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Comprehensive Plan: Multi-Family Homes Discussed At Port Chester Hearing

Starwood tells Port Chester that it's working on a new version of its proposed redevelopment plans for the former United Hospital site.

Port Chester officials held a second review of the village's proposed Comprehensive Plan Monday night, hearing more concerns from residents over the possible impacts of revisions to local zoning laws designed to control potential development and population growth.

Frank Fish of BFJ Planning, who is working with the village on the new zoning policies, gave a detailed presentation of the zoning changes and stayed around to help answer the public’s questions. A copy of that presentation can be picked up at the or at .

“The main idea of this plan is to try to keep Port Chester at the current density it is at or to reduce that density,” said Fish. "Very rarely do you see a tax reduction. But if we do this right and balance the growth correctly, the rate at which tax increases will slow. I’ve lived in Westchester for 30 years and my tax has never gone down. The goal is to be fiscally prudent to contain the rate of tax increases.”

During the public hearing a number of residents took to the podium to ask questions and raise issues they saw in the proposed plan and the zoning amendments that go with the plan.

“I think the plan is going in a good direction,” said Trustee Dan Brakewood. “People are genuinely engaged and providing us with excellent feedback and we are going to sit with the staff to consider it and refine things.”

The bulk of the questions and feedback from the community surrounded the legality or illegality of a large number of multi-family homes in Port Chester.

“The first problem I have that I have never really seen addressed is all the illegal housing in Port Chester,” said Port Chester resident Kathleen James. “On my street I’ve seen it. Housing that is pretty much the same as mine might have 30-35 people living there with 8-10 kids going to the schools and we’re all zoned as single family homes.”

Current legal multi-family homes that fall in rezoning areas will be allowed to continue their status as a multi-family home in a type of “grandfathered in” situation. An amnesty program will be available for people to come forward to the building department and discuss concerns about their residence and work proactively toward getting their property up to legal specifications. However, if the property in question is discovered by the building department, before the owner has brought it to the billage’s attention, they would not be eligible for the amnesty program, which would provide amnesty from fines and permit fees. 

“With housing that already exists between multi-families being grandfathered in, we are not really going to reduce our density,” added James.

“It’s a reduction in the potential density,” responded Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla. “What we are doing in this program is trying to get people to proactively come to us before we catch them and take them to court.”

The amnesty program was not agreed upon by the entire board and another workshop was suggested by members of the board and village staff.

“Things are going very well. We’re on schedule. As the Mayor said, the plan is to be done by Halloween and I agree that we should have everything in place for a vote by the end of October,” said Fish.

There was a brief update from regarding their just off Boston Post Road toward the end of Monday’s meeting. The company wants to redevelop the site into a mixed residential and commercial complex.

Board of Trustees members and Port Chester residents have expressed concern that the development plan could put more stress on the Port Chester public school system by bringing in more families with children.

“We heard the message loud and clear,” said Tony Gioffre, White Plains attorney and Starwood representative. "It was Trustee Terenzie who said, ‘get creative’ and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve been reaching out to the school board as well to incorporate any concerns that they have. We’re committed to maintaining dialog with this community as we work through this process.”

The proposed comprehensive plan would also set zoning rules governing the former hospital site.

Key elements of the comprehensive plan include reducing the heights that are allowed by law for development of commercial buildings in downtown Port Chester, as well as reducing the height of any potential development at the Port Chester train station.

Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Whatever happened to the 137 Acres of High Point hospital on Upper King Street adjacent to the Westchester County Airport? Prime Property. In the early 1970's a developer had an upscale planned community to be built there after the Strauss Mansion was removed. There were all kinds of Port Chester Board Members claiming it would ruin the area. That development would have been gorgeous. It would have improved the tax base of Port Chester, Rye, White Plains, Purchase & Greenwich. So much for the foresightedness of especially Port Chester & Greenwich politicians who voted it down. For lack of a better word, I call this plain stupid. Check the old Daily Item Archives at the Port Chester Library for the discussion on this subject. I believe I was the only one who wrote in favor of it to the Daily Item. The excuse was it would ruin the property values in Port Chester and Greenwich. Common Sense! How could an upscale development ruin property values? It would have greatly decreased the property taxes particularly in Port Chester. Would that have been a bad thing? I am afraid the same kind of lack of foresightedness still exists today.
PC Expat August 01, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Isn't that land now BellFaire? And part of Rye Brook?
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I moved out of Port Chester to Florida due to a family emergency & left my job as Administrator of High Point at the time the Developer wanted to build a beautiful community on that land.They were turned down and High Point Hospital was still in existence at the time. The address of High Point Hospital was Port Chester, N.Y. Although I know parts of the property were in Purchase and White Plains. It was not Rye Brook at that time. If it is BellFaire now , that is a different developer and not what was planned for it around 1975. I was for the proposed project at that time even though I knew it would mean the loss of my job.I would appreciate knowing when BellFaire was developed & exactly what was built there.
Peggy Johnston August 01, 2012 at 04:13 PM
There is a Belle Fair site that you can go to www.Bellefair.org It has always been in Rye Brook with Blind Brook Schools.
PC Expat August 01, 2012 at 04:31 PM
So does that mean this area was in the unincorporated Town of Rye - and only used Port Chester as a post office - until 1982 when Rye Brook was formed?
Peggy Johnston August 01, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Exactly. When Rye Brook seceded & became its own Village that section of the uncorporated area of Rye Town became Rye Brook.
PC Expat August 01, 2012 at 05:27 PM
So Port Chester never really stood to gain from this development?
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I am sorry to disagree with you. I worked there for ten years and the address was always Port Chester, N. Y. Certain sections were in Purchase and partly in White Plains. The taxes were paid to the Village of Port Chester. Check the tax rolls back in the time of 1965-1975. Bellfair was not the community planned at the time the property was totally owned by Dr. Alexander Gralnick. A total of 137 acres. Rye Brook was still an unincorporated section of Port Chester at that time as far as I can remember.
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Bellfair appears to be a very nice community. However, it is not as upscale as the builder's proposal back when it was still Port Chester and Port Chester resoundingly objected to the plans as did Greenwich Residents who lived across from the property on King St. but in Greenwich, Ct. Also it appears Port Chester no longer benefits from the taxes being paid. As I said "Great foresight on the part of Port Chester politicians."
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Sorry Peggy there was no Rye Brook or Blind Brook Schools back then. It was Port Chester & the Unincorporated Town of Rye. High Point Hospital-Upper King Street Port Chester, N. Y. 10573 was the address. Bellfair was still a dream in some one's imagination & became a reality due to the Port Chester Politicians lack of foresight. They are many years late and loss of lots of revenue lost & still do not have the correct foresight to correct their mistakes.
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Rye Town grammer school children attended Park Avenue School. As I rember it the Rye Town Middle School students attended The Port Chester Junior High School until that was torn down. Most likely they then went stright through thheir grammar schools until the 8th Grade. To my knowledge, unles they are attending private schools, Rye Brook & Blind Brook students all attend The Port Chester High School located in the Town of Rye.
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Peggy please correct me if I am wrong since as I said I moved from Port Chester in 1975 and may not be current & up to date on the latest developments. Although I do try because my roots were there for three generations.
PC Expat August 01, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Blind Brook High School opened its doors in the fall of 1973. The construction of the Blind Brook School District's first high school came about after the community (which was the unincorporated area of the Town of Rye at the time) wanted to expand the local school district (known as District #5). This push for expansion started after the community became frustrated spending lots of money to send their children to local high schools including Port Chester, Mamaroneck, Rye Neck, and Valhalla, without commensurate representation or influence on those districts' policies and programs. In addition, the Ridge Street School, which housed classes from Kindergarten to 8th/9th grades, was becoming overcrowded and could not accommodate the growing population that would become known as Rye Brook (in 1982). Land was purchased on King Street and construction was started in 1972 and ended in late 1973, months into the school year. The High School today stands on the same campus as in 1973.
George Datino August 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
