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Harmon Zoning Amendment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson E-Notice

Harmon zoning amendments go into effect

[Croton-on-Hudson, NY] The Village of Croton-on-Hudson announces today that, six years after beginning to study why more storefronts were not flourishing in the Village’s Harmon business district, the new Harmon Rezoning Law has cleared the last legal challenges. The Law went into effect on April 1, 2013, and is now being added to the Village code.

On April 1, 2013, Judge Susan Cacace issued a favorable decision and order which upheld the Village of Croton-on-Hudson’s Local Law amending the zoning for the Harmon business district. The window of time to appeal the Judge’s decision has closed as of Tuesday, June 25, 2013.  No Notice of Appeal has been filed. The law is in effect.

The Village, as the respondent, successfully defended itself against litigation over the Harmon rezoning law, incurring over $432,000 in legal defense expenses since the filing of the initial lawsuit in 2010.  In the Supreme Court’s final decision and order of April 1, 2013, Judge Cacace wrote,

“The board did not act in an arbitrary manner. This proposal was considered for more than four years and was the subject of almost continuous review and revision. The record consists of more than two thousand six hundred pages, the contents of which clearly show that the respondents acted in a deliberate and responsible manner taking into account and addressing each issue, which reasonably needed to be considered.”

The Harmon Rezoning Law permits mixed residential and commercial use in the Harmon Zoning District. The district comprises some three dozen commercial parcels on South Riverside Avenue and Croton Point Avenue in the business area closest to the Croton-Harmon train station and the Route 9 gateway to the village.  
The rezoning adds options and incentives for commercial property owners in the Harmon business district to take advantage of and to spur investment in mixed use buildings. Standard commercial occupancy is still permitted as well.

The bulk of the new zoning amendments will only apply to those property owners who wish to develop a mixed use site. Owners in the district who are satisfied with their building need not make any changes whatsoever.
In 2007 and 2008, a bi-partisan citizen’s committee found in its research that the Village’s mixed use buildings demonstrated much lower vacancy rates than the single-story, purpose built commercial buildings.  
This pattern was especially evident in the Harmon business district, in which the west side of South Riverside has a number of well-occupied, mixed use buildings, while directly across the street, single story buildings sit idle or under-utilized.

Mixed use buildings typically comprise two or three floors of saleable or rentable space. The term “mixed use” is defined in the Village code as follows: " ‘mixed use’ shall mean a combination in one building of residential dwelling units and other permitted and/or special permit uses.”

Quotes:

Mayor Leo Wiegman:  “After years of careful study, I feel confident that the new zoning options can bring revitalization without changing the character of the area. I look forward to working with any property owners in the Harmon district who would like to know more about the new zoning options now available to them. I believe these zoning options make the properties in Harmon more valuable.”

Deputy Mayor/Trustee Ann Gallelli: “Due to the efforts of the bipartisan group of residents who saw the problem and initiated the effort more than 6 years ago, and also to the multiple Village Boards that persevered in supporting it, there are now new opportunities in the Harmon business area for positive economic development which can benefit everyone in the Village.”

Trustee Ian Murtaugh: “I am personally thrilled about this turn of events. I ran for Village Trustee with one plank in my platform; reinvigorating the Harmon area through smart redevelopment policy. After years of study and hard work by many local residents the day for Harmon to be unencumbered by stifling zoning restrictions is upon us. I am looking forward the smart growth we envisioned by pushing for this law. As a resident of the Harmon Gateway area, I am thrilled we have this litigation behind us, and I send my thanks to everyone who helped move the ball forward.”

Trustee Casey Raskob: “I am pleased that the zoning is in effect and the costly litigation has come to an end. Long term, we may look to a visual revitalization of the Harmon Gateway District and an enhanced tax base. It is my hope that a more attractive downtown will bring more business to our merchants and even more vitality to our great Village.  

Trustee Kevin Davis: ”The Harmon rezoning law is a win for the residents of Croton-on-Hudson and for the economic climate of Harmon. It is now the time for all Crotonites to come together for the greater good of our Village.”

Village Manager Abraham Zambrano: “We are more than happy to meet with Harmon property owners in person to explain the new zoning. We look forward to working with local businesses, residents, and property owners to continue to revitalize the Harmon business district.”  

Harmon zoning details:

The new Harmon Rezoning Law adds the following options, incentives, and restrictions to parcel owners seeking a special permit for mixed use building:

a)      A mixed use building requires a special permit for mixed use to be issued by the Village.
b)      The floor area ratio (FAR) for a mixed use building increases to 0.80. (For example, a 10,000 square foot parcel could have a building on it with a total floor area of 8,000 square feet. The first and second floor might be 3,000 square feet each with the third floor under the gable of 2,000 square feet. Note: Single use buildings currently have an FAR of 0.4 or 0.5 in this district.)
c)      The mixed use building may not exceed the existing code requirement of 35 feet maximum building height.
d)      The mixed use building allows a limited third story space to be used for residential and other use. (Given the 35 foot maximum height, this means the third story must fit within a ridge height similar to a two story building and will likely be achieved through dormers or gables.)
e)      The parcel’s redevelopment as mixed use must include streetscape improvements.
f)      The parking requirement for mixed use is set to a baseline minimum with added procedure to increase the parking requirement on a case-by-case basis during the special permit application process.
g)      The third floor use may be residential or commercial.
h)      Mixed use permit may allow shared access and cross easements for vehicular/pedestrian access between adjacent parcels, subject to the discretion of the Village at the time of the special permit application.
i)      Any development proposals currently before the Planning Board are grandfathered under the terms of the pre-existing code.

Note: The Village will be updating the online Village Code to reflect the changes now in effect under the Harmon Rezoning Law. This update process will take a few weeks. Any members of the public who have questions in the meantime, should contact Village Manager Abraham Zambrano, for more information about the content of the changes. 914-271-4781 or azambrano@crotononhudson-ny.gov.