The Mount Pleasant Planning Board approved the 73-house Kensico Preserve project, ending an extensive and contentious review.
Baker Residential will construct the homes on a 165-acre property on Columbus Avenue in Thornwood owned by the Legion of Christ.
The Planning Board approved the final subdivision plan, the subdivision application and steep slopes and wetlands permits for the cluster housing development on Feb. 1. It passed by a 6-1 margin with board member Jane Abbate casting the dissenting vote.
About 80 acres will be set aside as open space. Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said last week he would like to have some housing geared toward seniors constructed on the property. He added 18 acres of the property will be donated to the town for recreational purposes.
Mount Pleasant Conservation Advisory Council Chairman Steven Kavee said he wanted to sit down with the developer’s representatives to plant native trees as part of the landscaping plan. At a time when environmental regulations are being weakened at the federal level, it is time for municipalities to do more to protect the environment, Kavee said.
Baker Residential will sell 49 acres to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to be preserved from development as part of the agency’s Long-Term Watershed Protection Program. Another nine acres would include the project’s secondary entrance road, right-of-way and parkland.
A sidewalk will be constructed on Westlake Drive, the east side of the property, said David Steinmetz, an attorney representing the developer. Steinmetz said the sidewalk will be constructed after the developer listened to concerns from residents about the safety of students from Westlake High School who use the area to walk and train for cross country.
Throughout the review process, residents said the housing development would increase traffic and pollution in the area and attract families with school-age children, thereby raising local property taxes. Plans originally called for a 116-house development at the site. The reduction in houses was contingent on the developer selling the 49 acres to New York City.
According to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, the project would generate an additional 54 schoolchildren, down from 91 under the 116-house plan. The revised plan reduced the number of four-bedroom houses from 89 to 46. There will also be 27 three-bedroom houses.