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Proposed Development in Mamaroneck Draws Ire From Community

The future of a proposed apartment complex on the property of Hampshire Country Club (HCC) in Mamaroneck was the focus of Monday night’s Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees meeting.

 

With the Mamaroneck courtroom nearing capacity last night, many residents of the waterfront community came out to protest a development that some called "grotesque" and others feared would exacerbate existing flooding issues.

The HCC—which was purchased by NWR Acquisitions in the spring of 2010—now seeks to erect a 125-unit, five-story apartment building and a 250-car parking garage on the club’s golf course.  Over 110 local residents attended the meeting, and most showed up to oppose the proposal.

The prospect of the building’s construction has generated significant concern among residents of both Larchmont and Mamaroneck, especially among those in the Orienta neighborhood, who live closest to the golf course. These residents feel that such a development would severely affect the quality of life and automotive traffic in the area, most acutely on Orienta Avenue, the Boston Post Road, and Weaver Street. 

Celia Felsher, a former Mamaroneck School Board president, addressed the board on behalf of the Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition (MCEC), saying that the apartments would be “grotesquely out of character for the surrounding residential environment.”  Felsher also noted that the proposed structure would occupy 290,000-300,000 square feet, an 11-fold increase in the volume of the building, as compared to the current HCC club house, which is 25,000 square feet. 

“The access roads to the club,” she said, could not handle the additional traffic burden, which she estimated at “1,000-2,000 additional one-way trips a day.”

Among other environmental issues, Felsher expressed particular concern over the proposed building’s ability to manage floods. The proposed building, she argued, lies on an area that has, in recent years, proved vulnerable to severe storms, most notably the Nor’easter of 1992 and Hurricane Sandy last year.  She called the situation “dangerous” and said that it is “naïve, if not worse than naïve, to argue that the Sound can be held in check and will be able to be kept out in the event of another storm. It is, frankly, insulting to think otherwise.” 

Stephen Kass, whom the MCEC has retained as counsel from the law firm Carter Ledyard and Milburn LLP, addressed the zoning concerns surrounding the proposal.  He reminded the board that HCC has not yet filed a petition to rezone such that it can pursue construction of the apartments, and urged the board to decline to consider HCC’s petition, if, in fact, the club does file a petition to rezone. 

The village has designated the land on which the proposed complex is plotted as marine recreational, and HCC must petition the board to approve rezoning of that land for the club to build apartments there. 

Other parts of the club’s property lie on the village’s R-20 designated land, where HCC may pursue construction of single-family homes.  Kass suggested that, instead of building apartments on the marine recreational land, HCC should build single-family homes within the R-20 space, which would have a lesser effect on the area’s population density. 

Kass also admonished the board against considering the club’s petition, warning that such consideration would likely result in protracted litigation against the village. In addition, Kass questioned whether HCC is in compliance with its status as a nonprofit organization, and suggested that the board decline to evaluate a petition from a group that Kass believes has violated its nonprofit status. 

By all indications, including the comments of Michael Zarin, the attorney representing HCC, the club will go forth with its petition to rezone the land for the proposed complex.  Although Zarin said he did not “seek to respond to, or refute, or rebut” any comments from the MCRC, as no petition has yet been filed, he rejected the notion that HCC had violated its nonprofit status. 

He added that the building is “a proposal that is very much geared toward maximizing the open space at the site and creating another revenue stream that will preserve this as a viable golf course.”  He said that residents’ environmental concerns were “legitimate,” and that HCC intends to conduct an intensive environmental review.

Mayor Norman Rosenblum said that, because HCC has not yet filed a petition, neither he nor the trustees would respond to the comments from Felsher, Kass, and Zarin.

OTHER NOTES

The board unanimously passed a resolution to allow for a property tax increase above New York State’s mandated two-percent annual tax levy cap.  In certain cases, as in school budgets and pension funds, municipalities may collect more than an additional two percent in property taxes than in the previous year, but the board must first approve the option for such an increase.  Last year the board passed the same measures and did not need to exceed the tax levy cap.

LifeLongResident January 29, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Thank you for this article, I had no idea this was going on. This sounds like a very big deal, 125 unit apartment building! No wonder the room was packed. Is there anything else like this in the Village? Why would our Village leaders even consider this? Didn't somebody die on the Hampshire grounds when it got flooded years ago? This sounds crazy.
Tom Murphy January 29, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Below is a link to a video that I made with Clark Neuringer discussing the issues and problems that are involved with developing this property and its implication for the whole Village. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+tom+murphy+show+part+1&oq=the&gs_l=youtube.1.1.35i39l2j0l8.5070.6072.0.11042.3.3.0.0.0.0.175.463.0j3.3.0...0.0...1ac.1.MoOF5rWIZfI
Tom Murphy January 29, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Part 2 of same show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cE1mrFrxOQ
Allison January 30, 2013 at 12:13 AM
I'd be curious to learn what, if any proposed community benefit might be to both the Town and Village of Mamaroneck should this ever come to fruition. There doesn't seem to be any monetary benefit to the municipality's tax base for apartments/condos either. From what I've seen everyone talks a great game with tax revenue during the approval part and then a few years later, boom a tax grievance is successful and the burden is on the backs of residential homeowner again. There are plenty of pictures this publication has taken of this area in the past several years during flooding. Most of the property is under water! Yes life long resident someone died there during flooding around the 90's. Seems risky to entertain any proposal for additional development to me, on many fronts!
lance sterling January 31, 2013 at 12:25 AM
the town could of brought this land years ago what they thing they brught the land for golf laught lance sterling
tara January 31, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Perfect world, the towns ( mamaroneck/ larchmont) would of bought this property but it did not happen. A real estate focused private equity fund bought it and of course will do what they can to develop the property. The property will get developed, it will not be like IKEA project, legally PE firm could develop it and will.
BG7 January 31, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Tara - the point is not that it can be developed, the point is what can be developed there. Hence their petition. A private Equity fund exists for one reason - to make money. Us living here will live with the consequences of their profit, and many of us feel differently.
MMK Local January 31, 2013 at 08:06 PM
I think the HCC property is zoned for single family housing, which is permitted to be clustered. But I’m not sure how much land can be realistically built upon due to flood risk, since much of HCC is low lying and flood prone. Also not sure what measures the developer can take as of right to “solve” the flooding problem. In any case, why should Mamaroneck CHANGE the zoning to allow a large building in a place where it now is prohibited from being built (a coastal zone). The proposed building will contain 100 or 125 units and rise 5 stories from road level by the clubhouse. How many locals want to look at that? Also, can the proposed sea wall realistically hold back the sound’s water in a major storm? Why put hundreds of people at risk and requiring rescue? I suspect the developer is unlikely to build expensive ($2 MM plus) standalone homes (or somewhat less expensive clustered homes) in the same number as condos. I think the only benefit to Mamaroneck, as contended by the developer, is that his plan will leave much more open space (and BTW allow the golf course to keep operating). IF HCC is FULLY developed, the new traffic will be about the same whether condos or houses. But if fewer houses (vs condos) are built, traffic impact will be less. So I say let the developer live with the existing development rights and we will probably see significantly fewer new housing units, spread out over more time, that add to the density and traffic in our tightly packed area.
john woods April 29, 2013 at 10:34 PM
There is no way that many ok people should live back there that golf course turn into a lake in storms and the roads there are not made for more traffic. You cpuld add no more then 35 units to that place that ablut it any more is crazy

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