An Open Letter to Thomas Murphy, Mayor, Village of Mamaroneck

July 2019

Dear Mayor Murphy,

We are compelled to respond to your June 9th Facebook post regarding the proposed residential development plan at Hampshire Country Club, in which you stated, "What I won’t support is rezoning an important area of our community for the sole purpose of making already wealthy investors more wealthy."

With all due respect, there is no rezoning request currently before the Village. As you should remember, we originally asked the Village to consider rezoning our property to allow for condominium development on less than two acres. Such rezoning would have permitted Hampshire to integrate a limited number of residences into the existing clubhouse, while allowing it to preserve 98 percent of the property—more than 113 of the 116 acres that Hampshire owns, including the entire 18-hole golf course—indeed, the largest tract of privately held open space in the Village. Moreover, the golf course would have remained open space in perpetuity through a deed restriction, and offered a form of housing which is in high demand, particularly among area residents who wish to downsize and live more comfortably in our community. When presented with two separate condominium plans in 2014, the Village Board not only refused to consider this rezoning proposal, but it also refused to discuss the matter in open session or provide any explanation for its refusal.

Instead, and for some reason not mentioned in your Facebook post, the Village Board told Hampshire to pursue a residential development proposal under the existing R-20 zoning before the Village Planning Board.

Hampshire, therefore, has been pursuing its proposal to build 105 luxury residential units on the golf course, within an efficient, architecturally compatible planned layout. This will require a redesign of the golf course into a 9-hole course which, quite frankly, represents a trend nationwide, appealing to people with busy lifestyles.

This plan is currently going through the New York State mandated SEQRA process, and it is ultimately the responsibility of the Planning Board to make a timely decision on the outcome of our project.

The development of 44 single-family and 61 carriage homes at Hampshire is expected to generate approximately $5.2 million in taxes annually, including approximately $1.5 million net (after costs associated with 57 new students) in annual school taxes, which would be enough to fund eliminated programs without increased taxes on HCC neighbors. In total, additional tax revenue to be generated is forecast to be in excess of $4.8 million per year.

As planned, this project will help fill the village coffers for years to come, and not a moment too soon. Last year, the combined Village and Town tax assessment of Hampshire Country Club was reduced from $13MM to $6MM, which represents a 54 percent reduction resulting in an annual tax savings for Hampshire of $170,000 going forward. Even more significant was the $1.2MM already refunded to Hampshire which will need to be made up by area taxpayers.

We appear to disagree on what constitutes “an important area of our community.” Certainly, Orienta is important, but so are the other areas of Mamaroneck. It is our view that the Village continues to waste taxpayer dollars by preventing development, much to the detriment of the majority of its residents, who would benefit from the increased tax revenue generated by such development. A board review process that typically takes 18 months has now been dragging on for 4 years. The end result is that the Village has already missed out on approximately $15 million in potential revenue due to its perpetual delays.

We think it's important at this time to restate our unwavering goals for this project, which largely benefit the entire community and have always been made very public:

- to revitalize Hampshire as a full-service club, by providing new amenities not only to our existing members, but also to new residents choosing to live in our planned residential development.

- to provide much-needed lower maintenance homes for area residents who wish to remain in our community.

- to continue to generate much-needed jobs. As one of the Village’s leading employers, the club has more than 100 employees, most of whom live locally, and caddying at the club is for many a first job.

- to continue to provide a valuable local resource for our community.

- to protect the surrounding open space, as well as to improve the roads adjacent to the club property which are now full of potholes and uneven surfaces.

- to improve area access to the Orienta neighborhood during flood events, which is clearly articulated in this letter written by our project engineer Michael Junghans, Kimley Horn of New York.

Contrary to what you state, Hampshire is not attempting to intimidate the Village of Mamaroneck nor any of the Orienta neighbors. Hampshire has attempted to engage with the entire Village in a productive dialogue about means to ensure the Club can continue serving as a valuable resource in the community for many decades to come. Since purchasing the club in 2010, we have invested in the club to keep it running smoothly throughout the entire process, meticulously maintaining and improving the 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, the clubhouse, dining facilities and outdoor swimming pool.

Of most significance, when the last big storm hit Mamaroneck, Hampshire opened its doors to feed and shelter displaced residents and plans to continue that role in the future. In addition, many non-profit organizations and other community groups regularly use the club’s facilities and both local high school golf teams practice free of charge and play home matches on Hampshire’s rolling and beautiful course.

In conclusion, we are here for the long haul, to remain vital and to help our community. In return, we simply want to be treated fairly by the Village, in a transparent and legal manner.

 Mr. Mayor, while you have rebuffed all offers to meet with us in the past, we sincerely hope that you will reconsider your position, particularly as the SEQRA process winds down. We hope that you share our belief that a thoughtful, open-minded conversation will lead to a decision that is in the best interest of the entire Mamaroneck community.

Thank you for the consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.

The owners of Hampshire Country Club