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GAME ON SPORTS FACILITY REVIEW PROCESS STARTS---HOW LONG DOES A REVIEW PROCESS TAKE?
Release Date: April 07, 2015

TOMORROW EVENING TOWN BOARD TO VOTE TO START REVIEW PROCESS OF GAME ON APPLICATION...
REVIEW PROCESS SUMMARIZED BELOW---REVIEW WILL TAKE MONTHS BEFORE ANY DECISION CAN BE MADE
 
Tomorrow evening the Greenburgh Town Board will be asked by representatives of Game On to start the review process of their application for a zone change to allow a recreation facility to be built on Dobbs Ferry Road.  The proposal calls for an  approximately 107,000 sq. ft. indoor recreation facility along with an outdoor playing field, retain a portion of the existing golf driving range, and provide related features such as landscaping and parking ). Indoor and outdoor privately owned recreation facilities are currently a prohibited use in the R-30 (One-Family Residence) District.  This application is different from the previous Game On application-- a permanent building, NOT A BUBBLE. The height is also reduced.
 
Although this is a residential zone, there has been significant commercial activity on Dobbs Ferry Road for years.  Frank's nursery served the community before they closed. The Golf Range is commercial. And, Elmwood Country Club and Elmwood camp are also commercial. They were around even before the zoning was established.
 
Members of the Town Board and I have been receiving positive and negative e mails, phone calls about the proposal from residents of the town. One of the members of the Planning Board (who was recently appointed  to the Planning Board by the Town Board) lives in the immediate neighborhood -just a few minutes away from the proposed site. We appointed the Planning Board member because we want the neighborhood to have confidence in the integrity of ANY review process of land use issues on Dobbs Ferry Road. We don't appoint yes people to the Planning Board. We want members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board to be independent thinkers. This Board member had previously expressed some concerns about a previous Game On application but is known to be fair and smart.  The Planning Board is required by law to review the application and to make a recommendation to the Town Board.    If the Board rejects the application a supermajority of the Board must vote for the zoning change (4 of the 5 Board members, not 3 of the 5).
 
THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES...
 
I have not made a  decision whether I support or oppose this application. I want the facts --want to review traffic concerns, aesthetics, noise, lighting, property values. I want a comprehensive analysis of all the issues. So does a majority of the Town Board.  We will invite the public to participate in the process leading up to the hiring of outside consultants (we select the traffic, environmental consultants--the applicant picks up the costs, according to state law).
 
ADVOCATES OF THE PROPOSAL are highlighting the need for more recreation. They claim that having another recreation facility in Greenburgh will enhance property values since many young people will want to purchase homes near the recreation facility. Having another sports facility will encourage young people to excel in sports-- perhaps eventually compete professionally.  The facility will partner with Greenburgh schools, recreation and community center on recreation programs that we currently do not offer. Advocates also believe that having a sports facility will enhance the chances of keeping the Golf Range in business since sports enthusiasts will also play golf.
 
OPPONENTS worry about traffic, noise, lighting, kids congregating, quality of life issues. If the Golf Range goes out of business they prefer residential housing. They worry that if the sports facility opens up it could lead to a change in the character of Dobbs Ferry Road -with more commercial businesses eventually opening up. Some opponents also believe that approving a sports facility on Dobbs Ferry Road is unfair to House of Sports. Can the area support two sports facilities within close distance of each other?  The applicant believes that these worries are unfounded--we will have to decide, after we complete our review.
 
THE REVIEW PROCESS LEADING UP TO ANY ZONE CHANGE VOTE TAKES MANY MONTHS --SIGNIFICANT STUDIES MUST BE CONDUCTED
steps...Refer the zoning text petition to the Planning Board for a recommendation
Comply with SEQRA--environmental review process. Understand potential environmental impacts: traffic, ecological, neighborhood character, etc... 
Schedule numerous public hearings to solicit feedback
SCOPING SESSION-- Identify all concerns community has. Review alternative options for the land use. Mitigation measures. Draft scope is a document containing relevant areas of environmental concerns.
 
The final scope must include:
 
1.       a brief description of the proposed action;
2.       the potentially significant adverse impacts identified both in the positive declaration and as a result of consultation with the other involved agencies and the public, including an identification of those particular aspect(s) of the environmental setting that may be impacted;
3.       the extent and quality of information needed for the preparer to adequately address each impact, including an identification of relevant existing information, and required new information, including the required methodology(ies) for obtaining new information;
4.       an initial identification of mitigation measures;
5.       the reasonable alternatives to be considered;
6.       an identification of the information/data that should be included in an appendix rather than the body of the draft EIS; and
7.       those prominent issues that were raised during scoping and determined to be not relevant or not environmentally significant or that have been adequately addressed in a prior environmental review.
 
Based on the scope, the Applicant will prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS includes a public review and comment period. The DEIS contains the relevant documentation and material facts on each subject matter determined as part of the scoping session; analyzes the significant adverse impacts and evaluates all reasonable alternatives.
 
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) consists of the draft EIS, any corrections or revisions made, copies of all substantive comments received, and the lead agency’s responses to substantive comments.
 
The SEQRA Findings are prepared following the acceptance of a FEIS, which declare that all SEQR requirements for making decisions on an action have been met. The document identifies the social, economic, and environmental considerations that have been weighed in making a decision to approve or disapprove an action. The Findings are the final Environmental Impact Statement document and establish whether or not a project is approvable, or approvable when utilizing mitigations deemed necessary and appropriate. In this instance, the SEQRA process would be applicable for the zoning text petition and applicability on the subject site, as well as the applicability on other sites in the Town that could be influenced by the zoning text amendment.
 
Each of these steps have time frames which are listed below. Regarding the timeframes, the important aspect to understand for projects that are subject to the EIS process, is that the process contains ample opportunity for public input, and is not a quick or expedited process.
 
Steps Calendar days Citations
Establish lead agency Up to 30 617.6(b)(3)(i)
Determine significance Up to 20 617.6(b)(5)(iv)
Scoping Up to 60 617.8(f)
Determine adequacy of DEIS Up to 45 617.9(a)(2)
Determine adequacy of re-submitted DEIS Up to 30 617.9(a)(2)(ii)
DEIS public comment period Up to 30 617.9(a)(3)
SEQR hearing Minimum 15, maximum 60, after filing of DEIS 617.9(a)(4)(ii)
Prepare FEIS (no hearing) 60 after filing DEIS 617.9(a)(5)
Prepare FEIS (with hearing) 45 after close of hearing 617.9(a)(5)
Prepare findings by Lead Agency Minimum 10, maximum 30, after filing of FEIS 617.11(a), 617.11(b)
Prepare findings by Involved agency Minimum 10, after filing of FEIS 617.11(c)
 
Review Process (post SEQRA/Site Plan):
If the EIS process and resultant Findings statement deem that the zoning text amendment and associated site development is approvable, the applicant, following a approval of the zoning text amendment, would follow the site plan procedures of the Town, which include separate application reviews and separate public hearings.
As of tonight, three Board members support conducting an extensive review of the application. Two Board members do not want to consider the zone change.
The Town Board meeting on Wednesday night begins at 7:30 PM at Greenburgh Town Hall. This is NOT the first item on the agenda. State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins will be speaking to the Board about state issues first. We're holding a swearing in ceremony for a new police officer. And, there are some public hearings before public comments.
Residents who have comments can e mail townboard@greenburghny.com. If the Board starts the review process there will be many opportunities for public comment. The applicant has also expressed interest in meeting with anyone one on one or in small groups to discuss the proposal and to answer questions.
PAUL FEINER
 
 
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