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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.

Ashley Tarr (Editor) August 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Here's a comment from Ann Fanizzi. She's having difficulties logging into her account, so she sent this via email: "As a former member of the Town's Architectural Review Board, you may have the same information as I do. You state that "we didn't see large corporation rushing to move offices to Putnam." And why didn't they because then CE Bob Bondi, Ross Weale and the EDC made a deliberate decision that the money for the county coffers was in retail not in office parks. Bondi was facing exploding county populations brought on by an orgy of residential development with concomitant social services, emergency and sheriff budgets and retail would quickly bring in the necessary sales taxes to fund them. And the Town of Southeast with its juncture at interstates, was the perfect location. That was the calculation and if the town had to bear the brunt of such development, so be it. The same calculus informs the decision to build Crossroads. The driver is 40 Gleneida Avenue not 1360 Rte 22. So we must ask ourselves: why isn't a three-story hotel sufficient; why isn't a modest size conference center sufficient; why isn't retail sufficient - all components of the Rural Commercial code and not opposed by anyone, Mr. Cyprus."
Susan Riley August 19, 2012 at 02:26 PM
There are so many other hotels in the nearby area, especially in the Danbury area - what is that, 6 or 8 miles from the proposed development? With so many vacant office buildings around, and other hotels nearby, why on earth would this new project succeed? And as I said earlier, I am very concerned on the impact on local traffic. If it could be managed to only have access to route 84, I'd be fully for this project, but unfortunately, I don't see that happening.
Samantha Jacobs August 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Susan, I agree about the traffic part. I have spent about 10 hours reading the pDEIS (which was rejected by the Town Board due to imcompletelness) and it's chocked full of interesting information. As I mentioned, pDEIS indicates that I84 will only be handling 50% of the traffic. Neighborhoods and the school system around Route 312 will channeling this traffic.
Joan Smith August 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Does anyone know the capacity of the sewer system that is earmarked to serve Crossroads if it were to get approved? I understand the sewer system that Crossroads is looking to use is currently over used and its discharge is being sent to two different places because of the systems deficiencies. For those of you who say Crossroads has sewer and the other properties in town who have the same zoning do not and that is what would stop them from having their zoning changed, you are wrong. If a property owner has sufficient land wouldn’t they have the ability to build their own sewer system?
Eric Cyprus August 19, 2012 at 11:19 PM
As I understand it the DEC will not issue any new permits for new treatment plants.
Samantha Jacobs August 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Joan, That's is a good question. I will try to find out the answer to that and post it. There's been some debate about how much waste water is going to be generated by the hotel. The pDEIS indicates only 25 gallons of waster water per room (200 hotel rooms). At the town meeting the developer's team was questioned about where the 25 gallon number came from, as the general rule of thumb is 125 gallons per room. It was questioned if the treatment facility could handle the waster water. I believe the developer needs to clarify this topic with his revised pDEIS.
Randy Maurer August 20, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I also welcome this development. Its in a perfect location, on 84 ramps. Residents that do not live in the area (there are none) should not get involved with every project that is proposed. As far as traffic, people travel that road maybe once a week at the hours of 4 to 6 pm get stuck in commuter traffic and blame it on Kohls or the Depot. As far as the bridge on Prospect, MTA is holding Southeast hostage for a parking lot.
Joe Lambert August 20, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I agree Randy, I was born and raised in PC and lved it as a kid, riding my bike to the plaza or caldors for fun, movies, ice cream, arcade, mcdeees etc. my parents didn't like having to drive nearly to peekskill to Alexander's for our clothes.not one person I know who grew up here in PC is apposed to the retail growth. I grew up in the country and ths is still the country. I'd like a lowes, PF changs, Marriott hotel, lowes movie theater, jos. a banks or Simms, outback steakhouse, etc... When I was married, our out of town guests all stayed at holiday inn in mt kisco. That's not convent. PC is filled with country, just walk out your house, most people here live in the woods. I for one knew change was coming and am going to help it out. I'm glad you a supporter too. Joe
Joan Smith August 20, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I do not know if I agree with the comments that the DEC will no longer allow sewer plants, in our world especially in Southeast it is usually the people with the political power in town that get what they want. The Crossroads project has awakened many people who are not going to sit back and allow a handful of power brokers with ties to the town to continue to do whatever they want regardless of the law or zoning. It is the blind eye that allows development that should not happen to happen. Congratulations to the Concerned Citizens of Southeast for keeping an eye on things and Ann Fanizzi for speaking out and stating that the developer should stay within the current zoning.
Laura August 20, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I'm opposed to HC-1A not retail growth.  With RC, Southeast can have a hotel and retail stores.  Why does this town have to turn into Danbury, Port Chester or Yonkers for shopping and food? Don't families who can move out of those areas for towns in Northern Westchester.
Michael Counihan August 20, 2012 at 02:13 PM
This developers previous projects have become a permanent scar on the horizon. Previous TBs have allowed developers to get away with murder. If not stopped, Southeast will look like Yonkers.
Samantha Jacobs August 20, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Joan The answer to your question is yes.
Samantha Jacobs August 20, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Joan Sorry...just want to clarify. Eric is correct. Yes, terravest water treatment facility has experienced issues in the past.
Joan Smith August 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Thank you Samantha, I just hope this town board does the right thing by protecting our town by making sure the developer builds within the current zoning. The only people who can assure the town is protected is the residents by coming out and speaking against changing the master plan or zoning. The town board is in office because we voted for them, they need to hear the concerns of the residents of Southeast and especially the homeowners in the Tonetta Lake area.
