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The Armonk developer who was given a year-end deadline to get most of his 20-unit condominium project completed to receive a reduced affordable housing requirement said it is impossible for him to meet the target date.
Michael Fareri said last weekend that “there’s no way in hell” he will be able to get at least 75 percent of the project done at the site of the old lumberyard on Bedford Road by Dec. 31 because of numerous regulatory hurdles that have prevented him from submitting an application for a building permit to the North Castle Building Department.
“We have not dragged our feet; we have worked full steam ahead,” Fareri said. “I’ve done everything that I possibly could do to get a building permit as quickly as I can.”
Last April, the Town Board approved a 10 percent affordable unit requirement, down from the original 20 percent, after Fareri revised the plans to reduce the size of the project from 36 to 20 units. But the board set a condition that at least three-quarters of the project must be built by the deadline or the requirement could revert back to 20 percent.
Originally, the deadline was June 30, 2022, but that was pushed out by six months.
Town officials instituted a deadline to incentivize Fareri to build the project.
Fareri said that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been slow to issue a Notice of Intent, which he is still awaiting. A Notice of Intent requests coverage under the general permit for stormwater discharges during construction.
Once he has obtained that permit, he can return to the county Department of Health to receive a sign-off from that agency. Then the application for the town building permit can be submitted, Fareri said.
Delaying matters further last week, the Planning Board, which approved the revised site plan for the smaller 20-unit project late last year, referred Fareri to the Zoning Board of Appeals because of a discrepancy regarding the affordable units and what was shown on the engineering plan.
Director of Planning Adam Kaufman said at last week’s North Castle Planning Board meeting that the types of affordable units must be proportionate to the market-rate units. Since the project is a mixture of two- and three-bedroom units, there should be have been one of each size for the affordable residences. However, the plans show two two-bedroom units.
As a result, Fareri must now apply for a variance from the ZBA. Its next meeting is in April.
Fareri said he believes he has been demonstrating good faith in moving ahead with the project as quickly as possible to be granted another deadline extension when he runs out of time. He then threatened litigation if the town fails to give him an additional extension.
“They actually set me up for failure. The Town Board set me up for failure,” said Fareri, who indicated that it’s been nearly a year since Westchester County approved an amended declaration regarding the change in affordable units.
A message last weekend for Supervisor Michael Schiliro was not returned.
The 36-unit project had been approved by the town in 2015 but required Fareri to provide six affordable units – or 20 percent – in exchange for the density bonus.
Soon after, the builder said the project wasn’t economically viable if he was forced to build that many affordable units.
The 10 percent requirement complies with the town’s affordable housing ordinance.
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/