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North Castle Approves Affordable Unit Reduction for Fareri Project

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Armonk developer Michael Fareri

The North Castle Town Board last week approved fewer affordable housing for a revamped 20-unit condominium development in Armonk that must be completed by the end of 2022 for the developer to receive the reduction.

By a 4-1 vote, board members granted developer Michael Fareri the cutback to 10 percent, or two units, of affordable housing. In 2015, the town approved a 36-unit project at the site of the old lumberyard at 162 Bedford Rd. that required a 20 percent affordable unit threshold because of the added density.

However, for much of the past five years, Fareri has balked at the 20 percent affordable housing requirement, arguing that it was economically unfeasible for him to build the project.

Last week, he said he would try to meet the Dec. 31, 2022, deadline for completion in order for him to retain the reduction – or at least come close. Fareri still must go to the Planning Bord and receive subdivision and site plan approval.

“I have a completion date. Unfortunately, you can’t get to the finish line until you get to the start line and I’m not at the start line yet, but I’m going to do my best to get there,” Fareri said. “But I’m not in control of that. The town Planning Board is and the town Building Department is and with your cooperation and help and a little nudge to get me on the agendas as quickly as possible to get me through the process, would help us get us to the completion line, which is where we want to go.”

Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said Fareri has had a very good track record over the years of building quality projects and she looks forward to finally seeing the parcel at the end of Bedford Road being developed after sitting empty for well over a decade.

“I think we’re going to be very happy with the finished product and I think there are going to be many people that are very happy to be able to have the possible good fortune of calling one of these units home,” DiGiacinto said.

The dissenting vote came from Councilman Jose Berra, who has had several pointed verbal exchanges with Fareri in recent years. He said he opposed the reduction in affordable units for the town and believed that it’s wrong to make a concession to benefit a developer rather than the town.

“I think it’s bad policy and we’re bringing more problems onto ourselves by going ahead and changing something that had been agreed to because we’ve seen developers in town will sometimes overpay for property thinking they will get certain approvals,” Berra said. “Even though we want businesses, builders and developers to succeed, but it’s not our responsibility to make sure that the project is economically viable if they overpay or have other problems of their own making.”

Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he was pleased that the town and Fareri are at the point where the project is now likely to be built. He differed with Berra, saying that Fareri provided financial breakdowns that bear out that 20 percent would be onerous on the developer. The town also gets desperately needed housing for people who want to downsize and stay in town as well as two affordable units.

“I actually think it’s good policy, so I’m excited to finally have this project developed,” Schiliro said. “I think we all agree that the product will be very, very nice.”

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