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EMINENT DOMAIN PROCEDURE LAW AND THE STATE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY REVIEW ACT FOR THE ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN REAL PROPERTY LOCATED AT 67 RAVINE AVENUE IN THE CITY OF YONKERS, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK CONSISTING PRINCIPALLY OF APPROXIMATELY 0.07 ACRE. By Title I of Article 18-A of the New York State General Municipal Law, as amended, and Chapter 83 of the laws of 1982 of the State of New York, as amended (hereinafter referred to as "the Act"), the City of Yonkers Industrial Development Agency (hereinafter referred to as "YIDA") was created with the authority and power through eminent domain or otherwise to own, lease and sell property for, among other purposes, acquiring, constructing and equipping civic, industrial, manufacturing and commercial facilities as authorized by the Act. YIDA desires to acquire a certain parcel of vacant real property located at 67 Ravine Avenue in the City of Yonkers, Westchester County, New York (the "City"), consisting principally of approximately 0.07 acres (the "Parcel"). Consistent with the stated purposes of the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan currently being reviewed by the City Council of the City of Yonkers, the acquisition of the Parcel will be used in connection with the construction of a seven-story building containing approximately 77 residential rental apartments that will be leased to households earning up to 80% of area median income, consisting of 7 studios, 19 onebedroom apartments, 38 two-bedroom apartments and 13 three-bedroom apartments and one superintendent's unit; a central laundry facility; a community room/recreation space; and 125 onsite parking spaces and related infrastructure and other improvements for use as rental housing in the City (the "Project"). It may be necessary for YIDA to exercise its power of eminent domain, if a voluntary transfer of the Parcel is not consummated. No alternative locations exist in the
City. Overview of the Project. The acquisition of the Parcel is being undertaken to effectuate the potential construction of the Project. The Project would be undertaken by Ravine Avenue Associate LLC (the
"Company"). In addition, the Company has indicated they are willing to partner with the City of Yonkers to restore Irving Park, a City-owned park located adjacent to the Parcel for the benefit of the Ravine Avenue neighborhood. On October 22, 2010, YIDA, by resolution, issued a Negative Declaration pursuant to pursuant to Article 8 of the New York Environmental Conservation Law and the associated regulations promulgated thereunder at 6 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 617 (known hereafter as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act or "SEQRA") for the Acquisition of the Parcel. The Company has now submitted an expanded Full Environmental Assessment Form ("EAF") for the both Acquisition of the Parcel and the Project which YIDA has cumulatively reviewed for SEQRA purposes. In addition, YIDA has undertaken its own independent review of the
pertinent facts in issuing this determination and findings regarding the acquisition of the Parcel.
The Public Process On November 18, 2010, a duly noticed public hearing was held at the Mayor’s Reception Room located at City Hall in the City located in proximity to the Parcel, in accordance with the provisions of the EDPL for among other reasons, to inform the public and to review the public use to be served by the Acquisition of the Parcel and the potential impact on the environment and the residents of the locality where the Parcel is located (the "November 2010 Hearing"). Pursuant to the hearing notice, and as part of the public hearing, written comments were accepted by YIDA through November 29, 2010. At the opening of the November 2010 Hearing, the public was informed of the public uses, benefits, and purposes to be served by the Acquisition, the location of the Parcel, and the general potential impact on the environment and residents of the locality. Copies of maps outlining the proposed location of the Parcel and a description of the Parcel subject to condemnation was made available at the November 2010 Hearing (hereinafter the "Acquisition Map"). The November 2010 Hearing, including the extension of the comment period through November 29, 2010 for receipt of written comments provided an opportunity for the public to comment on the Acquisition, including the public use, benefits, and purposes to be served by it. All testimony and written comments received at the hearing held pursuant to the EDPL, including the written comments received during the comment period have been reviewed, made part of the record, and accorded full consideration.
SUMMARY OF COMMENTS RAISED DURING THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD The verbal and written comments received during the public hearing concerning matters to be considered at the public hearing may be generally summarized as follows: ● Comments included that condemnation of the Parcel may result in damages to the tenant(s) of the neighboring buildings. Further, speakers expressed concern about what would happen to tenants if condemnation occurred. A comment was also received that the Parcel is owned by an estate and a taking of the Parcel would harm any heirs.
SUMMARY OF RESPONSES TO COMMENTS RAISED DURING THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD YIDA's responses to the comments may be summarized below, and in some cases as more fully set forth in the balance of the determination and Findings that follows the summary. ● YIDA is considering the taking of a vacant, undeveloped parcel which would not require relocation. However, the Company will provide relocation assistance to residential tenants in the adjacent buildings should they be displaced. YIDA, as required under the EDPL, will make offers to all "condemnees" (as such quoted term is defined in the EDPL) in accordance therewith. The amount paid for the Parcel, will be deposited with the appropriate court to identify any heirs.
