The impact on traffic and how the project will compare to as-of-right development were the biggest concerns raised during a “scoping session” about a proposed condominium project in Westhampton Beach.
The Westhampton Beach Village Board and Planning Board held a joint work session on Thursday, June 25, to identify what should be included in a environmental impact statement regarding Rogers Associates LLC’s application for a 52-unit multifamily residential development on 9.4 acres on the north side of Rogers Avenue.
Carriage Hill Developers, a housing management firm based in Wantagh, submitted the site plan to the Planning Board in August, but the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the process. The scoping session and environmental impact statement are required under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act to ensure that impacts on the community have been considered and that the application has been given a fair shake.
Secretary to the Planning Board, Maeghan Mackie, noted as the session began that comments should only pertain to the elements of the application itself — and not to what people personally want to see happen at the property.
Village Planner Kyle Collins said the Planning Board previously identified traffic and impacts to community character as issues to be raised in scoping documents.
Planning Board Chairman David Reilly said traffic is the single biggest issue raised by residents of Rogers Avenue.
Village Attorney Anthony Pasca suggested that it would also be fair for the environmental impact statement to consider the magnitude of the project as it compares to potential as-of-right development there.
The property, formerly the site of an asphalt plant, is in a multifamily housing zone, and currently 6.6 acres are paved and the rest is covered in vegetation. The two-phase proposal includes four units in one building plus a community center in the first phase followed by the construction of 48 units among 12 buildings plus a swimming pool, tennis court, gazebo and a sewage treatment facility.
Thirty-six of the proposed 52 units would be two-bedroom units and eight would be three-bedrooms. The remaining eight would be one-bedrooms designated as affordable housing. Between garages and uncovered parking spaces, 203 parking spots are planned.
Mr. Collins said that, by right, a developer could yield 36 units on the property, with 18 houses and two units per house. That would leave room for roads and an on-site wastewater treatment plant that the Suffolk County Department of Health Services would require. The developer would also have to include a park or pay money into the village park fund, Mr. Collins added.
Mayor Maria Moore said it is logical that traffic would be minimized if the density of the proposed development was reduced.
Mr. Pasca pointed out that a study could be conducted for the environmental impact statement to determine if that is the case. “If the data shows that the lower density does not have any material impact, that may justify the opposite,” he said.
Because what is being proposed is denser that what zoning allows, the project requires special exception approval from the Village Board to move forward.
Village Board member Ralph Urban urged studies that will give a baseline for the existing conditions on the site and a baseline for as-of-right development impact, so village officials can compare those to what is being proposed.
Ms. Moore wanted sidewalks to be included in the project as a community improvement measure, and Mr. Collins suggested that mature trees on the property could be preserved to provide an additional buffer from day one to reduce the development’s impact.
The scoping session, which was conducted via a Zoom conference, did not include an opportunity for public comment, but written comments may be submitted through July 7. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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