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Retail, Apartment Plan Meets Resistance In Yonkers

A New Jersey developer has plans to turn a lot near Stew Leonard's in Yonkers into two retail stores and an apartment complex.
A New Jersey developer has plans to turn a lot near Stew Leonard's in Yonkers into two retail stores and an apartment complex. Photo Credit: Matt Bultman

YONKERS, N.Y. – A group of Yonkers homeowners are “adamantly” opposed to a plan to build a pair of retail stores and an apartment complex nearby.

Morris Industrial Builders of Rutherford, N.J. has proposed a project that would transform a lot on Austin Avenue and Prior Place into two large retail stores, one of which is said to be a Target, and a 400-unit residential building.

But members of the Nepera Park-Grey Oaks Neighborhood Association said they fear the development, next to Stew Leonard's and across from Home Depot and Costco, would bring a host of problems to the area, including traffic congestion, rodent infestation and flooding.

“We want to see development,” said Frederick Weaver, president of the neighborhood association. “We want to see Yonkers be as big or bigger than White Plains.  But we don’t feel they are looking at it correctly.”

In an environmental review study released in November, developers said they had targeted the lot, part of which sits on a former landfill, because “based of proximity to other developments, this makes it an ideal location.” Before the plan can move forward, however, they need to secure zoning changes from the city that would relax certain requirements.

A similar zoning change was granted to developers at Ridge Hill, something City Council member and former Nepera Parks-Grey Oaks President John Larkin said was supposed to be a one-time thing. But now another group of developers is back, asking that similar changes be made.

“This spot-zoning just is not right,” Weaver said. “Zoning was put in place to protect citizens, not to help developers do what they want.”

On Wednesday, the Planning Board postponed review of the plan until next month.

If development is allowed to move forward, Weaver said he fears there could be an increase in flooding as green space was replaced with paved parking lots. What’s more, he said, is that nearby homeowners already had to deal with rat infestations and disruptions to water service during the development of Stew Leonard's. They fear the same issues might arise should a second project begin.

“Every time they do something up there people around here, they suffer,” Weaver said.

Weaver said he thinks soon, Yonkers residents won’t be the only ones raising concerns about the proposal. Building stores and housing units on the lot, which is near the Greenburgh town line, would create a traffic nightmare, he said, clogging roads in the city and neighboring areas.

“Greenburgh and Hastings are not going to be happy,” he said.

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