There seems to be some confusion about the land High Point Hospital was on and if it was in Port Chester. In New York State, there are Counties, Cities, Towns, and Villages. Counties sit in the org. structure right below the State. Within the Counties are Cities and Towns. Then sitting inside Towns, are Villages. If a section of a town does not belong to a Village, it is called the Unincorporated part of the town. So in this example, prior to what is now Rye Brook becoming incorporated into a village in 1982, that are was the Unincorporated section of the Town of Rye. It was not part of the Village of Port Chester. When the Village of Rye Brook was formed, it did not secede from the Town of Rye, it simply incorporated within the town. The reason why the address was Port Chester is because the area shares the same Zip Code and is served by the same U.S. Post Office that is in Port Chester. That hasn't changed. If a parcel of mail has Port Chester as an address and if the property is in Rye Brook (or vice versa), the mail will get there. Schools are their own independent taxing entity within the State. For reasons I don't know, the Port Chester School DIstrict (district 4) encompases a large portion of the Town of Rye (including the southern 1/3 of Rye Brook). The State had created a smaller district (#5) that housed only the elementary school. As kids got to H.S. they went to other schools on a tuition basis. The residents of District 5 built BBHS to rememdy that situation
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I lived on King St in the early 1950's until 1973. I distinctly remember the King St. Grammar School did not have any Rye Brook students to my knowledge. I also went past that property everyday on my way to work at High Point Hospital. I do not recall any High School in that area in 1973. Exactly which property was it built on and how close is it to the King Street Grammar School.If Rye Brook & Blind Brook did not exist until 1982 then those schools would have to have been located in Port Chester at that time.
George Datino August 01, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Anne, King St. grammer school would not have any "Rye Brook" students. The children who lived on or near King St. past the Port Chester line would be in school district #5 and would have attended elementary school on Ridge Street. The Blind Brook High School and Middle School are built on property that is on King St. across from where Glenville Road ends. I hope that lets you know where it is.
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 07:32 PM
George Datino=There is no doubt in my mind High Point Hospital was located in Port Chester, Parts of the 137 Acres were in the unincorporated section of The Town of Rye and part in Purchase and White Plains. However, there was no Town of Rye government or politicians. There was one governing body and one Mayor and that was Port Chester. You can locate all of this history in the Port Chester Daily Item Archives. The Librarians there are very smart and very accommodating in locating this information and even printing it out for you.
PC Expat August 01, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Ridge Street School was built in the 1950s. That was District 5.
Anne Latella August 01, 2012 at 07:52 PM
When we built our home on King st on the 1950's I transferred my son who was in the third grade to the King St school from the Parochial School he was attending. He went there for one year and did not like it so we transferred him back to his parochial school where we had to drive him. He could walk to school from our home on King St, As you probably realize by now I am 84 years old.& my son who graduated PCHS in 1968 is now 61 years old. I have known every Mayor of Port Chester from the very first one Mayor Bannister, Posillipo, Zaccagnino and & Peter Iasillo who I went to school with. I knew them all personally. So i think have a very good knowledge of the Port Chester history and evolution. Strangely enough in 1968 my doorbell rang and it was my son's third grade teacher from the King St. School. Her name was Ms. Clarke. She asked about my son Mark who was attending the University of Miami at that time. Her reason for the visit was to bring me his third grade papers. I was amazed she still had them. We had tea together and she left. Thankfully I am not senile yet so I have a very good memory of Port Chester which was and is very dear to my heart. In the days I lived in Port Chester everyone knew everyone else. I knew who lived in every home there and I knew everyone in every store I shopped in in Port Chester. That is what Port Chester was like in my day.
Anne Latella August 02, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Is it not true there is only one tax collector's office for the Town of Rye. Therefore, Port Chester,Rye Brook,city of Rye, Part of Mamaroneck, Harrison etc. Rye Neck etc. all pay their taxes to the one and the same tax collector at present which I believe is still located in Port Chester,
Anne Latella August 03, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Let us be clear. The king Street School was there in the 1950's Blind Brook High school was not in existence at that time. It opened it's doors in 1982 approximately thirty years later. High Point hospital was north of the Hutchinson River Parkway and North of Anderson Hill Road which leads me to believe Bellfaire is not completely builton that property and the larger part of Rye Brook is closer to the village of Port Chester. I would be interested to know how many miles of the 3 miles plus of Bellfaire are facing King St before the Merritt Parkway & how many Bellfaire miles is beyond it and closer to Westchester County Airport.Also if I am correct all taxes are still being paid through the Rye Town offices. I would appreciate being corrected if I am mistaken. Does Peggy Johnston have any additional information? I enjoy keeping up with the progress in the area.
MM11 August 03, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Belle Fair is not "3 miles plus" in any dimension (I'm not sure all of Rye Brook is even that big). I don't know where that information came from but it is not correct. Belle Fair is located between Anderson Hill Road and Lincoln Avenue, on the west side of King Street.
PC Proud August 03, 2012 at 01:20 PM
The best way to describe the property to you, as someone who left in the early 70's, is it sits on part of the former Mary Harkness Home property.
Anne Latella August 03, 2012 at 02:17 PM
