GovernmentThe Examiner

Concerns Raised Over Permit for Armonk’s Summit Club Golf Course

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
The North Castle Town Board held a lengthy public hearing last week on the Summit Club’s request for a special use permit to operate its 18-hole golf course in Armonk.

Residents near the Summit Golf Club in Armonk strenuously argued last week for North Castle officials to oppose making concessions to the club as it seeks a permanent special use permit to operate the golf course.

Extended debate arose during a two-and-a-half-hour public hearing on June 12 addressing various points, including a limitation on the maximum number of members admitted to the club while the 73 luxury condominium units at the site are being constructed, preventing outdoor live music at special events and regulating how 10 proposed golf course cottages would be used.

Golf courses in North Castle can only operate under a special use permit. Whippoorwill Golf Club is the town’s other golf course.

Other questions were raised about the number of attendees at the club’s youth golf camp, which the club’s representatives said could be up to 100, and whether there is sufficient parking for the golf course.

The Summit Club, which received final approval for the luxury condos last summer, reopened its golf course in July 2021 following completion of its redesign. Representatives hope they will be allowed to accept up to 500 memberships, including those from the general public while residential construction is completed. The special use permit allowing for public memberships would expire no later than the end of 2029 or when construction is finished with the residential units, whichever occurs first.

Attorney Mark Weingarten, representing the Summit Club, said the cottages will be owned by the club to rent only to members and their guests. A member would also be able to buy a cottage, he said.

However, most residents who spoke at the public hearing for the permit at last Wednesday evening’s Town Board meeting expressed frustration that officials may potentially be willing to allow 500 members when the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluated the project with 350 members.

Upland Lane resident Garrett Kennedy said Summit’s representatives continue to ask for additional capacity and uses that were not part of the EIS.

“What we’re talking about now is 500 members, public use, 100 campers. This is not what was requested, it’s not what was studied, it’s not what this board is supposed to be doing,” Kennedy said.

Another resident, Elan Keller, said it’s apparent to him that the Summit Club continues to make requests to broaden uses and capacity to obtain better financing rates for the residential construction. However, the town has no obligation to make it easier for the developer, he said, stressing that the responsibility is to protect the town and its residents.

“It’s not up to the town to underwrite their financing; it’s not up to the town to make sure they have better rates because they have a public golf course approval,” Keller implored to board members.

Keller was one of the speakers who questioned how the town was going to enforce the stipulations for the cottages, including preventing the cottages from being used as an Airbnb, he said.

Weingarten said his client will comply with the restrictions agreed to in the special use permit.

“The main interest for them, we believe, are going to be those members from New York City, come up for a week or a weekend, bring three friends and come play golf, and that’s who they’re for,” he said. “They’re for members and their guests, not for Airbnb.”

Resident Alan Blum said that it was his understanding that the study of the golf course’s impact on traffic and the environment was for 350 members, not up to 500. He said he wants to see a viable project, but protecting the town’s interest is the board’s priority.

“I’d like to see the club be successful,” Blum said. “So would the town. But it can’t be done on the backs of the citizens or the responsibility of the town. It has to be done as a business.”

Adam Kaufman, the town’s director of planning, said while the EIS assumed 350 members, it also factored in events in a much larger clubhouse. The amenities building that will serve as a clubhouse is expected to be built in the opening phase of construction along with three of the six residential buildings comprising 36 units.

Jeffrey Mendell, managing partner for the Summit Club, said the PGA-certified golf camp, which will be open for up to 100 children, is an extremely attractive feature for the community. There are youngsters who have secured college scholarships for golf in similar programs offered at clubs around the country, he said.

“This is a great benefit to the children in this town and (you) would be foolish not to let this happen,” Mendell remarked.

Weingarten has repeatedly argued that the golf course will be self-limiting allowing maximum of 144 players at any one time.

He added that while the Summit Club has a 61-parking space variance under the Town Code, the available space for the golf course parking remains the same as it had been previously. Once the residential community is built, there will be private roads to accommodate any overflow parking is needed, he said.

Board members debated whether they should leave the public hearing open for another meeting. Councilmen Jose Berra and Saleem Hussain supported continuing the hearing to resolve the key issues at the next meeting.

But by a 3-2 vote, the remainder of board decided to close the hearing but accept written public comments for 10 days.

The board accepted a June 26 work session to work on solutions to outstanding issues on a suggestion from Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto.


We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.