No VoteYet: TOM Holds Another Hearing On Apartments

by Harriet Kline

(October 5, 2006) The Mamaroneck Town Board met on Wednesday, October 4 to consider, yet again, the Forest City Daly proposal to construct an eight-story apartment building on Madison Avenue. However, the much anticipated final vote on the project was not taken due to the need for further review of the “legal language” of the special permit.

About twenty residents were in the audience last night as Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe opened the public hearing with prepared remarks outlining the five-year review process conducted by the Town Board, the Town staff, Town consultants and land use boards and committees.

History of FCD Proposal

As outlined by Supervisor O’Keeffe, the initial Forest City proposal to construct a residential development on Madison Avenue next to the Town’s public works yard was made in 2001. Public meetings were held to inform the community about the proposal and the upcoming Town review process. In March 2002, the Town Board initiated a formal environmental review of the proposal mandated by the New York State Environmental Quality Review Law (SEQR).

The scope of the environmental review was developed with the help of the Town’s Planning Board, the Board of Architectural Review and Town consultants. A public hearing on the scope of the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) was held on June 3, 2002. The initial DEIS prepared by Forest City was rejected by the Town Board on the grounds that it was “inadequate.” A revised DEIS was accepted on November 19, 2003. (See: Digging Into the DEIS.)

On January 20, 2004 and February 12, 2004 the Town Board held public hearings on the Forest City DEIS. A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was prepared to answer comments made by the public and involved agencies. On January 5, 2005 nearly three years after initiating the environmental review process, the FEIS was approved by the Town Board. (See: Town Accepts Forest City Daly Impact Statement and also FEIS.)

Changes to Initial Proposal

Several changes have been made to the initial proposal from the group that is now named FCD-Mamaroneck, LLC. The number of units proposed was reduced from 186 to 162 and then scaled down to 159. Nine apartments were designated as workforce housing. FCD also promised to fund the construction of a parking deck over Town Lot 3 on Myrtle Boulevard (for 45 cars).

When FCD filed a special permit application to change the apartment proposal from rentals to condominiums (October 13, 2005) the number of units was further reduced to 135. Later, at a public hearing, the Board voted to allow an increase in the height of the proposed building to a total height of 87 feet – from 7 stories to 8 stories, which would increase the number of units to 139. (See: TOM Approves Extra Floor for Forest City Apartments.) This includes 246 parking spaces for residents of the complex -- i.e. a parking ratio of 1.77 spaces per unit. Nine residential units would continue as rentals and and would be dedicated as workforce affordable housing.

After Supervisor O’Keeffe’s remarks, Andy Tung, representing FCD, presented the apartment site plan as well as a drawing of the proposed parking deck. He indicated that the site plan had not changed since the FEIS process. The drawing of the proposed deck showed that the existing driveways to Lot 3 would be retained. He further stated that only 2 trees (out of a dozen) will have to come down. The Planning Board and the Architectural Review Board have had input into the deck design and coloring of the deck’s facade.

Resident Comments

Residents were then invited to address the Board, though only three speakers asked questions or made comments about the development

Emily Hoffner, of Howell Avenue, had concerns about the number of children who might attend local schools as a result of the new apartments. Mr.Tung and Harlan Sexton (consultant to the Town) indicated that the schools were an issue addressed during the environmental impact review. Two methodologies had been used to project the number of children in the K-12 grade age range. Councilwoman Nancy Seligson said that initially the projections – given in the DEIS as 15 - seemed low to her. However, after further investigation of the estimates and the methodology used to obtain them, she was convinced that the projections were sound.

Josh Dionne of Lafayette Road was also concerned about the school projections. Councilman Paul Winick reassured residents that the projections had included an analysis of other apartment complexes in the school district – specifically the Avalon on Mamaroneck Avenue and the apartments adjacent to the Hommocks Middle School. In each case the projections had been on or close to target.

When Mr. Dionne asked about the traffic flow to and from I-95, Supervisor O’Keeffe indicated that FCD plans to erect a new traffic signal on Madison Avenue opposiste the !-95 ramp near Jefferson Avenue.

The final speaker, Jack Coughlin of Byron Lane, complimented the Board on its work. He said that he had followed the apartment proposal process for a number of years and said that the Town Board has done a “marvelous job.”

NEXT HEARING: As no vote on the FCD special permit application was taken, the Board voted to adjourn the public hearing until Wednesday, October 18.