Zoning for Quality and Affordability Text Amendment
Draft Environmental Impact Statement September, 2015

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June 25th, 2015-Community Board 8 speaks out against the proposed city wide zoning changes - loopholes seen for developers - demise of SNAD & recent zoning protections, potential for "domino"effect, urge residents to keep on top of it.

 

At a meeting held on June 15th, 2015, The New York Department of City Planning (DCP) proposed city-wide changes to zoning regulations. 

TO SEE THE ZONING CHANGES CLICK HERE

On closer inspection these changes may in fact have created loopholes which would provide developers a chance to build within the R1-1 zoning area in the heart of the Special natural Area District. The Hebrew Home of Riverdale's CCRC proposal could be one such project. 

Update on the New Hebrew Home 

Members of the Riverdale Community Coalition, along with the the Chair of the Riverdale Nature Preservancy, Sherida Paulsen have met repeatedly with local officials to share our opposition to the enormous project being proposed. Following the last meeting on February 6, 2015, we met with the architects of for the Hebrew Home and the Hebrew Homes Project representative, Michael Orifici.

The architects for the proposed apartment residences clarified the Hebrew Homes intentions with regard to their site plan, building configurations and placements,building heights and overall proposed density(or number) of dwelling units. With the latest overall proposal in front of us we were able to reiterate our concerns regarding the scale, density and building placement of the project, including our concern over the non-conformity of the proposed multi-family apartment development within the existing R1-1 Zoning District. Overall the discussions that followed yielded some positive adjustments in the Hebrew Homes Plans, but left our major concerns unalloyed.

At the last meeting, we learned that the plans we were reviewing were being submitted to Community Board 8 as their master plan. Despite the fact that there remained many major open issues, Michael Orifici, representing the Hebrew home asked if we would agree to approve and? or support the plans, we pointed out that there remain unresolved issues which were critical and that the latest plans were not acceptable. Accordingly, we could not - and cannot- agree to support or approve the latest plans.

With regard to those plans, one of the significant improvements is the proposal to eliminate a four-storey building that was located extremely close to Palisade Avenue, creating a far better setback of 450 feet. Unfortunately, this, together with an increase in the overall number of apartment units (from 304-340), results in an unacceptable increase in height for the other proposed apartment houses.

Bottom line: We still see many areas where these plans need to be improved significantly with respect to height, scale and density. In addition, there is the fundamental issue of the Hebrew Home's plan to build a facility that does not comply with the current R1-1 zoning. The department of Buildings has made this clear in a letter dated April, 2015, the relevant portion of which reads as follows:

"The Department previously reviewed the matter and advised the Department of City Planning (DCP) that we did not consider Hebrew Home's proposed development of 300 independent living units as part of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) arrangement an acceptable Use group 3 use, either as a health related facility or as a non-profit institution with sleeping accommodations. DCP thereafter confirmed that they are not considering accepting an application from the Hebrew Home for a special permit as a health related facility under Zoning Resolution Section 74-99."

In short, the Hebrew Home's project- whether styled as a CCRC or taken for what it is - a very multi-family apartment development - cannot be built under the current R1-1 zoning.

In light of all the foregoing, the Riverdale Community Coalition and the Riverdale Nature Preservancy continue to oppose the Hebrew Home's proposal in its current form, and with no further meetings scheduled, we seem to be at an impasse. Early in June Michael Orifici contacted us to indicate that he is working to set up a further meeting that would include additional members of the Riverdale Community. We are hoping that if such a meeting is scheduled, the Hebrew Home will come forward with revised plans responsive to our continuing concerns. In the end, it is difficult for us to fathom how a project of the scale proposed by the Hebrew Home and one that so explicitly non-compliant with the existing zoning can be permitted to rise in the heart of the Special natural Area District.

The Hebrew Home's original proposal was for a project with 304 apartment units. This is moving in the wrong direction, and as you can it has nothing to increase our trust in the Hebrew Homes intentions.

This above is an excerpt of a letter written to Senator Klein, Assemblyman Donowitz and Andrew Cohen following our most recent meeting with the Hebrew Home. 

Note:

The proposed modernization of the zoning regulations with regard to Senior Housing may have unintended consequences and open the floodgates for development within the R1-1 zoning district, in the heart of the Special Natural Area District. A CCRC is now one of the "modernized" definitions, which City Planning told us last week will be discretionary. 

Plans below:

top March 2014, Middle - 2015 submission to Community Board 8 as part of a masterplan. Bottom - elevations as seen from Palisade Avenue, pink represents the proposed buildings.

 Memo_to_electeds__Klein__Cohen___Dinowitz_June_2015_Page_3.jpgIMG_3120.JPG

Above the dotted line = R4 zoning, below the dotted line = R1-1.

The site plan above was submitted to Community Board 8 as their masterplan for the CCRC development.

Memo_to_electeds__Klein__Cohen___Dinowitz_June_2015_Page_5.jpg

On the right the tallest building would be 11 floors, 8 floors is currently the tallest.

6 & 5 floors - buildings on the left.

 Memo_to_electeds__Klein__Cohen___Dinowitz_June_2015_Page_6.jpg

June 2015 View from a balcony in the Skyview apartment complex Riverdale. The view looking toward the Palisades shows buildings on the right which are the Hebrew Home for the Aged as it stands today. The proposed CCRC as proposed would be 340 apartments.


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