P&Z Watch: American Lane Proposal Reduced to 198 Units from 456; Wording on Donation to Affordable Housing Trust Fund to be Checked

The application for a proposal at American Lane – including both a zoning text amendment to allow residential uses and a preliminary site plan returned before the P&Z commission Tuesday night.

The last hearing was Nov 4. Since then the applicant significantly changed the proposed site plan and proposed amendment.  They have eliminated the 12-unit apartment buildings and four-unit townhouse units.

Instead they propose two- and three-unit townhouses only.

They have reduced the number of units from 456 back in July of 2022 to 198 today.

Aerial rendering of 198 units proposed at 1 American Lane.

The attorney for the applicant, Tom Heagney said the language of the affordable housing trust fund contribution, roughly $12 million, had been amended to make it more clear.

The legality of the proposed contribution was discussed.

Ms Alban said she was concerned that the way the language was worded, the donation was a condition of approval.

She noted that while donations to the trust fund were completely legal, the commission could not mandate the donation.

“I believe that it cannot be a condition of approval because our inclusionary zoning regulation does not mandate the inclusion of affordable in a development,” she said. “It cannot be written as a development fee or as a quid pro quo.”

Ms Aban continued, “We’re not giving away the zoning because someone is giving money. Someone is giving money to the trust and we’re also doing a development.”

Mr. Heagney said he’d reviewed the ordinance adopted by the town in 2021 which refers specifically to state statute 8-2(i) titled Inclusionary Zoning, and refers to any zoning regulation which promotes the development of housing affordable to persons of low and moderate income, through set-aside, through density bonuses or in lieu of or in addition to such requirements making payments into a housing trust fund to be used for constructing, rehabilitating or repairing housing affordable to persons and families of low and moderate income.

“That is exactly what we are proposing as part of this amendment and overlay zone,” Heagney said.

Mr. Heagney said he would re-phrase the text amendment and the commission would take it to counsel to review.

Paimaan Lodhi, a senior director from the real estate company Tishman Speyer, the owners, said changes since the first proposal reflected feedback from both P&Z and the trust fund.

“We’re envisioning a beautiful, multi-generational residential community of single family townhomes that will be centered around a community center in the historic stone house,” Lodhi said. “We believe this will have great appeal to young families, empty-nesters and seniors.”

In previous meetings the commissioners had mulled the impact on local traffic.

The 154-acre property is separated from the rest of the Greenwich by I-684 and cannot be accessed from the rest of the Town without crossing into New York state.

It’s uncertain how many in the mix will be families with children, and if there is a long bus ride for students enrolled at Western Middle School, Greenwich High School, or Parkway School might result in parents driving children to and from school.

Mr. Lodhi said the project would feature several sustainability commitments, including “going all-electric and low impact design.”

And, most importantly for the town, he said storm water and wastewater management would be an improvement over existing conditions.

Lodhi said external parties including North Castle in New York, Westchester County and the NYC Dept of Environmental Protection had been contacted.

“I characterize North Castle’s position as strongly preferring this latest plan to the original 450-unit proposal. They still have concerns about traffic impacts,” he said.

He added that a traffic analysis had been done by Bernie Adler indicating traffic would be dispersed through the region. He said that analysis had been shared with North Castle.

“North Castle concedes that the project may benefit local businesses in that town as well as Rye and Greenwich,” he added.

He said there was no intention to convert the existing office building on the property to residential use.

“We believe the zoning regulations sufficiently restrict anyone’s ability to do so,” he added. “The building is just not suitable to conversion. The floor plates are simply too large and about 150,000 sq ft, which is not conducive to the light and air requirements you’d need for a residential unit.”

Addressing a question about density and crowding, the reduction to 198 units wasnoted, and Mr. Heagney said 25 ft between buildings was ample.

Mr. Macri said, “on paper” the density appeared acceptable. “The FAR is not too bad. You got rid of the four-unit buildings.”

Given the language about the $12 million donation to the affordable housing trust fund needed to be checked, the applicant agreed to an extension.

Between now an the next meeting the commission would seek feedback from the town law department on revised language about the contribution.

See also:

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

P&Z Hones Feedback on Proposed 456 Units at 1 American Lane July 6, 2022