Comprehensive Plan: Multi-Family Homes Discussed At Port Chester Hearing

Starwood tells Port Chester that it's working on a new version of its proposed redevelopment plans for the former United Hospital site.

Port Chester officials held a second review of the village's proposed Comprehensive Plan Monday night, hearing more concerns from residents over the possible impacts of revisions to local zoning laws designed to control potential development and population growth.

Frank Fish of BFJ Planning, who is working with the village on the new zoning policies, gave a detailed presentation of the zoning changes and stayed around to help answer the public’s questions. A copy of that presentation can be picked up at the or at .

“The main idea of this plan is to try to keep Port Chester at the current density it is at or to reduce that density,” said Fish. "Very rarely do you see a tax reduction. But if we do this right and balance the growth correctly, the rate at which tax increases will slow. I’ve lived in Westchester for 30 years and my tax has never gone down. The goal is to be fiscally prudent to contain the rate of tax increases.”

During the public hearing a number of residents took to the podium to ask questions and raise issues they saw in the proposed plan and the zoning amendments that go with the plan.

“I think the plan is going in a good direction,” said Trustee Dan Brakewood. “People are genuinely engaged and providing us with excellent feedback and we are going to sit with the staff to consider it and refine things.”

The bulk of the questions and feedback from the community surrounded the legality or illegality of a large number of multi-family homes in Port Chester.

“The first problem I have that I have never really seen addressed is all the illegal housing in Port Chester,” said Port Chester resident Kathleen James. “On my street I’ve seen it. Housing that is pretty much the same as mine might have 30-35 people living there with 8-10 kids going to the schools and we’re all zoned as single family homes.”

Current legal multi-family homes that fall in rezoning areas will be allowed to continue their status as a multi-family home in a type of “grandfathered in” situation. An amnesty program will be available for people to come forward to the building department and discuss concerns about their residence and work proactively toward getting their property up to legal specifications. However, if the property in question is discovered by the building department, before the owner has brought it to the billage’s attention, they would not be eligible for the amnesty program, which would provide amnesty from fines and permit fees. 

“With housing that already exists between multi-families being grandfathered in, we are not really going to reduce our density,” added James.

“It’s a reduction in the potential density,” responded Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla. “What we are doing in this program is trying to get people to proactively come to us before we catch them and take them to court.”

The amnesty program was not agreed upon by the entire board and another workshop was suggested by members of the board and village staff.

“Things are going very well. We’re on schedule. As the Mayor said, the plan is to be done by Halloween and I agree that we should have everything in place for a vote by the end of October,” said Fish.

There was a brief update from regarding their just off Boston Post Road toward the end of Monday’s meeting. The company wants to redevelop the site into a mixed residential and commercial complex.

Board of Trustees members and Port Chester residents have expressed concern that the development plan could put more stress on the Port Chester public school system by bringing in more families with children.

“We heard the message loud and clear,” said Tony Gioffre, White Plains attorney and Starwood representative. "It was Trustee Terenzie who said, ‘get creative’ and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve been reaching out to the school board as well to incorporate any concerns that they have. We’re committed to maintaining dialog with this community as we work through this process.”

The proposed comprehensive plan would also set zoning rules governing the former hospital site.

Key elements of the comprehensive plan include reducing the heights that are allowed by law for development of commercial buildings in downtown Port Chester, as well as reducing the height of any potential development at the Port Chester train station.

Anne Latella November 27, 2012 at 01:18 PM
The problem is there are just a few people with self interest who are running the solution of how the United Hospital is developed. Those same people made money with the closing of United Hospital and are still affilliated with the development of this property and will benefit financially. They seem to be very adamant about Starwood. Why do you suppose that is? Their financial gain with the closing to the United Hospital cost the taxpayers money, inconvenience due to not having a hospital anymore. Plus an unsightly deteriorating property for many years. Are these the same people you are depending upon to make the right decision regarding the development of a new project there? In a village of 2.5 miles which already has over 27,000 in population, it is obvious adding to the population should be the last consideration. Not the first. You need to attract either another hospital or an upscale corporation such as Conde Nast, or Pitney Bowes, IBM. American Cyanamid etc. They would offer great upscale job oppertunities and improve the present living conditions in Port Chester and also attract many professionals to the area. These people are much more needed then additional housing. In addition they would bring in a higher tax revenue to the community. Who did a feasability study for a project to be put in this location? It appears it may be a realtor or an attorney & a few politicians & not some professional who would know exactly the best solution to this problem.
FJT November 27, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I'm afraid that what you wrote makes way too much sense to be given serious discussion in Port Chester, much less ever enacted. After all, much of the village is living on the dole, so they're indifferent. And nearly all of the rest of the people continuously demonstrate their apathy on a host of issues that adversely impact them daily. I'd love to see another hospital or growing corporation occupy the site, but based on the village's recent history, anything that would raise up this village is likely to succumb to that which benefits a handful of individuals. Simply put, are those advocating additional housing in Port Chester incompetent and unaware of its implications (e.g., ever-increasing burden on tapped-out property owners forced to fund a rapidly increasing public school population or lose their homes), or are they looking to feather their own nests? Anne, you've lived in Port Chester a lot longer than I have. What do you think motivates the kind of decisionmaking that is driving so many people out of this village and destroying home property values?
Anne Latella November 27, 2012 at 04:23 PM
FJT- Incompetent Political decisions & people with clout feathering their own nest. I have been complaining about this since I lived in Port Chester and since the Daily Item was the Port Chester Newspaper. We need more Silvio Bucceri's also a long time resident to speak out and get support from the other Port Chester residents & I do mean everyone and especially property owners. Original Port Chesterites whose families lived there for generations would never put up with this down grading of a once beautiful & thriving village. Of course that excludes the few previous and present Port Chesterites who will benefit financially from the current plan. Those looking to further their own nest have already benefited sufficiently financially from their aiding & abetting the past bad decisions. They are financially well off & continue to call the shots. There is no doubt in my mind they know exactly who I am talking about.
Anne Latella November 27, 2012 at 04:33 PM
FJT- I am referring to those well to do individuals who are masquareding as fine upstanding long time residents & seem to have the entire village believing their only inerest is in the betterment of Port Chester. Not so. So far they have been successful in playing both ends against the middle & have been doing so for many years.They need to be exposed for their true motives.
FJT November 27, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I think I understand what you've expressed. I've been following the Board of Trustees meetings and the Board of Education meetings for the past year or so, and I'm often appalled by what I see and hear. I read some of your earlier posts and understand your reason for leaving Port Chester and your concern about its future. What I see happening here in PC is the old good cop, bad cop routine. The taxpayer is being picked clean by those who purport to have the taxpayers' interests at heart while -- at the same time -- those in power engage in a power struggle for the spoils to be gained from their positions of authority. From the Bible's Book of Matthew: "7:16. By their fruit you will recognize them..." "7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." We're seeing a lot of "bad fruit" coming from these "authorities", making their motives highly suspect to anyone who is paying attention.


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