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An Immodest Proposal: Waterfront Development in Nyack

by Paul Braus

TZVistaSiteNyack, Oct 1 — Close to 200 people were in attendance on Thursday night at Village Hall to discuss the proposed TZ Vista waterfront development.

Village of Nyack Attorney Walter Sevastian opened the meeting describing what a “text amendment” means, followed by a series of speakers who expressed a preference to keep the zoning laws ‘as is’ in the waterfront district. There were a few speakers who encouraged a text update of the village code to allow for higher development – which is the proposal being considered. I would say there were about three for it and 15 speakers against it.

A proposed ‘text update’ to the code, requested by the developer, would allow for new construction along the river to be 60 feet tall. The current rules limit building heights to 40 feet.

Oddly, this change would not be a variance. It would NOT set a precedent that could be cited elsewhere in town – according to the village attorney, who repeated this caveat at least ten times.

So it begs the question: why should this a developer get ‘special treatment’ from village officials? I would actually be more amenable to this deal if it were a variance – if a change is to be made, do it in a manner that effects all property owners equally.

I sat through the meeting and I did not hear a lone, sensible reason to alter the zoning laws. I heard numerous impassioned pleas to respect the character of the village and keep the zoning laws as they are currently written.

There was discussion of underground parking accompanying a plan for taller buildings. Legitimate-sounding points were discussed questioning the feasibility of building underground parking at the site.

Why would there not be underground parking to go along with 40-foot tall buildings? Because 60-foot tall buildings would be more profitable, thus enabling the funding of the underground parking garage.

Honestly, if you want to hear the ‘pro’ case, ask a village official. I genuinely don’t get it! (In an effort to attempt to be impartial here, the stated benefits to the village of the larger project are: public access to the waterfront and the aforementioned underground parking.)

The zoning laws seem to list a sensible height for this riverfront development. The developer was fully aware of the current zoning statutes when he purchased an option to buy this property.

The higher these three buildings are, the less view of the river is afforded for everyone else in town. I think that metric is real and undeniable.

Also – in my opinion — the glass and steel structures portrayed in the ‘taller’ proposal are quite unpleasing to the eye and completely inconsistent with existing architecture in Nyack. I have to agree with the comparison that some have made between the proposed TZ Vista six story construction and buildings on the waterfront in Weehawken and Edgewater. The lower – 40 foot tall – proposal appears to feature brick buildings that seem to be a better fit for Nyack.

If you care deeply about the future of our waterfront, let village officials know how you feel. Sign a petition, write a letter, make a phone call: make your voice heard! This new construction will alter our village forever.

Nyack resident Paul Braus is an independent stock/options trader and real estate investor/local landlord.

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