Mamaroneck Coastal
Environment Coalition

Protecting the Future of Mamaroneck

Keeping Residents Informed – Protecting Our Environment – Maintaining Open Spaces

Latest News

Statement from Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition On Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board Action to Deny Hampshire Application

May 7, 2020

Mamaroneck, New York – Celia Felsher, President of the Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition (MCEC), released the following statement regarding the recent Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board action:

“After years of thorough analysis, extensive stakeholder input and feedback, along with careful consideration of all the facts and the projected impacts, the Planning Board of the Village of Mamaroneck rightly, responsibly and unanimously rejected Hampshire’s application to build the proposed 105-home planned residential development on the golf course property.

As MCEC has conveyed to its community partners throughout this process, the Planning Board determined that the Project was not consistent with Village law, and that the adverse impacts of the project were significant and required that the application be denied. From the environmental risks of developing on a flood plain in a critical environmental area prone to significant flooding to the countless quality of life issues including traffic, noise and construction, the Village of Mamaroneck had everything to lose and little to gain from such a development.

We are sincerely grateful to the Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board for their hard work, patience and due diligence in coming to the right conclusion that this project for numerous reasons was simply not viable. We look forward to continuing the MCEC mission, working to protect our shoreline community and preserve our environmental integrity for future generations.”

-Celia Felsher, President – Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition

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Important Public Hearing on the Hampshire Project

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing at 7:00 pm on Monday, May 4, regarding Hampshire’s proposed 105-home planned residential housing development on the Hampshire golf course. You can participate in this meeting by following this link: https://zoom.us/j/99456992359   

Previously, the Planning Board approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Hampshire Project. Now, Planning Board has begun discussing the draft Findings under the State Environmental Quality Review Act based on the information in the FEIS record. Next, these Findings will be finalized and adopted by the Board on or before May 8.

The current draft Findings Statement concludes that the project “cannot satisfy the requirements of SEQRA.” It also suggests that the Hampshire Project would not serve the allowed purposes of a Planned Residential Development under Village law and the conditions necessary to bring fill into the Hampshire floodplain have not been met. 

If these Findings are adopted by the Planning Board, the project will be denied and cannot move forward. 

We believe that the Planning Board has completed an extensive analysis of the impacts of the Hampshire Project and it is clear from the draft Findings that the negative impacts of the Project on the Village are significant and clearly outweigh any possible benefits. 

Please joins us for the public hearing on May 4. Members of the public will be able to express their views through the video-conference program Zoom. MCEC and its counsel will also be making statements.

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UPDATE REGARDING HAMPSHIRE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

The Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board is continuing its review of the draft Final Environmental Impact Statement (DFEIS) for the 105-home residential development proposed to be built on the Hampshire golf course (the Project). Once the Planning Board adopts the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), the Planning Board will adopt findings regarding the Project based on the information in the FEIS. Those findings are crucial because they will form the basis for decisions regarding whether the Project as proposed is permitted. It is clear from the discussions undertaken in this review that the Project presents significant potential adverse impacts on the Village.

Although the Planning Board had indicated it would hold another public comment session prior to adopting the FEIS, the Planning Board announced at its meeting on January 22nd that it would not do so. However, under NY law, once the Planning Board accepts the FEIS, there will be a 10-day period during which the public is permitted to submit comments. It is very important that the community submit comments during this 10-day period to ensure that the Planning Board has community input as it develops its findings regarding impacts of the Project. We also believe it is critical that we have a large turnout at the meetings during which the Planning Board will discuss possible findings. We will provide additional information regarding possible findings as we review the current version of the DFEIS. We will also let the community know when the Planning Board will meet to discuss findings.

The Project is the largest single housing development to be built in the Village. It would entail 5 + years of major construction near the Hommocks School, create risk of contamination, impact school crowding, worsen traffic congestion, especially during the long construction period, and destroy much of the old-growth trees and wildlife habitat on the largest tract of open space (which is also a designated Critical Environmental Area) remaining in the Village. Given the size, duration and complexity of the Project, and the challenging topography of the site (a flood plain that had been substantially inundated multiple times in recent years during tidal floods), finalizing the DFEIS is a complex process. In addition, much new information, including supplemental studies and changes in the Project plans, has been provided during the DFEIS review process. Finally, the developers of the Project have repeatedly refused to provide important information and revise the DFEIS text as requested by the Planning Board.

