The village of Mamaroneck knocked down a proposed rezoning of Hampshire Country Club that would have paved the way for the development of 121 luxury condominiums at the club.
Hampshire Recreation L.L.C. is now likely to pursue its Plan B, a larger-scale development that would subdivide Hampshire’s 18-hole golf course into 106 single-family homes. That project does not require that the property be rezoned.
The Mamaroneck Board of Trustees voted against the proposed rezoning at its Monday meeting, where Mayor Norman Rosenblum and the five trustees voted in sync.
“I think that this proposal, as presented, is not one that I’m willing to consider,” he said.
The club had floated two plans for residential development amid opposition from some members of the community who said either project would increase traffic in the surrounding coastal neighborhoods, add students to the public school district and be an environmental concern in an area prone to flooding.
Hampshire, which occupies 121 acres on the harbor, had said it favored the rezoning, which would have built a 290,000-square-foot condo cluster and 200-space underground garage. But, noting the possibility that the village might not grant the rezoning, club representatives had a Plan B ready that showed Hampshire was committed to residential construction on its property either way.
Plan B is to build single family homes sized between 6,000 and 7,000 square feet. Although the golf course would be turned into yards, the club said it would maintain the clubhouse, tennis court and swimming pool.
Some critics took Plan B as a threat. Celia Felsher, president of the Mamaroneck Coastal Environmental Coalition, a civic group, said she believed the club owners knew building “McMansions” on the golf course would be “distasteful.”
“We believe the subdivision plan is designed to threaten the board and community so Hampshire can move ahead with the much more lucrative condo development,” she said. “The board should not be taken in by the threat.”
George Mgrdichian, speaking on behalf of the Orienta Point Association, a civic group representing adjacent neighborhoods, said he wasn’t opposed to development but was against the rezoning. The subdivision plan would have to go to the village’s Planning Board, where some critics believe it will not pass muster in terms of compliance with environmental impact reviews.
“This is not a matter that the Board of Trustees should debate at this time,” Mgrdichian said. “Issues of infrastructure, environment, traffic, flooding and residential values must all be taken into consideration.”
If the Board of Trustees similarly viewed Plan B as a threat, the rejection of the rezoning serves as a calling of the bluff. If the club follows through on filing its Plan B with the Planning Board, it would have to comply with environmental reviews and existing zoning, but the board would legally be compelled to judge the application on its own merits. Of the 120-acre property, roughly 9 acres are actually within the town of Mamaroneck and that acreage if targeted for development is subject to the town’s and not the village’s zoning codes.
The relationship between village and the club has been strained since new owners purchased the property in 2010. Many expected residential development proposals from the new club owners, who bought the distressed property for $12.1 million. With rumors of condo developments in the air, the village and town of Mamaroneck had combined to put in a $10.1 million bid on the property before ownership changed hands.
Since then, residents opposing development have also accused the club of illegally hosting nonmember events on its premises.
Some potential residents of the condominiums are sure to view the knocking down of Plan A as a defeat, not a victory. Stuart Gilbert, a Mamaroneck resident and member of Hampshire, said in a letter to the club ownership that the condos would have offered a full-service option for the aging population that might have no other option to continue to live in the village.
“After speaking with my wife and many other people in my age group, we see absolutely no other alternative but Hampshire’s proposal for building condominiums on its grounds,” Gilbert said.