The process of updating Dobbs Ferry’s 10-year-old Comprehensive Plan (also known as the Vision Plan) is underway.
An RFP (request for proposals) has been posted on the Village website, detailing the scope of what is expected of a consultant in reviewing the current plan. The consultant will also review the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), which covers most of the village.
The RFP states that the amended plan “will guide economic development, while protecting and preserving important elements of the Village’s unique character along the Hudson River.” The project also must include “a thorough and collaborative effort that engages a variety of stakeholders. The process will culminate in an integrated document that reflects the needs and desires of the community and helps direct future decision-making as it relates to the orderly growth, revitalization, and sustainable development of the village and outlines a plan for achieving the goals.”
A challenge for the village board is balancing competing and diverse interests while retaining the scale and historic character of the community. For example, development projects and the desire for a vibrant downtown create more traffic and parking problems. The Comprehensive Plan seeks to develop guidelines to achieve a balance.
The RFP explains the structure and function of the various boards: village, planning, zoning, and architectural and historic review. It also notes the importance of community engagement in the traffic, sustainability, and downtown committees; historic district task force, parks and recreation commission, tree consortium, conservation advisory board, and Route 9 active transportation consortium.
Trustee Christy Knell told the Enterprise that previous reports from the Historic District Task Force, Sustainable Dobbs, the Downtown Improvement Task Force, and the Affordable Housing Committee will be valuable to the update of the Comprehensive Plan.
The Village has delineated areas for the consultant to study: the downtown and Gateway, climate change, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway, large institutional parcel development, affordable housing, historic designations, “Complete Streets,” Main and Cedar streets, waterfront present and future development, the Chauncey Park area, The Children’s Village development, residential neighborhoods, the zoning ordinance, and transportation.
“The study areas are meant to capture the community’s vision for essential areas of our village,” Village Administrator Charlene Indelicato said.
The scope of work includes assessing the socioeconomic impact of downtown development projects and Rivertowns Square: increased costs for Village services, increased revenue from real estate taxes, and the effects on the community. For projects that required a socioeconomic analysis as part of their approval process, the consultant will compare the proposal’s projected numbers with the actual results from the development.
Regarding current land use review procedures,the RFP asks the consultant to suggest ways to them “as rational and as predictable as possible.”
Knell elaborated, “The land use boards have to get together to talk about this. Everything is not a straight line; every time something changes in a plan, it has to go back. Some things require going back to other boards, for different reasons. Everybody wants to simplify the process.”
Indelicato added, “The policies and processes considered will depend entirely on what the community and committees decide is necessary during the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan.”
The updating process will address current conflicts and issues in the existing plan, and will review the village code’s Chapter 300, “Zoning and Land Use,” including the official zoning map.
The consultant is also tasked with developing an outreach and engagement initiative that offers public work sessions on neighborhood preservation in downtown adjoining zones, use and protection of the Aqueduct through zoning, downtown issues and needs, “intensification” (density) and transportation, development in educational/institutional zones, and affordable housing.
The village board will hold two work sessions enabling the community to review a draft Comprehensive Plan and offer comments and suggestions for consideration before a final plan is issued. The trustees will make the final decisions on changes to the previous plan, zoning ordinance, or the zoning map.
Residents who want to be more involved can volunteer for a committee at dobbsferry.com/village-clerk/pages/opportunities.
Knell explained the selection process: “The volunteers meet with the nominating committee, then meet with the committee they’re interested in being on. The nominating committee makes recommendations to the board of trustees, and they decide whether or not to appoint them. Everyone’s trying to get the most helpful people on each committee.”
The Village estimates that once a consultant is selected, the project will be completed in nine months, and will produce recommendations on downtown parking utilization and residential occupancy, analyses of a downtown build-out, and a report on the socioeconomic impact of major projects completed from 2010 to 2019. The consultant also will provide an Environmental Assessment Form.
The final Comprehensive Plan will provide an implementation plan defining short-, medium-, and long-term actions or projects, with approximate time frames, costs, and identification of key people to be involved.
The project cost, not yet determined, will be covered by the Village’s General Fund.