The Village of Rye Brook will hold a public hearing on the 140,000 square foot ice facility proposed for 1100 King Street at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The Village Planning Commission approved the project on Jan. 3, but several community members, Rye City and Greenwich Town officials have publically raised several concerns.
During the Jan. 8 Village Board of Trustees meeting Mayor Joan Feinstein emphasized that the public hearing will be kept open until the board feels all concerns have been adequately addressed by Reckson LLC., the company proposing the facility, and which also currently owns the office park operating at the same location. Reckson intends to have the QMC Group run the ice rinks.
On Friday, Jan. 18, Reckson provided a 63-page “grid response” document, which addressed Greenwich, Rye, homeowners associations and resident concerns.
Reckson representatives have maintained that the plan is a viable and positive proposal for Rye Brook and its surrounding communities. The project will not significantly impact traffic or harm the environment andQMC and Reckson will be sensitive to the community’s needs, according to Reckson representatives.
Greenwich officials have argued that Reckson’s most recent traffic studies were inadequate. And both Greenwich and Rye City officials had concerns over environmental impacts, like how the increased impervious area will affect the watershed and flood elevations. One small group, two Doral Greens residents represented by local attorney Cliff Davis, say the village zoning laws do not allow such a commercial recreational facility at all.
Traffic and Parking
In response to many different traffic concerns listed in the grid response document, Reckson’s consulting engineer John Collins repeatedly wrote:
A detailed Traffic Impact Study (November 5, 2012) and supplemental analysis including sensitivity analysis (December 4, 2012 and December 20, 2012 letters) have been conducted.
Based on the results of those analyses, “the proposed Recreation Facility (Reckson Sports Amenity) will not significantly impact traffic operations in the area. Similar Levels of Service and delays will be experienced at the Study Area intersections.”
It should be noted that at the site access (International Drive), a separate left turn lane for northbound traffic and a separate right turn lane for southbound traffic is provided, which minimizes conflicting movements along King Street. In addition, in the future if traffic patterns change or traffic volumes increase, signal timings at Anderson Hill Road and/or International Drive can be optimized to provide improved traffic flow along the King Street Corridor.”
The grid also notes that a traffic count and parking survey was conducted at the Ice Works Skating Complex in Aston, Pennsylvania to be used in a comparison with Reckson parking projections.
“Based on this comparison, the Reckson Sports Amenity traffic projections are consistent with the observed Ice Works Skating Complex traffic volumes and parking counts.”
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Does Village Code Allow This?
Cliff Davis, representing Doral Green residents Alan Berk and Nancy Ruskin, argues that the village code does not allow a commercial recreational facility in that location, which is zoned as an Office-Building 1 (OB-1) Zone, which is also a residential 25 District.
Davis argues that the village building inspector overlooked the importance of syntax in a village zoning law. Where the code states that zone permits “government buildings and uses, libraries and parks and recreation facilities,” Davis says that means only governmental parks and recreation facilities are permitted, and that commercial recreational facilities are not permitted.
“You have that right,” Feinstein told him at the Jan. 8 meeting, referring to his contention and ability to appeal to the ZBA.
“The words are plain. They state ‘parks and recreation’ facilities,” Davis wrote in an email to Patch. “It is disingenuous to try to separate those words and just rely on the words "recreation facility" in a vacuum. Those facilities are defined on the website as being facilities of the Parks and Recreation Department. Grammatically, it only makes sense to treat "parks and recreation" as one word.”
Davis filed an application with the ZBA on Jan. 10, asking for an interpretation on whether Reckson’s application is permitted in the OB-1 zone at their Mar. 5 meeting.
Reckson representatives acknowledged Davis’ appeal in their response grid.
Reckson attorney, a Cuddy & Feder attorney, wrote that the recreation facility is not required to be publically owned in order for it to comply with village code.
“The Zoning Ordinance expressly states that all uses permitted in the R_25 District are permitted in the OB_1 District and such uses include a Recreation Facility. The interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance consistent with the above statement has been made by Mr. Michael Izzo, Building Inspector for the Village. Mr. Izzo has jurisdiction to render such decisions. Mr. Davis has challenged Mr. Izzo’s determination by appealing to the Zoning Board.”
Hours of Operation
In response to several concerns regarding traffic and neighborhood noise levels, the response grid noted that the doors would open at 5:30 a.m. and the last scheduled event for the facility would be 11 .m., ending at 12:00 a.m. The doors would close at 12:30 AM.
The topics noted above are only a few of the dozens covered in the full 63-page response grid. The document provided comments and responses to written comments from 12 different memos or letters from several groups, who had a wide range of concerns. The document responded to the following:
- BelleFair Homeowners Association, Inc. Letter dated 1/11/13 to the Village of Rye Brook Board of Trustees.
- City of Rye Letter dated 1/8/13 to the Village of Rye Brook Board of Trustees.
- Village of Rye Brook Emergency Services Task Force Memorandum dated 1/8/13 to Village of Rye Brook Board of Trustees and Planning Board.
- HDR Memo (RE: Technical Review of Air Quality Assessment) dated 1/4/13 to Village of Rye Brook Planning Board.
- Dolph Rotfeld Engineering, P.C. (the city’s engineering consultant) Memo dated 1/3/13 to Planning Board Chairman and Village Engineer.
- Town of Greenwich Planning and Zoning – Land Use Department Memo dated 1/3/13 to Village of Rye Brook Board of Trustees and Planning Board.
- Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works Memo dated 1/2/13 to Diane W. Fox, Town Planner, Town of Greenwich, Connecticut.
- Rosemary Schlank Letter dated 1/2/13 to the Village Board of Trustees and Planning Board
- Town of Greenwich Department of Planning and Zoning Memo dated 12/28/12 to Rye Brook Planning Board & Village Administrator.
- Parish & Weiner Memo dated 12/28/12 to the Board of Trustees, Planning Board and Doral Green, Belle Fair, Arbors and Atria Communitees.
- Frederick P. Clark Associates, Inc. Memorandum dated 12/27/12 to the Village Planning Board (re: Traffic Impact Study)
- Frederick P. Clark Associates, Inc. Memorandum dated 12/27/12 to the Village Planning Board (re: Special Permit and Site Plan)
- BETA Group Memo dated 12/27/12 to Diane W. Fox, Town Planner, Town of Greenwich, Connecticut.
Read the full list of comments and responses by clicking on the PDF attached to this article.
The public hearing will be held at 1100 King Street at the public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Rye Brook village hall.
What are your thoughts on the ice facility proposal? Please share in the comments.