The developer of a proposed 64-unit assisted living facility at 11 Mill Road in New Rochelle, ND Acquisitions LLC, has been told to prepare an updated traffic study for the project by a unanimous vote of the city’s planning board.
A public hearing on a slightly revised plan, which replaces a previous plan, was held on Sept. 24. Several residents expressed concern about traffic and the scale of the project. The size of the site is 3.47 acres.
Attorney Daniel Richmond, a partner in the White Plains-based law firm Zarin & Steinmetz, referred to a site plan previously having been approved and extended by the board.
“We are here because of the way your code is written. We need to apply for essentially a new application of the site plan though there have been no significant changes to the application,” he said, adding that the applicant made some minor revisions.
The project initially received approval in 2017, but three residents filed a lawsuit alleging that the city council changed the zoning to allow the project to move forward without giving sufficient notice. A judge dismissed the Article 78 proceeding. The property had been the location of Cooper’s Corner Nursery and Garden Center, which closed in 2015 after having operated there for about 72 years. The Business Journal reported in May 2017 that the assisted living project was expected to cost $15 million to $20 million.
The site is at the intersection of North Avenue and Mill and Wilmot roads, near the Hutchinson River Parkway. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is across from the site on Mill Road and St. John’s Episcopal Church is adjacent to where Wilmot Road and North Avenue meet. Mill and Wilmot form the upper part of a “Y” intersection with North Avenue at the intersection’s base.
Diego Villareale, associate principal at JMC Site Development Consultants in Armonk, told the board that the updated site plan being presented for review has no material differences from the original plan.
“This is a two-story building. That has not changed,” he said. “There are two levels of residences in the building itself. Access will continue to remain off of Mill Road.”
Villareale said the new plan slightly changes the position of the project’s driveway. He said they added some details to the trash enclosure area and reworked the configuration for an electrical transformer and generator. Other changes included adding landscaping to the area near the building’s front door and shifting a side parking area closer to the building.
“We still have the landscaping that was proposed previously on the application. It’s just that we were able to add a little bit more and a little bit more lawn area between the parking lot and the driveway itself,” he said.
Villareale talked about the traffic study which had been done for the 2017 application. He said the study concluded that the traffic generated by the project will not have an adverse impact on the intersections around the property.
“Ten, 28 and 16 — those are the peak-hour trips that would be generated by this project,” he said, explaining 10 would be the number during the peak morning commuting hour and 16 in the peak afternoon hour.
In addition, they studied the traffic generated while schools were open and that came to 28 trips. He said the developer is proposing pedestrian improvements at the intersection.
Planning Board Chair Sarah C. Dodds-Brown questioned why the traffic study had not been updated. Villareale said the original study projected traffic volumes out to 2019 and emphasized the low count of new trips generated by the project.
“We would need much larger volumes to start affecting the operations of those intersections,” he said.
Joseph Rafalowicz, one of the residents who filed the lawsuit, disputed that notion. He told the board, “During the course of conversations we have had with the developer, we have asked for a new traffic study. It’s useless. It’s old. There’s more traffic. Traffic patterns have changed.”
Stephen Cohen, a resident who lives on Broadfield Road, said, “The traffic conditions … are … nothing less than a mess. And, those conditions have only increased in messiness and severity in disruptions in the lifestyles of the people that live in the area in the last year or two.”
The hearing was adjourned pending submission of an updated traffic study.