Iona College has proposed the construction of a new dormitory to house 393 students in a ten-story structure on Mayflower Avenue, on the same block as Iona’s existing dormitories.

Like most projects of this size, Iona’s proposal must undergo a thorough environmental review, culminating in the issuance of an environmental impact statement (EIS). The City will withhold judgment on the project’s merits and will not take action on either approval or denial until the EIS is completed. I am certainly mindful, however, of the passionate debate already generated by this issue and of the important concerns that will need to be considered and balanced.

The first step in the environmental review process is to create what’s called a “scoping” document which defines the issues to be explored and analyzed in the EIS. The scoping document asks the questions that the EIS must eventually answer.

Residents and other interested parties will have an opportunity to comment on the draft scoping document at a public meeting on December 9th at 7:00 pm in the Main Council Chamber of New Rochelle City Hall. The purpose of this meeting is only to make sure that the scoping document sets up a thorough examination of the proposed dormitory.

So, for example, saying “I think the traffic produced by the project will be awful” would not be a useful or relevant comment during the scoping session. Saying “the environmental analysis should examine traffic volume and signal timing at the intersection of Mayflower and Mount Joy” would be a useful and relevant comment, as it would help set the proper parameters of the EIS.

There will be ample opportunity to offer positive or negative input about the project as a whole when the environmental impact statement itself is the subject of a public hearing next year.

You can read more about the process in this list of Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the City’s planning staff. For more information, please contact New Rochelle’s Department of Development at 654-2185.