Judge orders Mamaroneck to act on Hampshire CC development

The article below was written by Bill Heltzel and Published March 25, 2020 in Westfair Online.

The village of Mamaroneck must act now on an environmental review, a judge has ruled, on Hampshire Country Club’s proposed Residences at Hampshire.

Westchester Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Jamieson granted a writ of mandamus March 13 to Hampshire Recreation LLC, the country club’s developer, to compel the village planning board to accept an environmental impact statement as complete within 20 days and then issue its own findings within 30 days.

Village officials did not respond to an email request for comment on the judge’s decision.

Hampshire Recreation has been trying to get village regulatory approvals since 2015. The country club wants to downsize to a 9-hole golf course, build 61 townhouse and 44 houses and set aside 31 acres as open space for public use.

Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition, a group of neighbors who live near the country club in the wealthy Orienta section of the village, has vigorously opposed the development.

Hampshire Recreation submitted a proposed Final Environmental Impact Statement in October 2018, as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Generally, the local government is required to adopt a proposed report and then issue its own findings.

In this case, the planning board convened numerous work sessions, raised many questions and demanded more information over an 18-month period.

Hampshire Recreation revised its proposed environmental statement four times, producing a report with more than 3,000 pages last November.

The planning board, according to Hampshire Recreation, responded by stating that it wanted to hold another public comment period, even though the comment period had formally closed in May 2018.

Hampshire Recreation petitioned Westchester Supreme Court to compel the village to accept the report and issue its findings.

The village was “continually moving the goal posts,” the petition states, and was refusing the accept any version of the developer’s environmental report.

Hampshire Recreation argued that it had addressed all significant environmental issues and that the village was manufacturing issues to delay the report.

The court had no authority “to interfere in the ongoing administrative process,” the village argued, because it was diligently working to resolve all issues.

The “remedy of mandamus” to compel a government to perform a ministerial duty, Jamieson acknowledged, has limitations. But she found that the village was attempting to be encyclopedic in its review of the proposed environmental impact statement.

The New York Court of appeals has made it clear, she said, that “not every conceivable environmental impact, mitigating measure or alternative” must be addressed before accepting the report.

Zarin & Steinmetz of White Plains represented Hampshire Recreation. Abrams Fensterman of White Plains represented the village.

Mamaroneck Planning Board must take action in proposed Hampshire development, judge rules

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.

Letter To The Editor: Follow Law, Science, Facts About Hampshire

Published February 18, 2020 in The Patch

Since 2015, the developers of Hampshire Country Club (HCC) have been working tirelessly with the Village of Mamaroneck (VOM) Planning Board and its experienced engineers to address all remaining concerns related to The Residences at Hampshire, an attractive mix of 44 single-family homes and 61 carriage homes geared towards empty nesters. The proposed project, a Planned Residential Development (PRD), set on a portion of HCC's property, will provide modern, attractive energy efficient housing for area residents. It will also provide local jobs, revitalize the Club with a new source of income and generate an estimated $5.5 million in new annual tax revenue for the Village, including $1.2 million for schools alone.

As Hampshire awaits a final decision by the Planning Board, its plan has been met with unfounded accusations from a small, vocal group, the Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition (MCEC), whose leader owns five homes adjacent to the club and whose treasurer lives adjacent to HCC and is married to a VOM trustee. The data and studies confirming the overall viability, environmental responsibility and flood safety of The Residences have been thoroughly vetted by the Planning Board's experts and have been publicly available for months, if not years. Still, MCEC persists in recycling and doubling down on the same debunked fear mongering tactics disseminated through emails, its website, as well as its Facebook and Instagram social media campaigns.

Not only has this disinformation served to mislead the residents of the Village and its officials, but it has also needlessly cost Mamaroneck taxpayers millions of dollars in lost revenue and accumulated legal and consultant's fees.

Here, once again, is the truth as shown by the law, the science and the facts.

