By ASHLEY HELMS
After months of contentious debate over possible changes in the floor area ratio within the Village of Mamaroneck, the proposal to remove parking space area from the formula used to calculate an acceptable FAR was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees.
Proponents of the change said it will help develop vacant areas of the village, while those who are against it said the amendment will allow for irresponsible construction.
In relation to the change, parking space area will now be removed from the floor area ratio formula for all other uses other than single-family residential development. Essentially, the move would allow commercial and multi-residential developers more room on which to build. The proposal was approved on Nov 25.
For single-family homes, all accessory parking garages of 400 square feet or less will be completely excluded from the FAR formula. If a garage’s space exceeds that, the first 400 square feet will be excluded. In buildings other than one or two family homes, mechanical or utility rooms that help to run the house will also be excluded from the FAR formula.
When used in municipal zoning codes, FAR is the ratio of the total floor area of buildings on a certain location to the size of the land of that location, or the limit imposed on such a ratio.
Trustee Leon Potok, a Democrat, said the amendment is intended to fix what wasn’t outlined in the village zoning codes when they were changed in 2008.
The changes were made in 2008 during the administration of Mayor Kathleen Savolt, a Democrat.
Before changes were made this year, village land use boards, including the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management committee, had the opportunity to make suggestions before the changes in parking space area were passed. The HCZM approved the changes by a unanimous vote, Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, said.
Some opponents of the parking space area changes said the 2008 zoning code changes don’t need to be updated and were written to include parking space area on purpose to encourage smart development in the village, according to village resident Dan Natchez, who opposes the amendment.
Changing FAR is intended to increase aesthetically and financially successful development, especially in the downtown flood-prone areas. Removing parking from the formula will ideally give developers more space with which to work.
But some residents are concerned with exempting the parking space area from FAR. They say the FAR code’s language will cause over-development or development used for purposes unknown to the village.
Natchez, an opponent of the FAR change, said excluding parking space area doesn’t force developers to be efficient with use of the village’s land. It removes any restrictions because of what is seen as a mistake that was made in 2008 by not excluding parking.
Natchez disagrees with that assessment.
“I don’t think it was a mistake, I thought it was exceedingly well thought out and planned out,” he said. “What it did was encourage people to be smart in their development.”
Natchez and his colleague Paul Milliot of Daniel S. Natchez and Associates, a waterfront planning and consulting firm, wrote a letter to the Planning Board on Aug. 1 in order to suggest to the Board of Trustees that the proposed FAR changes should be completely rejected and outlined their reasoning. The changes are not well thought out and allowing for high-density development is a major gift from a developer’s standpoint, according to Natchez, because high-density development brings in more residents and, ultimately, more money for the developer and realtor.
“We filed a whole bunch of stuff, but it fell on deaf ears,” Natchez said. “I think people who made the decisions made them and they think it’s right, but its not.”