Town of Yorktown Adopts Overlay District Zoning In Yorktown Heights, Lake Osceola Biz Hamlets

Real Estate In-Depth | December 30, 2021

Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater

YORKTOWN—The Yorktown Town Board voted on Dec. 29 to adopt overlay district zoning for two business hamlets.

The creation of overlay districts in the Yorktown Heights and Lake Osceola business hamlets will encourage the creative redevelopment of functionally outdated properties, a greater flexibility of permitted land uses and visually harmonious streetscapes. The Town Board voted 4-0 to adopt the legislation; Councilman Vishnu Patel did not attend the meeting.

“Our community is taking a significant step towards repositioning our business hamlets to fit 21st-century market realities,” said Supervisor Matt Slater. “Ultimately, from all of the feedback we have received, it is abundantly clear that standing still is not an option. It is important for our residents to know this does not approve any specific project but ensures every development application will receive the same levels of scrutiny and abide by our existing laws.”

Language permitting overlay district zoning has existed in Yorktown’s Town Code for decades, but past Town Boards never created the zones, town officials noted.

“We didn’t have any choice but to do something with this legislation. As the saying goes, ‘If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results,’” said Councilwoman Alice Roker. “We’re in an economy that is unlike any other economy we’ve seen.”

The new zoning is the most significant change since the 1970s and it will advance the redevelopment of underperforming properties like the Yorktown Green, which for years has suffered from significant retail vacancies.

“I am looking forward to seeing some creative thinking by our property owners,” said Councilman Ed Lachterman. “Most reasonable people will agree that the current situation in the Heights’ business corridor is unacceptable.”

Last month, a consultant hired by the Yorktown Town Board to study proposed zoning overlay districts concluded that the proposed zoning would not overburden the town with traffic or school-aged children over the next decade. Representatives of planning consulting firm Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart concluded that overlay-zoning districts in the Yorktown Heights and Lake Osceola hamlets could lead to the development of 457 to 544 housing units over the next decade.

Oster Properties has proposed a mixed-use residential-retail redevelopment of Yorktown Green, one of the sites studied by the BFJ Planning analysis. The consultants noted that traffic in Yorktown Heights is significantly lower than when anchor tenants fully occupied the Yorktown Green shopping center. They said proposed residential-retail redevelopment of Yorktown Green will not create the same levels of traffic created by the former Kmart store.

“It is a positive thing for the community,” said Councilman Tom Diana. “We’re trying to get things done.”

Business leaders praised the Town Board’s adoption of the new zoning.

“The only way municipalities are going to re-emerge from the pandemic is by implementing out-of-the-box, sustainable strategies,” said John Ravitz, executive vice president of the Business Council of Westchester. “The overlay zones are a sensible solution that will allow Yorktown to revitalize its business hamlets while preserving the character and scale that so many residents cherish.”

Town officials expect the new zoning to spur redevelopment of the Triangle Shopping Center and new investment by the New York Department of Transportation in intersections along state roads that run through Yorktown Heights.