By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter
May 17, 2017: Faced with the goal of maintaining a vibrant and profitable downtown business district while a significant number of storefronts stand empty, the Bronxville Board of Trustees held a work session on Thursday, May 11, to discuss zoning issues and possible revisions to the village's zoning code that would streamline the business application procedure. Trustees, along with village administrator Jim Palmer, met with village attorney James Staudt.
The overall shift in businesses from retail to restaurants and service providers has brought to light several impediments businesses face when applying to open an establishment in the village.
"We lose prospective businesses," Mayor Mary Marvin said, "with an application procedure that requires them to go from the planning board to the zoning board of appeals and then back to the planning board."
Marvin also questioned the wisdom of requiring applicants to deposit $5,000 in an escrow account to fund a parking study as part of each application. Restaurant and service business applicants have faced difficulty in meeting the increased parking space requirements detailed in the village code.
The village code stipulates that businesses provide on-site parking, which, per James Staudt, amounts to a "fiction."
"How do we ask a business to prove that they can provide a certain number of spaces?" Deputy Mayor Robert Underhill asked. "The parking is 'out there,' and how does a business lay claim to specific spaces?"
James Staudt pointed out that Phillips Preiss Grygiel, LLC, the planning and real estate consultants the village hired several years ago, has recommended that the village code relax parking requirements. Staudt stated that other communities faced with similar and even higher commercial vacancies have modified codes to require the same number of spaces, no matter what type of business.
Mayor Marvin added that other municipalities require businesses to purchase permits for off-street parking or have created parking districts, essentially a permit system that all businesses pay into. The board of trustees will continue to discuss parking issues and examine possible solutions.
Pictured here: Village trustees at May 11 work session.
Photo by Carol P. Bartold