Wrong on the Law

MCEC makes many claims regarding alleged violations of law, yet independent analyses show them wrong on the law at every turn.

MCEC's website states that the project is illegal under Village Code due to impermissible use of private roads. This is untrue. These roads have long been used by the entire Orienta community to access the Hommocks Middle School, Boston Post Road and other points outside of the neighborhood. MCEC has no right to tell members of the community, whether currently living in Orienta or buying homes in this neighborhood in the future, that they can no longer use the roads.

MCEC's website claims that the project is illegal under Village Code due to filling in a designated floodplain. This is incorrect on two fronts: (1) Village regulations regarding fill in floodplains are not meant to regulate tidal floodplains such as the one on Hampshire's property, and (2) Hampshire's reputable civil engineers have demonstrated through detailed research that, in full compliance with Village regulations, there will be no significant change in water surface elevations on or off the property.

On Facebook, MCEC claims that the project is illegal under Village zoning law. In fact, The Residences at Hampshire is explicitly engineered to be allowable "as of right" under the property's current R-20 zoning. The current R-20 zoning allows for significantly more homes to be built than are being proposed. MCEC justifies its claim only by grossly misrepresenting the nature and size of the project. The truth is, the Planning Board's own experts have long since weighed in and agreed that MCEC's claim has no basis in the law.

And that's not the only misrepresentation regarding zoning. MCEC also repeatedly alleges that HCC is still pushing for a condominium development on the property. FALSE.

FACT: On the verge of bankruptcy, HCC was sold to its current owners in 2010. The new ownership spent several years evaluating development options that would provide financial subsidy for the club's operations while also offering a housing component that would have the least physical and environmental impact on the site. Thus, in 2014, the owners submitted a plan for a condominium development geared to empty nesters, which would have required rezoning — a request the Village Board of Trustees refused to consider. Instead, the Board of Trustees (which has purview over zoning amendments) instructed the owners to submit a plan consistent with the current R-20 zoning (i.e., "as of right") — hence, the current PRD proposal. Given that the developer's objective is to provide an additional source of revenue to help the club continue and thrive, there would be no point in pursuing a condominium plan for which the proper zoning does not exist. Though the condo plan is not an option, the Planning Board specifically included it as an alternative to the proposed project.

Wrong on the Science

Hampshire has conducted exhaustive studies of the project's effect on traffic, soil, the ambient environment and other points of impact, as detailed in its preliminary Final Environmental Impact Statement (pFEIS). These studies have been conducted by respected firms and accepted by the Village's experts; the only people stubbornly ignoring the results are the leaders of MCEC.

MCEC's social media campaign claims that the project would release dangerous levels of arsenic, lead and numerous other scary toxins from the soil. However, not only have both state and local-level environmental reviews rejected this claim based upon extensive soil testing showing that no such levels of contaminants are present in the soil, but the state-approved plan to import fill for the project will actually make the existing soil less susceptible to dislocation, especially during floods, as the new fill would sit no less than 4-feet deeper below the new ground surface.

MCEC purports that the project would bring horrendous traffic jams to the immediate and surrounding area for more than five years while the project is under construction; however, actual traffic studies conducted at the Village's request at the busiest times of day indicate that there will be no decline in the level of service. VOM's consultant has agreed with Hampshire's analysis.

MCEC incorrectly believes that the project will increase flooding in the Orienta neighborhood. There is NO scientific evidence to support MCEC's claim. Indeed, the Planning Board's own engineering experts have shown over and over again that the flood modeling in the pFEIS is accurate and demonstrates that the project would not adversely affect flood levels.

HCC has presented independently verified data collected and analyzed by professional experts. The data has been accepted by the Village and the State. The public and the Planning Board should not ignore the science. Broadcasting MCEC's well-debunked rumors is no substitute for hard data. Saying something over and over again doesn't make it true.

Wrong on the Facts

Besides misquoting the law and ignoring the science, MCEC has fallen into the habit of simply making up its own facts, all demonstrably FALSE.

