Tarrytown won't fast-track Tappan Zee zoning changes

An artist's rendition of the design for the

An artist's rendition of the design for the new Tappan Zee Bridge that was selected by a panel of experts as the best value among the three proposals submitted. The winning design must be approved by the State Thruway Authority. (Dec. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: NYnewbridge.com

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Tarrytown officials won't fast-track zoning changes on the waterfront to allow construction crews to set up staging areas to begin work on the new Tappan Zee Bridge this month, as state officials have been discussing.

"It isn't something that would normally happen within a month," said Village Administrator Michael Blau, referring to the zoning changes.

Tappan Zee Constructors, the private consortium building the $3.9 billion bridge, has yet to submit a request for a zoning change, Blau said. When it does, the consortium will face numerous board meetings, public hearings and other procedural hurdles, he noted.

"It takes at least two, three months. It could be longer. A zone change is not something the board of trustees would take lightly," Blau said. "Simply because it's in the best interest of Tappan Zee Constructors doesn't mean its in the interests of 11,000-plus residents of the Village of Tarrytown."

Tappan Zee Constructors didn't return a request for comment.

Officials in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration said the delay won't slow work on the new bridge because the construction crews can temporarily locate a staging area on land owned by the State Thruway Authority near the State Police barracks in the village. The governor's team had said the staging areas would be up and running by the end of this month.

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"The initial staging areas will be established on Thruway Authority land near the existing bridge," said Brian Conybeare, special adviser to the governor on the project. "Tappan Zee Constructors is working with the community and private land owners to find other suitable locations as well, but the project remains on track to begin in the coming weeks."

The Thruway Authority's Tarrytown parcel is about 6 acres, said an agency spokesman. That's slightly smaller than the staging area Tappan Zee Constructors is planning to establish on Thruway Authority property in South Nyack. Conybeare and company representatives have said that the main Tarrytown staging area needs to be substantially larger than the one in South Nyack to handle heavy traffic coming off trains.

Speaking to the Westchester County Board of Legislators on Monday, Conybeare said construction crews would do some test borings in the Hudson River later this month but that heavy-duty work on the water would not begin until August. No groundbreaking has been scheduled, Conybeare told the legislators.

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Tarrytown officials want to see work on the bridge begin, Blau said, but they need to know how many workers, vehicles and equipment Tappan Zee Constructors would bring into the village. He said the town also wants to know what chemicals and other materials the company might store on the waterfront.

The company has said it'll use barges and Metro-North trains to transport people and material to the site. Blau said he wants to see that detailed in writing. Officials also need time to figure out whether the company should be asked to pay for infrastructure improvements in the village to facilitate establishing a staging area, Blau said.

"The village wants to be as cooperative as possible," he said, "but the board of trustees is not going to simply say to Tappan Zee Constructors, 'This is what you want; we're going to give it to you.' "

According to David Aukland, the village's liaison with the company and a member of the Village Planning Board, Tappan Zee Constructors has floated the idea of using empty lots near Hudson Harbor, a luxury residential complex on the waterfront, as a staging area. Aukland said the company would have to submit a comprehensive proposal explaining any such plan.

"They can't just assume they can go park down at Hudson Harbor and use that facility to support all of the construction work, which is basically what they want to do," Aukland said. "Everybody wants to not delay. That being said, there's due process to go through."

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