After more than half a century, the Village of Sea Cliff is in the process of adopting a new Comprehensive Plan to update the 1970 Village Master Plan. New York State recommends that municipalities update their Comprehensive Plans on a regular basis, to identify changes and trends that the community is undergoing, as well as develop a shared vision and implementation path for its future. Hence, a new Sea Cliff Comprehensive Plan is long overdue.
The Sea Cliff Board of Trustees (“Village Board”) initiated the process back in 2019 when it created the Long-Range Steering Committee and tasked it with surveying community members to determine what changes or improvements they would like to see in the Village. After a two-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Village Board issued a Request for Qualifications in January 2022. A Request for Proposals followed in March 2022, seeking qualified consulting firms who could assist the Village in developing a new comprehensive plan. The Village Board ultimately selected BFJ Planning, a New York City-based consulting firm with expertise in planning, urban design and environmental analysis to assist it in developing a new long-range plan.
BFJ Planning is currently in the early stages of the process and recently began its community outreach to establish the parameters of the long-range plan. At a recent public workshop meeting held on November 17, 2022, BFJ Planning made a presentation that provided an overview of the project and existing conditions, identified preliminary ideas and goals, and opportunities for public engagement, and explained the next steps in the process. Sea Cliff Mayor Elena Villafane opened the meeting by urging residents to participate in the process by sharing their views as to what they think Sea Cliff should look like over the next 50 years. The public comments received during the course of two-hour long workshop highlighted some of the competing interests and planning challenges that lie ahead, such as balancing the preservation of Sea Cliff’s existing character against the need for new housing that is affordable for young people and seniors.
Frank Fish, a principal partner of BFJ Planning, suggested to residents that the Village should consider rezoning the portion of the North Shore Country Club (“NSCC”) that is located within the Village to require cluster development and the preservation of open space. Mr. Fish told residents that this portion of the NSCC represents the largest piece of open space in the Village, and is currently zoned Residence D, which allows for single-family homes on lots that are 20,000 square feet or more in size. He cautioned that without such zoning changes, the parcel could be developed with single-family homes as of right. In his view, a zoning amendment requiring cluster development would be a proactive measure that would require a future owner with development plans for the golf course to conserve open space.
The new Comprehensive Plan continues to be a work in progress. According to information contained on the Village’s website, the goal is for the Village Board to adopt a new Comprehensive Plan in August 2023. In the meantime, BFJ Planning, the Long-Range Steering Committee and the Village Board still have a lot of work to do to complete and adopt the plan. BFJ expects to hold another public workshop in March 2023 , and the Village Board must hold a public hearing on the draft plan and conduct an environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) before it can adopt the new Comprehensive Plan.