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Mt. Pleasant Grants Toll Brothers Zoning Change for Legionaries Property

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Attorney Brad Schwartz, representing Toll Brothers, speaks at a public hearing last week for the rezoning of the Legionaries property. The homebuilding company is proposing a 162-unit age-restricted townhouse development.

The Mount Pleasant Town Board approved a zoning change and text amendment last week for Toll Brothers’ proposed 162-unit age-restricted townhouse plan on a portion of the Legionaries property in Thornwood.

Toll Brothers, which hopes to build three-bedroom residences that would mostly range from 2,200 to 2,800 square feet, received the go-ahead from the town to switch the zoning from an Office Business district (OB-1) to a multifamily (R-3A) residential zone. A small but still undetermined number of the units would be between 1,800 and 2,200 square feet to offer some residences that are at a lower price point than the full-sized units.

A text change amendment allows for the developer to build the structures as close as 25 feet apart that will reduce disturbance on the 96-acre portion of the site. Without the text change, the buildings could not be closer than 75 feet apart.

Attorney Brad Schwartz, representing Toll Brothers, said there are far greater advantages to this design than the previously approved Baker Residential project about six years ago. That was a subdivision of 73 private homes.

“The cluster design reduces the environmental impacts, less disturbance, greater environmental benefit,” Schwartz said. “Fifty-five and over translates to no schoolchildren and there are legal documents that will be needed that ensures that restriction.”

No one under the age of 19 may live there, virtually eliminating the possibility of any impact on the Mount Pleasant School District.

During the brief public hearing, there were two speakers. Briarcliff Manor resident Arthur Kraft was the first one, questioning whether the town needed a townhouse development. He said there are similar projects in the area that “dominate the landscape.”

Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said the Toll Brothers plan is less intrusive than the previous plan for the site. Also, the sentiment of town residents has called for age-restricted housing for older adults who might want to downsize or at least not be responsible for the upkeep of their single-family homes, he said.

A second speaker, Conservation Advisory Council member Gibson Craig, said he was encouraged by the project, but cautioned officials to protect the town in the event that Toll Brothers never builds the project. That situation occurred with Baker Residential where the project was approved but the construction fell through.

With the property now rezoned, another developer could obtain the land and at least theoretically build a much larger number of units, Craig said.

Councilwoman Danielle Zaino said that the rezoning is tied to this application, so a new developer would have to start from scratch if the Toll Brothers plan were to fail or never be built.

The approval now allows the applicant to head to the Planning Board by February for the start of site plan review of the project. At a previous work session with the Town Board, representatives for Toll Brothers hoped to start construction later this year if they were to receive approvals on a timely basis.

Schwartz said other benefits is an estimated $1,942,684 in tax revenue for the Mount Pleasant School District each year. The town would receive about $166,000 in tax revenue annually, he said.

Furthermore, another 18.2 acres of the site would be conveyed to the town, which intends to use the land for recreational purposes, including more fields and perhaps constructing an indoor pool for competitive swimming.

The New York City of Department of Environmental Protection would receive the remaining 49 acres for conservation purposes, Schwartz said.

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