Bedford’s planners added their voice Tuesday to a growing chorus of official criticism of new-car delivery practices on busy North Bedford Road.
Car-carrying trailers, these officials charge, routinely park in the center left-turn lane to offload new autos rather than performing that operation on dealership property. Parking in the center lane slows traffic in the remaining two lanes of the road, also known as Route 117, as it passes through heavily traveled commercial strips of both Bedford and Mount Kisco.
Officials in Mount Kisco have condemned what the village building inspector called a “community traffic nuisance” that could jeopardize at least one dealer’s continued operation. In Bedford, where two dealerships went before the planning board Tuesday with proposed site-plan changes, the car-delivery question contributed to a delay in board action on one of the applications.
In other action, the planners approved site plans for a home off Old Post Road, Bedford, and a mower-repair shop on Adams Street, Bedford Hills. The planners also referred to the town board an application by New York State Electric & Gas to upgrade its Cantitoe Street substation in Katonah.
Auto dealers, like who populate much of Route 117 in its brief journey through Mount Kisco/Bedford, regularly profess an inability to dictate where car-carrier drivers unload their oversized vehicles. Robert J. Vail, president of Vail Buick GMC, for example, told the board Tuesday, “When I came to work this morning, the trailer was already there.”
But Bedford planning board member Deirdre Courtney-Batson shot back, “I’m getting tired of hearing nobody can control their car-carriers. . . . It’s a dangerous situation.” She called it “unconscionable that this can go on in violation of Bedford’s ordinance.”
Vail was seeking approval for a new building to house his Bedford Hills dealership when the car-carrier question arose. In addition to the offloading issue, planners asked for further details on such things as lighting, landscaping, signage and employee parking. Bedford Planning board Chairman Donald J. Coe told him, “I think we’d like to hear some of these answers before we go any further.”
For his part, Vail assured the board of the dealership’s cooperation. “We’re willing to do whatever we can to make it safe,” he said.
In Mount Kisco, Building Inspector Austin F. Cassidy put on notice that further prohibited offloading at the dealership, 271 North Bedford Road, could bring penalties and perhaps threaten its right to do business. In a sharply worded letter, Cassidy charged that “you can’t seem to conduct your most basic business operation of deliveries without negatively affecting the entire community.”
He warned that the village was “considering obtaining a court injunction against your delivery practices” and would “promptly impound the auto carrier and all of its cargo” for any violation.
Since sending the letter late last year, Cassidy said, he has had “no issues” with Smith-Cairns.
In Bedford, planners also denied, pro forma, a site plan from the Chrysler dealership at 531 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills. The denial clears the way for architect Michael Gallin to seek Zoning Board of Appeals permission to erect a building slightly larger than the zoning code normally allows on the property.
Robert Calderon also needed an exception, in his case, from the requirements of the Aquifier Protection Zone, to set up shop at 385 Adams St., Bedford Hills. Armed with a variance from the zoning board, Calderon sought, and quickly won, planning board approval of a site plan for his store, which will sell, repair and service engines for small tractors and lawn mowers, snow blowers and other handheld tools.