According to MCEC the construction will send toxins into the air through excavation by substantial "blasting" operations. In fact, there is minimal blasting planned on only 2 percent of the project site and any blasting that is required will strictly follow all NYS DOT guidelines for dust mitigation and management of blasting operations.

Web posts by MCEC claim that the construction will result in the "clearcutting" of hundreds of trees. In fact, every last tree that may be disturbed by the development has been counted and will be replaced, resulting in zero loss. Of note, some of the replacement trees included in the landscaping plan are intentionally bred for disease/bacteria/fungal resistance resulting in greater sustainability and requiring lower maintenance.

MCEC's website states that the development will jeopardize the viability of the club by reducing the current 18-hole golf course to nine holes. In fact, this reduction reflects a national trend, as people with increasingly busy lifestyles have less time for long games. The Residences at Hampshire would indeed shore up the club's viability by introducing a much-needed revenue source while making the course attractive to more golfers.

MCEC's social media campaign claims that the development would destroy a designated Critical Environmental Area. In fact, the project will avoid all sensitive environmental areas and more than 50 percent of the open space on the property will remain. Moreover, development rights for the undeveloped land will be voluntarily placed under the permanent control of a not-for-profit of the community's choosing, blocking any further development on the site.

MCEC's website states that 105 new homes will significantly exacerbate the elementary school overcrowding problem. The truth is, the carriage homes representing 60 percent of the units are specifically designed for empty nesters who typically have fewer school-aged children living with them, adding very few students to the public-school rolls. In addition, the projected $1.55 million in net tax revenue for schools alone from the projects would offset any costs associated with any new children joining the public-school system.

After years of legal, scientific and factual disinformation campaigns, it is time for MCEC to answer law with actual law, science with tested science and fact with established fact, or concede that there is no legitimate reason for further delay. This zoning compliant project will bring many jobs and millions in tax revenue to the Village and will help a valued, longstanding local recreational institution to continue operating. A petition made public last fall bears one thousand signatures from Village residents in support of this project; their voices matter, too.

Similar projects take an average of 18 months to approve. Five years is long enough for the Planning Board to decide. This project is as of right and environmentally responsible. Please acquaint yourselves with the real data, available on the Village of Mamaroneck's website.

Facebook and Instagram are not the definitive sources of truth in this matter.

For more information, visit www.theresidencesathampshire.com

Susan Goldberger
30 year Town of Mamaroneck resident
Development Coordinator
Hampshire Recreation, LLC

Pro: Hampshire Development in Mamaroneck

Published February 14, 2020 in The Loop.

To the Editor:

I’d like to thank Jennifer and Sean Young personally for their thoughts about The Residences at Hampshire expressed in their letter of February 11.

The Youngs voice three primary concerns. First is that the school district “will be pushed against its limit” as too many school-age children are added to the student rolls in local schools. The truth is, the carriage homes making up the majority of The Residences at Hampshire will be designed specifically for empty nesters, significantly reducing the number of households in the proposed residential development that even include children. Based on industry-standard calculations as required by the Village of Mamaroneck’s scoping document, the proposed housing would add an estimated 57 school-age children, far fewer than the 100 feared by the Youngs in their letter. In addition, the projected $1.55 million in net tax revenue for schools alone from The Residences at Hampshire would offset any costs associated with any new children joining the public-school system.

The Youngs’ second concern is for the environmental and quality-of-life effects of the construction on the children attending nearby schools. I want them to know that the proposed construction will be temporary, short-term and phased. The largest disturbance will take place during Phase I of construction when the central platform will be constructed, which will only last nine months – not “at least six to seven years” as is the Youngs’ impression.

