456-Unit Development on American Lane May be Too Dense, Negatively Impact North Castle and Armonk

This week Greenwich’s P&Z commission discussed a pre application for 456 units in 41 buildings in a development the applicant calls starter homes and townhouses.

Though the units would be for sale, rather than for rent, and there are numerous shared amenities including sports courts and playgrounds, but applicant is not using the term condominium.

The property is in the northwest corner of Greenwich, and cut off from the rest of town by I-684. It is currently in the BEX Zone, which is non residential.

The site has its own water wells and wastewater treatment plant that runs along I-684 in the upper right hand corner of the site.

Just north of the property, IBM has its world headquarters in New York. To the east of the property is Tamarack Golf course in Greenwich.

“I see this as being a relatively dense, if not too dense a development, perhaps more than makes sense for the site.”

– P&Z chair Margarita Alban

A focal point of the discussion was a letter authored by Adam Kaufman, the town planner for North Castle, NY, who shared concerns mostly about traffic and parking in his town and the Hamlet of Armonk.

Residents of the development won’t be able to access the property without crossing into New York state, and it was uncertain whether people would orient themselves to retail and restaurants in Armonk or Glenville/Greenwich.

Attorney for the applicant Tom Heagney said it took him 9 minutes to drive to the property from Stop & Shop in Glenville, and 6 minutes to get from the property to Ciceco’s Market in Armonk.

P&Z commission chair Margarita Alban said the infrastructure burden would be on North Castle, with the exception of public schools.

“You’re going to have to satisfy North Castle that you’re not putting demand on their public water, that your septic is sufficient and onsite sewage treatment and that your well water will meet it,” she said.

“We have no approval authority. We are relying on Greenwich to make the appropriate decisions for the future of this project.”

– Adam Kaufman, Director of Planning, North Castle, NY

The commissioners said it would be important for the development to include a below market component.

“I see this as being a relatively dense, if not too dense a development, perhaps more than makes sense for the site,” Alban said. “Why does it need to be 456? Why is it so big? I think it’s too much – what you’re adding.”

It was noted that BelleFaire, a similar housing development, nearby in Rye Brook, NY, has 261 single family homes, though it was unclear how many acres there are there.

Ms Alban said she’d be interested in “being joint” with North Castle.

“Maybe our P&Z is an audience when you present to them,” she said. “This is a large development that is going to impact an adjoining community. I’d like to be as inclusive and respectful of that community situation as we can legally be.”

Mr. Macri said he didn’t understand why the units were being described as starter homes. “What do I get when I buy a starter home?” he wondered.

Ms Alban said per the Greenwich Plan of Conservation and Development, the town seeks a greater diversity of homes, but she was also curious what is meant by starter home and whether the homes would be affordable for young families.

“If you’re talking about $3 million houses, you’re not doing much in terms of our POCD,” Alban said.

Commissioner Arn Welles noted that a project with 450 units puts an additional requirement on the Town of Greenwich to create 45 affordable units, lest if fall further behind on the state law 8-30g requiring towns to have 10% of their housing stock be designated affordable.

“If you’re not helping toward that, that burden is shifted toward the town,” Welles said. “Yes we need starter homes, but more than that, we need affordable starter homes.”

Ms DeLuca said Greenwich’s former BET chair, Mike Mason, had submitted comments to P&Z. “There’s no fire (coverage) up there. Greenwich P&Z should mandate a water supply for fire suppression, mandate sprinklers in all the buildings. P&Z should mandate backup electrical power, not just for pumps and lighting.”

Also, Mr. Mason noted the Round Hill Fire station is 2.6 miles away, but shortest path is 5.6 miles away.

Mason said Greenwich’s Board of Education has maximum ride times for students on school buses. The concern is the ride to Western Middle School and Greenwich High School might exceed the maximum.

As for elementary school, the location is in the Parkway School district, which the commission noted is under-enrolled currently.

Mr. Mason said the main runway at the airport was very close.

“Aircraft will be descending or climbing when next to this property,” he said in his comments, adding that the FAA had gone on record objecting to the BelleFaire development.

Mr. Heagney said BelleFaire on King Street was successful despite being literally underneath a landing pattern for planes.

he said the development might include a retail component, though it was not part of the plan shared on Tuesday.

Responding to the questions about what ‘starter homes’ referred to, he said, “We’re not looking at affordable. We’re not looking at the high end. We’re looking at that in between. When we’re talking about starter homes, we’re talking about the Havemeyer Park concept after World War II, where all the streets are named after Generals.”

Ms Alban said the town needed a diversity of price points, as well as affordable housing and workforce housing.

Adam Kaufman, Director of Planning for North Castle, NY.

Adam Kaufman, director of Planning from North Castle, NY, said his town was eager to participate in the review.

“We have no approval authority,” he said. “We are relying on Greenwich to make the appropriate decisions for the future of this project.”

He noted that North Castle’s fire department was entirely volunteer based, and already stretched thin.

He said, given geography, he anticipated residents of the proposed development would gravitate to Armonk, and his first concern was traffic.

He said North Castle was in the process of acquiring property to build additional parking to satisfy existing demand.

Kaufman said that like Greenwich, there were large developments in front of their zoning board, including Airport Campus for residential uses. Also on former IBM property on Rte 22, there are proposals for a hotel and multi-family housing. The Greenwich P&Z commissioners asked to see those applications.

Ms Alban said the Greenwich commission was sympathetic to North Castle and wanted to respect that town’s town plan and concerns.

“Port Chester never listens to us,” she said. “Port Chester’s developments impact us a great deal, but they have a mission and they’re putting it first. I don’t want to do that to North Castle.”

Mr. Heagney said the proposal would continue as a pre-application.

See also:

456 Starter Homes and Townhomes Proposed for 154.5-Acre Lot in Northwest Corner of Greenwich March 7, 2022

P&Z Watch: Unauthorized Bridge Deterring Public Access to Mead Point Tidal Pond Must Go Prior to Permit April 28, 2022