The Examiner

Brynwood Proposes Revised Condo, Golf Course Plan in No. Castle

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Representatives of Brynwood Golf & Country Club have made a last-ditch attempt to win over North Castle officials and the community after making revisions to its condominium and golf course redesign proposal.

Attorney Mark Weingarten, who represents the Brynwood Partners, told the town board Wednesday night that his client has reduced the project from 88 units to 80. The new proposal consists of 63 market rate condominiums, 10 fee simple golf cottages and seven affordable units.

Weingarten explained that if the opportunity became available to build affordable units off site to satisfy the requirements set by Westchester County, developers would build 70 market rate units on the 156-acre property on Bedford Road in Armonk and place an additional affordable unit off site, for a total of eight.

Other changes include the elimination of an internal road parallel to Route 22 and greater setbacks of residential buildings to reduce visual impact on neighbors. In addition, Brynwood, which appeared before the town for the first time in more than a year, has offered to create a conservation easement that would limit the future use of the property to a golf course or open space, ensuring there would be no further development.

Bob Greer, a 44-year Armonk resident and former member of the town’s Assessment Review Board, praised developers for devising a plan that would save the golf course, which has been part of the town’s landscape for decades.

“This parcel of land, at the county level, has always been designated as an important parcel to keep open…so I’m pleased that the Brynwood development has proposed that if their project goes forward that they will put the land into a conservation easement,” he said.

At a public hearing last year, many residents objected to the previous plan. One issue for them was that it would be unfair that the condominium owners would be paying about half the taxes that owners of single-family houses pay for similar value.

Weingarten explained that although the tax rate cannot be increased under New York State law, the developers would agree to a benefits agreement with the town. This would require residents in the 63 condominiums to pay the difference between the lower condominium tax rate and what a single-family homeowner would pay.

“We believe we have met one of the primary objections of the proposal by suggesting this…benefit agreement with the town,” said Weingarten.

The North Castle Town Board accepted the preliminary Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) Wednesday night. It will be reviewed by town officials and staff to determine if the changes sufficiently address previously raised concerns. If the rezone and application is not approved, the Brynwood Partners would likely seek to build up to 49 single-family houses, the current as-of-right zoning for the site. Weingarten, however, said that creating the luxury golf community would be the better option for the town.

He noted that the project would generate significant tax revenue for the Byram Hills School District and the town. In addition, preservation of the golf course would save local jobs and allow the course, which has been losing money in recent years, to become sustainable in a competitive environment.

“We know you are the talk of Westchester County. We can’t imagine why you should not have the leading edge of the most beautiful…luxury golf course,” said Weingarten. “You’re putting all of these other things into your town; it makes you different from everybody else and we want to be part of that.”

Several residents at Wednesday’s meeting spoke in favor of the new proposal, noting that it will provide multiple benefits.

Greer, a Windmill Farm resident, said Brynwood has promised to join Water District No. 2, which will reduce the annual bill of residents in that district by about 20 percent. In addition, Brynwood has agreed to pay for the construction of a fourth well in the district, estimated at about $1 million.

Resident Alan Cohen said he knew the partners involved in the proposed project and were confident it would be high quality.

“Approving this project is the right thing for the town, the schools and the surrounding neighborhood,” said Cohen. “The members of this club now and the people who live in this town are going to stay in this town and hopefully live there…I’m going to be one of those buyers who’s involved there.”

Resident Mark Devincenzo said that the Brynwood condominiums would give empty nesters a comfortable alternative to remain near family as they age.

“You hope one day that [in] the town you raise your family in that your children will return to see you and spend time with you and hopefully bring your grandchildren and potentially live there one day; but unfortunately most of the discussions with our friends at this moment is when (are they) planning to leave, and that’s really sad to us,” said Devincenzo. “For us, a project like Brynwood is so exciting because we may have (an) option to continue to stay here.”

Town board members noted that accepting the preliminary FEIS does not mean they support the project but introduces the revised plan for the board to consider.

“With three new board members I think it’s very important that we have this discussion. I think we all have a lot to learn and we…look forward to examining this very carefully. It’s very important,” said Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto.

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