With respect to traffic caused by fill transports: given the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC’s) vetting and approval of the developer’s plan to reuse on-site fill, the number of transports needed to import fill will average 28 truck trips per day during the 9 months of Phase I, which add up to far fewer than the “tens of thousands” cited in the Youngs’ letter. Construction vehicles will also adhere to strict rules regarding hours of operation and delivery times; for example, trucks will be prohibited from arriving and departing within 30 minutes of the start and end of the school day to prevent conflicts with school traffic.

One of the most frequent subjects of confusion, however, concerns soil contaminants. As Hampshire has made clear many times, NYSDEC has concluded that the soil does not contain levels of arsenic or other contaminants presenting a legitimate public health threat or danger of being released into the environment. Rather, NYSDEC has determined that the soil can be reused on site, and typical construction safety measures will be adequate to protect the public. The Village’s own environmental review process has confirmed that arsenic levels at the site are well within routine safety limits.

The Youngs’ final stated concern is that traffic around the Hommocks School will become so congested, both during and after construction, that it will pose a risk to children walking to and from the school and its playing fields. Fortunately, traffic studies conducted around Hommocks School at the busiest times of day indicate that there will be no decline in the level of service at the various intersections studied at the request of the Village. As mentioned above, operation of construction vehicles will be strictly limited at the busiest times of the school day; additionally, when people move in after construction, the projected 57 additional school-age children are unlikely to result in “hundreds of additional cars” around Hommocks School. Moreover, the developers have proposed the addition of bike lanes to improve the safety of kids going to school.

I think it’s important to note that Hampshire’s owners met with the school district last summer to offer – at Hampshire’s expense – a re-routing of the roadways around Hommocks Middle School to improve circulation and add parking. The owners have yet to hear back from the district, after repeated inquiry, although the offer is still open.

We always appreciate input from our neighbors in Mamaroneck on how Hampshire may best serve and grow our community. We are happy to make the facts available to allay the fears of concerned parents, particularly when it comes to the safety of our children. To get those facts, which have been vetted and accepted by the Village’s own consultants and experts, one place to start would be the Village of Mamaroneck website, where all of the data, research and related documentation regarding the development may be found.

Further facts and clarification may be found on the web at www.theresidencesathampshire.com.

Susan Goldberger
30 Year Town of Mamaroneck Resident

Development Coordinator
Hampshire Recreation, LLC

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

Letter To The Editor: Flood Safety Of The Residences Development

The article below was written by Michael Junghans, PE Kimley-Horn of New York, PC and Published June 21, 2019 in The Patch

As a civil engineer with Kimley-Horn, one of the nation's premier planning and design consultants, I'd like to apply my 28 years of experience to provide some clarity on the issue of flood safety as it pertains to The Residences at Hampshire in Mamaroneck, one of our recent design projects.

My colleagues and I have devoted considerable time and resources to evaluating floodplain management at the development site. The Residences is designed not only to keep its residents safe according to current flooding patterns, but also to address even the most drastic credible estimates of sea level rise in the future. Even if the current FEMA 100-year flood level were to rise an additional four feet above its current 12-foot elevation, the homes would remain out of harm's way during the worst flooding.

In addition — for the first time ever — there will be a safe exit route out of the neighborhood for residents on Cove Road and Eagles Knoll Road in the event of a flood. This route would provide safe passage for all homeowners (not just those living in The Residences) and emergency vehicles during storms.

The question raised repeatedly by the Village Planning Board is whether or not this new elevation would redirect flood waters or a surge from Long Island Sound onto adjacent properties. Both we and the Village Board's experts have cited Flood Model data indicating that the development would not result in any such displacement.

The data and studies confirming the flood-soundness of The Residences has been thoroughly vetted by the Village Planning Board's experts and made available to the public for months, if not years. They have accepted our modeling, as well as the conclusion that the proposed development would not exacerbate flooding in the neighborhood. Therefore, as we approach the end of the SEQRA review process, we are confident in the data and modeling presented in the draft FEIS. The place to find the facts about The Residences is within those studies, publicly available on the Village of Mamaroneck's website, as the approval process continues.