MM11-Since I live in Florida, I have to rely on my computer for information. If you enter "Village of Rye Brook" into your Website it will bring up this information. Rye Brook -3.5 Miles-9,600 Residents Port Chester-2.5 Miles-25,000 Residents. I do not know the accuracy because I am certain Port Chester has more the 27,000 residents. You can either verify it with the Village of Port Chester-Tax Assessor's Office or call the Port Chester Library. The Rye Town Tax Assessor Office also has this information on their website. I am sure you can locate the information there. I can also Google Mapquest & therefore I have been able to see the map of these areas. I do appreciate your help and response. All information is helpful to me since I seem to be stuck back in Port Chester where I was born at the wonderful United Hospital. Needless to say I was heartbroken when United was closed. It was actually a historical site as well as hospital since it was over 100 years old.I am still hoping some hospital corporation such as the Cleveland Clinic will find the space and funds to rebuild a much needed outstanding Medical Facility in Port Chester. I truly feel Port Chester, Rye Brook & all of the town of Rye deserves the best. There is nothing anywhere like the spirit of the People of Port Chester when I lived there. Please note I did question how much of Bellfair is within Rye Brook. I believe I may have phrased my question incorrectly. I wanted to know the exact acreage of Bellfair,
C Saunders November 27, 2012 at 04:00 AM
As long as a solution on the schooling can be reached, that doesn't put the burden in the taxpayer, I am all in favor of this development. Architecturally it looks good, it's a fantastic location nestled between i95 and i278, whole foods across the road. It's going to be nice.
Anne Latella November 27, 2012 at 01:18 PM
The problem is there are just a few people with self interest who are running the solution of how the United Hospital is developed. Those same people made money with the closing of United Hospital and are still affilliated with the development of this property and will benefit financially. They seem to be very adamant about Starwood. Why do you suppose that is? Their financial gain with the closing to the United Hospital cost the taxpayers money, inconvenience due to not having a hospital anymore. Plus an unsightly deteriorating property for many years. Are these the same people you are depending upon to make the right decision regarding the development of a new project there? In a village of 2.5 miles which already has over 27,000 in population, it is obvious adding to the population should be the last consideration. Not the first. You need to attract either another hospital or an upscale corporation such as Conde Nast, or Pitney Bowes, IBM. American Cyanamid etc. They would offer great upscale job oppertunities and improve the present living conditions in Port Chester and also attract many professionals to the area. These people are much more needed then additional housing. In addition they would bring in a higher tax revenue to the community. Who did a feasability study for a project to be put in this location? It appears it may be a realtor or an attorney & a few politicians & not some professional who would know exactly the best solution to this problem.
FJT November 27, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I'm afraid that what you wrote makes way too much sense to be given serious discussion in Port Chester, much less ever enacted. After all, much of the village is living on the dole, so they're indifferent. And nearly all of the rest of the people continuously demonstrate their apathy on a host of issues that adversely impact them daily. I'd love to see another hospital or growing corporation occupy the site, but based on the village's recent history, anything that would raise up this village is likely to succumb to that which benefits a handful of individuals. Simply put, are those advocating additional housing in Port Chester incompetent and unaware of its implications (e.g., ever-increasing burden on tapped-out property owners forced to fund a rapidly increasing public school population or lose their homes), or are they looking to feather their own nests? Anne, you've lived in Port Chester a lot longer than I have. What do you think motivates the kind of decisionmaking that is driving so many people out of this village and destroying home property values?
Anne Latella November 27, 2012 at 04:23 PM
FJT- Incompetent Political decisions & people with clout feathering their own nest. I have been complaining about this since I lived in Port Chester and since the Daily Item was the Port Chester Newspaper. We need more Silvio Bucceri's also a long time resident to speak out and get support from the other Port Chester residents & I do mean everyone and especially property owners. Original Port Chesterites whose families lived there for generations would never put up with this down grading of a once beautiful & thriving village. Of course that excludes the few previous and present Port Chesterites who will benefit financially from the current plan. Those looking to further their own nest have already benefited sufficiently financially from their aiding & abetting the past bad decisions. They are financially well off & continue to call the shots. There is no doubt in my mind they know exactly who I am talking about.
Anne Latella November 27, 2012 at 04:33 PM
FJT- I am referring to those well to do individuals who are masquareding as fine upstanding long time residents & seem to have the entire village believing their only inerest is in the betterment of Port Chester. Not so. So far they have been successful in playing both ends against the middle & have been doing so for many years.They need to be exposed for their true motives.
FJT November 27, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I think I understand what you've expressed. I've been following the Board of Trustees meetings and the Board of Education meetings for the past year or so, and I'm often appalled by what I see and hear. I read some of your earlier posts and understand your reason for leaving Port Chester and your concern about its future. What I see happening here in PC is the old good cop, bad cop routine. The taxpayer is being picked clean by those who purport to have the taxpayers' interests at heart while -- at the same time -- those in power engage in a power struggle for the spoils to be gained from their positions of authority. From the Bible's Book of Matthew: "7:16. By their fruit you will recognize them..." "7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." We're seeing a lot of "bad fruit" coming from these "authorities", making their motives highly suspect to anyone who is paying attention.

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