YORKTOWN, N.Y. - The proposed Chase Bank branch on Commerce Street moved closer to approval last week after the public hearing opened and closed with most issues resolved.
The dominant concern at the public hearing was over increased traffic to Commerce Street and the connecting roads. During the 35-minute hearing, Town Engineer Michael Quinn said the new bank has the potential to cause “gridlock.”
The property presently has one entrance/exit from Commerce Street, but Chase is proposing a separate entrance and exit. Because of the congested nature of Commerce Street, especially during peak hours, Quinn said this proposition requires more study. Representatives for Chase, however, said it has already been studied, twice, and both times no issues were revealed.
Because the change is difficult to project, Quinn suggested the Planning Board approve Chase’s plan on a conditional basis. After Chase is up and running, Quinn said, new studies can be completed and the plan possibly altered as a result. Chase strongly opposed this proposition.
Jennifer Porter, an attorney representing Chase, said the two completed traffic studies should be satisfactory.
“We did a traffic a study,” Porter said. “Then, because the results came back arguably that we would not have an impact...[we were told] ‘Go back and do it again. Not that we don’t believe you, we just want to make sure.’ So we did that again.”
Tom Moffitt of Chase said the company would not agree to the condition-based approval.
“We’re putting a very large investment into this; that’s why we have an issue with the open-ended agreement that maybe we’ll change it later,” Moffitt said. “I can’t agree to that from the bank’s perspective.”
Planning Board members seemed satisfied with the traffic studies and did not pursue Quinn’s suggestion.
Richard Pierson, a traffic engineer for Chase, also said the bank would not agree to prohibit left turns onto Commerce Street. He said no other business on Commerce Street has a left-hand turn restriction, which he said would burden motorists. If peak hour traffic is an issue, Pierson said, motorists familiar with the local roads would likely just turn right to leave Chase.
Resident Dan Strauss agreed and said the drivers would use common sense to navigate the traffic. He said the issue should not derail the project.
“[The drivers] will figure it out,” Strauss said. “I just don’t think it’s an issue.”
Quinn said there is also an issue with making left turns into the Chase property because of its proximity to the traffic light.
“Imagine cars on Commerce Street that are trying to make a left into this parking lot,” Quinn said.
He said the plan requires “a little extra scrutiny” because of its second entrance.
“That’s all I was trying to achieve,” Quinn said.
At the meeting, Porter said the 4,632-square-foot Chase branch, if approved, would be its only branch in the Heights area. The two nearby branches—2002 Commerce St. and 2035 Crompond Road—would both close, she said.
“This bank is part of what’s called a two-to-one, so Chase’s intentions are to consolidate, meaning to close the other two existing Chase branches and to open this branch,” Porter said.
The bank, located directly across the street from the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center, would be built on the Empire Hunan site. The Chinese restaurant, which would be demolished, recently shuttered its doors, Porter said.
Aesthetically, the plan calls for Chase to reflect the surrounding community, meaning its exterior would be mostly brick.
The plan, including traffic issues, will be discussed at the Planning Board’s next meeting in August. Final approval may come at the board’s following meeting in September.