The article below was written by David Propper and Published March 25, 2020 in Lohud.
The clock is ticking for the Mamaroneck Village Planning Board to take the next steps that could lead to housing at Hamsphire Country Club.
A state Supreme Court judge on March 13 ruled the planning board had 20 days to file a Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed development put forward by Hampshire Recreation LLC, which would build 105 single-family homes on part of its golf course.
Hampshire filed a lawsuit against the village in November to push the project along because the planning board still hadn't completed the environmental review after more than 18 months of waiting.
The village is preparing to appeal the court's decision even though the planning board might hit the court's deadline before further legal maneuvering.
In Judge Linda Jamieson's decision, she wrote the planning board has been “at best…encyclopedic” in its draft statement, but that not every environmental impact and mitigating measure needs to be addressed before the FEIS is accepted.
Once the planning board files the FEIS, it still needs to issue a "findings statement" within 30 days that weighs the positives of the development against environmental impacts.
David Cooper, a lawyer for the developer, said Hampshire's development team is hopeful that the judge's decision will lead to the planning board's review of the project being more objective.
“And not make a decision based on community opposition,” he said. “But based on scientific data in the matter.”
Village Attorney Robert Spolzino said the planning board is close to telling its consultant to prepare a final draft of the FEIS, saying the process is "on the one yard line." Spolzino said that a judge can't tell a local planing board it needs to stop investigating legitimate environment issues.
Because the planning board continues to hold meetings remotely through Zoom, Spolzino said he doesn't anticipate the coronavirus outbreak affecting its work.
Mayor Thomas Murphy said the planning board is working "expeditiously" to move forward with the process. The site for the proposal is in a flood plane with possible contamination because it has been a golf course for many years, Murphy said.
"I'm saddened that the developer would not want to make sure that there was a thorough and complete examination of the potential risks that might be involved in putting people in such a precarious environment," Murphy said.
The Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition, which opposes the project, has also argued that school enrollment would spike and traffic would worsen if the project goes forward.
The village, Westchester County, Town of Mamaroneck, and Mamaroneck school district would receive $5.5 million in annual property tax income from the project, its supporters point out.