailers and businesses we want to anchor this community. I look at developments like the one in Shrub Oak that houses (that was my dinner tonight) and the deli and the Laundromat with dry cleaning and the pizza place and a golf shop (with cigars!) a Realtor, etc...

Those are the kinds of retailers I want to support. I think we should look at retailers occupying more than ten thousand (10,000) square feet differently than our Yorktown mom and pop shops. That's the generally accepted threshold for "big-box" retailers. 

I'm not that into 10 pound jars of mayonnaise, though my wife buys them at BJ's (which we already have in Yorktown).

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Evan Bray May 24, 2012 at 11:41 AM
I wanted to note that not only is the Shrub Oak development filled with great retailers, but is well designed. It is landscaped with a pond. There are benches and covered walkways. It is scaled appropriately for the surrounding infrastructure (which is @ rte 6 and the TSP).That is just the type of development that ameliorates not only that area of Shrub Oak, but Yorktown as a whole, attracting new residents and driving up home values. 2nd note: just this week, the town board voted unanimously to ask Moody's(the investor credit rating agency) to increase the town's credit rating; that's great news for the taxpayer cause it means the town is financially healthy (we run a surplus too) and I'm just saying that in light of those facts, if one were to argue for the rezone to increase the tax base, it would ring a bit hollow. Look at all the vacancies on the map. Why don't we incentivize small retailers with tax credits and the like to fill these spaces first; I would love another Thyme or an oyster bar or tapas or a German beer garden. Costco can take space in the vacant Walmart in Cortlandt when they move across the street to "super" Walmart.
Jonathan Nettelfield May 24, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Many good points. I would like to comment on your statement that the Costco developer has "the right" to build a warehouse club in the Bear Mountain Triangle, some of which is zoned C-3. This is correct if you look at the small picture: a parcel of land with a specific zoning applied to it. Trouble is, that has been the history of development in Yorktown which has led to the sprawl, traffic, fading town centers that we are increasingly experiencing. The Comp Plan, which sets out to correct this course by creating a big picture, envisions a new business hamlet (mixed use, pedestrian-friendly) in the Bear Mountain Triangle. If the first new development in that triangle is a big box store then that effectively drives a stake through the heart of any future development for any kind of hamlet in that area. You might as well put a steel mill there. So yes, legally, the existing C-3 zoning can "accommodate" a Costco, but this one real estate deal, short term in nature, will snuff out a bigger, longer-term opportunity that has the potential to benefit far more people for much longer.
Evan Bray May 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Excellent point. Costco would set the tone for the entire area. The town wouldn't necessarily be approving Costco, but the structure itself, right? If the developer puts forth an as of right plan that conforms to our zoning laws, the town can't disapprove the app based on it being to big and the roadway is already at (I would argue beyond) capacity, right? Or would the planning board be able to cite the comprehensive plan and how the proposal flies in the face of the spirit of the comprehensive plan which Yorktown adopted a couple years ago? What an exciting discussion this is. I'm so glad our community, regardless of position, can come together and have constructive, civilized debate to work through and determine what is in the best interest of this idyllic residential community in the heart of northern Westchester.
Jonathan Nettelfield May 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM
The experience of planning boards (generally) is that, fearing litigation (the tab for which is picked up by taxpayers), they approve everything which falls within the law. Developers have deep pockets and in some cases have used this as a threat (bullying) to soften up boards. The only way boards will counter this is if they feel empowered by public opinion. The goal of Yorktown Smart Growth is, through public education, to mobilize such opinion and provide spine-stiffening ammunition for the planning board to do exactly that: cite the bigger picture of the Comp Plan as a decision factor.
Evan Bray May 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Good to know. That's kind of what I thought. I know that Yorktown Smart Growth has a google group, here: http://groups.google.com/group/yorktownsmartgrowth Are their any other online resources like a facebook page or anything that interested residents could check out?
Olivia Buehl May 24, 2012 at 02:58 PM
The Yorktown Smart Growth website (a work in progress) can be found at http://www.wix.com/smartgrowth/yorktown. Note that content on the State Land Development parcel will be posted shortly.
Olivia Buehl May 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Also, once you become part of the Google group, you will be notified of monthly meetings.
Adam M May 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Aren't we all sick and tired of having higher gas prices than seemingly every other town around? With Costco's low gas prices, everyone else within 5 miles will have no choice but to compete, giving our entire town better gas prices throughout. Go a few towns north and gas is about .15 cents cheaper, if not more. This could be a reality for us if we let Costco in.
Evan Bray May 25, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Adam, Not sure how gas prices entered the discussion and I'm not sure that would be the case. It's quite a leap of logic you are presenting. Additionally, it would be a mistake--I believe--to approve such an enormous plan because we think we might save a few cents on gas. "Go a few towns north" and you won't be paying the highest property tax in the nation too. If we're so poor we need to approve Costco to save a few cents on a fill up, we're all in trouble and should consider moving a few towns north. Let's pretend your .15 cents number is accurate; where did you get that number? Regardless, That's only a savings of $2.70 a 18 gallon fill-up. Is it worth giving up our quality of life to support poor planning practices for a few cents? Think about the home values that will decimated because their backyard (literally) is now a huge parking lot and big box store with a road that can't even come close to handling the existing, let alone projected, traffic. What do you tell those people? All homes that are accessed off of 202 from the TSP to the Bear Mountain Extension will all take a hit on their value if Costco and the State Land Corp projects go through. The jobs created by the projects are menial and not the variety that lift the profile of a town.
Janice May 26, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Even though you state that "I think we should think about what types of retailers and businesses we want to anchor this community. I look at developments like the one in Shrub Oak that houses Bob-B-Q (that was my dinner tonight) and the deli and the Laundromat with dry cleaning and the pizza place and a golf shop (with cigars!) a Realtor, etc..." These type of retailers are the ones you want to support. We already have these types of small business retailers in Yorktown. These are not the types of retailers that are proposing to build in the ugly, empty lot on Route 202- Costco is. We need to stop pushing out these so-called "big box" businesses that can actually produce a massive stream of revenue for the town of Yorktown and instead embrace them. As a longtime citizen of Yorktown, I would love to see some competition in our gas prices (which is WAY overpriced) and which Costco can provide. I would also like to see A&P's overpriced grocery reign ended, which Costco can also bring to our town. I see nothing but a great addition to the town of Yorktown with Costco's arrival. We should focus on the benefits that Costco can bring to our town rather than what small businesses might eventually decide to move into that space years down the road. We are literally being handed an opportunity with Costco that doesn't come around every day.
Evan Bray May 29, 2012 at 10:37 AM
OK, I'm wholly unconvinced about this gas price reduction that's been suggested if Costco comes to town. Unless someone can show me a study or just tell tell me where a costco is and how it depresses the price of gas for an X mile radius, it's a baseless assertion. This is a planning issue. This is about traffic and design and our quality of life. It's a discussion about how we want to shape Yorktown's future. I want more developments like the one in Shrub Oak I cited. We can have more of that. I don't believe we reached critical mass of small retailer development. Should we put one on the a Shrub Oak style development on the site? I don't think we should consider that until the state does what it needs to for the road infrastructure. Have you ever driven down there? It's insane traffic. To forge developing it for anything without the needed infrastructure upgrades would be a mind-numbingly stupid thing for Yorktown to do (to put it mildly). What are your feelings about rezoning the State Land Corp. Site? Did you see that the Yorktown police chief wrote a letter in opposition to the development along 202. He says his department can't handle it. We save a couple cents on gas but lose millions on crime and policing these sites.

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