Home Courts Hampshire Recreation claims Mamaroneck is ‘taking’ its property, in $58M lawsuit

Hampshire Recreation claims Mamaroneck is ‘taking’ its property, in $58M lawsuit

Hampshire Recreation is demanding $58.1 million from the village of Mamaroneck for allegedly blocking all attempts to convert the Hampshire Country Club to a residential development.

Hampshire RecreationBy refusing to allow any housing, Hampshire Recreation claims in a May 6 lawsuit filed in Westchester Supreme Court, the village has in effect taken the property.

“The planning board was never going to provide Hampshire a fair and good faith opportunity to establish its ability to introduce a residential use at the site,” the lawsuit states. “The planning board’s actions are not legitimate governmental regulation, destroy all but a bare residue value of the club property, and thus constitute a regulatory taking for which Hampshire must be justly compensated.”

“We wish they would stop resorting to litigation when they don’t get what they want,” Mamaroneck Mayor Thomas Murphy said in a brief telephone interview.

“They filed an application for a very, very large project. After much due process and careful deliberation the planning board decided it was not ecologically viable for our community.”

The 106-acre property is in the wealthy Orienta section of the village near the Long Island Sound and has operated as a golf club since 1928.

The previous owner ceased operating the club in 2008 and put the property up for sale. Hampshire Recreation bought the site in 2010 for $12 million, with the intention of creating housing and in the belief that golf clubs are no longer economically viable.

The current zoning allows houses on 20,000-square-foot lots. Hampshire Recreation proposed zoning that would allow a 5-story, 125-unit condominium. The village rejected the plan.

Then Hampshire proposed a planned residential development that would enable it to cluster housing in one place and preserve the rest of the property. The plan included 105 housing units – 44 houses and 61 carriage homes – a 9-hole golf course, and 31 acres for public use.

The planning board evaluated voluminous environmental studies and held public hearings. It required Hampshire to consider as few as 25 to 75 housing units. In all, the complaint states, the board evaluated 16 alternatives for the property.

After nearly five years of deliberations, the planning board denied Hampshire several land-use permits, finding that the proposed development would impact the environment significantly.

Hampshire petitioned Westchester Supreme Court last June to overturn the village’s denial of land-use permits for the proposed development. That case is pending.

The new lawsuit mirrors the same facts and allegations. Hampshire argues that the positions taken by the village would apply to any residential development, no matter how it was designed.

In effect, the complaint states, the village has rezoned the property without enacting legislation, and determined that the site “shall remain a recreational club … in perpetuity.”

Village Attorney Robert Spolzino said Hampshire has misconstrued the planning board decision.

Hampshire Recreation took the position that lower-density alternatives were not financially viable, he said, but did not provide financial analysis to support that conclusion. So the board did not decide the viability of less dense housing.

If fully developed for housing under the current zoning, Hampshire claims, the property is worth at least $63.5 million.

“The village has received a windfall entirely at Hampshire’s expense,” the complaint states, “by keeping the club property as a recreational use without having to even buy the site.”

Hampshire is represented by White Plains attorneys David J. Cooper and Matthew J. Acocella.

12 COMMENTS

  1. hey Mr Mayor, why don’t you give them what they have rights to build – aka homes! the land is zoned for homes. perhaps you wouldn’t put us taxpayers in a horrible situation for massive losses in a lawsuit if your anti-development planning board abided by zoning rights!

  2. “Hampshire Recreation bought the site in 2010 for $12 million, with the intention of creating housing and in the belief that golf clubs are no longer economically viable.” Maybe they should have checked with the town first. And as far as golf goes, doesn’t appear they’ve been to a golf club recently. Sounds more like a greedy plan to turn some beautiful land into housing for the wealthy.

    • Hoop, they applied for rezone in 2013 and the village rejected it and told them to come back with a properly zoned plan. So they did. And that is what was just denied. So they listened to the village and still lost the planning board vote

  3. Hoop, the land is zoned for houses. Stop drinking the kool aid. and the people trying to stop it are the wealthy of orienta

  4. the Mayor of Orienta strikes again! He takes political contributions from Wenstrup and Felsher, who run the main opposition group to this Hampshire project, and then he comes out fighting against it. Can you say “PAY TO PLAY?”

  5. The mayor said at the last trustee meeting that this project was a rezone. This article seems to contradict this. Who is correct? i would think the Mayor would know what is going on in his own village

  6. can someone tell me how a project is zoned correctly, but gets denied? and why is the Mayor going around the village telling everyone this is a rezone? does he even know what is going on anymore?

  7. What happened to the idea that Mamaroneck/Larchmont buy the land and hire a company to run it as a public course and entertainment venue

  8. The majority of the property is zoned for single family residential homes on 1/2 acre lots ONLY and has all kinds of deed restrictions that run with the property. The rest of the property (where the club house is) is NOT zoned for residential. In order for the builder/developer to build on the property they have to build roads and bring in water and sewer lines that area above the flood plain. Essentially they could carve the property up into about 20-25 4 acre lots where a small section of each lot was above the floodplain but most of a homeowners property would be swamp. They can’t really to do that because homeowners don’t want to own swampland (but neither do developers), so they have to find another way to unload the property. So they tried a proposal where they wanted to bring in a lot of dirt from somewhere else to mound up the property, so they could build more than what is currently possible (20-25 homes). That isn’t allowed and would cause additional flooding, environmental and safety issues. So they have proposed a hybrid of SF homes and cluster development in a number they aren’t entitled to have. There is no as of right development of any cluster development. It isn’t the Village’s responsibility fix a developer’s mistaken investment or shoddy proposals. The builder/developer should go to the Village with a viable plan or learn to run a better golf club.

    • you seem to be forgetting one item – the plan the village rejected had multiple other options, including some with less homes. The village rejected all options. They want nothing because the ringleader of the planning board is a neighbor to the property.

  9. This all comes down to “pay to play Murphy”. He takes money from rich Orienta people for his campaign, and then he does their bidding with stacking all the development boards with anti-development people to protect Orienta. He should go work for Cuomo, fit right in

  10. This is just some smoke by the Hampshire developer to try to get the Village to “settle” with them to allow to build something they would never be able to get legitimately. It is straight out the the developers handbook. The real question is whether Murphy is working on behalf of the residents or the developer. If Murphy or the Village attorney proposes a compromise we will know that the Village is turning a blind eye to something. The reason this is happening now is that they are worried about what is happening at Willow Ridge in Harrison. They don’t want the Village (or the Town) to come in and really take their property legally via eminent domain and hand them a check for less than $12M and say see you later. (FWIW – They said their property was worth half of what they bought it for during a tax grievance.) We would be better served if the Town purchased the property since the cost and maintenance would be spread over a larger population. At this point every Village resident should be anti-development given the level of dreck the Village allows to be built – From the simple and obvious: Steps in new construction not to code; To major and potentially dangerous: Substantial deviations from final approved plans with no surveys or as built plans on file for properties under construction or for properties given c of o’s.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here