The Putnam Examiner

Carmel Golf Course Seeks Town-Wide Zoning Amendment

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The owners of the Centennial Golf Club in Carmel are asking the town to amend its zoning code to allow for 1-acre zoning so that it may develop multiple residential housing units on its campus.

Carmel attorney William Shilling Jr. filed a petition for the amendment Dec. 27, and the Carmel Town Board referred it to the Planning Board, as is required by law, during its Jan. 22 meeting.

Town Counsel Greg Folchetti explained that the golf course owners asked for a zoning change last spring, which “had gone through some discussions at the (planning) board level,” but withdrew that request at the end of the year and instead filed a new petition seeking a text amendment.

“So as opposed to proposing to rezone an entire area, it’s a conceptual amendment where the idea is that the residential redevelopment of golf courses will be permitted under your code, which it currently is not,” said Folchetti.

According to the petition, Peter and David Leibowits purchased the golf course property in 1996 and created a 27-hole golf course.

“It was created at a time when golf outings and banquets were in great demand,” reads the document. “The 27 holes made the acceptance of these functions possible while still keeping the golf course open to the general public.”

However, according to the petition, “economics of the declining golf course” requires the redevelopment of the property “and is the only means to keep the remaining portion of the golf course (18 holes) open to the public at large, and forever green in the Town of Carmel.”

The petition states that the owners seek to develop 96 residential units in buildings not to exceed 40 feet or two and a half stories in height “in the general proximity of Fair Street,” leaving the area adjoining Kelly Ridge undisturbed.

Nick Fannin, who lives near the golf course, said he’s glad to hear the petition will be going through a series of reviews. “Because it’s not a simple project any more, it’s asking to change our town code,” he said.

Fannin said he respects the efforts of the golf club owners to complete the project with minimal impact on nearby residences, but also asked the board to move forward with caution.

“The desire of the petitioner to work with the town to meet its commercial needs, the needs of the town, the needs of the community is commendable,” he said. “However, this is a delicate topic and smart development is more than just a vision of what the petitioner has provided. We also need smart legislation in place here.”

Fannin also pointed out that the border of Brewster is nearby, so that community will also be affected, and that the Town of Carmel should “be a good neighbor.”

“This will impact the community greatly – not just the abutting houses, but the several dedicated communities that are right around there,” he said.

Resident Neal Sullivan, who is a Putnam County legislator, said he is not supportive of a town-wide zoning change, and suggested that cluster housing will put a burden on existing infrastructure.

“I’m not in favor of changing from 3-acre zoning to 1-acre zoning, which this seems to propose,” he said. “We went to 3-acre for a reason.”

The petition will now be reviewed by the Carmel Planning Board.

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