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Henckels Proposal Passes First Regulatory Step

The MLA property's new owner received several zoning variances Thursday.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels—the cutlery and cookware manufacturer that of the former MLA property in Pleasantville last year—is moving closer to opening its headquarters on Marble Avenue.

At last night's zoning board of appeals meeting, Henckels Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Operations John Henkel stood alongside the company's architect as he laid out plans for the large property that has been vacant for more than 10 years after village residents shot down a proposal for a supermarket from The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company.

Michael Gallin of Gallin Design Studio outlined the seven variances being requested by the firm.

"As part of making this an RO-3 district, it triggered a bunch of requirements that are inconsistent with the historic use of the site," he explained, "and therefore, also inconsistent with our proposed use."

Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Austin V. Campriello observed, "I don't know if we ever, in the past 20 years, have had an application with this many variances," but added, "I don't think they are that big when you consider what we are talking about here."

The zoning code in the district does not allow buildings to have flat roofs, which the building currently does and will remain so if the proposal is approved.

"I think it’s interesting that we have a zoning ordinance on a design criteria," pointed out Erika Krieger, zoning board member.

Village Building Inspector Michael Testa said he believes the ordinance was put into place to improve the look of the Marble Avenue corridor.

The proposal also would increase the maximum building height to 31-feet-tall versus 30-feet; as well as an overall increase of the "maximum building footprint of 4,000-square feet."

The proposed building (within the RO-3 district only) is 7,154-square feet.

The wall size within the district allows lengths up to 80-feet, but the proposed building's wall would be just over 244-feet.

Additionally, the proposal asks for a reduction in the total number of off-street parking and loading spaces. The property will have 75 parking spaces, versus the required 274. Henkel said the company's U.S headquarters has approximately 60 employees. Six loading spaces were approved as well, versus the required 13. Gallin said that is the number currently being used in the company's Hawthorne operation.

The final ordinance in question "prohibits a pre-existing non-complying building from being altered or enlarged so as to increase the degree of building non-compliance thereof."

The board unanimously agreed to waive the seven items after Gallin elaborated on how the site will be changed and utilized.

"The back half of the building is being raised—literally, they are coming in and jacking up the roof," Gallin said as he indicated a three-dimensional model.

The front half of the building, he said, will contain the company's offices, while the second story will be demolished and rebuilt as it currently does not have "enough contiguous office area."

The space will therefore be expanded to about 8,000-square feet from 5,000.

Explained Gallin, "As part of that, we are also building an extension on the building in the south. It helps to create a buffer between the manufacturing district and what is currently the residential district."

Since the property straddles two different zoning districts, the offices will be set up in the residential side, while the warehouse will be in the street's manufacturing district.

Additionally, a portion of the building facing Marble Avenue will be turned into an "arrival port," according to Gallin, which will be "more pedestrian-friendly."

While ZBA Member Dan Franklin said he felt the variances were "substantial," he added, "But, because of the nature of this property, it would be ridiculous to say you have to be close to what the requirements are."

The board also adopted a negative State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) determination. However, Testa explained the village's planning commission must also adopt its own declaration down the road.

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