10 Reasons Why a Moratorium Would be Good
Originally published in The Westmore News, Feb 8th, 2023
At the Monday, Feb 5th Board of Trustees meeting, the Trustees voted to write legislation for a one year moratorium on development. This was in part a response to what seemed to be a clear threat of legal action from a developer’s lawyer, but there are many reasons this could be extremely helpful to Port Chester as a whole. It’s become obvious that the Form Based Code had many problems and has thus far been addressed in a piecemeal, ineffective fashion. A one year moratorium would allow MANY issues to be addressed in a much more functional and positive way. The moratorium would NOT affect homes that are simply adding improvements, like a patio. Most Trustees were very clear that they wanted to make sure this did not impede improvements done by regular people.
Here are some clear benefits. If you see any that are important to you, WRITE the Mayor and Board of Trustees to support the moratorium!
1] If errors have been made in providing public notice of changes, this is a good chance for the Village to avoid lawsuits.
2] The Village needs a COMPREHENSIVE traffic study, not piecemeal studies. This is obvious!
3] Much of the new development is focused on providing luxury apartments, but is this the kind of housing Port Chester needs? This doesn’t seem to reflect our requirements.
4] Firefighters have expressed concerns about the heights and designs of the new buildings. Having a year to look closely at how these new buildings would save us a lot of heartache in the future.
5] A year would give the Village an opportunity to make the back and forth between the Industrial Development Agency [the IDA] and the Village clear. Given that the IDA rewards PILOTs [Payments In Lieu Of Taxes], every single taxpayer in Port Chester should know how these decisions are made. Why not build in a regularly schedule presentation by the IDA to the BOT so we can all understand the process?
6] Port Chester has a large number of trained and qualified tradespeople who could be employed in all new developments, but the IDA hasn't required local labor for new developments. Why not?
7] Understanding what the impact would be on local businesses would help us make sure new development is truly beneficial to local businesses. We have a lot of small businesses - will they be able to afford the huge retail spaces in these new developments? The answer is pretty clearly no. We should address this.
8] Clearly all of this development will affect our schools. Again, if we only look at each building individually, we are doing our school system a disservice. We should both think and plan ahead.
9] Many people have pointed out that a lot of the new buildings are gigantic glass and steel boxes. The Form Based Code did away with maximum lot and building sizes, increased heights tremendously, and requires a very high percentage of glass in new buildings, which means they cannot blend with surrounding buildings. The lack of Architectural Review Board means there is no supervision for these new buildings. This could be fixed in a year.
10] Over and over again, people have come to meetings and stood at the mic and said the same thing; “I did not know this development was happening until recently.” The BOT could take the year to reach out to people in Port Chester and get their feedback. Passing the FBC at the height of the pandemic meant that most people were left in the dark. Let’s fix that.
The people of Port Chester LOVE their village and want the best for it. A one year moratorium on development gives us the chance to fix the many, many errors in the FBC and make development better; we should all share both the benefits and burdens of development equitably.