Ann Fanizzi August 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Eric - confusing with all the alphabet regulatory agencies but it is the DEP that approves sewers.
Jim Goldstein August 20, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Let it be known that a concerned resident....ME.... does not see the need for more destruction of this beautiful town. Just look at the decimation of the horizon while looking toward HOME DEPOT from Brewster. There are plenty of places to spend your money around here. As a matter of fact ,I often run out of money.
TracyD August 21, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I'm not opposed to all development- a small hotel/conference center might be good for the area. But I think developers who push retail do so at their own peril, and ours too. The way we shop is changing and will continue to change. Even though groceries and certain items are better bought in person, it's getting easier and easier to shop online. Between saving gas, getting free shipping and ebates, having more choice and being able to get things that are sold out in stores, I do little shopping in stores, and I'm not the only one. Retail is just a bad idea, and I can't see people coming here from 30 miles away to shop another boring chain store when they can still go to Danbury and have more choice.
Ann Fanizzi August 21, 2012 at 09:29 AM
TJD hits it on the head - online shopping is getting easier and more people are taking advantage of it. I believe 40% of Christmas sales were online. With folks already harrassed, working long hours and trying to juggle family and work, more and more are looking to use whatever leisure time they have, more productively than idling in traffic or waiting on lines at check-out counters. That being said, when shoppers go to retail centers, they are looking for an aesthetically pleasing and entirely different experience. Malls and shopping center developers and owners are re-doing their tired, boring layouts. Witness Danbury Mall and recently the owner trying to salvage Jefferson Mall with new and different stores. Brewster Highlands is a candidate for an extreme make-over. It is dreary, bleak mess of poor planning and an eyesore for Southeast. Strictly in and out affair, if you can get out without a major accident.
Ann Fanizzi August 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Bulletin: Cortlandt scraps Wal-Mart Super-Center- 160,000 sq. ft. Why? Opposition from Town Board; traffic on congested Rte 6; affect on surrounding supermarkets and other retail. Sounds familiar??
Joan Smith August 21, 2012 at 02:31 PM
This sewer issue is disturbing to me that people are being told that the other property owners in town with the same zoning as the Crossroads cannot build a sewer treatment plant because the DEC will not allow it. I have made several phone calls over the last two days and spoke with people in the know and here are the facts: • Those other four property owners with the same current zoning as Crossroads can build a sewer treatment plant provided they discharge their waste into a septic field. What you cannot do is discharge your waste into a stream or any water in the watershed area. • A sewer treatment plant that discharges into a septic field can discharge more waste because when the waste leaves the sewer treatment plant it is treated and fairly clean. • I also was told today the sewer treatment plant at Terravast is splits its discharge and some of its waste goes into a septic field. • Is the Terravast sewer treatment plant owned by Southeast, the County or is it privately owned? Whose job is it to assure that this treatment plant is up to standard and is there any available data out there as to its capacity and problems the treatment plant is currently having or has had in the past? • The Crossroads proposal seems to have many unanswered questions and it seems that we are not all being told the truth. I have great concerns about this project.
Samantha Jacobs August 21, 2012 at 09:41 PM
TDJ The RC zoning would allow for a hotel which I agree with you is needed. I also agree about Internet shopping. In fact, I bought an aquarium filter at animal kingdom but returned it. I got the item $80 cheaper through amazon with free shipping. Plus I use zappos to get all my shoes. Great service without having to leave my home.
Ann Fanizzi August 22, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Hi Joan - try to answer some of your questions. Chapter 10 of the DEIS which is on the Town's website pretty much describes the system. According to the applicant (Lepler) who owns Terravest under the corporate name of Covington, two buildings are connected to the system, and the effluent is discharged into a subsurface system. The other buildings have their own separate septic systems. He doesn't mention which buildings are on the subsurface and which buildings are on the septics. And what are the flows from the buildings that are connected. The DEP is responsible for the evaluating the functioning of the system. According to the DEIS, the system has a capacity of 51,800 gallons per day, enough for Terravest and Crossroads. Is that so? Only if you accept the flows i.e. 5,000 for the hotel. However, as Lynne Eckardt pointed out, 5,000 is a low ball figure and from my own research, it approaches the figure she stated: 100 to 125 gallons per room. If that is the case, then we are looking at least 20,000 gallons to 25,000, 40 to 50% of the total just for the hotel. And we have the restaurant, conference center, bank and the mega -retail center. These are not high usage businesses but they add to the total. As I said at the beginning, this is not an easy topic, but I've tried to answer some of your questions. I leave it to the engineers to determine if the system is adequate and functioning correctly.
Ann Fanizzi August 22, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Joan, if you go to Chapter 12 of the DEIS entitled Infrastructure and Energy, you will see a very interesting illustration of the connections to Crossroads, starting with a Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) capacity 51,800 gallons on T3 which was to occupy 72 units of senior housing. Almost ten years ago, when Terravest was expanded to contain Ace Endico, senior housing and a ball field, the WWTP was to be built adjacent to one of the senior housing units. The units were not built nor am I informed has the WWTP. If anyone has further information on the status of this system and whether approvals have been obtained from the DEP and the SPDES from the DEC, please tell us since it seems if one follows the yellow/orange/blue solid and dotted lines that the entire system appears to be connected to it.
Joan Smith August 23, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Thank you Ann, I am new to all this stuff, but it is interesting. I hope the town board watches things very closely.
Joan Smith August 23, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Also, thank you Samantha for your hard work.
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 (Editor) 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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