Master Plan Process Extended

The members of the Harrison Town Council have decided to defer approving a new town/village master plan and continue to hear public comment on the document until, at least, the board’s next meeting.

“There is still major work that needs to be done here,” said Councilman Joseph Cannella, a Republican.During a Dec. 3 meeting of the Town Council, residents expressed concerns over the ambiguity of several proposals put forth in the plan, which was drafted by consultants at BFJ Planning. The draft suggests an increase to property lot requirements in the two-family zone, rehashing a controversial proposal that has been the result of an ongoing battle to alter the zoning regulations within the two-family residential “B” zone.

The increase would allow for new development but restricts the 1,500 existing two-family properties to non-conforming status. This means the existing property could remain at the current 5,000 square foot lot requirement, but in the event of a disaster or major modification, a home would have to be rebuilt in a manner conforming to the new code or seek a variance.

Originally appeared in the Dec. 7, 2012 edition of the Harrison Review. 

Downtown resident Anthony Marella said that changing the minimum lot requirements, as per the suggestion of the plan would have a substantial impact on the value of all two-family residential properties.“This would cause hardship to anyone who owns any of these homes,” Marella said. “Please leave our B-Zone homes alone.” Marella went on to suggest that the council consider a system of parking permits for residents within in the B-Zone as an alternative, which would allow the town to limit the number of cars parked alongside two-family homes.In addition to the lot requirements, the consultants with BFJ have also proposed rezoning a portion of Oakland Avenue–specifically between Grant and Park avenues–to commercial. Another contentious proposal to rezone arose last year when inspectors with the town Building Department issued violations for running a commercial business within the two-family residential “B” zone.

Oakland Avenue resident Roy Aletti, who has spoken out against the proposed rezoning several times in the past year, reiterated that the B zone was rezoned in 1974 so that no commercial expansion could be done to the location. “Sometimes, things with the best intent go awry,” Aletti said. “This should’ve been cut out of the master plan.” According to

According to Aletti, the commercial businesses which have operated along Oakland Avenue since the 1970s, have been perpetually “abusing” their non-conforming status for several years. “Get in there and straighten it out,” Aletti told Town Council members. Residents in West Harrison also addressed concerns about “possible redevelopment” listed within the draft for the Lake Street Quarry site.

Lake Street resident Sam Fanelli questioned the board on whether they intended to change the zoning of the area from the existing single family residential or “R-1” zone status. “Development could mean anything,” Fanelli said, “as long as we’re not pushing for new development of commercial property.”

Republican Councilman Steve Malfitano said that in order for anything to evolve, there it would need to meet the approval of the neighbors. Purchase resident Ted Demirjian asked the board on the consultant’s suggestion proposing a roundabout at the intersection of Anderson Hill Road and Purchase Street as a way to ease traffic. “The master plan doesn’t mention how this would be addressed or remedied,” Demirjian said. “Would the road be widened to two lanes? Obviously, this would impact the way any cars would go in and out of Anderson Hill Road.” At the conclusion of the hearing, residents

“The master plan doesn’t mention how this would be addressed or remedied,” Demirjian said. “Would the road be widened to two lanes? Obviously, this would impact the way any cars would go in and out of Anderson Hill Road.” At the conclusion of the hearing, residents requested the council perform an Environmental Impact Statement prior to the approval of a new master plan. The approval of the new master plan will not come easily. The last redraft was in 1987 and a draft put together in 2007 was shelved amid resident concerns and only resurrected last March. The guidance of a plan is non-binding but offers a guiding map for the direction of development and zoning within a community. The hearing on the draft master plan will continue at the next council meeting on Dec. 20, 2012.

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