At a duly noticed and scheduled meeting on February 1, 2011, YIDA made the following Determination and Findings.
I. Determination and Findings under the New York Eminent Domain Procedure Law Pursuant to EDPL § 204, and having given due consideration to the complete hearing record, which includes all documents submitted and all public comments received, YIDA makes the following Determination and Findings concerning the Acquisition:
II. The Public Use, Benefit and Purpose To Be Served by the Acquisition [EDPL § 204(B) (1)]. The Acquisition will serve a public purpose. The Acquisition is required in order to effectuate the potential construction of a seven-story building containing approximately 77 residential rental apartments that will be leased to households earning up to 80% of area median income, consisting of 7 studios, 19 one-bedroom apartments, 38 two-bedroom apartments and 13 three-bedroom apartments and one superintendent's unit; a central laundry facility; a community room/recreation space; and 125 on-site parking spaces and related infrastructure and other improvements for use as rental housing. The City previously issued a conditional designation for the City-owned sites in the Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Area to the Company, predecessor-in-name of Ravine Rental Associates LLC, in a letter dated March 17, 2010. Consistent with the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan, the potential seven-story construction project will develop new affordable housing, while working in partnership with local developers and community based organizations with proven track records in developing affordable housing; and would provide construction and construction-related employment opportunities to local residents thereby meeting several of the objectives of the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan. In addition, L&M Development Partners, Inc. and the Center for Urban Rehabilitation and Empowerment Inc. have indicated to YIDA that they will be partnering
with the City to restore Irving Park, a City owned park immediately adjacent to the Parcel for the benefit of the Ravine Avenue neighborhood. Because the Acquisition in connection with the Project will help provide needed affordable housing consistent with the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan, it serves a public purpose. III. The Location of the Parcel and Reasons for Selection of that Location [EDPL § 204(B) (2)]. The location of the Parcel was determined based upon the creation of the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan and the proximity of the Parcel to other amenities including mass transportation. As set forth herein, the location for Parcel was selected because it is within the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal area and conforms with various plans, including the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan, to revitalize unused and under-utilized parcels in the City of Yonkers. No other locations are being considered. IV. SEQRA Determination and General Effect of the Acquisition on the Environment [EDPL § 204 (B) (3)]. Pursuant to 6 N.Y.C.R.R. §§ 617.2(ak) and 617.6(b)(4) of the SEQRA regulations, the Acquisition of the Parcel and the Project together constitute an Unlisted Action (as defined under SEQRA) subject to an uncoordinated review under SEQRA by YIDA. Pursuant to the
applicable SEQRA regulations, YIDA has conducted a thorough and comprehensive review of the potential significant adverse environmental impacts that are associated with the Acquisition and the Project. Upon taking a “hard look” at those potential concerns, considering both the magnitude and importance of each potential impact, YIDA makes the following determinations with respect to the criteria set forth in 6 N.Y.C.R.R. § 617.7(c):
1. The Acquisition and the Project will not result in a substantial adverse change in existing air quality, ground or surface water quality or quantity, noise levels, or a substantial increase in solid waste production, erosion, flooding, leaching or drainage problems. 2. The Acquisition and the Project will not result in the removal or destruction of large quantities of vegetation or fauna or a substantial interference with any migratory fish or wildlife species, nor impact a significant habitat area or a Critical Environmental Area as designated pursuant to 6 N.Y.C.R.R. § 617.14(g). The Parcel is a 0.07 acre vacant lot located at 67 Ravine Avenue between Point Street and Gold Street in the City of Yonkers with no known environmental or wildlife sensitivities. 3. The Acquisition and Project will not result in a material conflict with the community’s current plans or goals as officially approved or adopted. To the
contrary, the Acquisition and the Project are being completed consistent with the goals of the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan and, in particular, the potential rental housing needs of the City. Moreover, the new building will comply with current zoning requirements and the height, density, building coverage, and floor area ratio will be consistent with City zoning criteria as well as consistent with the scope of the proposed Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan. 4. The Acquisition and Project will not result in the impairment of the character or quality of any important historical, archeological, architectural or aesthetic resources or any existing community or neighborhood character within a reasonable area of the Parcel.
