Edgewater Passes Environmental Muster

Plus, updates on other projects around Beacon

By Jeff Simms

The proposed Edgewater development in Beacon will not have a significant adverse effect on the city’s school district, the Planning Board has decided.

Next up for the 307-unit project is the Zoning Board of Appeals, which must rule on three variances its developer has requested. The board will hold a public hearing on the requests — for the number of stories allowed per building, the number of units per building and the space between buildings — on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

The Planning Board recommended the ZBA allow more stories per building but deny the variances for the number of units per building and space between buildings.

A rendering of the 22 Edgewater Place project presented to the Beacon Planning Board

Edgewater officials say the variances would minimize the construction footprint of the project, but that they will proceed whether granted or not.

“We’re trying to create and be a leader in doing something different, and that’s why we’re asking for these,” said Rodney Weber, who is developing the project and several others in Beacon.

After the ZBA rules on the variances, the City Council will decide whether to grant Weber’s company, Scenic Beacon Developments, a special-use permit. If Edgewater clears that hurdle, the Planning Board would vote on final approval of the development.

The Dec. 12 Planning Board meeting was the conclusion of a seven-month-long environmental review that had become a standoff between Weber and the Beacon City School District. Edgewater consultants contended that when balancing increased property tax revenue with the number of new students the development would add to the schools, the project would be a net benefit for the district.

The view from the Edgewater project site (Photo by J. Simms)

School officials countered that the developer had underestimated the cost of adding students to an already strained and underfunded district.

The district seemed to win the popular vote, as more than 600 people signed an online petition in its favor, but in the opinion of the Planning Board, the development would not create a “significant” adverse effect on the schools.

“The school board’s issue does not lie on the back of one project,” Board Member Randall Williams reasoned. “We have to address the problem that already exists in the schools.”

In other business …

  • The Planning Board on Dec. 12 voted to continue a public hearing next month on the River Ridge townhouse development at “Parcel L” on Wolcott Avenue. After hearing mixed feedback from neighbors, attorney Jennifer Van Tuyl said the developer may revise elements of the design, including a proposed pocket park and pedestrian path.
  • The board approved site plans for the four-story, mixed-use project at 226 Main St., at the corner of North Elm. (Now the site of Ed’s Auto Repair, the property was purchased in May for $429,000.) The project will include retail space on the ground floor and eight apartments. Some residents asked the board to delay its decision while the City Council considers zoning changes that could limit buildings on Main Street to three stories. The Planning Board, however, opted not to postpone because the plans for 226 Main were submitted before the council’s zoning discussion began. “This is not being rushed through in any sense of the word,” Planning Board Chairperson Jay Sheers said.
  • The board completed its environmental review of an amendment to already-approved plans for The Lofts at Beacon at 39 Front St. The developer wants to remove commercial space and add 29 residential units to the 143 artist live/work spaces that have been approved, bringing the total to 172. Approximately 80 of the units have been built. The project will proceed to the ZBA in January, although the City Council will have to grant a new special-use permit. While the Lofts stand to lose commercial space, architect Aryeh Siegel said that the developer is “seriously considering” a commercial project on an adjacent lot to the south.

    Inside a unit at The Lofts at Beacon, where monthly rents range from $2,150 to $2,500. Its developer hopes to add 29 units to the 143 already approved. (The Lofts at Beacon)

2 thoughts on “Edgewater Passes Environmental Muster

  1. Once again the City of Beacon Planning Board has chosen to side with mega-developers engaged in the uglification of a small city. The board is doing this by ignoring the teachers, principal, superintendent and parents and, most of all, shutting down their own common sense.

    Hundreds of apartments can lead to hundreds of children who will flood into a school system already is strapped for funds.

    The City Council should fire the members of the Planning Board and follow gender equality parameters in replacing them. That’s the only way to stop developers who want to build more unaffordable artists’ lofts while reaping the tax benefits. Absolutely no variances should be given to any mega-developer.

    It was the Planning Board, the previous Republican-dominated City Council and variances that has given Beacon the monstrosity at 344 Main St. and the one going up at Elm. Unless the Planning Board changes, we will get more of the same.

  2. Beacon Mayor Randy Casale has two years left to his term in office; it’s time we start thinking of alternatives to the current administration. Enough is enough. As a community, we need to find our voice and select a candidate who understands that development should work for the good of the community.

    This is not to say that a developer should not realize a profit. But that the profit should not come at the expense of the community.

    At a recent meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, I listened to the rational given for allowing the variances requested by the developers of 248 Main St. for the property and the adjacent property. This developer asked for and received variance that will allow him to maximize the foot print of his building, in addition to a maximum height of five stories.

    You would have thought the horror show up the street at 344 Main St. would have caused the board to ask the developer to try again with something that fits in with the existing landscape.

    At the Dec. 4 Beacon City Council meeting, it was apparent no one is looking at the overall effects of these projects. Maybe the council can ask the students at Beacon High School to use a computer-aided design program to create a rendering of what Main Street will look like if all these projects are completed.

    We are still not addressing affordable housing in a responsible way. I don’t know of any families that are in need of a studio or one-bedroom apartment. But if all goes in the direction the developers wish we’ll have a glut of them.