Home Courts Hampshire Recreation sues Mamaroneck for $58M over land use denials

Hampshire Recreation sues Mamaroneck for $58M over land use denials

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Hampshire Recreation LLC, which claims that its proposed housing development in Mamaroneck would generate $5.2 million in tax revenues, has sued the village for more than 11 times as much, $58 million, for rejecting the project.

Hampshire petitioned Westchester Supreme Court on June 8 to annul and reverse the village planning board’s denial of land use approvals needed to build homes on a portion of Hampshire Country Club.

“The six bases for denying the project were merely … rationalizations for a predetermined negative result that the planning board had committed itself to long before issuing (its) findings,” the petition states. “This action is the culmination of a decade-long attempt by the village to prevent any residential development at the club property.”

Celia Felsher, who lives near the country club and who founded the Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition to oppose the project, issued a press release that describes the lawsuit as frivolous.

She said the planning board made a reasoned determination after five years of detailed analysis “that the project would have many significant adverse impacts on the village.”

The country club is in the wealthy Orienta section of the village on the Long Island Sound. Hampshire bought the 106-acre property in 2010 for $12 million.

Originally, the developer wanted to build a five-story, 125-unit condominium building. After the village rejected a proposed rezoning, the plan shifted to a project with 44 houses and 61 carriage homes. The golf course would be downsized to 9 holes from 18, and 31 acres would be set aside as open space for public use.

After nearly five years of environmental studies, hearings and deliberations, the planning board on May 6 denied the land use permits.

“The proposal would result in significant unmitigated environmental impacts,” according to the board’s 75-page State Environmental Quality Review Act findings statement. “It is inconsistent with the goals of the village’s planned residential development zoning and it is inconsistent with the village’s flood damage prevention laws.”

Hampshire Recreation claims that the evidence does not support the planning board’s conclusions. It accuses the board and the village of arbitrary and capricious conduct, “bad faith post-hoc rationalizations to justify a rejection of Hampshire’s applications,” and illegal bias.

The bias allegation is based in part on an Aug. 10, 2019 email that Cynthia Goldstein, a member of the planning board, sent to two board members.

“And I think it’s past time to wrestle control of this from the consultant” – purportedly a reference to the board’s planning and engineering expert – because “he has been agreeing to things with the applicant that we don’t know about or agree with.”

The email exhibit comes from a village board of ethics report on Goldstein that recommends removal from the planning board for alleged conflicts of interest concerning Hampshire and another project. The issue is pending before Mayor Thomas Murphy.

Hampshire Recreation argues that the planning board’s actions constitute a taking of property, for which it must be compensated if the denials of land use approvals are not reversed. The petition does not put a price on the damages, but Hampshire notified the village that it would seek “no less than $58 million,” according to a press release issued by the developer.

Felsher depicted the lawsuit as a bullying tactic. Now the village must defend itself from Hampshire’s “attempt to force action,” she stated, “that’s adverse to the interests of residents.”

Hampshire Recreation is represented by White Plains attorneys David J. Cooper and Matthew J. Acocella, of Zarin & Steinmetz.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. let me get this right, we are in the middle of a pandemic with unemployment through the roof, and the Planning Board is denying a project that is zoned properly, and would bring millions of dollars of revenue and hundreds of jobs to the village. Nice job refusing to support this Mayor Murphy, you are quite the leader (not)

    • You left out the new expenses the Village will have and those expenses will be higher than the $5.2 million is extra revenue.

      And there are no long term jobs coming from this project and several dozen full time employees will certainly lose their jobs when the country club closes.

      • Bill , actually you are wrong. The project would have brought in $5.5 million gross, and $1.5 million net after school/other expenses. We could use $1.5 million net! Also did eve read the FEIS? the club is staying open, with 9 holes of golf. There will be jobs, and construction jobs, and given the high unemployment and high taxes in the village it would be nice to see an income generator! Also , remember one thing, years ago Hampshire wanted to build condos, with ZERO kids in the school system, and the project would have netted $4.5 million year and kept 18 holes of golf. The problem is the rich Orienta people control the politics and the boards and commissions, and want to keep the rest of us poor people exactly where we are.

  2. so the accounting flunky Cindy Goldstein is now an engineer? “And I think it’s past time to wrestle control of this from the consultant” –” Wrestle control? really? that isnt your job! this project would have been amazing for the village, and the Orienta Planning Board (let’s call it what it really is) denied it behind the unethical Cindy Goldstein driving the opposition!

  3. as a former planning board member in the village from over 20 years ago, i can tell you the job of the board is not to “wrestle control” from their own consultants because they dont like what they are saying. How this was allowed to be denied is beyond belief. This lawsuit is going to cost every single taxpayer money – and you can thank Goldstein and Murphy!

  4. Being minimized are ties to economic justice, class prejudice and the disappearance of the middle class. I’m more than enough of an expert on these topics to demand and win an authoritative voice that would create policy and law that would dismantle the village and its most important zoning board. Our concept of democracy interwoven with market economy and the nation-state form is seriously insufficient and lawless. A few people cannot be allowed to define one’s pursuit of happiness while at the same time making, Due Process unaffordable. Designing social patters was one of the responsibilities of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other organizations whose names best not be added in. Cindy Goldstein should have removed herself and the Hamshpire project is needed even just to waeken the handful of voices that control who eats and who must move.

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