5. The Acquisition and Project will not result in a major change in the use of either the quantity or type of energy nor create a hazard to human health. 6. The Acquisition and Project will not result in a substantial change in the use or intensity of use of land including of agricultural, open space or recreational resources or in its capacity to support existing uses. The Acquisition and Project will not result in a significant adverse impact to existing open space. In fact, the Company is committed to working with the City of Yonkers to coordinate the construction of the Project in conjunction with the restoration of Irving Park located adjacent to the Parcel. All green and open areas, as well as all maintenance and security practices for the proposed building, will be coordinated with and not redundant to a restored Irving Park. 7. The Acquisition and Project will not encourage or attract a large number of people to places or places for more than a few days compared to the number of people who come to such places absent the Acquisition or Project. 8. Neither the Acquisition nor the Project will result in the creation of a potential significant adverse environmental impact associated with traffic. The Project’s
specific block on Ravine Avenue is a quiet area with low levels of existing vehicular traffic. The existing road network contains adequate traffic capacity to handle the potential flows generated by the Project. Moreover, the Project shall be subject to any further requirements set forth by the City as part of the comprehensive traffic study being completed by the Planning Department. 9. The Acquisition and the Project will result in a potential significant positive visual impact to the surrounding community. The Project will re-develop a long-ago
abandoned vacant lot which contains overgrown weed vegetation, trash, building and construction debris, and other waste. The Project entails the removal of the weeds and wastes, resulting in the creation of improved visual lines to the Hudson River and Palisades. This Project component, coupled with the orientation of the building, will provide open river views for not only the residents of the proposed building, but of the adjoining neighborhood. In light of the foregoing analysis of the criteria set forth in 6 N.Y.C.R.R. § 617.7(c) of the SEQRA regulations, YIDA determines that the Acquisition of the Parcel and the Project do not present a potential significant adverse environmental impact warranting the preparation of an environmental impact statement. YIDA thus issues a Negative Declaration pursuant to SEQRA for the Acquisition of the Parcel and the Project. Moreover, to the extent that condemnation was not contemplated as a means to acquire the Parcel, YIDA finds that any impacts to property owners for whom acquisition by condemnation will be required are addressed by the EDPL procedures in place for condemnation, including insuring that property owners receive fair and just compensation for any property so acquired. CONCLUSION Having considered the relevant potential significant adverse environmental impacts associated with the Acquisition of the Parcel and the Project, the facts disclosed in the EAF, and having weighed and balanced the relevant environmental concerns with social, economic and other considerations, YIDA issues herein a Negative Declaration pursuant to SEQRA and certifies that the requirements of SEQRA have been met.
V. General Effect of the Acquisition on the Residents of the Locality [EDPL § 204 (B)(3)]. As described previously, the Project, is consistent with the draft Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Plan and will provide much needed quality affordable housing for residents of the Ravine Avenue Urban Renewal Area. Thus, it is fully anticipated that the general effect of the Acquisition will be beneficial to residents of the locality.
VI. Other Relevant Factors [EDPL § 204 (B)(4)]. At the public hearing and during the period when comments were accepted by YIDA, oral comments were received. Each of the comments has been given due consideration. YIDA has taken into account public opinion and concerns. Throughout the process identified herein, YIDA has identified and, where feasible, taken measures to address any legitimate concerns related to the Acquisition. If a voluntary transfer of the Parcel cannot be consummated, then YIDA may proceed with condemnation of the Parcel.
DETERMINATION ATTENTION: ANY PERSON AGGRIEVED BY THE DETERMINATION AND
FINDINGS WHO WISHES TO CHALLENGE AND SEEK JUDICIAL REVIEW THEREOF MUST DO SO, IF AT ALL, (1) BY FILING A PETITION, IN ACCORDANCE WITH NEW YORK EMINENT DOMAIN PROCEDURE LAW SECTION 207, IN THE APPELLATE DIVISION, SECOND DEPARTMENT, NO LATER THAN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE COMPLETION OF YIDA'S PUBLICATION OF ITS DETERMINATION AND FINDINGS PURSUANT TO THE NEW YORK EMINENT DOMAIN PROCEDURE LAW.
OTHERWISE ANY SUCH CHALLENGE OR JUDICIAL REVIEW MAY BE TIME
BARRED, AND (2) BY SERVING A DEMAND UPON YIDA TO FILE A WRITTEN TRANSCRIPT OF THE RECORD OF THE PROCEEDING BEFORE IT AND THE UNDERLYING DETERMINATION AND FINDINGS. THE APPELLATE DIVISION MAY CONSIDER THE PUBLIC USE, BENEFIT OR PURPOSE TO BE SERVED BY THE PROPOSED ACQUISITION AND THE OTHER MATTERS SET FORTH IN NEW YORK EMINENT DOMAIN PROCEDURE LAW SECTION 207. ANYONE WISHING TO
CHALLENGE THE DETERMINATION AND FINDINGS IS ADVISED TO CONSULT AN ATTORNEY PROMPTLY. FEBRUARY 1, 2011 ***
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