TUCKAHOE, N.Y. -- The Tuckahoe Planning Board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, where the only item on the agenda is a controversial project that proposes constructing 121 new apartments on Main Street, which opponents say will cause an influx in the number of students to the Tuckahoe School District.
Project developer Glen Vetromile, of Glenmark Partners, said he and partner Phil Raffiani asked the board to hold a special summer meeting, noting there are only a couple of steps left in what he called a long and exhaustive review of the proposal by the planning board.
There are only two steps left in the process for us: the acceptance of our Environmental Impact Statement and site plan approval, Vetromile said.
But Vetromile, Raffiani and the planning board may face an uphill battle as residents against the project continue to fight construction of the new buildings.
Joe Pregiato, an Eastchester resident who lives in the Tuckahoe School District, said he has collected about 30 letters against the project including one from board of Education President Dr. Julio Urbina.
In a letter written to the planning board in May, Urbina maintained that the proposed apartment complex would increase the number of children who will attend the Tuckahoe School District , an increase, Urbina said, the district cannot afford.
The school district hired an independent firm to provide enrollement projections over the next five years, and included the 121 units Raffiani and Vetromile are proposing.
In short, the school district consultants estimated that between 34 and 37 additional students will enroll in the district from the new complex -- almost double the 19 students projected by the developer.
Pregiato and other opponents of the project argue that the tax revenue to the district will fall short of supporting an influx of students.
If those children are not supported by the appropriate levels of funding, the school district and our community will have two choices, neither of which is desirable or politically feasible: increase property taxes to make up the difference or make cuts in the number of teachers, cut back on academic and extra-curricular programming and increase the number of children in the classroom, all of which will devastate the stellar reputation that the district has worked so hard to earn, Urbina wrote in a letter addressed to the planning board.
But Vetromile said the district's study is flawed. We did three different sets of calculations and came up with an increase of approximately 19 new students to the district as a result of our project," he said.
At issue is the development of three overgrown lots situated on the corner of Main Street and Midland Place, formerly occupied by a recreational vehicle sale and rental lot followed by an automotive oil changing business.
About three years ago, Raffiani was granted a mixed use variance for the property that was zoned for commercial use. At that time, approval was granted for construction of a three-building project that would house 88 residential condominium units, comprised of studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units and 18,000 square feet of commercial space.
But when the economy started to sag, and housing sales declined, Raffiani teamed up with Vetromile and reconfigured the project.
The new proposal would construct 121 one and two bedroom apartments and would reduce the commercial space to just 3,500 square feet.
If you walk down Main Street, you see lots of empty storefronts, Ventromile said. Our location is not a great location for retail.
Pregiato said that despite the unexpected summer meeting, many residents plan on attending Tuesday night's meeting. We plan on doing all we can to prevent this project from going forward as it is now, he said.
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