Even as a community-college planning committee continues looking into solutions for growth around , the institution has requested an extension to increased occupancy limits.
The New Rochelle City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the request for July 10 and has set in motion its ability to study the potential impacts of the extension by making itself lead agency under the state environmental review act.
Almost a year ago, Iona scrapped plans for a controversial new dormitory and agreed to work with the city to study how best the college can grow and exist with the surrounding neighborhood.
Part of that agreement was two-year increase in the local occupancy standards for existing dorms, making them consistent with fire code and state Dormitory Authority standards.
The resulting college-community task force, said Development Commissioner Michael Freimuth, has issued a recommendation that the city extend for an additional five years.
"This is critical to the overall bedding needs," he said.
The request by the committee was coupled with its decision to extend its work by an additional six months so it can resolve questions including the viability and merit of student housing and college development on North Avenue.
Freimuth said the logic behind the request for extension of occupany is that the two years plus the additional five roughly mirrors the time it took "to go soup to nuts to build the west campus."
He said it was a process that required a lot of review.
"It was estimated that sevens years was a reasonable window of time," Freimuth said, adding that the school didn't want to go much more than that.
Council members unease about granting the extension was tempered by a suggested amendment by Mayor Noam Bramson to the resolution that would require the approval of eight members of the city-community planning committee's final report that includes a recommendation for the five-year extension.
Bramson said it would allow the committee to continue studying the situation, wrap up their work and reaffirm the need for an extension.
He said it was his hope to have a clearer picture of the process in the next few months.
"But we will at least have a better sense of how we can move in the foreseeable future and that will be very positive for everyone," Bramson said.