Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart suggested other topics for Monday night's meeting of members of the town's land use boards and the town council, much of the conversation centered on the redevelopment of the Rockland Psychiatric Center Property.
Part of the meeting was an update. Stewart shared copies of the town's revised redevelopment plan for RPC. The town is currently waiting to hear from Empire State Development to hear what kind of role it will play in promoting the site.
Most of the questions from the land use board members centered around a timeline and moving the project forward.
Councilman Paul Valentine stressed the importance of having the land use boards on the same page with the town.
"If you can tell the developer that if you meet our criteria, if we can meet our goals, we can get you a building permit relatively quickly, they would be more apt to invest here than somewhere it takes five years to go through the whole process."
"There is a whole process to go through this and I'm sure the members of the boards here will be involved," Councilman Denis Troy said. "It's going to take time.
"We can have our vision. And as Andy said, our vision is in the document. But it still comes back to what is viable in the marketplace."
Stewart has advocated waiting on Empire State Development's decision about involvement before putting out an Request for Proposals (RFP) for the site because it could save the town some of the expense involved, though one suggestion from Monday was to have an RFP prepared to go either way.
"I would love to have a schematic plan that says what we're doing right now," Councilman Tom Diviny said. "It's 10 years in and we're trying to get people in here. We need an RFP immediately. We have our wish list. Some we might get. Some the developers might reject. We need to hear from developers what is viable and what is not."
The town has sent out an RFP for the property before, though that was shortly after it was purchased 10 years ago. At the time, the town was hoping for commercial development, but none of the proposals that were submitted provided for that.
"Ten years ago, they wanted commercial, but all they got was 55-and-over housing," Diviny said. "Until the developers come and say what's viable and what is not, it's just a wish list."
"We know what we don't want, which is a ton of traffic, to overwhelm the schools, big box retail, crazy things nobody wants anyway," Stewart said. "We know what we do want. We want nice stuff that increases the tax base."
Troy spoke even more strongly against big box retail stores.
"That isn't happening," Troy said. "I'd rather leave it there with the buildings vacant than put them in there."
The discussion also included concerns about how the land use boards work together, including the Zoning Board of Appeals having authority to override rulings by the other boards. Thano Schoeppel of the Historic Areas Board of Review raised that issue. He explained that the Zoning Board of Appeals hears a presentation as if it is the first time.
"It's not an appeal. He's getting a do-over with the ZBA," Schoeppel said.
Stewart suggested having members of the various land use boards get together to discuss ways they can work together better. The members of the council expressed their willingness to look into modifying the town code to help.
"We are empowered to deal with the town code, but you deal with it all the time yourselves," Morr said.
Schoeppel also brought up the issue of having a town board liaison at their meetings, but that is a conflict because both are on Tuesday nights.
"Better move (Town Council meetings) back to Mondays," joked Bruce Bond, a member of the Orangetown Planning Board and the Pearl River Board of Education, which also meets Tuesday nights.