The Examiner

Armonk Camp Looks for Rezone to Allow for Future Expansion

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Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk has applied for a zoning change that could allow it to expand current structures on its 15-acre grounds.
Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk has applied for a zoning change that could allow it to expand current structures on its 15-acre grounds.

A zoning change request by an Armonk day camp would permit expansion of its facilities and would force the North Castle Town Board to write parameters regulating camps into the municipality’s code.

Breezemont Day Camp, located on 15.6 acres off of Cox Avenue, has operated in its location since 1932 before the town’s zoning code was written. Since it has been in a residential zone since the advent of the code, it is a legal, non-conforming use, said town Director of Planning Adam Kaufman.

But because of the camp’s current zoning status, there is no mechanism for the camp to make significant changes or additions to the structures on the grounds.

“Buildings can be painted, they can be upgraded, but it cannot be expanded,” John Kirkpatrick, an attorney representing Breezemont, explained for the rationale behind his client’s request.

If the town board were to approve the application, it would force Breezemont to obtain a special use permit from the town board to make any of the changes that are currently prohibited.

There are no plans for Breezemont to expand at the moment, although camp owner Gordon Josey is looking to be able to host a certain number of out-of-season events on its premises, such as birthday parties, Bar Mitzvah receptions and functions by local companies and organizations, Kirkpatrick said. Those events would also require a special permit, he said.

Kaufman said he thought that the idea to make Breezemont a conforming use was a sound one because it would allow the town to control any changes that would take place there and at other camps in town.

“We’ll have approval authority over any expansions and the operation that can occur at the camp or camps in town,” Kaufman said.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the major issues that the town board would have to iron out before considering a zoning change would be the minimum acreage to allow a camp; the maximum number of campers per acre; determining if camps should be on or near a state or county road to limit the chances of proliferation in residential areas; and deciding on the number of extra events it could host each year.

At a Dec. 4 town board work session, officials talked about requiring 10 acres for the operation of a camp and a maximum number of campers per acre from 25 to 30 children. Josey said last summer, the first year he operated Breezemont, there were about 300 campers. In its heyday, the camp attracted as many as 650 children.

Schiliro said he and the board should take some time to evaluate the potential impacts not only on Breezemont’s neighbors but other areas in town.

Although none of the structures on the grounds are local landmarks, including a century-old building that was once used as a summer hotel, town Landmarks Preservation Committee Chairwoman Sue Shimer said there are potential pitfalls.

“I think that before you act on this you should be aware of what you have and what you might lose by this change,” Shimer said.

Officials said they would place the item on the Jan. 14 town board meeting agenda for the purpose of referring the matter to the county planning board.



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