Mamaroneck Village imposed a moratorium on large subdivisions for at least half a year on Monday night, while it reviews safeguards for open space.
Over the objections of Deputy Mayor Louis Santoro and most speakers at a public hearing, the Board of Trustees voted, 4-1 to adopt the temporary ban. A new local law halts for six months any development of land large enough to accommodate four or more units unless it has already been approved by a land-use board.
Some half-dozen speakers addressed the village board, with most of them opposed to the hiatus. They contended that today’s bad economy made any large residential development unlikely, that its imposition sent the wrong signal to prospective businesses and that it would almost certainly last longer than six months.
“Don’t put the sign out that says, ‘We’re closed,’" Daniel K. Pfeffer of Larchmont, executive managing director of the firm that owns the Hampshire Country Club, warned the board. “That’s what a moratorium does.” His Manhattan-based real estate firm, New World Realty Advisors LLC, bought the defunct club last year for $12.1 million and has spent some $3 million, he said, refurbishing the clubhouse and grounds.
With more than 100 wooded acres off Cove Road—representing some of the village’s last remaining land capable of large-scale development—Hampshire feels especially targeted by the development freeze. “We believe that a moratorium is directed at Hampshire,” Pfeffer said. While there are no plans now to develop the property beyond its 18-hole golf course, he insisted Monday, New World intends to preserve its right to build “should we choose to do so.”
Village officials deny that Hampshire had been singled out, saying the moratorium will apply to other large tracts like proposals for a five-unit development on Highview Street, a dozen townhomes on Boston Post Road and a six-unit subdivision off Fenimore Road.
The local law adopted Monday affects not only undeveloped land but also underdeveloped properties with the potential for denser building.
Some speakers, while not directly addressing Hampshire’s concerns, called any development pause a flawed policy. “I have a fundamental problem,” said Mauro Gabriele, “that during one of the worst economic climates in the nation’s history, the village is putting out a sign saying, ‘We’re not open for business.’ “
Gabriele, a real estate consultant and onetime zoning board member, put the chances of development in today’s “downtrodden economy” at “slim and none.”
For its part, the Coordinating Council of Neighborhood Associations applauded the moratorium. In a resolution presented to the board by spokesman Daniel S. Natchez, the council called on the village to “take a hard look at the desired future, character and environmental effects” of developing “large open land spaces.”
But Gary D. Hirsch, a self-described five-year resident with “no ax to grind,” said he was “very disturbed” by the moratorium proposal. “This is a bad mistake,” he said, advising the trustees, “You’re not allowed to make bad mistakes in bad times.”