The New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club met on Thursday, November 4 at 7:30 PM, at the American Legion Post 8 Hall, 112 North Ave., New Rochelle. This group meets monthly to discuss a host of local issues.
The first item on tonight's agenda was the proposed Iona Dormitory issue that Greg Varian, an attorney and resident of the area, made a brief report. The dorm is being financed by the NY State Dormitory Authority and is located on the north side of New Rochelle. He highlighted the issues surrounding this new construction citing parking, vehicular traffic, and the surrounding building zoning issues. Iona used to be a commuter school that redefined its self as a residential/dormitory college some years ago.
Under Iona’s plan, the existing structure would be redeveloped into a 10-story dormitory. It appears at first glance that no special variances are needed. Mr. Varian, begs to differ even though Iona owns the land in question. ‘Spot zoning’ is not the intent when a low-density structure is to be replaced by a building that would dwarf the rest of the neighborhood. Land use, density, water pressure, sewer and the height of the building over the 6-story building limit issues are all topics that need to be resolved. He maintains that the health of the North Avenue corridor affects the entire city. The idea is to strengthen the area around the college by making a common-sense consensus.
Following the vein already in place, City Councilman Lou Trangucci continued the discussion. The water pressure and age of the pipes the water travels in were also addressed. An increase in the number of residents causes increased water and sewer use. In the near future, the water tax will rise by $700 to expand the federally-mandated sewer treatment plant and capacity issues.
He added that there will be a 4% property tax increase this year with no decrease in services while maintaining a hiring freeze. Developers need to pay their fair share because of the increased cost of running the school system. Clearly, the City’s fiscal situation needs to be remedied.
The special guest speaker was New Rochelle City Councilman Dist. # 4 Richard St. Paul gave updates about pending developments and finances in New Rochelle. He reiterated the same fiscal issues that City Councilman Lou Trangucci spoke of earlier. Hiring freezes and pay freezes are taking their toll on police and fire presence in the city. New Rochelle residents face the prospect of higher fire insurance bills should the rating of the NRPD go down because the slower response time and ability to fight fires.
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