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Crossroads 312: Who Gets to Define Our Town? The Developer or the Residents?

Learn about the big zoning changes Crossroads 312 will bring to Southeast.

So before the debate occurs about what should be built, let’s take a step back and take a crash course on zoning.

Back in 2007, Southeast residents and business owners joined the Town Board of Southeast to discuss the future development of our town. The group devised the "Master Plan” with the goal to bring balance between commercial development, infrastructure stability, demands on natural resources and residential quality of life.    

Rural commercial was assigned to certain large properties to allow for commercial development while maintaining the concept of the Master Plan. The problem for Southeast is “gateway” roads, which have limited capacity to carry traffic or to be drastically physically changed.

Rural Commercial was assigned to properties to control the scale and intensity of development on “gateway” roads (Route 312, Route 22, Route 6) as these roads cannot handle high volume traffic and large developments would impact the quality of life for residents. 

Rural Commercial does allow the owner to build. Current zoning on Crossroads 312 permits for the development of 46,000 square foot office, hotel, conference center, retail store. The developer can make money developing the property and bring opportunity to the community while protecting resident’s quality of life.

The developer has requested drastic, radical deviations on his property zoning. He desires the property to be zoned Highway Commercial -1A (to be referred as HC-1A). HC-1A is a very different type of zoning. It permits for over half a million square feet in commercial development, does not require buffers to hide buildings (think about half million square feet in full view on Route 312) and has severe deviations of ridgelines to authorize the hotel to be constructed on the highest peak.

The difference between RC and HC-1A is huge…..46,000 square feet compared to 560,000 square feet. The zoning request on Crossroads 312 is bigger than Highlands (Home Depot). HC-1A does not take into consideration: traffic, visual looks, or quality of life for residents on the Route 312 corridor. Zoning deviations shred the protections to ridge lines, slopes, wildlife habit, wetlands, which are protected in the Master Plan. This will have a domino effect on the whole town. 

This particular change is not “spot zoning” but rather a modification to the Master Plan. “Spot zoning” cannot occur for Crossroads 312 – it’s illegal.  Zone modifications for Crossroads 312 will revise the zoning on 4 other Rural Commercial lots in Southeast.

Once the town board votes “yes” on the zoning change, developers cannot be stopped and residents will have NO say to how much square footage will occur for the other Rural Commercial properties.  The decision about Crossroads 312 is not about one property; it’s about the whole town.  

Yes, folks a big box retail store could be coming to your neighborhood. The 4 other lots are located:

Pugsley Road — 52 acres on Route 312 by I-84 east, across from Home Depot.  Imagine Route 312 with one and half million square feet of commercial buildings.  Even if Route 312 cannot handle the traffic, it will not stop the property from getting the revised zoning HC-1A. 

59 acres on Guinea — By Sallingers and I-684 – It’s a great location – close to I-684 and I-84 and would attract shoppers from Upper Westchester County. 

52 acres on Wallach (Route 22) — On Route 22 across the street from Heidi’s Motel.  How will this effect commuting traffic through Route 22?  Could Mill Town Road be the next busy street to carry shoppers?     

48 acres on Old Doansburg Road (Route 22) — Foggingtown Road residents, if Crossroads 312 passes you will not be able to stop the “big box” zoning on your neighborhood lot.

Southeast residents…is this what we want for our town? I don’t particularly want to see Route 312 turn into a congested, gridlocked Federal Road (Danbury). We should be seriously considering this topic. I am humbled that the developer of Crossroads 312 gets to make the biggest decision on how Southeast will progress.    

Do we want Southeast to be a big box mecca (Loews, Costco, BJ, Walmart) for the local area? Is this balanced, common sense, responsible development for our town?  You decide. 

Next week: Change Rural Commercial zoning and the potential for developers on other properties to increase their zoning square footage.

Visit www.southeastresidentsforresponsibledevelopment.com and sign the petition to maintain the current zoning (Rural Commercial) on Crossroads 312.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ann Fanizzi August 24, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Deja vu all over again. See Yorktown Patch - COSTO developer in Yorktown attempts to shred Comprehensive/Master Plan, zoning code, further gridlock traffic on Rte 202; promises road widening as improvement, residents opposed.
Ashley Tarr August 30, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Here's Samantha's latest blog post: http://patch.com/B-cnFs.
Southeaster September 02, 2012 at 08:45 PM
You asked what negative effect the Highlands development has had on Southeast. There are approximately 775 households in the Brewster Hill community, many of which are now exposed to the bright lights of Home Depot and Kohl's all night and the noise of 312 and 84 all day. But this isn't about Highlands. It's about how an additional development twice that size could have a drastic cumulative effect on traffic, noise and light pollution, property values, and the beauty of the town. I don't know where in Southeast you live, but from where I live, I can reach major shopping centers on Rt. 22 and Rt. 312 (yes, Highlands) in five minutes and major shopping centers in Carmel and Danbury in 10-15 minutes. Within Southeast we have two hardware stores (including the giant Home Depot), three Chinese restaurants, a movie theater, a Dunkin' Donuts (for that quick coffee), seven banks, and two steakhouses plus an Applebee's, which also serves steak. The only thing you mentioned that we don't have is a large hotel, but I wonder how a town like this could really support a hotel of that size. Who would use it? This is a bedroom community with few big businesses and few tourist attractions. If all of that isn't enough for some folks, I have to ask why they would choose to live here as opposed to a city like Danbury or Poughkeepsie. Yes, many of us here still live "in the woods"...for now. But if we're not careful, we'll wake up one day and find the woods has been replaced by a hotel.
Southeaster September 02, 2012 at 09:15 PM
@Joan Smith: Yes! Thanks for reminding everyone! The reality is this decision will be made for us by five people--the Southeast Town Board. It's not enough just to voice our opinions on sites like this. Anyone who objects to the current Crossroads plan needs to contact the town board and make themselves heard. As far as I know, right now there are three board members who support re-zoning and two who oppose it. If something doesn't change, the three in favor will overrule the two opposed. We need to let those three know we won't be voting for them come election time.
Southeaster September 02, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I'm also wondering who will make sure that waste water from Crossroads doesn't end up in Tonetta Lake or its inland Atlantic white cedar swamp, which is very rare and supports diverse wildlife. This is from the Hudsonia Harlem Valley Biodiversity Manual Supplement found at the Hudsonia nonprofit environmental research web site: "Development to or near swamp margins may have the following negative impacts: introduction of invasive plant species, pollution from runoff waters, direct dumping in swamps by local residents. Atlantic white cedar is a tree that is very sensitive to changes in water levels; entire local populations of this tree have been lost due to flooding or draining (Laderman 1989)." Is anyone taking this cedar swamp into account?

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