Notwithstanding these facts, the developers recently sued the Village trying to force a quick finalization of the DFEIS before it accurately reflects, as required by law, the Planning Board’s judgment on the Project’s impacts. As Mayor Tom Murphy stated in recent press article, “The lawsuit is the legal posturing of an outside developer more intent on publicity and scare tactics than fully cooperating with the deliberative process.”

We agree with Mayor Murphy that “Mamaroneck, as a community, is not easily intimidated by legal bullying tactics.”

The Planning Board must be permitted to carry out its work in carefully analyzing this project in accordance with Village law and process.

We will make sure our community is aware of additional developments as they unfold.

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Legal action and threats entangle Hampshire project review in Mamaroneck

David Propper
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

The Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board is continuing its review of the draft Final Environmental Impact Statement (DFEIS) for the 105-home residential development proposed to be built on the Hampshire golf course (the Project). Once the Planning Board adopts the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), the Planning Board will adopt findings regarding the Project based on the information in the FEIS. Those findings are crucial because they will form the basis for decisions regarding whether the Project as proposed is permitted. It is clear from the discussions undertaken in this review that the Project presents significant potential adverse impacts on the Village.

MAMARONECK VILLAGE-A contentious proposal to develop housing at Hampshire Country Club in Mamaroneck has already resulted in one lawsuit and more legal action could be looming.

Hampshire Recreation LLC is turning to the courts to compel the village Planning Board to push ahead with a process that would determine whether developer Dan Pfeffer can build 105 single-family homes on part of the club's golf course.

Hampshire filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in November, claiming the Planning Board is illegally refusing to accept its Final Environmental Impact Statement. Hampshire submitted its draft statement on Oct. 10, 2018, but more than a year later, village Planning Board members continue to ask questions.

If Hampshire doesn't get the approvals it needs, Hampshire's attorney, David Cooper, said it's "very possible" further legal action could be taken.

Celia Felsher, who leads the Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition, which is against the project, said the nonprofit advocacy group could take legal action if the development is approved.

"My guess, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Planning Board already understands this, that one way or another there will be a lawsuit," Felsher said.

IPllanners stallling or 'incredibly responsive'?

Cooper said the Planning Board has reviewed the environmental statement for the past 17 months, blowing past deadlines that are mandated by the state's Environmental Quality Review Act. He said a small group of vocal opponents is leading the board to delay the approval process.

Hampshire's lawsuit says the Planning Board's own consultant told the board at a Sept 1 o, 2019, meeting that the board had the information to finalize the impact statement.

'This process has to end. They've got to come to a decision here,» Cooper said.

Village Attorney Robert Spolzino placed blame on Hampshire for any ongoing delays in finishing up the environmental statement.

"The Planning Board has been incredibly responsive," Spolzino said. "It's a complicated matter."

Cooper said the board has all the information it needs.

Felsher commended the board for its diligence and called the current lawsuit a "tactic."

Mayor Thomas Murphy called the potential project the "biggest proposed development in the history of the village." The Planning Board wants to obtain as much information as it can from the development team, he said.

Murphy said that Hampshire llas not fully cooperated. He scoffed at the suggestion that a minority of loud voices is influencing the board.

Any decision the board makes will be "fully defensible" in the courts, Murphy said.

We will make sure our community is aware of additional developments as they unfold.

Source: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2020/02/06/hampshire-country-club-development-faces-legal-threats/4613377002/

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Our Concerns

The proposed 105-single family home development is terrible for our community. The only people who will benefit from the development are the developers.

The project is illegal under Village Code due to its exceeding permitted housing density and the impermissible use of private roads. In addition, the required massive filling of a designated flood plain is not permissible since conditions for the required special variance cannot be satisfied.

Over Five Years of Construction

The development would create congestion, pollution and disruption around the Hommocks Middle School and throughout the Village with over five years of major construction.

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Hazardous Toxins & Contamination

As huge portions of the golf course are excavated to provide an additional 300,000 cubic yards of fill for the project, the arsenic, lead and other toxins on the site will be disturbed, leading to possible danger from airborne toxins and pollution.

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Pressure on Our Schools

Several elementary schools are currently beyond optimum capacity; the District has held meetings recently about this crisis. The addition of 105 new homes will significantly exacerbate the elementary school crowding problem, especially at Central School.

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Damage to Our Environment

The project will destroy the largest remaining area of open space in the Village, which has been designated as a Critical Environmental Area, including the clearcutting of over 430 large trees, many of which are close to or over 100 years old. The Project will also destroy an important migratory pathway for birds and the habitat for many other animals.

