When a planning consultant summarized the Village of Sea Cliff’s 1970 master plan, laughs rose up from the audience of about 100 people who had gathered at Village Hall last week to hear about the new plan.
The village’s last master plan, completed 52 years ago sought ‘to retain the special qualities of the village and protect its residential character,” Emily Junker, a planner with Manhattan-based BFJ Planning said at the Nov. 17 public workshop. The earlier plan, Junker continued, sought to “provide recreation and conservation of the waterfront; limit where commercial development can occur while allowing businesses to prosper and reducing traffic congestion and parking problems.”
“Nothing’s changed” several people called out.
Public comments during the two-hour workshop showed the difficult balancing act ahead: how to preserve the Sea Cliff residents love while considering some changes like creating housing that’s affordable for young people and seniors.
The new plan is a work in progress with an anticipated timeline to end with its adoption in August following the plan’s drafting, revision, another public workshop and two public hearings as well as an environmental review.
At the top of the workshop, Sea Cliff Mayor Elena Villafane urged residents to participate and share “your view and what you think Sea Cliff should look like over the next 50 years.”
“This plan is only as good as the input of the community,” Villafane told the crowd.
Frank Fish, a principal partner of BFJ Planning, told residents that one issue to consider would be rezoning the largest piece of open space in the village to require cluster development and preserve open space. The North Shore Country Club, which is primarily a members-only golf club, straddles the southern edge of Sea Cliff and Glenwood Landing. The Sea Cliff side is zoned for single-family homes and an owner could develop the property as of right.
“You haven't sold me on why this is all necessary,” Anthony Losquadro, 57, a real estate manager, said, referring to the whole planning process. “The issues of the North Shore Country Club can be dealt with at the village board level.”
Fish said that while there are no plans for the country club to be developed, he has seen other communities in the New York City suburbs caught “flat-footed” when a new owner buys an old country club with development plans in mind.
“It pays to be ready for something and the plan can do that,” Fish said. “Because if somebody comes in, they have their own plan for their own property … you can't just change the zoning.”
Kathryne Natale, 73, said it would be “horrible to have the country club just turned into a whole bunch of half-acre homes.”
“We don’t really need lots and lots of more people in Sea Cliff,” Natale said. “I don’t think that that should be our plan.”
The owner of the country club, Donald Zucker, said in an interview Monday that he has no plans to build housing.
“It’s going great,” Zucker said of the country club. But if the village does rezone the property, “I certainly wouldn’t want them to do anything which would downgrade the value of the property.”
Sea Cliff master plan timeline
- September 2022: Drafting of comprehensive plan and plan committee meetings began
- November/December: First public workshop; public survey
- March 2023: Second public workshop, first public hearing
- April: Draft plan finished; state environmental review process begins
- June: Public hearing
- July: Final plan finished
- August: State environmental review process finishes; final plan adopted
SOURCE: Village of Sea Cliff