The Westchester County planning board has a lot of concerns about the Echo Bay development proposed in New Rochelle.
Take a look below at their letter on the project, approved 11-0 on Tuesday, according to Planning Commissioner Edward Buroughs. (One of the 12 members did not make the meeting because of illness, Buroughs said. Another was not present because of previous plans, but emailed a yes vote to Buroughs.)
It addresses a number of aspects of the project, even challenging the claim made that the project “provides downtown New Rochelle with a ‘toe in the water’” because of its waterfront access. (That claim comes from the draft environmental impact statement prepared by the developer as part of the state-mandated review of the project.)
The board members argued that it is not a downtown project because the site “is separated from the downtown core of New Rochelle by several car dealerships, strip fast food restaurants and a windowless mall” and because is a “lengthy walk” from the site to the transit center with a Metro-North Railroad train station and a bus depot.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who often touts the projects benefits, reacted strongly to the findings, issuing this statement:
“The Echo Bay project would inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy, create new jobs, expand public access to the Long Island Sound shore, create a new park, clean up a contaminated brownfield and deliver a significant net benefit to taxpayers. It has been designated a priority and received funding from Governor Cuomo’s regional economic development council, and has received strong support from the environmental and business communities. If the County Administration does not see a “need for this project” and thinks “the timing may not be right,” then it illustrates either a complete lack of any coherent economic development and environmental strategy, or a County planning process that has been hijacked by politics.”
He asserted that the project is “closely linked to downtown.”
His comment about politics reflects a political year. Bramson is seeking the Democratic nod to run against Republican Council Executive Rob Astorino, who faces re-election later this year.
Buroughs said the County Executive’s office had gotten a copy of the planning board’s findings, but had no input in writing or approving them. He noted that the comments were not aimed at a final project, but at the description of the plan in the draft environmental impact statement.
They are questions and concerns that the developer can respond to in a final version of the study.
Here are the planning board’s findings: