News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
A notice of completion for the proposed 175-unit redevelopment of Armonk’s MBIA property was approved by the North Castle Town Board and the project appears on track to receive Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) approval.
The board voted unanimously July 26 for the notice of completion, a required step to acknowledge that all information and public comments related to the application’s FEIS have been received and addressed.
Applicant Airport Campus is seeking a zoning change from the Town Board for the 39-acre former corporate office site on King Street from Designed Office Business to multifamily and senior multifamily designations before heading to the Planning Board for site plan approval. Current plans call for 125 fee simple townhomes for what would be the Multifamily-A Residence zone and 50 age-restricted apartments in the Multifamily-Senior Citizen Housing zone in one of the existing empty office buildings on the property.
A vote on the approval of the findings statement along with the FEIS could be held at the Town Board’s Aug. 9 meeting.
On July 26, Airport Campus representatives hashed out several outstanding issues with the Town Board including the applicant’s announcement that they were on the verge of completing a nine-acre conservation easement to protect water quality in the nearby Kensico Reservoir and to review concerns raised by the Armonk Fire Department.
Board members appeared most concerned about the impact the project could have on the all-volunteer fire department, particularly after Chief Carlos Cano’s July 25 memo citing the strain it could place on the service. Cano even raised the possibility that if all of the town’s proposed development projects are built it could force officials to hire paid firefighters.
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said the Armonk Fire Department doesn’t have any residences that are exclusively for residents 55 and over in its coverage area. When the department needs the use of a ladder, it calls the North White Plains Fire Department, she said, and asked Anthony Veneziano, an attorney for the applicant, whether his client would be willing to contribute toward a ladder truck for Armonk.
“Even though (the building height) is within code, I really am concerned about the Armonk Fire Department having the proper apparatus for the building that you’re referencing for the 55 and older (residents),” DiGiacinto said.
Veneziano said the major strain on a community’s emergency services is generally for assisted living projects where the average age is in the early 80s.
“This is like an apartment building,” said Veneziano, who was not enthusiastic about DiGiacinto’s request to contribute toward a ladder truck if it was deemed necessary.
Fire commissioners are expected to attend the Aug. 9 Town Board meeting to discuss the issue.
Chris Fisher, an environmental attorney for the applicant, reported that the conservation agreement between Airport Campus and Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was imminent. It increases the conservation easement area from just under eight to 9.14 acres, incorporates significant water quality enhancements into the plan that are beyond regulatory standards and removes as much as 80 percent of the phosphorous from the stormwater, Fisher said. Generally, about 50 percent removal is the standard, he said.
“We’re going to finish up our agreement, expect to have that this week and will get it to the town attorney, and it has all of the things that you would expect to memorialize this agreement,” Fisher said.
Michael Dulong, a Riverkeeper attorney, who attended the last meeting via Zoom, concurred with that assessment saying “I’m very hopeful we can get this done.”
Councilmen Matt Milim and Jose Berra were also concerned by the possibility that the owners of each individual townhome could ask builder Toll Brothers, who will construct the townhomes, to design their unit with the primary bedroom upstairs. Veneziano said despite the option the project is being offered to the public as age-targeted units.
Milim referenced a guarantee from the developer of the proposed Eagle Ridge townhouse project that at least 60 percent of the units will have first-floor primary bedrooms.
“Age-targeted means you offer the master (bedroom) on the first floor,” Veneziano said. “It’s marketing. They’re anticipating that most of the bedrooms will be on the first (floor).”
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he didn’t see the need to pursue a guarantee from Airport Campus like the board had with Eagle Ridge because there would already be an age-restricted building on the property.
“I look at this as a different location,” Schiliro said. “It’s farther away from town, so I don’t have as many concerns as I had on Eagle Ridge.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/