Michael Junghans, PE
Kimley-Horn of New York, PC

Letter To The Editor: Dispelling Residences At Hampshire Rumors

Letter To The Editor: Dispelling Residences At Hampshire Rumors

The letter below was submitted by Mike Junghans, Kimley-Horn Engineering and Published November 13, 2018 in the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Patch.

Over the past several years, a growing list of unfounded rumors have taken hold regarding the proposed Residences at Hampshire planned residential development (PRD) in Mamaroneck. The recent Patch op-ed ("Lessons from Florence for Mamaroneck Development," Sept. 25) is just the latest selection of them.

The op-ed aims to capitalize on recent hurricane-related floods in the Carolinas to revive some of these unfounded rumors and to misapply the "lessons" of Hurricane Florence to our Village. It appeals to the threat of aggravated flooding in the area around the PRD due to construction and civil engineering, while leaving out a number of important facts in the process: facts that have been public knowledge for months, if not years.

The area in and around Hampshire Country Club is indeed prone to chronic flooding, as people who live here know too well. That is exactly why The Residences at Hampshire has been designed not only to address current flooding conditions, but also to address the most conservative credible estimates of sea level rise in the future. All of the homes would be elevated to at least 16 feet above sea level. This means that even if the current FEMA 100-year flood level were to rise an additional 4 feet above the current 12-foot elevation, the homes would remain out of harm's way during the worst flooding.

In addition — for the first time ever — there will be a safe exit route out of the neighborhood for existing residents on Cove Road and Eagles Knoll Road in the event of a flood. This route would provide safe passage for all homeowners (not just residents of the Hampshire property) during storms, even above the existing 100-year flood level.

The op-ed also raises the specter of the construction disturbing underground toxins such as arsenic, and of flood waters triggering "residents' and rescue workers' potential exposure to dangerous pollutants from the flood waters." Such alarmism is hardly justified. A comprehensive soil-sampling program was undertaken in connection with the Village's environmental review process. These tests demonstrated that arsenic levels at the site are well within routine safety limits. Indeed, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has reviewed the soil sampling results, and does not share the concerns expressed by the author of the op-ed.

Furthermore, the NYSDEC has approved Hampshire's proposal to reuse a significant amount of the soil from the site during the construction process without requiring any elevated safety or monitoring protocols beyond what is required of a typical residential development. Reusing the soil will also decrease the carbon footprint of this development by requiring vastly less importation of new fill, thereby significantly reducing construction traffic.

This information is all available to the public, contained within the Environmental Impact Statement submitted to the Village of Mamaroneck, with extensive studies and surveys vetted by the Planning Board's experts. For anyone who is interested in the facts, that is where to find them.

Mike Junghans
Kimley-Horn Engineering

Eight years on, Hampshire CC housing plan moves a ‘step forward’

Eight years on, Hampshire CC housing plan moves a ‘step forward’

The article below was written by Ryan Deffenbaugh and Published May 17, 2018 in Westfair Communications

The development team planning a residential community at the Hampshire Country Club celebrated a small milestone earlier this month in the review of its proposal to build 105 luxury homes on the course.

Hampshire Recreation LLC, the owner of the golf course and club, announced May 11 that the public comment period has closed on the draft environmental impact statement for its proposal to build homes on part of the golf course. The developer now moves into prepping its final environmental impact statement, which will be reviewed by the village of Mamaroneck’s Planning Board.

It’s a small step in the project’s review and the proposal is still a long way from the putting green. But, to the developer, the move is a “step forward” for plans that have hooked and sliced in the face of community and municipal opposition over the eight years Hampshire Recreation has owned the golf course.

The latest proposal calls for 105 residential units on 29 acres of the 116-acre property, including 64 carriage homes that will target empty nesters looking for low-maintenance property ownership. The 18-hole golf course will be redesigned into a 9-hole course. Country club amenities, such as the clubhouse, tennis courts and swimming facilities, would remain.

