HARRISON, N.Y. – The following is a column from Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont to the community:
Recently, the Town Board conducted a public hearing on the potential development of a senior living facility at the Lake Street Granite Quarry site in West Harrison. The developer, Brightview Senior Living, presented information. All comments, both oral and written, will be reviewed and the board will commence an in depth analysis. All interested residents were encouraged to take part.
In order to fully understand the proposal and how we have reached this juncture, I believe an overview of the site's history is necessary. As there has been a lot of misinformation, I would like to offer an outline of the issues as they exist today.
Prior to 2010 and before our zoning code even existed, this site has operated as a quarry. The owners mined the property, using heavy machinery that generated noise and pollution. Trucks entered and exited the site to pick-up and drop-off materials. Residents voiced concern to the Town Board and asked the town and village to take action against the owner. The Building Department brought charges, under our zoning code, against the owner and issued stop work orders forcing the shutdown of the quarry operation. The property owner defended the charges in court as well as challenged the town’s stop work orders. The owner’s representative reached out to town officials to resolve the outstanding legal issues and to strike a compromise for the use of the site, proposing plans that include a bank, gas station, strip mall and/or big-box store market.
The Town Board would not consider such intense uses as they would negatively impact West Harrison’s business district. The use of a mixed use senior and assisted living facility was also proposed. The Town Board decided that such use could potentially be appropriate for the site and permitted the owner to apply for such use. In exchange, the owner agreed, in a court stipulation with the town, to cease all quarrying operations and to withdraw all their court claims pending this process of repurposing the site. The owner agreed to process site plan and zoning text amendment applications, for a mixed use senior and assisted living facility, with diligence and if the owner violates the stipulation, they consented to the entry of a large money judgment against the corporate owner, individually.
The stipulation outlined the proposal the applicant planned on bringing, including that the development would include 150 to 185 units. The rezoning/development application is subject to a full review under SEQRA. A considerable benefit, of repurposing the quarry site, is that an ongoing use that has been a nuisance to residents will cease to exist. Should this proposal not be processed, which is a possibility, the Town of Harrison and the property owner will most likely go back to court and there is the possibility that the court permits the owner to continue his quarry operation, resulting in the troublesome issues previously mentioned.
Many of the public comments, the board has received, have been helpful as we examine the proposed zoning text amendment. Our number one concern is the welfare and safety of all Harrison residents. As fiduciaries, the Town Board must weigh the impacts of the proposal against the risk and cost of continuing to fight with the landowner to an uncertain end. I strongly believe that no resident is in favor of any quarrying activities resuming at the site.
The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Feb. 26 and I will be at Harrison Pizza at 248 Halstead Avenue in Downtown Harrison. On Friday, March 4, I will be at Asian Fusion located at 385 Halstead Avenue. I will be at these locations from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.