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North Castle Grants 30-Month Extension for Lumberyard Project Completion
The developer of a yet-to-built 20-unit condominium complex in Armonk will have until mid-2025 to get most of the project finished for the affordable housing requirement to be reduced from 20 to 10 percent. Last week, the North Castle Town Board agreed to a 30-month extension for developer Michael Fareri to largely complete construction at the site of the old lumberyard at 162 Bedford Rd. The request for the extension late last year came after Fareri waited from August until just after New Year’s to have the Westchester County Department of Health sign off on the final subdivision plat.
That was the latest in a series of delays that have plagued the project, which included Fareri having taken issue with the 20 percent affordable housing requirement, twice as much as the town’s ordinance requires, in exchange for greater density in the originally approved 36-unit project. There was also sluggishness on the part of the state Department of Environmental Conservation in issuing a Notice of Intent.
The town imposed a deadline, originally June 30, 2022, before the onset of the pandemic as an incentive for Fareri to have the affordable housing percentage reduced. That deadline was extended again to the end of last year, but Fareri had yet to receive all of the necessary approvals to obtain a building permit and begin construction.
After extensive discussion among the board and Fareri’s daughter, Nicole, last Wednesday evening, the board agreed to allow the applicant until June 30, 2025, to have at least 75 percent of the project completed. In December, her father had requested another two years to complete the work as a result of the delays. Last week Nicole Fareri asked until the end of 2025.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he’s wanted the project built at the site since the earliest iteration was proposed in 2009, and doesn’t want to see it derailed. With construction unlikely to start until at least March, the middle of 2025 was a compromise. Nicole Fareri anticipated that construction would take about two years.
“I would be comfortable with 30 months,” Schiliro told her. “So that gives you a little bit of extra time because you’re not going to have a full two years, but it gives you until June 30, 2025, in the event there is, who knows what the rest of this winter will be and can you get into the ground, or next December or that winter, so I’d be okay with a 30-month (extension).”
Councilman Matt Milim suggested a hard deadline, and said he would have supported an extension to Dec. 31, 2025, rather than trying to determine what constitutes 75 percent completion. He also was hesitant with the clause in the agreement that would have allowed the board to grant additional extensions for “good cause.”
“I think having this language of the 75 percent and good cause and just the subjectivity to it, I think it’s a risk that we shouldn’t take because all it does is open the town to a lawsuit and there’s no benefit to the town to have it,” Milim said.
Building Inspector Robert Melillo agreed to hammer out an agreement with Nicole Fareri to define 75 percent completion. Melillo said if the final paperwork is in place in the next couple of weeks, a building permit could be issued by Mar. 1.
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said she understood the reasoning behind the extra time, but believed the compromise to mid-2025, rather than either the end of 2024 or 2025, was the proper deadline.
“I don’t really see a whole (additional) year, but I could definitely see an extension, and if the board believes a full year is a good idea, I’m actually okay with it,” she said.
Casting the dissenting vote was Councilman Jose Berra, who has been troubled with Michael Fareri’s multiple requests for changes to the plans and complaints regarding the additional affordable units.
“I wish you the best on this,” Berra told Nicole Fareri. “You’re going to get approved, but I’m not going to support it.”
“Understood,” she responded. “I hope to make you happy at the end of the project and get it done so these extensions can be behind us and we can move on.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/