Home Courts Hampshire CC developer claims Mamaroneck Village thwarting project

Hampshire CC developer claims Mamaroneck Village thwarting project

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A developer has sued the Village of Mamaroneck claiming that the planning board is illegally refusing to act on its plans to build housing on the grounds of Hampshire Country Club.

Hampshire Recreation LLC accuses the planning board of failing to file a final environmental impact statement and then submit its findings within deadlines established by state law.

The village is “continually moving the goal post,” according to a petition filed Nov. 22 asking Westchester Supreme Court to compel Mamaroneck to act.

Mayor Tom Murphy responded in an email, “The lawsuit is the legal posturing of an outside developer more intent on publicity and scare tactics than fully cooperating with the deliberative process.

“Mamaroneck, as a community, is not easily intimidated by legal bullying tactics,” Murphy added. “I fully support the planning board and village staff who have been giving the largest development project in village history the close and careful look it deserves.”

Hampshire Recreation, owner of most of the acreage at the country club, in the Orienta section of the village, submitted an application for the Residences at Hampshire in 2015.

It has proposed building 44 houses and 61 townhouses on 65 acres and setting aside nearly 31 acres as open space for the residents and neighbors. The golf course would be downsized to nine holes, and existing wetlands would be preserved.

The process of satisfying a town’s zoning, land use and building requirements for a large project, as well as Seqra — the State Environmental Quality Review Act – can be an arduous undertaking.

Hampshire first created a scoping document that identified the significant issues. The planning board declared itself as the lead agency to coordinate the Seqra process and adopted the developer’s final scope.

Next, Hampshire prepared a draft environmental impact statement, including the measures it would take to mitigate or avoid environmental problems.

Hampshire submitted a 2,491-page report in April 2017. The board rejected it as inadequate, according to the petition, and did not accept the report until December 2017, after four revisions had been submitted.

The planning board held two public hearings last year and accepted written comments up to mid-May.

At that point, Hampshire argues, the board was required to file a final environmental impact statement within 45 days, and then 30 days later issue its findings.

Instead, the board required Hampshire to prepare a proposed final environmental impact statement. Hampshire submitted more than 3,000 pages, including responses to 959 comments, in October 2018.

The planning board required the developer to respond to another 231 comments, the petition states, including comments solicited from opponents long after the official comment period ended.

Hampshire accuses the planning board of encouraging members of the Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition, “a small but well-funded opposition group comprised of a handful of neighbors living next to the club,” to submit comments.

Hampshire argues that many of those comments were opinions, not facts, and were beyond the scope of the project.

The planning board has held 13 meetings in the past 14 months, according to the petition, but has repeatedly refused to accept any version of Hampshire’s proposed final environmental impact statement.

“Even the board’s own expert consultant stated at the Sept. 10, 2019 meeting that he believed the board has all the information it needs to finalize and deem the (final report) complete,” the petition states.

On Nov. 13, after more than two hours of conducting other business, Hampshire charges, the planning board refused to discuss the project, “claiming that it had not had enough time to review the document.” The meeting was adjourned to Dec. 3.

“All Hampshire is trying to do is get a decision,” David J. Cooper, the developer’s attorney said in a telephone interview. “This isn’t an issue of bullying or legal posturing. Hampshire has no choice left but to seek the court’s help because the planning department has refused to comply with its duty under Seqra.”

The developer is asking the court to order the planning board to deem the final environmental impact statement complete and to issue its written findings.

Westchester Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Jamieson ordered the village to respond at a hearing on Dec. 20.

Cooper and Matthew J. Acocella of Zarin & Steinmetz, White Plains, represent Hampshire Recreation.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. i support Hampshire, the mayor is supposed to be an economic development champion for the village, and he has opposed this properly zoned project because his campaign benefactors live in Orienta. They pay to play with the Mayor. Meanwhile the rest of us village residents are left with high taxes due to the village’s lawsuits.

  2. As people who have followed the proceedings from the beginning know, the biggest impediment to swifter action has been the developer’s constant refusal to provide information requested by the Planning Board that is critical to a comprehensive analysis of the significant impacts this development would have on all residents of the Village. This is a shameful use of the legal system to manipulate a thoughtful and methodical process in the sole interest of developers. The Mayor is trying to do his best to protect the Village and its residents from bullying by developers interested only in financial gain.

