At its May 5 meeting, the Mamaroneck Town Board voted to increase water rates and approve changes for construction of a multi-story apartment building that has been under consideration for most of the decade.
The board tabled a decision on Laurel Avenue parking (on which residents disagree) and announced next steps on a possible town-wide revaluation, which has been under review since 2008.
Want Water? Be Ready to Spend 18% More
Board members unanimously approved an 18% increase, effective June 1, for water rates in the unincorporated area of Mamaroneck Town, including those for homeowners, schools, and churches, as per the Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) schedule.
The increase will raise an “average” homeowner’s annual water bill (now estimated at $480.29) by $86.45. In an effort to promote water conservation, in 2007, the Town implemented an inclining water rate structure that increases the cost as one uses more water.
Town Administrator Stephen Altieri noted “the circumstances where water [was] a cheap commodity have come to an end.”
Town water rates are based on WJWW operating expenses, Town Water District expenses and the costs associated with a New York State court- mandated water filtration plant. The unincorporated part of the Town of Mamaroneck, the Village of Mamaroneck and the Town of Harrison obtain their water from WJWW. Based on water usage, each municipality pays its proportionate share of the Water Works budget. Mamaroneck Town pays 18.4% of the budget, and this year that will be $2.4 million of the $13.1 million total.
The WJWW proposed capital projects for the Town of Mamaroneck total $1,550,000. The Town will issue bonds to finance this expense. The budget impact will be felt next year. The capital projects include repair of the Lundy Lane water main. Also included as a capital expenditure is $900,000 in engineering costs for a filtration plant plan, which was developed in response to the court mandate for such a system. WJWW has been working with Westchester County on an alternative that would be less costly. The Town’s portion of the engineering costs for development of the alternative plan is $280,000.
In view of the increasing cost of this resource, Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe anticipates that Mamaroneck Town’s water supply contract with the Village of Larchmont, due to end next year, will reflect these additional costs.
At their last meeting, the Village of Larchmont warned residents to expect an 18-20% rise in their water rates by October.
Byron Place Permit Changes Get Green Light
The Town Board, designating itself as the lead agency for the project, approved an additional ten units (now to be 149) for the Byron Place Associates apartment development. One of these will be designated for affordable housing. The board also approved revised plans for the development’s garage, which will allow for additional parking and storage space.
So when will the building begin? Ned Ferron, owner of the New York Sports Club on Madison Avenue, expressed impatience with the delay in the project. The developer’s representatives said construction financing is not yet in place and a construction start date has not been set. However, Town Attorney William Maker noted two Town permit deadlines: April 18, 2011 for the building application and October 18, 2011 for a building permit.
The Town granted the first special permit on October 18, 2006 and extended that permit on April 2008 to the 2011 dates. Councilman David Fishman pointed out that Byron Place Associates assumed the project from the original developer (Forest City Daly, see: First Looks at the Apartment Project Proposed for Madison.)
The board, particularly Supervisor O’Keeffe, peppered Andrew Tung, one of the developer’s representatives, with questions about how the extra parking spaces would be allotted so as to avoid creating “trouble” among the residents. After much back and forth, Mr. Tung agreed that a better course would be to rent the extra spaces to residents on a short term basis rather than making them available for purchase as originally planned.
Village of Larchmont Trustee Anne McAndrews asked whether the building plan revisions and subsequent blasting at the site would endanger the Village’s water tanks, located close to the proposed building. Mr. Tung reminded officials that the developer agreed early on to coordinate with the municipalities prior to construction on procedures for site preparation and excavation. The developer is to review the site with the Village’s engineer and to undertake appropriate procedures to prevent harm to the tanks.
Councilwoman Nancy Seligson expressed some concern about the “scary” and “derelict” condition of three homes on the site that will be demolished when construction begins. Mr. Tung assured the board that they will “make sure there are no unsafe conditions there.”
The comment of the evening came from Councilman Ernie Odierna, who noted, “No one can accuse us of not discussing this extensively.”
Laurel Parking on Hold
Also at the May 5 meeting, the board again took up the proposal to remove the exemption of a section of Laurel Avenue from the town-wide ban on overnight parking. (See: Overnight Parking Has Neighbors At Odds.)
But no vote was taken because notice of the formal hearing had not been provided to all necessary parties.
The issue before the board concerns the section of Laurel Avenue from Weaver Street to the dead end. This section was not included on the list of streets exempted from the overnight parking ban in 1984, but signs placed on the street at a later date indicate that overnight parking is permissible. Town officials could find no legal authority to support these signs, notwithstanding the recollections of several residents who spoke at a prior board meeting, that such an exemption had been granted.
Residents Dennis O’Toole and Maureen Denyssenko repeated concerns they expressed at the April 15 meeting as to safety issues and hardships created by the exemption. Another Laurel Street resident, Joe Carducci, who built several houses on the block, recalled the Town kept the dead end to prevent the street being used as a bypass. He said the parking exemption was allowed in the 90s and he supported retaining it. He traced current difficulties to residents parking on both sides of the street making it difficult for through traffic.
Mamaroneck Town is continuing to take steps – if very slowly – towards town-wide revaluation of all properties, something that has been under consideration for the past two years and was last undertaken in 1968.
Town Administrator Steve Altieri announced the Town will be meeting with New York State to plan and initiate the community education component of the process. Simultaneously, the Town is continuing to draft a proposal for contractors who would appraise each property. He hopes this will be approved by the Board by end of the summer.
The aim is to have a new assessment roll completed by 2013.