After three and a half years of on-again off again zoning ordinance submissions and hearings, The Osborn retirement community can begin to Envision its future. After a public hearing during the June 15th City Council meeting that ran over four hours and well past midnight, councilmembers voted the required 6-1 super majority to approve the zoning change requested by The Osborn.
The Osborn says the zoning change is needed to deliver its Envision Initiative, a plan to expand and keep the facility competitive. With the zoning approval compete, The Osborn will now proceed to a second phase – the design of a proposed site plan for City review and public input.
The public hearing and council discussion on the 15th was at times contentious, especially as the debate entered the late hours. Councilman Josh Nathan carried most of the last thirty minutes of the council debate, arguing in support of local residents who requested additional time to meet with The Osborn and the City on the zoning issue. “I would like to be able to support what the Osborn wants to do but I would also like to see the neighbors have what they asked for in terms of process for that opportunity,” said Nathan. “It has been years by some count. It’s been a couple of months by another count in terms of when all of this material came out collectively.”
In the end, the rest of the council was ready to move ahead. “There’s been terrific hostility towards the Osborn in in earlier hearings,” said Mayor Josh Cohn. “And at the last minute, I sense that the community is concerned that they have that they have not entered into the discussion before and would now like to initiate a discussion when the Osborn has been before us for three years. And from my perspective it is just not fair.”
Motions to close the public hearing and a vote on the zoning change quickly followed. Nathan was a lone dissenting vote with the rest of the council voting affirmatively for the zoning change.
Asked about the council’s approval, The Osborn’s CEO Matt Anderson told MyRye.com “This approval reaffirms The Osborn’s partnership with the City of Rye and our standing as a good neighbor, and could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of our staff, our Board of Trustees, and the community as a whole.”
He continued “As we have discussed throughout these many months, this approval is only the first step in our ability to improve our campus for the future. We now turn to the site planning phase which will take time and input from our residents, staff, neighbors, and the Rye Planning Commission. We look forward to this next chapter of collaboration and appreciate the flexibility the new zoning allows for envisioning and planning The Osborn’s future.”
Watch the four hour and twenty six minute debate: