The North Castle Town Board officially received the rezoning request last week and declared its intent to be lead agency for a proposed 200-unit luxury apartment building in North White Plains.
Representatives for JMF Properties, LLC of Whippany, N.J., the developer of the proposed project called The Vue on 22 acres of the Jennie Clarkson property on Old Orchard Street, submitted a petition on July 1 to change the zoning from one- and two-acre residential to an R-MF-R Residence District, a unique multifamily zoning district.
The board’s procedural action last Wednesday was the first public session in five weeks on the potentially controversial application since a presentation on the plan’s details before a standing-room-only turnout at town hall.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the town board would evaluate the application based on the facts. He stressed to residents concerned about the proposal that this application would have a lengthy review process.
“All we’re trying to do is gather information,” Schiliro said. “If there’s a benefit, a net benefit to the town and to the school district and to the residents, then the project will probably at least progress – not be approved – progress. If it’s determined it’s not, then it probably won’t, but we need to go through the process to get to that point.”
Schiliro expressed his annoyance at copies of an anonymous flyer that had been circulated in some mailboxes in North White Plains erroneously calling the application an “affordable housing zoning change.” It also made a reference to Section 8 housing.
About 120 of the units would be two-bedroom apartments with the remainder of the project consisting of one-bedroom units. There would be 20 units of affordable housing.
Several neighboring residents spoke at the July 13 meeting, informing town officials that the project would likely have a major impact on their quality of life.
“We’re not just talking about traffic on (Route) 22, we’re talking about our street and our neighborhood and that’s what our concerns are, definitely, it’s where we live,” said Carolyn Mayo, an Old Orchard Street resident, who lives in West Harrison. “We’re very, very worried about this and very, very scared.”
North White Plains resident Frank Capuano questioned what would happen if the developer’s projections of only 12 schoolchildren generated by the project is incorrect or if the developer in unable to rent a high percentage of the units.
Anthony Veneziano, the attorney representing the applicant, said studies have shown tremendous demand for this type of housing in Westchester, particularly for millennials and empty-nesters.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brenda Myers, who was unable to attend last week’s meeting, said the district is interested in the formula that the developer is using to calculate the student projections.
Currently, school officials are uncertain what affect the 200-unit project would have on the district.
“We’re trying to find out the impact the project is going to have on the school district,” Myers said. “The school district doesn’t know the impact.”
She said officials are concerned over certain aspects of the student projections, especially if the project will be partially marketed toward millennials who would be approaching their child bearing years. Also, rentals tend to have a higher turnover rate, which lends to more instability, Myers said.
Veneziano said the developer will demonstrate that student projections are accurate.
“The school issue, I think, will resolve itself,” he said. “We’ll at least get to the best number that we can get to.”
The town must wait at least 30 days to see if any entity challenges its status as lead agency. A public scoping session will then be scheduled to begin the environmental review process.