North Castle, NY Concerned about 456-Unit Development in Northwest Corner of Greenwich

The April 26 Planning & Zoning meeting, accessible via Zoom, has some interesting items on the agenda.

A pre-application from Greenwich American Inc for 456 residential units in the northwest corner of Greenwich, which is separated from the rest of Greenwich by I-684, has been a topic of much speculation since it was submitted in March.

The site cannot be accessed from the rest of the Town without crossing into New York State.

The site is zoned BEX-50, which permits offices, cultural and wildlife reservations in natural park areas and cemeteries as of right. Religious or educational institutions not operated for commercial profit, public utilities and radio or TV stations and towers are permitted by special permit.

The applicant seeks to add residential as an additional special permit use.

The development would spread the 456 units across 41 buildings, with a mix of starter and townhomes ranging in size from 1,050 square feet to 3,400 square feet.

Approximately 45 acres of the site are within a conservation area, which would be preserved.

On Monday the commission talked about the application during their briefing before the main event on Tuesday.

Greenwich received a letter from Michael Schiliro, the town supervisor in North Castle, NY, expressing concerns that the proposal will impact North Castle and the Armonk Hamlet.

The obvious concern is people living in the development will most likely rely on North Castle for services.

North Castle’s concerns include demand on water supply, storm water runoff, sewage disposal, excavation and other disturbance on 100 acres of currently undeveloped land, additional traffic, construction and the density of the development.

He noted the development might impact habitat of species that are endangered or threatened, including the Bald Eagle. The area has also been identified as potentially sensitive for archaeological resources.

“Increased stormwater runoff and erosion resulting from site disturbance and construction of new impervious surfaces in the form of structures, access roads, and residential uses may impact surface water, specifically the nearby Kensico Reservoir which is part of the New York City watershed system,” Schiliro wrote.

In his letter, Mr. Schiliro noted the development would result in an increase in on- and off-street parking demand in the Armonk Hamlet, and impact parking availability there.

Greenwich Town Planner Katie DeLuca said having a development close to the state line was not totally unique.

Greenwich borders many towns in New York including Rye Brook, Armonk, Port Chester, and Bedford.

The 154 acre property to be developed with starter homes and town houses is cut off from Greenwich by I684 and can only be accessed via New York.

“The towns work together,” she said. “This is not uncommon or unusual. Usually their DPW and Conservation meets with our DPW and Conservation. They kind of work it out behind the scenes and something is presented to you (the commission),” she said.

Similar developments on the state line include BelleFair, with hundreds of residential units on the west of King Street in Rye Brook. Ms DeLuca said at the time of that development, there were drainage issues that the two towns worked out.

The expansion of Westchester Airport also concerned Greenwich.

Another example is Greenwich Woods on the east side of King Street, which is serviced by New York sewers.

“We don’t have fire service in that area,” pointed out P&Z chair Margarita Alban, adding that North Castle would have to provide fire response for the development.

Because the application is a pre-application, commissioner Dennis Yeskey suggested town departments in Greenwich meet with corresponding departments in North Castle.

“It sounds like a lot of the issues they feel are going to be on them, and we’re making the decisions, and that’s a bad situation,” Yeskey said. “It’s weird, we’re making a decision that’s going to impact another state. That will raise all kinds of management issues.”

Ms DeLuca said the applicant should work out the issues worked prior to submitting a final site plan.

“There’s no point in wasting public time,” she said. “Either you have something viable or you don’t.”

Ms Alban said people in the Greenwich community had raised the issue of the development being in the “noise envelope” from Westchester Airport.

“I think they need to resolve that as well, even though it’s not necessarily an issue for North Castle. It’s going to be a real problem for folks who live there,” Alban said.

Mr. Macri pointed out that residents of BelleFair in Rye Brook, which was built before the airport expansion, already suffered from the noise.

“You can hit the bottom of a jet with a rock, it’s that close. It’s earth shattering,” Macri said.

Ms Alban said North Castle was worried they would have to do sewer disposal for the development, yet the applicant described the development as self contained.

“Someone is going to have to give them what their capacity is at that on site septic plant,” she said.

Mr. Macri said transitioning from a 1960s office building with an on site sewage treatment plant to a 456-unit development would have a different burden on the sewage treatment plant.

“From a planning standpoint, changing commercial zoning into residential zoning – we just spent all this time working on inclusionary zoning regulations – I’m sure one of you will be asking about affordability issues,” DeLuca said.

DeLuca said another obvious point would be the development’s impact on schools. “What district it is needs to be brought up. And how it will work with money to the town for busing because it’s not going to be walking distance.”

Ms Alban said the commission would ask the applicant to include below market units.

Commissioner Arn Welles said if P&Z did not ask the applicant for some affordable units, the additional 456 units in the town’s housing stock would result in the town needing another 41 units to meet the state’s 10% affordable housing requirement.

“These are million-dollar townhouses, not $400,000,” Yeskey said.

Mr. Welles suggested the affordability requirement be built into the BX50 Zone that the applicant is asking to be amended to include residential.

“Why can’t we include say 10% of that has to be affordable?” Welles asked.

Ms DeLuca said another option would be to have the proposal fall under the town’s 6-110 reg, which is an incentive to build workforce housing.

She said a third option would be to create a subdivision and rezone, similar to Banksville.

“This is a unique opportunity. We don’t have other pieces of property like this,” Alban said. “We may not have another chance to get real houses that are below market any time soon that aren’t in a highly dense zone already.”

Ms DeLuca said the site had beautiful walking trails, and the development could include public gardens open to the entire town similar to Pepsico Gardens.

The link for the P&Z meeting on April 26 via Zoom. Meeting starts at 4:00pm.

See also:

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

March 7, 2022

P&Z Watch: Vote on King Street Cluster Housing Delayed after Neighbors Report Clear Cutting, Flooding

April 19, 2022