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19 Livingston Avenue; Round Two at the ZBA, December 10

Before vs. (Proposed) After, at 19 Livingston Avenue, Dobbs Ferry NY

Before vs. (Proposed) After, at 19 Livingston Avenue, Dobbs Ferry NY

For the second time this year, the developer of the proposed and contentious 12 unit condominium complex, at the former Rudy’s Beau Rivage site in Dobbs Ferry, which seeks to block the panoramic Hudson river views from both the street and neighbors homes, will be appearing in front of the Dobbs Ferry Zoning Board. The purpose of their visit will be to appeal their second denial of the project by the Dobbs Ferry Architectural and Historic Review Board. The developer seeks to make the case that the AHRB once again acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner in denying their application with respect to a number of discrepancies between the proposal and the AHRB village code mandate required for approval. The developer seeks relief and permission to build the project as designed. Their first attempt, was denied by the ZBA, after a multi-month round of hearings. According to the Finding of Fact, submitted by the AHRB on October 22, the reasons for denial include Excessive Dissimilarity to the Neighborhood, Excessive Similarity of the Development to Itself and a failure to follow various parts of the Dobbs Ferry Residential Design Guidelines, as well as a lack of harmony with the neighborhood. Of particular concern in the denial is the fact that the construction of the complex as proposed, will result in a loss of property values to adjacent neighbors of between 10% – 20%. This is borne out by two appraisals from licensed real estate appraisers, submitted by neighbors. That equates to a loss of at least $60,000 – $120,000 per homeowner. Given the obvious and profound ramifications, when viewing the before and after documents and since there certainly must be many other ways to design and build a project like this, yet to the benefit of all, it remains to be seen how development of this parcel will proceed. The ZBA meeting is a public hearing and will be held at village hall, December 10, beginning at 8 PM.

UPDATE 12/11/2014: After an almost 3 hour debate, the application was continued on by the ZBA, until their next scheduled meeting; January 14, 2015 at 8 PM.

Also see:

An 1850 Dobbs Ferry Landmark Disappears Forever

Dobbs Ferry Hudson River Views In Peril

Dobbs Ferry Hudson River Views In Peril

In the now all too typical “development vs. quality of life” conversation, it appears that the incredible Hudson River views from the once thriving Rudy’s Beau Rivage property, a local landmark at the southern gateway to Dobbs Ferry, are in jeopardy of being lost to a developers vision, for a wall of condominium buildings at the street, approximately 141′ long by 35′ high, on the now vacant site. Frighteningly enough, the village of Dobbs Ferry may be prepared to ignore its own new rules, some 10 years in the making, prohibiting this type of development, which robs the entire village of existing views, for one developers benefit. Currently, under village law, a thorough View Analysis must take place by village advisory boards before permitting this project to go forward. This View Analysis must seek to mitigate to the fullest extent possible the adverse effects of construction on existing views. The item is on the agenda, as a public hearing, for the Thursday, September 12 Planning Board meeting. The developers response so far has been to propose mitigating the loss of the views from his own property, by opening up views from the neighboring Cabrini Nursing Home property to the south. While this is all well and good for the Cabrini property and is probably something that should be done anyway, it fails to address the village code requirement for the applicant to mitigate his own property. Unfortunately, this has become the all too typical way for developers in Dobbs Ferry to shirk their own responsibilities under village law, with tacit support from the village governance.

Existing public Hudson River views are called out as important to Dobbs Ferry, in the recently enacted village code:
Views to the Hudson River, from both public and private property, are particularly important and demand consideration in the review of development applications. The purpose of these standards are to preserve the scenic quality of these resources and thereby promote a high quality of life, preserve property values, and promote sustainable economic development by limiting development that would reduce their visual integrity and to ensure that development does not block observation of a scenic view from delineated public viewing places.”

As well, section 300-46 of Dobbs Ferry Code states:
When development occurs on or in the vicinity of a well-recognized landmark or outstanding view it can have a dramatic negative effect upon the general character of the community. As part of the Vision Plan process, the Village has identified significant scenic views and view corridors from selected viewing places throughout the community. Views to the Hudson River, from both public and private property, are particularly important and demand consideration in the review of development applications. The purpose of these standards are to preserve the scenic quality of these resources and thereby promote a high quality of life, preserve property values, and promote sustainable economic development by limiting development that would reduce their visual integrity and to ensure that development does not block observation of a scenic view from delineated public viewing places.”

It will certainly be interesting to see if the Dobbs Ferry Planning Board, which is supposed to have the first look at these applications and which appears to wield the most power and influence over development, will embrace its new powers to thoroughly address this issue.  Developers should be held fully accountable to village law, as opposed to the more typical rubber stamp reputation Dobbs Ferry has gotten over the past few years, towards development in the village, which comes at the expense of the quality of life of its residents.

For more information:

http://dobbsferry.com/Event/84-village-calendar/2013/09/12/272-planning-board-meeting.html

https://dobbsferry-rivertowns.com/2012/04/10/an-1850-dobbs-ferry-landmark-disappears-forever/

An 1850 Dobbs Ferry Landmark Disappears Forever

Built in 1850 as a residence and later converted to a variety of restaurant uses; Villa Arturo, later Rudy’s Beau Rivage and now the failed Windows on the Hudson, 19 Livingston Avenue represented a charming and iconic landmark, at the southern gateway to the village of Dobbs Ferry downtown for over 160 years. Last week it was unceremoniously torn down. A combination of excessively grandiose intentions by a new owner, coupled with a diminished economy, limited financing opportunities and a lack of village oversight during the reconstruction phase turned what could have been a great renovation, into a pile of rubble.
It is a sad state of affairs in Dobbs Ferry when what started as a structurally sound building of this vintage, was essentially left to rot, exposed to the elements, in broad daylight on a main road, until such time as there was no other choice but to demolish it. This was the second such building of a similar age and character to be demolished on Livingston Avenue in the past several years. One can only imagine, given the value of the land, which recently sold for $1,145,000, what it’s to be replaced with. Hopefully, it’s not the maximum number of residential units one can possibly fit on the property, sheathed in vinyl siding, as the welcome mat to the village downtown district.
The newly passed Dobbs Ferry zoning code allows the Board of Trustees to request a determination, or catalog, of historically significant buildings and districts in the village of Dobbs Ferry. As of yet, this request has not been made. The demise of these buildings should serve as a wake up call. Perhaps it is time the village exercised the full freedom and powers that the new zoning code allows, in the hopes of either preventing, slowing down or at least adequately regulating and overseeing, with more stringent controls, what goes on during the reconstruction of buildings of this type. Dobbs Ferry, like most other river villages, has an ever dwindling supply of these old buildings, now minus one more. Hopefully, something has been learned here and this can be avoided in the future.

September 2013 Update:                                                                                                Dobbs Ferry Hudson River Views In Peril                                               https://dobbsferry-rivertowns.com/2013/09/12/dobbs-ferry-hudson-river-views-in-peril/

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