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Increased Traffic Congestion

In addition to significant congestion during the 5+ years of major construction (see "Over Five Years of Construction"), it is expected that approximately 200 cars (and many delivery and service vehicles) would be associated with the new homes. This will add to existing traffic along Hommocks Road and Orienta Avenue, and lead to increased congestion around the Hommocks School and throughout the Village.

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Greater Risk for Flood Damage

The property has been submerged in tidal floods several times in recent years and the design of the development will create a dangerous situation for residents and first responders in the event of significant storm surges.

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Negative Financial Consequences

We believe that the developers’ estimated assessed values of the proposed homes, which were based on home located outside the Village, are overstated and the estimated costs of providing services are understated

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Inconsistencies with Village Comprehensive Plan

Our Village law prohibits adding any fill at all to a designated floodplain, such as the Hampshire golf course, without obtaining a special variance following determination by the Planning Board that conditions required for the variance have been met.

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Illegal Use of Private Roads

Hampshire does not have the legal right to use the three roads, all of which are privately owned, proposed to be used for primary access into the proposed development.

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VIABILITY OF THE CLUB; NEED FOR THE PROJECT

The project will jeopardize the viability of the existing club, with downsizing the golf course to 9 non-contiguous holes ringing portions of the housing development. If the Club were to fail the Village would be left with a large amount of mostly unusable land that would need to be managed. Contrary to statements by the developers, the only “need” to be served by the proposed development is the need for the developers to maximize profit.

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Beware Of The False Choice

The developers’ ultimate objective is to build their grossly oversized 120-plus unit luxury condominium complex, which is much more profitable for the developers than the housing development. They made that clear in the DEIS and in statements and communications made to the Planning Board and to the community. The strategy is to have the public falsely believe that there is a choice that must be made – the housing development or the condo complex. That is not the case. The developers want residents to believe that, as the lesser of two evils, the community must support the condo development.

There are serious issues for the Village with the condo complex, so rezoning for that development should not be approved:

Setting a dangerous precedent.

  • The area on which the condominium complex would be built is in the Marine Recreation Zone. This designation limits the uses that can be made of the property. Residential units are not permitted. Therefore, to allow for development of the condo complex, the Village Board of Trustees would have to rezone the property. Rezoning of property currently zoned Marine Recreation could lead to a rezoning of other Marine Recreation and Marine Commercial properties for similar high-rise condo development – in areas such as the boatyards on Rushmore and the other clubs in Orienta. Immediately the values of those properties would skyrocket given the ability to build high rise condos, and we would face a significant risk that our harbor will be surrounded by high rise development. This would significantly increase traffic and  adversely impact the character of the Village, which has until now resisted high-rise development surrounding its harbor area.  It could also, conversely, have a negative impact on the value of single family homes in Orienta and other areas close to the harbor.
  • The significant flooding and egress and ingress risks for residents of the condo complex would be the same as those that exist for the housing project. 
  • There would be negative impacts of construction and congestion in and around Orienta and the Hommocks Middle School.
  • Possible failure of the remaining golf course given that it would be owned by a shell entity not in control of the facilities included in the condo buildings.
Other alternatives must be reviewed. One alternative is to have the entire Hampshire property rezoned as open space/recreation like the way in which the Town of Mamaroneck rezoned Bonnie Briar Country Club several years ago, thereby ensuring that the property will remain as open space in perpetuity. Other alternatives include much more modest development – in line with the true as-of-right development of approximately 20 homes.

The developers falsely claim that without development the golf club would fail and therefore development is necessary in order to retain any of the current open space.

That is a specious statement for several reasons:

  1. Expert analysis has been submitted showing that the 18-hole golf course is viable.  This analysis indicates a value for the club, continuing operating as a club, of approximately $5 million, which is consistent with the current owners’ own valuation for the property as an operating golf club (without development). 
  2. A bona fide offer to purchase the property at a consistent value was submitted to Hampshire.  The purchasers would continue operating the property as an 18-hole golf club and offered to allow the property to be rezoned as open space in perpetuity. 
  3. Under the developer’s plan to build 105 single family homes, the golf course would be reduced to 9 holes.  Expert analysis has concluded that the 9-hole golf club would be less viable than the current 18-hole golf club. 
  4. The developer claims that developing the property would improve the likelihood of continued viability of the club. However, proceeds from sale of homes or condo units would go to the property owners and not to the golf club, and the expert analysis shows that only a minimal number of additional members would be provided by the new development.
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