The course would continue to operate as a country club with about 50 acres of the property preserved.

The golf course, on Cove Road, borders Delancey Cove on the Long Island Sound. The country club has operated on the land since 1944, though the course was designed in 1928.

Financial troubles forced the sale of the country club property to Hampshire Recreation for $12.1 million in June 2010.

Daniel Pfeffer, one of the principals of Hampshire Recreation, said the location in Mamaroneck is scenic and is a quick commute to New York City.

“The size of this property provides an opportunity to design a significant number of beautiful and efficient homes in an area that has mainly older housing stock,” he told the Business Journal in an email. “In addition, integration of walking and bicycle paths will add to the appeal of this location.”

This proposal is a shift from the company’s initial plans. An earlier proposal to the village asked its board of trustees to rezone a portion of the property to allow for condominium development. Different plans would have had either 96 or 121 condo units on a smaller portion of the property. The golf course would have been preserved as 18 holes.

Hearing opposition from neighbors, the village board denied both zoning change requests. Hampshire Recreation sued in 2014, claiming the village board had acted improperly in the review. The case was eventually dismissed by a federal appellate court in 2016. A separate lawsuit filed by Hampshire Recreation claiming the village board violated New York open meetings law while denying its zoning request is still in the courts.

The developer said the current plan is permitted under Mamaroneck’s residential zoning code, meaning it would only require site plan approval from the village planning board.

The condominium plan is included in the project’s draft environmental statement as an alternative proposal for the site. But the planning board would be unable to approve the condominium plan without the village board agreeing to rezone a portion of the course.

Neighbors of the site and other village residents, led by the Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition civic group, have pushed back against both residential proposals at the course.

David Wenstrup, secretary of the environmental coalition, said the group isn’t opposed to development on the site. But the developer has not presented a plan the group views as compliant with the village’s regulations.

“They’re trying to create this false choice, they’re trying to say, ‘Well which proposal is better?’” Wenstrup said. “The reality is that neither is as-of-right. Both have enormous problems.”

The coalition has argued that the new home construction is in a flood zone that has flooded as recently as Hurricane Sandy. Building homes could increase the flood risk for neighbors and run afoul of village law, the opponents have argued. The Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition has also argued the proposal goes against the village’s comprehensive plan, could overburden its schools and increase traffic.

In its draft environmental impact statement, the development team said the project’s proposed grading changes would allow all new buildings and roadways to be located outside the 100-year and 500-year floodplains on the site. A flood analysis by the developer’s engineering team found there would be no impact to neighboring properties.

“These houses will be the only residences in the area designed around the new FEMA standards,” the project’s attorney, David Cooper, said at a public hearing in April. “They’ll be elevated two feet above even the most conservative of estimates for sea-level rise.”

The environmental coalition has described the analysis as inadequate.

To address traffic and school concerns, the developer stated that the carriage homes will likely appeal to empty nesters who generate less traffic and have fewer school-age children. The DEIS estimates the new homes would add 57 school-age children to the village’s school district.

Hampshire Recreation has argued the residences would have a beneficial impact on the village, citing an expected tax increase of $4.8 million a year and the addition of new housing options for downsizing residents.

Pfeffer said the updated, smaller golf course concept should attract a larger membership.

“A nine-hole course is appealing to many since it requires less time to play,” Pfeffer said. “The integration of the nine-hole course into the overall development plan will be an attractive feature for many prospective home buyers who may enjoy the benefit of walking out their front or rear doors and playing a few holes after a long day at work.”

The final public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement lasted just under four hours. With the close of the public hearing, Hampshire Recreation will next respond in writing to the written comments by residents and the village planning board.

Mamaroneck’s Hampshire Club Continues to Push Development

Mamaroneck’s Hampshire Club Continues to Push Development

The article below was Published May 16, 2018 in theLoop

Plans to develop Hampshire County Club into a 105 unit residential community took “another step forward,” or not, depending on who you ask.

