Town Postpones Decision on Extending FCD Apartment Permit

Also: Town Seeks Input on Web Site Redesig

by Harriet Kline

(March 6, 2008) Highlights of the Mamaroneck Town Board meeting on Wednesday, March 5 included innocent questions from Ursuline government students who observed, among other things, the opening and adjournment until March 19 of public hearings on the Madison Avenue apartment project and a change to the zoning ordinance.

Forest City Daly (FCD) Apartment Project

Forest City Daly (officially referred to as Forest City Mamaroneck) has petitioned Mamaroneck Town for a three-year extension of its special permit to construct an eight-story apartment building on Madison Avenue. (See:FCD Apartment Gets Board Approval) The permit expires on April 18, 2008 and, according to Town Attorney Bill Maker, the Planning Board has advised the Town Board to grant the developer an extension.

Joel Sachs and Bryan Oos spoke on behalf of the developer. Mr. Sachs cited market conditions and turmoil in the financial markets as factors delaying the project. Mr. Oos spoke of the substantial investment FCD has already made and stressed that it is in everyone’s best interest to move forward.

Councilman David Fishman asked FCD about their proposal for Echo Bay in New Rochelle, which was unveiled last month.

Echo Bay
FCD's proposal for Echo Bay. For further details, see New Rochelle City Council Presentation

That project, estimated at $450 million, involves approximately 20 acres located less than a mile from the Larchmont border. Buildings would be from 3 to 5-stories high, and would add 600 apartments, 100 town-houses or condos, and 100,000 square feet of retail space. There would also be three public parks, a waterfront promenade and “view corridors” from the Boston Post Road to the water.

Mr. Oos said the New Rochelle project is several years away, and that the planning and review process is just beginning.

Town resident Harry Taubenfeld of 21 North Chatsworth Avenue objected to the proposed extension pointing out that FCD has already had 18 months to begin the project. (The special permit was granted in October 18, 2006). He saw the extension as having “no benefit to the Town.”

Mr. Maker stressed that the extension is being considered because FCD has promised to build a multi-dollar parking deck on Myrtle Boulevard whether the apartment complex is built or not. He stressed that three items remain to be negotiated with FCD: (1) the date the garage is to be completed; (2) penalties if the date is not met; and (3) wording of covenants in the special permits regarding work force housing (9 affordable units have been promised) and permit parking in the new garage (residents of the new apartment complex would not be allowed to park in the new garage).

Board members voted unanimously to adjourn further discussion to their March 19 public meeting.

Also Adjourned: Public Hearing on Zoning

Mr. Maker also asked the board to postpone discussion of a proposed local law to make the defense of pre-existing non-conformity an “affirmative defense” in the prosecution of a violation of the zoning ordinance. If enacted, the burden of proof would no longer fall on the Town. It would be up to the homeowner to make a case. Mr. Maker explained the complexity of this proposed law to the board and the Ursuline students.

Web Site Redesign

The Board unanimously approved Brian Foy’s proposal to redesign the Town web site. Mr. Foy had designed the current site and asked for $ 10,920 for the redesign. “We feel it has an outdated look and cumbersome navigation. We’re trying to be more responsive to constituent needs,” explained Councilman Ernie Odierna after the meeting. He also urged residents to get involved in the redesign process and to forward their suggestions to Mary Stanton (MStanton@TownofMamaroneck.org).

Other Business: Rates & Reval

The Board approved new rates for services charged by the Ambulance District. According to Town Administrator Steve Altieri, the new rates reflect the Medicare rate schedule. Small raises were also approved for the 30 part-time ambulance district employees. These raises were included in the 2008 Town budget.

Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe cited a number of items discussed at the annual New York State Conference of Mayors attended by state legislators. The issues included: a proposed change in how condos and coops are taxed; the ability of towns to set their own speed limits; flood mitigation measures; mandates (without funds) imposed by the state; pension reform; the proposed bridge across Long Island Sound (which Supervisor O’Keeffe opposes), and the ever-popular topic of revaluation. She said that Bronxville, Pelham and Rye have gone through the process, and that the Town is “on the verge of determining the cost of a possible revaluation.”