News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
North Castle’s representative on the county Airport Advisory Board informed the Town Board last week that future residents at the proposed 175-unit project for the MBIA property would likely be significantly impacted by airplane noise.
Michael Pollack, who also serves on the town’s Planning Board, said the 38-acre parcel is in the direct path of Westchester County Airport’s Runway 16, which accounts for at least 90 percent of departing and arriving flights. The altitude of the planes when they pass over the MBIA property, which is within five miles of the airport, is typically a little less than 500 feet, he said.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever stood next to an airplane that has its engines going full bore and you’re 500 feet away. You just don’t do that,” Pollack told the Town Board.
While North Castle typically sees the most noise complaints lodged compared to its surrounding communities, about 98 percent of those complaints come from one or two residents, according to Pollack. The reason why more residents aren’t affected is likely because the Runway 16 flightpath takes planes over a portion of the reservoir then over commercial property, including the office parks on King Street, he said.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said while the information is noteworthy, future residents should know that the site is in close proximity to an airport. Unless the town is told by the airport or the county that it shouldn’t be the site of residential development, then that is the business of the developer and future residents, he said.
“It’s important information but for me it’s not going to materially impact my decision to consider this application, because we may be concerned that maybe people will live in these (units) that might complain about something that they know what the conditions are when they bought it,” Schiliro said.
Councilman Jose Berra said it’s reasonable to expect that if people are considering living at that site and spending good money to do so, that they would be aware that the airport could pose a problem; however, that is not always the case.
“At some point these people will be our residents and there is speculation about how much of a problem it will be for them,” Berra remarked. “But I don’t think I’d be excluding that as a consideration as readily as you might be willing to, Mike.”
Attorney Anthony Veneziano, representing applicant Airport Campus, said the pricing of the units would factor in the distance to the airport.
“Toll Brothers has priced this,” he said. “They’re working on two projects in town. There’s a significant difference in price per unit.”
He did not say how much money the Airport Campus units might command.
As currently proposed, there would be 125 townhomes built on one portion of the property while the developer would repurpose the existing office building to house 50 age-restricted rental units.
According to data supplied by the airport, in the first two weeks of July 2022, there were 1,345 arrivals using Runway 16 and the average altitude of the planes was 483 feet above ground level (AGL). During the first 12 days of April 2023, there were 961 arrivals on the same runway with an average altitude of 488 feet.
Airport Manager April Gasparri wrote to Pollack in April that at that altitude it will likely be difficult for people to live there.
“In my humble opinion, 500 feet AGL flights over a residential area is likely a significant source of irritation for my day-to-day lifestyle (if I’m not an aviation enthusiast),” Gasparri stated.
Pollack said he felt obligated to share the information with the Town Board considering his role on both boards. He wanted town officials to have all the information to make the best decision.
“I felt that you bestowed the honor on me to serve in that capacity and it is my duty to share this information with you, so you can take it into account in your deliberations,” Pollack said.
The applicant needs to have the property rezoned from the Designated Office Business zone to multifamily residential for the townhomes and Multifamily-Senior Citizen Housing for the rental units.
The public hearing on the rezoning application before the Town Board was adjourned until June 28.
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/