“Plans to transform the Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck into a luxury residential golf community took another step forward with the close of the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement,” says a press release from the developer.

But according to Celia Felsher, President of Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition, which was initially created to address concerns relative to Hampshire, the developers are attempting to mislead the public into thinking that approval is near at hand when in fact the public and the Planning Board are just beginning to learn the full nature of the project’s adverse impacts on the community.”

Efforts to recreate the Hampshire golf course and country club property have been underway for nearly 8 years, with development proposals, various forms of litigation, local hearings and protests.

The plan is again before the Village Planning Board for site plan approval.

The Residences at Hampshire Country Club would, according to the developers, be “105 ultra-luxury residential units allowed as-of-right to fully comply with the property’s R-20 zoning. Of the total residential units, 64 will be what they term “carriage homes” deigned to appeal to empty-nesters.”

According to Ms. Felsher the building of 105-units as proposed is not allowed as-of-right due to legal and feasibility limitations on construction on the property. She also noted that, with three-bedrooms each, the carriage homes would also appeal to families who wish to move to Mamaroneck to take advantage of the good schools.

On its website, Susan Goldberger, the project manager writes, “In 2010, after nearly a century of operations, the Hampshire Country Club was forced to close due to financial woes exacerbated by the financial crisis and declining membership.” The Club was, in fact, sold in 2010, to a team lead by Larchmont’s Dan Pfeffer. The Club, however, remains open under a new management team and managers on site say there are several hundred active members, and it never closed.

“This is just an effort by Hampshire to frighten the community into pushing our Village Board into rezoning the Club for the 125-unit condo development – which is what the developers really want,” says Felsher, but is also totally wrong for the community with many adverse impacts. We cannot fall into that trap.”

The developer maintains the project fiscal benefits include the generation of approximately $5.2 million in taxes annually, including approximately $1.5 million net in annual school taxes, after costs associated with 57 new students. They say total tax revenue versus the current taxes paid by the club is forecast to be in excess of $4.8 million.

Mamaroneck Coastal disputes the claims of the developers regarding the amount of tax revenue to be generated by the project as a result of the developers using “highly inflated estimates of assessed values, and underestimating the impact of the development on municipal services, especially impact on the School District.”

Hampshire Country Club Plans Move To Final Environment Study

Hampshire Country Club Plans Move To Final Environment Study

The article below was written by Michael Woyton, Patch Staff and Published May 14, 2018 in the Larchmont Patch

The development will feature 105 ultra-luxury residential units.

MAMARONECK, NY — Plans to transform the Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck into a luxury residential golf community took another step forward with the close of the public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement. The planned residential development, which is before the Village Planning Board for site plan approval, will now move into the final environmental impact statement stage, according to a spokesman for developers Hampshire Recreation LLC and Toll Brothers.

Called The Residences at Hampshire Country Club, the development will feature 105 ultra-luxury residential units allowed as-of-right to fully comply with the property's zoning. Of the total residential units, 64 will be carriage homes designed to appeal to empty-nesters looking for low maintenance and resort-style amenities. The developers anticipate the empty-nesters having fewer children living with them, thereby minimizing the impact on the public school's rolls. In addition, empty-nesters, which are the largest segment of the target market, generate less traffic during peak school and work hours.

The single-family residences will be designed with the latest in modern technology and will appeal to those in the community looking to experience the benefits of the adjacent club facilities and golf course, a spokesman said.

The project is expected to generate approximately $5.2 million in taxes annually, including approximately $1.5 million net in annual school taxes, after costs associated with new students. The total tax revenue versus the current taxes paid by the club is forecast to be in excess of $4.8 million, the developers said. The plan also provides a housing option for local residents looking to downsize but wishing to remain in the local community.

In addition, the project is anticipated to bring jobs, commerce and revenue to the Village of Mamaroneck. The club will continue to operate during and after construction of the project.