White Plains rejects Westchester Avenue apartment plan

A plan to demolish an office building at 701 Westchester Ave. in White Plains and to build a five-story, 360-unit apartment building was rejected by the White Plains Common Council.

A resolution to reject Senlac Ridge Partners’ application was placed on the board’s consent agenda for its regular monthly meeting in October. The council passed the resolution while taking many other actions through a single vote that covered all of the items that were on the consent agenda.

A rendering of the proposed building.

Vocal opposition to the proposal had some from five White Plains neighborhood associations. These were the associations of North Street, Gedney Farms, Rosedale, Haviland Manor and Old Oak Ridge which have approximately 1,600 households.

Senlac owns the office park at 701-777 Westchester Ave. and asked the city to apply the planned campus development overlay area to its 54.8-acre property.

Its proposed apartment building has been designed with 21 studios, 177 one-bedroom units and 162 two-bedroom units as well as a fitness center, business center, library and relaxation areas for women. residents.

The resolution to reject the proposal stressed that zoning changes are a discretionary legislative action of the Common Council and that the Council is not required to approve petitions for changes.

“It’s not like a special use permit where, if set standards are met, approval has to be granted,” the resolution said. “By its very nature, approval of the planned campus development district overlay mapping is at the discretion of the Joint Council.”

The resolution criticized Senlac’s master plan for the property for failing to describe how it promotes the public health, safety and well-being of the city or the needs of the community. He said the plan “does not constitute an ecologically sustainable building or site design and no public or private space is proposed that can be integrated into the city’s network of open spaces.”

The resolution denying the request also said the plan does not demonstrate compatibility with existing adjacent residential properties. He pointed out that the city is currently engaged in a multi-year project to update the comprehensive plan and, with that in mind, said it was inappropriate “to adopt a zoning map amendment for a project that does not has not clearly established that it promotes public health. , the safety and well-being of the community.

City Councilor John Martin said he supported the resolution to reject the proposal in large part because of the updated master plan, but also noted that Westchester County Planning Council had made comments urging the city to pay particular attention to how residential developments along Westchester Avenue would relate to their surroundings.

City Councilor Justin Brasch said: “The important thing to remember is that we are going to maintain the status quo and it’s not like they can’t come back. If there was a zoning amendment made tonight, we wouldn’t be able to withdraw and change it, which gives us time to think about how we want to plan our city and how and how. we want to do it to respect our neighbors. “

Council President Nadine Hunt-Robinson said she had supported zoning overlay requests in the past, but was not convinced the location of 701 Westchester Avenue was suitable for a district overlay planned campus development.

“The Common Council takes its responsibilities very seriously, one might say soberly,” said Victoria Presser, member of the Council. “We listen to our constituents, we review all documents, we make site visits whenever we can and we take the time to reflect on these issues because it is our job to make decisions for the benefit of the whole community. . In this case, it is in the interest of the community that we refuse this proposal.

Mayor Tom Roach said the planned campus development district overlay area was designed to provide flexibility for the uses of a property while keeping the council in control of what is and is not. not allowed to do.

“It’s not just about zoning the entire campus office district, but giving each project an individual review so you can say ‘yes’ to this and ‘no’ to that,” Roach said. “In this case you are looking for an overall project that matches the site and performs well and I don’t think this one does.”

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