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Environmental Review Halted For Rivertowns Square

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – The controversial Rivertowns Square project has been brought to a screeching halt with the suspension of the environmental review process. The process is required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act to determine the possible environmental impacts of a construction project.

Dobbs Ferry Mayor Hartley Connett announced the suspension Thursday in an email that offered no further explanation. Calls to the mayor’s office were not immediately returned. Documents associated with the Rivertowns Square project are available on the Dobbs Ferry website , where the village posted a statement saying the developer, Saber Dobbs Ferry LLC, had asked the village to suspend the review process.

“As any new information or direction from the Applicant becomes available the village will communicate to the public,” the statement said.

The developer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“There are a number of possibilities,” said Carolyn Whittle, Dobbs Ferry resident and board member of Rivertowns Preservation Civic Association. “It’s a tremendous victory for citizen participation in Dobbs Ferry.”

Whittle said possible reasons for the suspension of the environmental review include lack of funds, possible soil contamination or public opposition. The original project proposal and subsequent revisions were too big for the intended construction space and would create too much traffic on residential roads, Whittle said. The project, which included several retail spaces, would put an economic burden on Dobbs Ferry by requiring more police and fire coverage, as well as increased road, sewage and storm sewer upgrades. Despite the additional retail space, Dobbs Ferry would not collect sales tax from the stores because it is a village and could not offset the costs with a sales tax as neighboring cities White Plains and Yonkers do, Whittle said.

“It didn’t make any economic sense for the village over the long term,” Whittle said. “And that’s a hard one to fix.”

Another issue rendering the project unacceptable to some residents is the issue of repairing the Ashford Avenue Bridge. The increased traffic from repairing the bridge compounded with the construction traffic for Rivertowns Square would be too much for local residential roads to handle at the same time, Whittle said.

If the project is put back into motion, Whittle said, she and other residents are ready to keep fighting until an acceptable proposal is presented. Whittle said that to gain residents’ support, the proposal would have to have minimal tree cutting, increased green space and fewer retail spots to preserve the beauty of the area.

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