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Yonkers Debates Pros, Cons Of Historic District

YONKERS, N. Y – A group of neighbors continue to clamor for historic status for their east Yonkers enclave. But others say they want nothing to do with it.

Both sides took to the microphone Thursday night in front of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee, each airing their thoughts on why, or why not, an 18-home section of Warwick Road should be designated a historic district.

Supporters use words like “grand elegance” or “historical heritage,” and say the Period Revival-style mansions make up a unique section of the city that deserves to be preserved.

“We all have a great responsibility to protect the intent of the historical culture and pass it on to future generations,” said 91 Warwick Road resident Ray Hargreaves.

But opponents contend they do not want to deal with the implications of living in a historic district, especially when they didn’t consent to it.

“This has very real effects on homeowners like me who have immediate, actual interests,” said Mary Cryan, owner of the home at 2 Hampshire Road. “As you well know, renovations are common in our neighborhood. So what about the homeowner who wants to make changes to his property?”

The discussion was part of a public hearing Thursday inside City Council Chambers at Yonkers City Hall. There, a couple dozen residents filled the pews for the evening discussion on an application to create a Warwick Historical District .

The proposed district became an issue late last year when the neighborhood’s newest homeowner, Levon Kazarian, submitted a plan to the Zoning Board of Appeals to demolish the home at 101 Warwick Road. In its place, a larger home that includes both an indoor tennis court and indoor swimming pool would be built.

In an effort to prevent the changes, several homeowners along Warwick Road submitted an application to the city, hoping it would declare the area a historic district.

If granted, the designation would require residents seeking to modify their homes to first get approval from the landmarks board.

Petition co-sponsor Jack Rose said Thursday that he and his wife were drawn to the neighborhood 16 years not only because of the elegant design of his home, but those around it.

“We want it to stay that way, to preserve the character and integrity of what we have,” he said.

Rita Steinkamp, a Westchester real estate broker, told the Landmarks Commission that not granting the neighborhood historical status could lead to changes that would irreparably damage home prices.

“It would have a devastating effect on one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Westchester,” she said.

The board is expected to decide on the designation early next month, and, if approved, it will appear before the City Council for a final vote.

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