Opposition Grows to Hampshire Development

Print

hampshire mamaroneck coastal

hampshire development

Developers’ rendering of Hampshire Plan “A”

 

 

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)

Developers' 'Plan B' Option

Developers’ ‘Plan B’ Option

USCG flood map after Hurricane Sandy

US Geological Survey flood map after Hurricane Sandy

 

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.”

 hampshire mamaroneck coastal

Related Posts

16 thoughts on “Opposition Grows to Hampshire Development

  1. “Do we want to be changing our
    zoning laws to accommodate a developer using this kind of scare tactic on what
    our village has labeled its largest sensitive environmental area?”

    The answer is NO, and the zoning board needs to carry out the wishes of the community.

    With the reappraisal of homes, local governments should have the funds to step up and correct the mistake they made in not acquiring the land.

    What of the ‘open spaces’ mandate/guideline which appeared in the Master Plan of the Town of Mamaroneck ?

  2. The TOM and VOL lost their opportunity to keep this from happening when they failed to purchase the property when it first came on the market. Now we will have to fight them over this, and probably pay a higher amount to keep the property as is.

  3. I cannot understand how an environmental impact report would not stop this development. Flood plain, wetlands? I guess I’ll have to get more information.

    The appeal our communities have for current and new residents can be fast eroded by projects like this.

  4. The purchasers of Hampshire knew how the area was zoned when they purchased it. It was zoned with the community’s safety in mind and changing existing laws for the financial benefit of one private company makes no sense. Development in that area affects not just the Village of Mamaroneck, but also the Town of Mamaroneck, the Town of Larchmont and the Village of Larchmont, as all of our children go to school there. It is a terribly congested area already and the thought that there will be hundreds more cars there every day is a hazard to our children, who walk to and from school and are out and about all day crossing the Boston Post Road. I believe the zoning should remain as is.

  5. The developers’ new plan to build
    106 single family homes is a callous but empty threat to our community designed
    to try to make his massive condominium plan look more attractive. The developer insists he can build this plan
    “as of right”. He clearly cannot: Since
    the vast majority of the property is in a flood plain, several legal and
    regulatory issues make this a non-starter.

    ·
    An international hydrological
    consulting firm has estimated that approximately 1,000,000 cubic yards of fill
    would be needed to bring the site to required FEMA levels, including
    approximately 50,000 truckloads of fill brought to the site.

    ·
    This would create a massive landfill
    that would require a permit, unlikely to be granted, from the New York State
    Department of Environmental Conservation.
    If granted, the site would be converted into a “solid waste management
    facility”. State law prohibits solid
    waste management facilities in flood plains.

    ·
    A solid waste management facility
    is a “use” not permitted in the R-20 residential and MR zones for which the
    property is zoned.

    ·
    Village law prohibits any
    substantial filling of a flood plain for any development.

    The developer surely must know
    the plan is not achievable, and he doesn’t seem to really want to do it. This is obvious in how he has described plan
    “B” in various meetings. He has said
    that they would bring in “tens of thousands of truckloads” of fill, and bulld
    106 “McMansions”. This is all meant to
    scare our community into giving the developer a zoning change to allow his
    massive condominium project. But once
    you realize the 106 home plan is pure fiction, you go back to seeing his condo
    plan for what it is: A project grossly out of scale for the community with
    major traffic and flooding issues, that will end up costing Mamaroneck village
    taxpayers money because the village will spend more in additional services than
    taxes from the condominiums will support.
    This means everyone else’s taxes must increase if the plan goes forward. Mamaroneck will not be fooled by the
    developer’s scare tactics.

    Do we want to be changing our
    zoning laws to accommodate a developer using this kind of scare tactic on what
    our village has labeled its largest sensitive environmental area?

    If the developer insists on building
    on the property beyond its current recreational use, it should submit an
    approvable plan to the planning board that is consistent with current zoning
    and regulatory limits.

