SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Planning Board members have scheduled an extra meeting for Thursday, Jan. 24, to review a 42-unit affordable housing complex as they attempt to decide the project’s fate by their self-imposed Feb. 26 deadline.
At the Dec. 18 meeting, member Greg LaSorsa identified several “problematic” issues with Lewisboro Commons, the name given the government-subsidized complex proposed by the Elmsford-based Wilder Balter Partners.
Chief among LaSorsa’s concerns was the possibility of the complex making a bad situation worse on Route 22 and I-684. Lewisboro Commons is proposed for 35 acres off Route 22, a state road, in Goldens Bridge.
“To just go ahead and let this traffic situation go unheeded, it will be a nightmare,” LaSorsa said. “Traffic is a nightmare in Goldens Bridge right now and it’s not going to get any better. We have to address this.”
LaSorsa, a Goldens Bridge resident who frequently traverses the roads in question, said it’s illogical to place a traffic light at the complex’s entrance on Route 22, just a few hundred feet after motorists exit I-684.
“I don’t know if everyone understands how difficult that’s going to be,” he said. “You’re making a left turn [off Exit 6A] and then you’re going to have to stop.”
John Bainlardi, vice president of Wilder Balter, said the traffic situation has been vetted and approved by the state, private consultants and engineers, and town consultants and engineers.
“To say that it hasn’t been looked at or hasn’t been considered, it has,” Bainlardi said. “It’s passed muster…”
LaSorsa said the traffic situation on Route 22 during rush hour has been designated a “Level F” (the lowest grade) by traffic consultants.
Bailnardi acknowledged the road’s poor rating during rush hour, but said traffic added by Wilder Balter occupants will be inconsequential.
Though LaSorsa said a designated right-hand turn lane into the complex would help, he said it might be prudent to ban left-hand turns into the property from Route 22.
“I think that’s a potential for disaster,” he said.
These are among the issues that will be further explored at the Jan. 24 meeting. This meeting as well as the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the former Lewisboro Elementary School (79 Bouton Road).
Members also expressed concern with the number of children being added to the school district and how much the school’s budget would increase as a result. The board wants to see the town indemnified against any lawsuit that Wilder Balter may file and to have a broader plan for affordable housing in Lewisboro.
The Planning Board, by resolution, said it will vote on the project “no later” than Feb. 26. The board set a firm timeline after hearing from Councilman John Pappalardo at its November meeting. The councilman, who had met with Stephen Robinson, the federal monitor tasked with analyzing affordable housing in Westchester, warned that the town could face a federal lawsuit if the complex is not approved soon.
Robinson, on Dec. 14, told The Katonah-Lewisboro Times via email that he is “concerned” with the board’s delay in approving the project and that the situation “bears watching.”