By Tom McDermott
The Village of Port Chester Board of Trustees took a leap towards eventual approval of Starwood’s proposed 15-acre mixed-use development on the old United Hospital site on March 6 by approving a Statement of Finding. The Statement included several plan revisions regarding zoning, affordable housing, traffic mitigation, and a density bonus ($3 million) to be paid by the applicant.
The Rye Park and Environs Steering Committee, which represents residents of the area of Rye contingent to the site – Hillside Road, High Street, Ridge Street, Evergreen and Grandview avenues, and Boston Post Road – was represented at the meeting by Richard Smith. While Smith complimented the Board on the inclusion of a number of Committee recommendations, he noted several areas that needed the Board’s attention. In a letter dated that same day, the Committee asked for the following considerations among others: room for additional future mitigation steps already identified by engineers but not required in the Statement; intersections at Ridge and High streets, Hillside Road and BPR, and Purchase/Wappanoca/Ridge/Hillside should be included in the Post Implementation Study.
The Committee and the City of Rye are both deeply concerned that excess traffic from the site will flow onto High Street and the neighborhood. Consequently, both seek an agreement with Starwood that provides plans and adequate funds for traffic mitigation. Traffic is expected to increase by 30 percent along High Street; Smith also asked that trucks in excess of 5,000 pounds be prohibited due to noise and excessive turning radius.
At the March 15 City Council meeting, Rye Mayor Joe Sack, claimed that Port Chester had pulled a last-minute “switcheroo.” He and Councilman Terry McCartney explained that Rye was previously satisfied that the exit to BPR from the site included a right hand south-only lane, a straight or right lane, and a single left or north lane. Now, the plan calls for two northbound lanes and a single right turn lane. The fear is that motorists who want to travel south will exit on High Street, headed into the very neighborhood Rye would like to protect, as both Port Chester’s and Rye’s consulting traffic engineers projected. “At the last minute, the Village Board took that component out. We’re not sure why,” said Sack.
McCartney stated that talks between the City and Starwood continue on a regular basis, but the Council approved a resolution calling for Corporation Council Kristen Wilson to prepare an Article 78, filing in the event that no agreement can be reached. Typically, Article 78 filings deal with administrations that proceeded in excess of their jurisdiction or failed to perform a duty adequately.