    • pay to play Felsher, donating tons of money to Murphy campaign in exchange for his opposition to this project. donating tons of money to murphy campaign in exchange for favorable appointments to land use and trustees. pay to play

  3. Here is what is going on in a nutshell: The developer has proposed a preposterous plan to develop the property which—among many, many other issues—is ~85% under the flood level, with much of it below sea level at daily high tide. The developer knows their plan is preposterous; they don’t really want to build it. That’s why in every article about this development, they bring up their favored plan to build five-story condos on the site, which would have required a zoning change that was twice unanimously rejected by the Village Board of Trustees (a bi-partisan board, I might add, that did not include current Mayor Tom Murphy, despite their depiction of him as a partisan villain).

    Because the current single family and townhouse plan is unworkable, and the justification for the entire project (which requires special authorization and permits from the Planning Board because it is clustering housing on a flood plain) doesn’t pass muster, Hampshire’s developers simply can’t or won’t provide important information requested by the Planning Board. That’s what has caused the delay.

    The developer has not presented any plan that is legal and within their rights without special dispensation. They have not done so because a feasible “as of right” plan would not generate the profit they desire. So they have consistently tried to use litigation and the threat of litigation to pressure the village into allowing them to do something they have no right to do, and that would not be in the interest of the village.

    • if this project were in an other area besides Orienta, it would have been approved. Heaven forbid Orienta get some development. It is properly zoned and 1000 people have signed a petition in support. Time to get the shovels out and provide taxes to ease the burden for the rest of us instead of listening to the Orienta people , who represent about 10% of the village, but think they own it

      • Once again, Hampshire’s developer tries to divide our community for financial gain. Completely shameful.

        Readers: Try searching google or white pages for “Frank Campbell” in Mamaroneck. Or better yet, search for the other Hampshire pseudonym in this thread, “Pay T. Play”

        The develop’s hired guns attack individuals personally, while hiding behind anonymity or fake names. Unfortunately, this is a typical pattern for the Hampshire developer.

        • i live in the village and rent, sorry i dont live in orienta or have a landline David. Speaking of financial gain, how much does the head of Mamaroneck Coastal make owning and renting out 5 homes in Orienta?

  4. In response to David Wenstrup, the data and studies confirming the flood-soundness of The Residences have been thoroughly vetted by the Village Planning Board’s experts and made available to the public for months, if not years. They have accepted the modeling of Hampshire’s engineers, as well as the conclusion that the proposed development would not exacerbate flooding in the neighborhood. 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.

    As for the original condo plan, it was not five stories but rather an efficient, architecturally compatible, low-rise condominium building. In fact, the highest point had been limited to be within 12 feet of the existing Clubhouse’s height. However, this is all a moot point. When presented with two separate condominium plans in 2014, the Village Trustees not only refused to consider any rezoning, but it also refused to discuss the matter in open session or provide any explanation for their decision.

    Instead, the Village Board of Trustees advised Hampshire to submit to the Village’s Planning Board an alternate development proposal in compliance with the existing R-20 zoning. Hampshire, therefore, has been pursuing its proposal to build 61 carriage homes and 44 luxury colonial-style homes on the golf course, within an efficient, architecturally compatible planned layout.

    I don’t know where you saw Hampshire depicting Mayor Murphy as a partisan villain.

    And sorry, the current single-family and townhouse plan is not only workable, but as of right. The proposed residential development before the Planning Board is in line with the property’s existing R-20 Residential Zoning (Conventional subdivision plans for single-family development with 30,000 square foot lots allowable as of right under current R-20 zoning result in approximately 106 lots).

    Hampshire followed this direction and is now before the Planning Board for a 105-unit Planned Residential Development on a portion of the golf course, which fully meets the village’s zoning code.

  5. As a concerned resident of Mamaroneck, I have attended numerous Planning Board meetings. Hampshire Country Club has continually avoided submitting the information that the Board has requested. The Hampshire proposed development project is enormous and complex. It effects many aspects of the Mamaroneck community including schools, roads, traffic, the environment, flooding, services and safety. The Planning Board is doing an excellent job safeguarding and protecting our Community.

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