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No. Castle Unsettled Over Mammoth Greenwich Proposal Near Town Line

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North Castle officials are fretting that a proposed 456-unit residential complex in Greenwich nearly pressed up against the state and town line will inundate their municipality’s roads and strain its infrastructure and services.

Representatives for New York City-based developer Tishman Speyer presented the colossal Greenwich American Center project to the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission during a pre-application discussion last Tuesday. The 154.5-acre parcel at 1 American Lane borders the state line in spots and is close to King Street (Route 120), with its only access being from North Castle because it is cut off from the rest of Greenwich by I-684.

The site was home to the American Can Company, which constructed its headquarters there in 1968 with a 586,000-square-foot office building that is still on the site. Greenwich zoning accommodated a switch to multiple tenants for the building about 30 years ago.

Tishman Speyer is proposing a mix of “starter and townhomes” in 41 buildings, with units ranging from 1,050 square feet to about 3,400 square feet, said attorney Thomas Heagney, representing the developer. The buildings are proposed to be up to three-and-a-half stories and 50 feet in height. An existing wastewater treatment facility and on-site wells would provide the development with sewer and water.

Greenwich’s BEX-50 Zoning District, which allows office use, would need to be amended to permit residential use.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property, rolling hills with lawn and woodlands,” Heagney said.

However, the North Castle Town Board last month sent a detailed letter to the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission highlighting a long list of serious concerns, most notably the burden the development would have on roads in North Castle and the surrounding road network, the impact on parking in downtown Armonk since that is the closest shopping area to the site and a host of potential environmental issues.

“Given the site’s location at the extreme northwest corner of Greenwich and the fact that the site can only be accessed via New York roads, it is likely that development impacts will be borne by the Town of North Castle and the Armonk Hamlet,” the Town Board stated in its Apr. 4 letter to the commission.

The board has stressed that the parcel is one mile from North Castle Town Hall and would likely attract most of the development’s residents to Armonk for shopping and other services. North Castle Director of Planning Adam Kaufman said expansion of parking for the hamlet is being planned for the town’s current needs.

North Castle has no approval authority since the development would be entirely within Greenwich, Kaufman said, but officials hope to persuade the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission to take their litany of concerns seriously.

“There are (other) border projects and it’s not a unique issue in the planning world,” Kaufman said, “but it’s unique enough here because you can’t even get to the site without traveling into another state.”

Another major issue that wasn’t addressed by the Town Board’s letter is fire protection. The closest agency is the Armonk Fire Department but it is strapped for volunteers.

“That’s going to be a critical issue,” Kaufman said. “The Armonk Fire Department is an all-volunteer fire department; they’re stretched pretty thin as it is. If the Town of Greenwich can’t serve that property that would have to be worked out and will be a significant issue.”

Heagney said in his own drive from the site, the DeCicco’s in Armonk is six minutes away while the Greenville Stop & Shop and the Wegman’s in Purchase are about a nine-minute drive each. Therefore, the development’s residents would probably be dispersed in multiple communities for shopping, he said.

Commission Chair Margarita Alban told Heagney that his client is going to have to satisfy North Castle’s concerns because nearly all of the infrastructure impacts would fall on its neighboring New York town. The applicant would also have to convince the commission that the water supply on the property and the sewage treatment plant can sustain the residential units.

Alban, who characterized the proposal as “probably too dense,” said Greenwich plans to be a good neighbor and address North Castle’s concerns.

“Port Chester’s development impacts us a great deal but they’ve got a vision and they’re putting it first, and I don’t want to do that to North Castle,” Alban told Kaufman during last Tuesday’s discussion. “I want to be fully respectful of your town plans, what your concerns are and how we can address them in a way that suits you, that satisfies you.”

Alban’s comments were appreciated by the North Castle Town Board last week

“I think the chair and the rest of the Planning and ZBA board really stressed that they want to be good neighbors and wants us to be part of the dialogue, and obviously we’re very pleased,” said Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto.

Heagney said the developer will conduct a traffic study of the area and agreed to hash out the issues raised in greater detail.

Any traffic study will also have to account for North Castle’s ongoing review of the Airport Campus proposal across King Street, Kaufman said. That proposal calls for 170 residential units, a hotel and 100,000 square feet of office space on the former MBIA property.

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