The Examiner: Mt. Pleasant Approves Zoning Changes for Pace Plan

The Examiner newspaper in Pleasantville ran a story on the approval of zoning changes for the Master Plan for the Pleasantville campus. (Left: Pleasantville resident Anthony Suozzi spoke in favor of Pace’s campus consolidation plan.)

The Examiner in Pleasantville ran a feature story on the approval of zoning changes for the Master Plan for the Pleasantville campus.

From The Examiner:

“A plan by Pace University to merge its Pleasantville and Briarcliff campuses took a major step forward last week when the Mount Pleasant Town Board unanimously approved zoning changes sought by the university.

The board granted Pace’s request to amend the code pertaining to colleges and universities that legislates height and building separation as well as reducing the distance between athletic fields and public property.

The changes allow for the buildings housing the new dormitories to be as high as four stories and 55 feet, up from the current limit of two and a half stories and 35 feet tall, and for the minimum distance between buildings on the campus to be lowered from the current 110 feet to 30 feet. A third zoning amendment allows the distance between the proposed fields and public property to be lowered to 25 feet. Previous zoning required at least 100 feet between the fields and the closest public land, which in this instance is the Taconic State Parkway.

In addition, a new subsection to the town code allows for zoning revisions for a college or university if it is located at least 25 feet within permanent open space, a state highway, playgrounds or playing fields.

“We appreciate the town board spending the time and effort to evaluate our proposal,” Ruth Roth, an attorney representing Pace University said after the vote to approve the zoning changes. “There’s been substantial study over this for the past two years.”

The university must also obtain site plan approval from the planning board, which granted Pace’s Final Environmental Impact Statement last fall.

If it can gain planning board approval, Pace would sell its 35-acre Briarcliff campus and add new facilities to the 200-acre Pleasantville campus, including new dormitories and athletic fields. Pace representatives estimated that it would take five to eight years to complete the work.

Thus far, there has been no significant opposition to the university’s application. During the March 12 public hearing, Pleasantville resident Anthony Suozzi recalled that before Pace University first opened there were opponents who he described as “alarmists.” Past critics of the university also erroneously claimed that the state Department of Transportation would build a six-lane highway through the town.

“(Pace University) has been a wonderful neighbor,” Suozzi said. “Whatever you do there is fine with me.”

Though Suozzi said he supported Pace’s proposal, he said he was concerned that the code changes could prohibit property owners and developers from bringing a for-profit business to a parcel that had been off the tax rolls.

Suozzi advocated for a hotel for a large parcel in town that is not on the tax rolls, apparently referring to the Legion of Christ parcel on Columbus Avenue.

“Let’s get that property back on the tax rolls,” he said.

Supervisor Joan Maybury told Suozzi the code changes only applied to colleges and would not prevent a religious organization or a non-profit entity that pays no taxes from selling its land to a developer who would want to bring a for-profit business to the site.

The zoning revisions were approved only a week after the majority of the town board expressed concern that extensive zoning text changes could attract other schools to Mount Pleasant that would also request sweeping changes to the town code.”

The Journal News: Dorm life’s appeal fuels on-campus construction

The Journal News included Pace University’s Master Plan for Pleasantville in an article highlighting residence hall building projects at local colleges and universities.

The Journal News included Pace University’s Master Plan for Pleasantville in an article highlighting residence hall building projects at local colleges and universities.

From The Journal News:

“Pace University is embarking on a consolidation project that will put all its residence halls on its Pleasantville campus. In New Rochelle, Iona College is proposing a new 260-bed dormitory, and Monroe College is reviving plans for a 300-bed residence. Meanwhile, Purchase College, SUNY, is planning a multimillion-dollar renovation of its three existing dorms and says it could stand to build another 500-bed building.

Dominican College opened the 204-bed Guzman Hall in 2007 to meet a projected demand. Mercy College also has plans for a new dorm as the school approaches its maximum enrollment.

College officials say the demand for on-campus beds is due to a shift by some local colleges from primarily commuting student bodies to residential ones.

“It’s turned into more of a typical collegiate environment,” said Cara Cea, a public information manager at Pace University’s Westchester County campus in Pleasantville. “Basically, what’s been happening over the past two years is that more and more students want to be residents.”

Pace has housed overflow students at an Elmsford hotel for several years as the school ramps up a $150 million makeover for the Pleasantville campus that will include moving 565 residential students from Pace’s Briarcliff campus and adding new beds to allow students now boarding in local hotels to instead live on campus.

About 1,200 of Pace’s 2,500 to 3,000 Westchester students live on campus now. The university expects to break ground on its residence halls project in the spring and complete the project in four to five years, bringing the total number of on-campus beds to 1,430.

Read full article here.

The Examiner: Pace Consolidation Review Begins in Mount Pleasant

The Pleasantville Examiner reports on the beginning of the review process with the Mount Pleasant Town Board for the Master Plan for the Pleasantville campus.

The story revolved around an interview with Bill McGrath, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Pace, who gave details of the five-to-eight year plan that include the construction of residence halls, renovation of Kessel and a new location for the Environmental Center. A central focus of the plan is open green spaces in the center of campus.

The article finishes with praise from Councilman Peter DeMilio who said, “It’s an intelligently drawn plan.”

Read the full article here.