Recent proposed changes to the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, which acts as a guide for development along coastal regions, have some members of the community up in arms, claiming the village’s unique character is at stake. File photo

LWRP workshop plans for the future

Recent proposed changes to the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, which acts as a guide for development along coastal regions, have some members of the community up in arms, claiming the village’s unique character is at stake. File photo

In an attempt to ease the fervent criticism of an update to the village’s encompassing waterfront document, the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees held a special workshop this past week, outlining what steps to take in the coming year.

At the March 31 workshop in the village’s courtroom, officials reiterated the process for the next few months regarding the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program’s future and attempted to map-out what future public involvement and meetings would entail.

The meeting, which was open to the public but no public comment allowed, was the “next step in the process,” according to Republican Mayor Norman Rosenblum, and was the first of many meetings in the coming year.

“[The Board of Trustees] needs help to put this into manageable chunks and help us dissect it amongst ourselves,” Democratic Trustee Ilissa Miller said. “In a couple months, we want to have something we are proud of and able to present to the public.”

Spending the duration of the meeting discussing parameters moving forward with the village’s consultants on the matter, the trustees talked about what aspects of the plan needed the most attention; how to digest the public comment and concerns; and how to plan out the next few months in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program has been a particularly contentious issue in the village for the past few months since an update was submitted to the public in February after undergoing a six-year process. A two-week comment period that ended Feb. 28 engendered an outpouring of public concern, ranging from transparency and phrasing concerns within the document and the update process.

In an attempt to address the concerns, Charlie McCaffrey, village consultant for the
update process, gave the trustees guidance.

“You have options in how it is implemented,” McCaffrey said. “The state wants an accurate account and key provisions of how you will proceed.”

According to McCaffrey, the process will, “at best, take until the end of the year.”

The Board of Trustees will interpret and implement February public comment and concern and develop their own consensus, according to the consultant. Once that version of the LWRP is submitted to New York’s Department of State, the village is expected to conduct a public review process while state and federal agencies review the updated document themselves.

The updated LWRP will be ready for adoption by the Board of Trustees when it is returned to them from the state and all public, state and federal comments are acknowledged.

A deadline looms for the trustees to submit the village’s final iteration of the update by December 2014. The village is contractually obligated with the Department of State thanks to a $50,000 grant from the department for the project. An initial due date of December 2013 passed and, as a result, an extension was requested.

According to Village Manager Richard Slingerland, the extension was a final, one-year deal.

One of the more debated aspects of the waterfront program’s update comes with the role of the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission. The update calls for minimizing the commission’s role to advisory rather than maintaining its ability to determine consistency independently of the Board of Trustees.

According to Les Steinman, the land-use attorney for the village, the board has a variety of options when it comes to the coastal commission. The Board of Trustees can delegate themselves determiners of consistency regardless of environmental classification and receive advisory input from the commission. Or, the board can also determine consistency for legislative actions or actions regarding village property and the HCZMC determines consistency on Type I or unlisted environmental actions.

Type I and unlisted environmental actions are defined as most likely to have an adverse impact on the environment, according to the state.

McCaffrey said, “Unlike other comprehensive plans and studies that communities do, one distinguishing feature of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program is that it has to be enforceable. Any of the visions, standards or policies have to be backed-up by local laws that justify that vision.”

According to McCaffrey, who worked on the original LWRP with the Department of State, the village stands to reap some rewards by gaining the state’s approval for the LWRP update.

“State approval means increased eligibility for grants, funding for local programs like the $50,000 grant for the update itself and more,” McCaffrey said. “Consistency of state and federal agencies is a major incentive for communities.”

Whether or not the trustees can decipher all of the public comment and layers of the 176-page update remains to be seen.

In letters obtained by the Mamaroneck Review, two members of a steering committee tasked with updating the LWRP, George Shieferdecker and Philip Horner, advised the trustees they wouldn’t be able to handle the depth of the document on their own.

Trustee Miller voiced the possibility of additional consulting during the workshop.

“We’re coming from the top-down, so having people who need to work and live with this on a day-to-day basis can help tell us where we might have gaps in our knowledge,” she said.

The Board of Trustees concluded the meeting by saying, at the April 7 work session, specific plans going forward will be discussed and drafted.