  6. It is hard to fathom the ongoing debate of the
    future of HCC. The current zoning laws are clear and were created with the
    benefit of the community in mind (and in place when the investors purchased the
    club.) Changing existing laws for the benefit of a small group of investors at
    the community’s expense seems ludicrous. At a recent meeting, Mr. Pfeffer reported that
    the club is running at a profit and almost at capacity for membership. It is disingenuous to say they need to
    develop to stay afloat – spell it out – they need to develop to capture the
    largest possible financial gain for their investors. The development they seek
    (which requires a rezoning from marine- recreational to high- density -residential)
    will not benefit the community – it will most likely raise our taxes, create
    more congestion on our roads, place an increased burden on emergency responders
    during times of flooding, and set a disastrous precedent for the rest of our
    waterfront and beyond. Would it be so terrible to uphold current laws and allow
    Mamaroneck to remain the beautiful, bucolic village that it is?

  7. As chair of the Larchmont/Mamaroneck Safe Routes to School committee, I am concerned about the prospect of a large condominium complex being built on the site of Hampshire Country Club. Were condos to be built, the already significant traffic volumes in and around Central School, Hommocks Middle School, and Mamaroneck High School would increase substantially, jeopardizing the safety of our students.

    The Boston Post Road from Weaver Street to Rockland Avenue is already a treacherous stretch of road for pedestrians. Yet with three district schools and many apartment buildings nearby, hundreds of students and residents
    walk this area daily. Not surprisingly, several accidents involving pedestrians
    and vehicles have occurred in this corridor over the past few years. The potential increase in traffic should a 120+ unit condominium complex be built on Cove Road would make the Post Road even more dangerous for pedestrians. Traffic volumes exiting onto the Post Road at Hommocks Road and at Old Post Road/Richbell Road would increase significantly, precisely where the number of students walking to and from school is heaviest. Additional traffic exiting Orienta Avenue at the Post Road is also worrisome as students walk to Harbor Island for after school sports activities.

    • Excellent commentary. The sad fact is most people can’t imagine the impact of a large development like this – especially as there is no comparable structure in Mamaroneck or Larchmont. It is convenient to accept the developers glossy brochure and think these condos fit into our community. I have heard it said that the only people impacted will be nearby residents.

      This monstrosity will impact every resident of Larchmont and Mamaroneck – especially those with school-age children.

      Perhaps the closing of the Weaver Street bridge will heighten awareness of the terrible traffic conditions already existing in this town and get more people to question the wisdom of shoving 120+ condo units on top of our schools and into the middle of a densely populated residential area. Or maybe the opening of the Wahlgreens at the front door to the Hommocks will create a enough of a nightmare at dropoff and pickup that
      this community will remember that if you want to raise children in a safe and nice place, you need to protect the community before it is too late!

      • Some history: The Club was sold in 2010 for $12.9 million to New World. The Village of Mamaroneck and Town of Mamaroneck jointly bid on the property and had plans to open the club to the public, but were unsuccessful.

        • 12.9 million in 2010 and put in ‘millions of dollars of improvements” according to owner Dan Pfeffer in a public meeting. The market has rebounded nicely, however, the owners grieved their taxes and are currently assessed at a value of around $9 million. Can anyone explain that?

            • This large reduction in assessment reflects the most recent reassessment data. Their assessment was reduced by over 30% (not factoring in the “millions of dollars spent on improvements.) Quite frankly, if this project is going to take years and years to come to fruition, the residents of this community deserve better than this. This property’s assessment should reflect current market value – and be taxed at that rate.

  8. If they are so certain that only 50 and over would live in their massive condo development, why not make it a 55+ development?
    Recall that our own town board rejected the Homestead option, which means that every one of these nifty 125 units will only pay a small fraction of their assessed value in taxes and potentially flood the schools with students.
    As much as FEMA has paid out in the past few years to this area, it is mind boggling that someone would be able to develop this swamp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *