Pelham Mayor Edward Hotchkiss opened the 12th public hearing on proposed changes to the Village of Pelham’s zoning code by announcing that a proposed 110-unit mixed-use development by Spinnaker Real Estate Partners and Clarion Partners was “off the table.”
“At this point it’s not a viable option that will go forward,” said Mayor Hotchkiss Tuesday night in Village Hall. He did not detail why the project fell through.
Village officials signed a memorandum of understanding with the Connecticut developers in June to further explore the project that would have been located on village owned property between Fourth and Fifth avenues and Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Hotchkiss put a positive spin on the news saying previous hearings had linked discussions of the proposed zoning changes and the potential development too closely even though it also increased community participation in the issues at hand.
Trustee Joe Marty said that since the December discussion, the board has consulted with legal counsel to ensure the Village clearly retained its prerogative to stop unwanted developments and to look more closely at Fourth Avenue impacts. Marty said the proposed C1 district would exclude any new 2-family houses and focus on identifying changes that would attract townhouse developments.
“There's still a lot of homework, “ Marty said.
Residents' opinions of the proposed changes remains mixed.
Pelham Preservation & Garden Society president Karyn Pellow said the organization was opposed to the zoning changes as currently proposed. She said that changing building height requirements on Lincoln Ave would potentially draw more children to Hutchinson Elementary School and cause a burden on enrollment.
But there was also strong support for the changes. Prefacing his remarks by clarifying he was not speaking on behalf of the Board of Architectural Review, architect Raymond Beeler praised the efforts to change the code. Beeler said the revisions were in line with principles of “smart growth” and would go a long way toward addressing “vacant spots [and] holes in the [downtown] streetscape.”
Mayor Hotchkiss stressed that zoning changes and potential developments were separate considerations.
Trustee Geoff Lewis encouraged residents to keep an open mind about the zoning changes and the ideas for downtown development in context and with an eye on Pelham’s future.
“Whether it’s this project or something else, something has to done,” said Lewis. “If it doesn’t happen, we'll have another decade of looking at holes in the ground.”
The public hearing will resume on February 19 and no vote is scheduled at this time.