The proposed condominium development for Hampshire Country Club by New World Realty, the Club’s new owners, led by Larchmont resident Dan Pfeffer, is facing mounting and better organized opposition from Mamaroneck residents living near the open land in question.
I was invited to Hampshire to see plans for both the proposed condominium project (“Plan A”) and the alternate single family housing development (“Plan B”.)
Thomas Nappi, Vice President of New World Realty Advisors, the Hampshire Project Manager, expressed objections to theLoop’s characterization of the development site as ‘wetlands,’ and took issue with residents’ concerns about increased traffic near Hommocks School, saying he believes most of the new residents would be “older, empty nesters or half-year residents,” and therefore there would be “fewer than 50 more cars a day.”
Alex Howe with Global Strategy Group, a Public Relations firm retained by the developers, writes, “The main pushback we hear from opposition is that we cannot develop the single family homes alternative. We had a planning design and engineering firm take a look and put together their findings and a map laying out design to show that we could in fact build the single family home option.” (below)
Celia Felsher, President of Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition, Inc., the group formed in opposition to the project, takes issues with the points above, and released this statement Saturday:
The Village of Mamaroneck’s proximity to Long Island Sound has shaped our Village and its land-use policies. A pioneering waterfront plan and careful zoning has protected the Village and its waterfront, even in the face of development pressures that have changed the character of other communities. We now face a proposed development scheme that threatens the nature of our community, and its public process for reviewing development proposals. This threat comes from the proposed condominium development for Hampshire Country Club (HCC) by the Club’s new owners, New World Realty, led by Dan Pfeffer, and Westport Capital.
The proposed condominium scheme “Plan A” is unacceptable. It is too big, too dense, too damaging to the environment and inappropriate for the coastal zone and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Knowing this, the developers seek to bypass the Village’s well-established system for reviewing development proposals. Their glossy public relations campaign seeks to coerce the public to support their project by threatening a disastrous alternative scenario that is illegal, infeasible and purposely destructive of both the environment and the community.
The developers preferred condo plan requires rezoning to permit construction of a massive 125-unit condominium complex with a 250-car underground garage. This project, which is prohibited under current law, would be completely out of character with the surrounding community. It raises further concerns because “Critical Environmental Area.” Any re-zoning would also dangerous precedent for other properties throughout the Village.
Traffic is another serious concern. With potentially thousands of additional vehicle trips a day, the project would exacerbate already difficult traffic and safety conditions near the Hommocks School, town fields and already congested town and private roads near HCC.
In addition, Hampshire experiences frequent hazardous flood conditions, including last fall during Superstorm Sandy when more than 80% of the property was underwater. Floodwaters claimed the life of a neighbor whose car was washed off the road onto a flooded fairway during a nor’easter in 1992.
The developers hold out the promise of new tax revenues to support their plan. However, independent financial analysis reveals that there will be little or no net gain in revenue, and the project is, in fact, likely to increase Village taxes.
The Developers’ Threat
Recognizing the problems with their plan, and in response to community opposition, the developers have literally threatened Mamaroneck with an environmentally disastrous alternative “Plan B,” which is to develop almost every inch of this environmentally sensitive property into a sprawling 106-home subdivision on top of a newly constructed landfill. This un-approvable proposal was put forth with the intent of intimidating the community.
The developers say they can and will overcome environmental constraints by significantly raising the level of the property to meet new FEMA and Village requirements. This would require over 1 million cubic yards of landfill, with an estimated 50,000 truckloads of fill hauled through the streets of Mamaroneck. This is not feasible, legally permitted or consistent with environmental requirements.
Obviously, there is little chance that this plan to create a landfill on a flood plain along Long Island Sound would be approved. The fact that the developers threaten such action says a lot about how they view our village and demonstrates what kind of neighbors they are.
Best for the Community
Mamaroneck Coastal, a non-profit organization formed by residents of the Village of Mamaroneck in reaction to the proposed development at Hampshire to help protect the Village’s coastal environment, is not opposed to development at Hampshire. Contrary to what Thomas Nappi, the Hampshire project manager, asserted in his April 23rd letter to the community, we believe we have described the proposed project accurately. The developers have the right to submit a reasonable plan that abides by existing zoning and other laws and respects the environment. This is what we suggest they do. They do not have the right to a rezoning that will allow the construction of a high-density condo complex in a neighborhood of single-family homes, and they certainly don’t have the right to fill and destroy an environmentally sensitive flood plain.
We trust that our Mayor and Village Board will take a firm stand against this ill-conceived rezoning and unacceptable threat to our community. We URGE our fellow residents to inform themselves as to what the developers are actually proposing for Hampshire, to unite in opposition to that proposal, and to demand that the developers – and our Trustees – explore a full range of reasonable and lawful alternatives for the Hampshire site, including rezoning all or most of the site, as contemplated by our Comprehensive Plan, for “Open/Recreational Space.”