A new ShopRite supermarket and other retail outlets would be coming to 320 Saw Mill River Road (Route 9A) in Elmsford if approvals are granted by the town of Greenburgh. A public discussion/hearing on the proposed project is scheduled to resume at the planning board’s Feb. 5 meeting.
Lewis Masters Holdings LP, the owner of the 10-acre property across from Sam’s Club, has proposed building a ShopRite supermarket that would be 75,711 square feet. In addition, there would be 13,765 square feet of space for additional retailers. There would also be a new 3,000-square-foot retail building near the front of the site along Route 9A.
The site is west of the Westchester Hills Condominium. Old Country Road, which runs uphill from Route 9A, borders the site to the south. Pocantico Park and Greenburgh Housing Authority property lie to the north.
The existing 42,000-square-foot building, which housed a National Amusements multiplex cinema, and a separate multilevel retail building on the site would be demolished. The applicant is seeking site plan approval, a steep slope permit and a tree removal permit.
Attorney William Null of the White Plains-based law firm Cuddy & Feder LLP told the Greenburgh Planning Board on Jan. 2 that the existing Taco Bell would remain. He pointed out that the applicant is seeking a special permit from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals to permit a restaurant operation within the supermarket.
“This is actually something that’s relatively common right now in supermarkets, where you’ll have an area where people can buy food that’s prepared and sit down and eat in the store,” Null said.
The applicant would make substantial changes to the grading of the property, which he said will improve the handling of stormwater runoff in addition to making it easier for vehicles and pedestrians to get around.
Kevin Solli of Solli Engineering, based in Monroe, Connecticut, noted that there are 837 parking spaces on the site. The redevelopment provides 520 spaces whereas the town requires 544 spaces. The applicant is asking the planning board to approve a parking reduction of 24 paces.
“There are a number of site constraints which make redevelopment of the property somewhat challenging,” Solli said at a planning board meeting in January. “There is a 76-foot grade change across the property from the front entrance, signalized entrance, on Saw Mill River Road, to the northeast corner of the property. The parking lot itself has upwards of an 11% slope through the area, which is extremely steep, especially for shopping centers such as this.”
Referring to the developer’s desire to bring it down to a more common grade of 2% or 3% through the parking area, Solli said, “If you get steeper than that, car doors start to swing open, you lose control of shopping carts and things of that nature. One of the things that we’ve looked at as we’re trying to redevelop the site was how to deal with those challenges and how to address the considerable amount of grade change and topography that currently exists and how best to manage that from a redesign standpoint.”
Solli said when they remake the parking area, they’ll be adding islands and landscaping, which will reduce the amount of impervious surface.
“The site itself is just under 80% impervious today. You can see it’s mostly just a sea of asphalt with very little landscaped island throughout the parking area and a relatively minimal buffer around the perimeter of the property,” Solli said.
The developer wants to maintain the existing main entrance from Route 9A while adding the ability for vehicles to exit and enter using Old Country Road, including delivery trucks. He said ShopRite required loading docks in the back of the building at the north and south ends. Trucks that enter from Old Country Road would proceed behind the rear of the building for unloading, then drive toward the front of the site to exit onto 9A. The developer said truck deliveries would be limited to weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’re looking to try to make sure we’re improving the pedestrian connectivity for this property, so we are providing sidewalks along the entire frontage along Old Country Road (and) extensive sidewalks in the site itself,” Solli said.
Residents expressed concerns about a range of issues, including noise and lights from nighttime deliveries, noise from mechanical equipment on the roof of the supermarket, a loss of trees and conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.
Local resident Florence McCue welcomed the idea of having a ShopRite but expressed concerns about adding to existing traffic jams on Route 9A and the use of Old Country Road by delivery trucks.
“I heard the traffic study was done and everything is just fine,” she said. “Well, adding more traffic when you have traffic issues already doesn’t seem to me it will be fine.”
Tom Bock, deputy chief of the Elmsford Volunteer Fire Department, speaking as a resident and member of the Fulton Park Civic Association, expressed concerns about road flooding becoming worse even though the developer plans regrading and new stormwater controls.
“Where’s the water going to go because we know the 9A corridor is a river whenever it rains,” he said. “You can’t say it’s the 500-year storm because those are coming every couple of years.”
Bock said that he’s battling traffic on 9A whenever he needs to respond to a fire or accident.
Resident Ella Preiser said she lived in the area since 1964 and, while it would be “wonderful to save time and money by having a ShopRite in my backyard,” she could not find all of the documents related to the proposal on Greenburgh’s website and criticisms raised by other residents made sense. She feared too many shoppers would access the site via Old Country Road rather than the Route 9A entrance because it would bring them closer to the supermarket.
“You don’t even have to be a traffic engineer to look at that. You just have to be a grocery shopper,” she said.