By KATIE HOOS
As the Village of Mamaroneck’s overhaul of its long-standing Local Waterfront Revitalization Program nears the final stages, some opponents are questioning whether the proposed changes would jeopardize the village’s waterfront character.
The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program acts as a comprehensive guide for expansion along the village’s coastal zone, promoting balance between the preservation of the village’s natural resources and smart economic development.
First adopted by the village Board of Trustees in 1984 with support from the New York Department of State, the document has been under review since 2008 by the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Update Steering Committee and BFJ Planning, a consulting firm that specializes in waterfront development.
A final draft of the updated document was released in January and was followed by a swell of protest from some members of the community who view the changes as an undermining of what the original document set out to do, specifically in regards to the authority of the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission, a land use board focused on village coastal zone areas and managing the village harbor.
Daniel Natchez, former Democratic village trustee and one of the authors of the original LWRP, said the revised document would make the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission merely advisory when determining if a proposed project or development is consistent with the goals of the revised LWRP. He said this would strip away the commission’s authority as a land use board.
“By making it advisory, what you’re doing is taking the teeth out of the program,” Natchez said. “Making [the commission] advisory does not solve the problem unless your problem is not to worry about the proper policies. In any government, you have to have checks and balances.”
Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, said making the commission advisory is merely a matter of logistics.
“There’s a misconception that the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission would not have any input. They still have input, just as an advisory committee,” he said.
The revised document also proposed splitting jurisdiction of wetland permits between the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission and the village Planning Board, limiting the commission’s jurisdiction to salt water wetlands and the Planning Board’s jurisdiction to fresh water wetlands. Natchez said this proposed revision lacks consistency and uniformity and also undermines the role of the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission.
“You run the risk of coming to two different conclusions on the same policy for water that ends up in the same place,” Natchez said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
John Hofstetter, a former Democratic village trustee who has continually vocalized his opposition to the revision of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, said the proposed changes would steer development in the Village of Mamaroneck in the wrong direction.
“My understanding is that the revising of LWRP was supposed to be minimal; updating and digitizing the document’s maps,” he said. “What’s coming out now is a dumbing-down of the original LWRP to make development easier. Basically the village is for sale; that’s what it comes down to.”
Rosenblum disagrees with Hofstetter’s statement, saying the changes improve the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and are in the best interests of the village.
“There’s no way it’s weakening the process and protection of maintaining the village’s character as a marine and waterfront community,” the mayor said.
At its Feb. 10 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the extension of a state-funded grant that gives the Village of Mamaroneck until Dec. 31 to finalize the revision of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.
The Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on Feb. 24 and will accept written comments until Feb. 28 on the matter.