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Reckson Responds to Ice Rink Concerns; Public Hearing Tuesday

Reckson, the ice rink applicant, has posted responses to several different groups who have raised concerns over the four-rink ice facility proposed for Rye Brook.

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.

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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. 

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What are your thoughts on the ice facility proposal?  Please share in the comments. 

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mstrace March 05, 2013 at 01:31 AM
@Gordie....A great opportunity for everyone except those who live in the vicinity, commute along King Street or are trying to catch a flight at the airport on time. Would not contribute to traffic congestion? Have you ever tried to get from 287 to Anderson Hill Road between 3:30 and 6:00pm? It's not fun. Last week a one car accident at the King Street and Willow Run Road Intersection caused it to take 16 minutes to drive from Anderson Hill Road to International Drive along King Street. This is a 1/2 mile drive and normally takes 2 minutes. The airport noise does not bother me and if it did it would be my own fault for knowingly purchasing a house within proximity to the airport. 1,000-1,500 tailgaters just over 1,000 feet from my yard certainly will interfere with my quality of life. They will contribute to constant noise. The airport does not. While this Arena may be a wonderful idea, Reckson is the wrong location! A residential neighborhood and adjoining golf course, as you pointed out, is not place for the largest Ice Arena on the East Coast. https://docs.google.com/document/d/15f6poYaW2xTwO1XB_4qIyXx3VorT-Q0O4d2RlhRez78/pub
RH March 06, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I work on International Drive and travel King St. to and from my home, approximately 3.5 miles. I can do the drive in 18 minutes on a good morning, 25 on a bad, and that's with having to deal with 2 other area roads to get to King (I travel this route between 7:45 and 8:15 every morning). I understand traffic is going to be impacted by this, how could it not be? But does anyone really think it's going to cause that big an issue? All of us long-term area residents dealt with the additional traffic from BelleFair for the past 12 years, we'll adjust again. And no, that wasn't meant as an attack on the residents there. Just stating that 261 single-family houses built in between an Airport and a commercial complex did add some additional vehicular traffic to the people that use those properties and services. Maybe...we just need to find a way to see this as a growing experience for our little area of the country.
Aidan March 06, 2013 at 10:52 AM
If it's not Reckson in Rye Brook or Starwood in Port Chester it seems developers have a "Screw you!" attitude when it comes to humping their plans thru local municipalities. Their deaf and they're litigious ... and loathed. I'm for development ... but not when it's shoved down folks' throats. All municipalities want such projects to fit into their master plan for their particular slice of the area ... and they should have that right regardless of how mighty the developer appears to be. These developers seldom bother to assess whether their proposals are in tandem with the will of the citizens. Time to turn the tables.
mstrace March 06, 2013 at 12:06 PM
As someone who lives in Bellefair, no offense taken. I imagine there was a daily traffic increase when BF was built over the use from the prior hospital on the site. That being said, Bellefair is here now and as you pointed out already impacted King St. What needs to be considered is the current state of King St, today, and the effects it will have on the residents of Rye Brook & Greenwich, which are largely residential areas that do not want or need this commercialized venue in their neighborhood. Reckson has approval to build an office building. No one would have a problem if they constructed one. It's their property & they can do what they want---except that they are requesting a Special Permit to build an Ice Arena. from the Village. Hopefully, the Board will listen to those they represent, their constituents. Just bc Reckson's office park didn't line their pockets, it doesn't mean the residents need to supplement their failure at our expense. If a fire breaks out in a Greenwich home north of Bellefair along King Street and the surrounding areas, the firetruck has to be dispatched from Glennville and must take King Street. Seconds matter to save homes & lives. The only exception to using King St. is if there is a KNOWN life inside the home in danger. This is about safety, quality of life, noise, drinking, Village Services, environmental factors, property values, Villagers; Vision for their community and yes, traffic which is already too congested on King St.
mstrace March 06, 2013 at 12:40 PM
I couldn't agree more. It seems both developers are sharing at best 'delusional truths' and at worst, outright misrepresentations which are just short of bold faced lies. It seems developers in NYC are more truthful about their projects and embrace the fact that they may be changing a neighborhood. Look at what Hotel Gansevoort did for the Meatpacking District. Whether that was a good or bad thing, probably depends on if you owned a butcher shop but I think overall NYC came out ahead. And the developers were smart. They saw the potential of the then future High Line which resurrected awful areas and created a wonderful park. Does Starwood really think anyone believes 820 rental units will net less than 25 children to the school system? As someone from NYC, it still amazes me how large a family can be fit into a two bedroom apartment. It is not unheard of for parents to give up their bedroom and sleep on a pull out couch so the children can share the bedroom(s). In wealthier NYC families, dining rooms are forgotten and turned into the "nanny space" with room dividers or removable walls. Does anyone really believe Reckson has no plans of developing a restaurant on the additional 140,000 sf of space to make money off of feeding the mass multitude of people they are going to market to use the Arena. Truth: If the Arena isn't mass marketed and used to its full potential, it will be as useful as an empty office building.

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