A significant deed restriction imposed by North Castle nearly 40 years ago would have to be renegotiated by the owner of Mariani Gardens in order to accommodate his proposed 43-unit residential plan at the property.
The restriction, reached in 1979 when the town deeded land in its right of way to a previous owner of the property, prohibits the development of buildings on about one-third of the nursery’s four-acre site in Armonk, said attorney Anthony Veneziano, who represents applicant 45 Bedford Road LLC and Mariani Gardens owner Mark Mariani.
As currently proposed, eight of the higher-end units and a portion of a ninth would be in the restricted area, which is closest to Maple Avenue, he said.
The apparent purpose of the deed restriction was to protect Wampus Brook Park, the area around the nearby Town Hall and the sightlines for the historic St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Veneziano said.
“So we think we’re actually doing that,” he said.
The revelation in the past few weeks is one more of several major issues the developer will have to address for the project to obtain approval. Mariani is looking for a zoning change from the Nursery Business zone to a multifamily designation.
Discussion of the restriction and other issues related to the proposal took place last Wednesday evening as the Town Board officially received the application and took action to refer it to the town and county planning boards and declare itself lead agency.
Veneziano said he’s informed his client that the deed restriction is a significant issue along with the other key development hurdles facing the project
“I think we still have to cooperate with you, we still have to produce evidence regarding the tax benefits, school-age children, we have water and sewer,” Veneziano said. “We have to still deal with all of these issues and we have to solve this.”
Other potential stumbling blocks is its proximity to the Bedford Road Historic District and density.
“When you look at this project, and it’s lovely, there’s really very little green space, very little open space,” said Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto.
In comparison, the Cider Mill project contains 27 units on six-and-a-half acres, she said.
Veneziano responded that if he used the nearby Wampus Close zoning designation the project would yield 35 units. However, Mariani’s property would be higher-end units that would add significant benefits to the town while maintaining the required distance between the structures and property line.
“There’s walkable access to the town, there’s disposable income, it’s a good project with minimal impacts and I think we can make the mass,” he said. “We’re keeping the setbacks and the stone walls.”
According to the plan, the most luxurious units will be closer to the Bedford Road side with five four-bedroom apartments and 16 three-bedroom units. The so-called C Building, the largest structure rising to 40 feet to the midline of the roof, will feature six two-bedroom units and 16 one-bedroom residences. However, that building will be pushed to the rear of the property closest to Route 22.
Project engineer Rob Aiello said because of the slope of the land, only the top half of the C Building would be visible from Route 22.
“We tried to do it in a way that makes use of the topography and the vegetation that either exists or we can supplement,” Aiello said.
There will also be five affordable units to comply with the town’s affordable housing ordinance. It requires that at least 10 percent of new developments include lower-prices units.
At a work session last month, the applicant’s representatives said projected rents would range from $3,500 to $5,000 for the smaller units and about $7,500 and $10,000 a month for the three- and four-bedroom units, respectively.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the applicant must maintain a dialogue with the community.
“I appreciate your offer and I think a meeting with some of the stakeholders in the historic district, the church, and if and how this project progresses, to make sure that you’re listening to not just us but he community and the church and things like that,” Schiliro said. “The historic district is very important and it feeds right into that.”