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Clarkstown Residents, County Planning Board, Criticize Project Over Density, Height, Traffic
By Tina Traster
The Clarkstown Planning Board granted preliminary approval for a special permit to a developer who wants to build a senior housing complex on the former Schimpf Farm in West Nyack despite concerns from neighboring residents and members of the Rockland County Department of Planning. The vote was 6-1 in favor of the special permit which remains subject to review of the tree preservation plan and further proceedings before the Town’s Architectural Historic Review Board.
The proposal, pending before the town since 2014 in a series of iterations, consultations with the town’s Technical Advisory Committee, and the Planning Board, was presented with “significant changes based on input from the public,” according to Ira Emanuel, legal counsel for the project’s applicant, Jay Theise of Jakla Construction Corp. (Western LLC).
The applicant did not need any variances or planning board waivers.
The meeting, held in person at the town hall, and telephonically Wednesday night with a combined attendance of more than 250, examined the applicant’s request for a special permit to build a senior housing development on the 8.5-acre former Schimpf Farm site, located on the southeast corner of Parrott Road and Germonds Road. The project calls for an approximately 169,000 square foot senior housing complex with 127 units of 55-plus senior housing, a 5,500 square foot clubhouse, and 216 parking spaces. The plan also includes patios and barbeque areas, a community garden, and walking paths throughout the site.
The project, designed by local architect Jan Degenshein, contains seven three-story apartment buildings. Six of the buildings will have below-ground parking areas for residents.
The Rockland County Planning Board comments read during the hearing offered a blistering review of the project, adding that the design is “a cookie-cutter development and is unimaginative.” The board suggested the development, which reaches a height of 35 feet, should be reduced to two stories. The Town Planning Board overrode the County’s comments.
The County Planning Board, along with citizens, strongly criticized the project’s urban nature, saying it lacks a coherent “transition” from the surrounding single-family homes and the neighborhood’s semi-rural character.
The applicant, in response to earlier concerns, said it added 75-foot buffers, increased parking by 57 spaces, located most of the parking underground, and plans to widen Germonds Road to mitigate traffic woes.
The site is zoned R-22, or single-family housing. However, in 2014, Clarkstown amended its zoning code to allow for a total of 700 units of senior citizen housing town-wide, subject to a raft of conditions including that development does not cause traffic congestion, does not adversely affect the character of, or property values in the area, and that it does not negatively impact water supply, waste disposal, or any other public health and safety issues. Town planner Joe Simoes said roughly 300 units of senior citizen housing have been spoken for with Vincent Village and Atria.
Clarkstown, in its last Comprehensive Plan, has identified the Schimpf parcel as an ideal site for senior housing.
Several residents spoke out against the project, voicing objection to its scope, density, and the likelihood of causing additional traffic headaches on Germonds and Parrott Roads.
Schimpf farm is located directly across from Felix Festa Middle School, adjacent to Rockland BOCES and down the road from Albertus Magnus High School and Clarkstown South High School.
“This project is out of scale,” said Jennifer McPhee, a nearby resident of the proposed development.
CUPON, a citizens group, which presented the board with a petition of nearly 900 signatures, cited environmental and traffic concerns. The group, along with Heritage of West Nyack, has said the project is “inappropriately scaled” for the semi-rural area.
“This project would severely change the character of the surrounding neighborhood,” says CUPON. “It will increase traffic and potentially overload the already heavily congested traffic in the area. It will also create multiple three-story buildings on a site that will overwhelm adjacent single-family homes.”
Fourth Ward Patrick Carroll Councilman has also expressed concern over the plan. “It just doesn’t seem like a good fit,” he said. “There are better spots for this.”
“Granting this permit would allow this project to proceed and negatively alter the quality of life of the residents of West Nyack and Bardonia, and those who travel through the area, as well as negatively impact the semi-rural suburban character of the community,” CUPON wrote.
The Schimpf’s Farm Garden and Landscape Center was a family-owned business run by Thomas D. Schimpf until his death in 2011. Western LLC bought the farm from the Schimpf family in 2014 for $1.6 million.
Jakla Construction Corp, located in Nanuet and operating for nearly 50 years, primarily builds single-family homes.
The site plan proposed two access driveways: one is located on Parrott Avenue about 300 feet east of the Parrott and Germonds Roads intersection and the second is located on Germonds Road about 360 feet south of the Parrott and Germonds Road intersection.
The application says stormwater runoff flows southeast through the site and has been mitigated through the use of stormwater management facility at the southeast corner of the lot. Sanitary sewer flows will be conveyed to the existing sanitary sewer system on Amethyst Court via a new sanitary sewer on an existing sanitary sewer easement east of the property. Telephone, electric, gas, and water services are available on Parrott Road.