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.
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.