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North Castle Daily News

Brynwood Golf & Country Club
Town Board Extends Windmill Farm Water District to Brynwood Country Club

April 14, 2016
Sometime in the near future, with or without the addition of Brynwood Country Club, a bedrock well will be needed to expand the water supply of Windmill Farm’s Water District. This fact weighed heavily as the Town Board, who in their roles as Water District Commissioners, decided at the April 13 Town Board meeting to allow Brynwood to join Water District No. 2. Brynwood, which has always been an out-of-district user, has been paying twice the amount for water use.

Now Brynwood Golf and Country Club will spend over $2 million to join the water district. It will cover the cost to develop a new well with an estimated price tag of at least $1.3 million. They are also obligated to a benefits agreement with the Town in excess of an additional $1 million of which $100,000 will go toward restoring the Water District’s three windmills in Windmill Farm, up to $75,000 to fix Windmill Farm’s stone wall along Route 22, and the Miller House will be getting $15,000. The remaining $860,000 will go toward other community improvements which are to be determined.

A survey was sent in March from the Board of Water Commissioners to the 375 Windmill Farm Water District No. 2 users. The survey asked the Water District taxpayers:

• I prefer Brynwood did not join WD2 because __________.

• I prefer Brynwood did join WD2 because __________.

• I am indifferent because ____________.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the commissioners carefully reviewed the survey results as they wanted to know what the residents of the District had to say about the six-month review of this application.

The Commissioners used the results as only one tool to shape their decision. There were a good number of people who were both in favor and against Brynwood joining the Water District. Twenty-three percent of the recipients responded: 31 responses said that Brynwood should not join, 47 said Brynwood should join, and 4 responses were indifferent.

Town Board Member Barry Reiter said the number of surveys that came back was minimal, and if people were concerned, there would have been a larger response.

Jan Bernstein, president of Residents of Windmill Farm, Inc. (ROWI) said, “I’m uncomfortable that it seems it doesn’t matter what the Windmill Farm residents want from the survey results. It is important not to substitute your judgment over what the 375 households want.” We are happy to have Brynwood, she added, but what should we get in terms of letting them in? “The community has spoken and if you follow your promise, hopefully you’ll be guided to amend the resolution.”

ROWI sent an e-mail to Windmill Club members on April 10 after the survey deadline. The e-mail said one of the real issues with the survey was that there was no mention of a buy-in or connection fee and “an assurance that the hardness of the District’s water will not be increased.” ROWI received almost 90 e-mails in direct response to their concerns. Bob Greene, Windmill resident representing ROWI, said the Water District users who supported Brynwood in the survey added that they wanted Brynwood to pay an additional $500,000 buy-in fee, as recommended by ROWI in the e-mail. “We’re happy to have them in, but we want them to pay a fee,” he said about Brynwood.

At Wednesday's meeting, Greene said ROWI felt assured that the Town Board would be driven to understand that the majority of Windmill Farm residents who attended the meetings had supported Brynwood to join the Water District with a buy-in fee. “What makes me concerned is that you seem to be comfortable with how you know Windmill feels,” he said. Furthermore, Greene said the survey was seriously flawed and if the Commissioners were using that to come to a vote, he asked them to reconsider. “We, ROWI, wanted to craft the survey and thought we were to be part of the process. I was stunned because the survey said. “Yes, No, and I don’t care.” It was silent on the buy-in and water hardness issues.” ROWI wanted to underwrite the cost of a new survey.

ROWI’s e-mail said Brynwood should pay the buy-in fee of $500,000 over a period of ten years. Greene said that the rationale of the buy-in fee is that the Water District is a valuable asset and that Brynwood’s payments have not been sufficient. “You have the fiduciary responsibility to Water District No. 2 as it’s our nickel,” he added. The Commissioners' survey had two critical points missing and those issues should be taken into consideration, Greene said. Sixty people e-mailed ROWI back. The ones who answered yes to the survey added that they agreed with ROWI’s suggestion of a $500,000 connection fee from Brynwood over a 10-year period.

Town Board member Barbara DiGiacinto said the issue of a buy-in fee was absent in reflecting on other developments during the past two years when a water district buy-in fee was not charged.

ROWI’s other issue was a concern over the potential hardness of water from a new bedrock well. Director of Water and Sewer Operations Sal Misiti said that water from the new well will always be blended with a source from one of the other district’s four sand and gravel wells.

Schiliro said the information from the expert hydrologist specialists is that the bedrock well would not necessarily worsen the hardness of the water if it were blended with the other sand and gravel wells in Windmill Farm. Based upon tests on the yields from the four current wells, and the further measurements of water hardness in the town’s other wells indicate that there was a chance of -11 degrees of hardness which would be undetectable, and therefore was not a concern.

A bedrock well, with a 200-feet casing, will be developed in Windmill Farm’s Water District, said Bill Canavan, North Castle’s hydrologist consultant. He predicted a new bedrock well in Windmill Farm will be comparable to the Town’s two wells on School Street. Well water was collected from there and then a table was calculated from the samples from the two Inwood Marble wells on School Street. They had a hardness of 210 to 250 parts per million. With the same formation of rock in Windmill Farm, there may a variability within 10 to 20 parts. Therefore, blending the water from a bedrock well with the sand and gravel wells -- approximately 25% of the pumping will come from the bedrock Inwood Marble well -- the hardness of the blended water may increase a small percentage. Canavan said the potential increase in hardness is comparable to a variable of one degree difference in temperature on a very cold winter’s day.

Stuart Kovensky, ROWI board member, said he wanted protection that the new water source will not be harder than what is currently supplied, “We don’t want the hardness of the water to increase.” He then asked, “Why are we exposing the district to the risk of an increased expense in water softeners?”  If the water from the new well increases in hardness, treat it. It’s not fair to put more risk on the district users; give them that protection. He added the Board’s fiduciary responsibility is to protect the people by testing the water for hardness; then there ought to be protection to prevent a problem with the water if there is a hardness issue. “If it’s such a small risk, treat it at the source,” he concluded.

Misiti said that it’s more economical for the residents to individually soften their water than it is for the district to soften the water from the source.

Tom Cusack, the hydrologist who represents Brynwood, said the new well water’s hardness is known since a significant number of the town’s wells have been tested. He added, after Water District No. 2 completed well number five in 2008, the yield of water from future sand and gravel wells were diminished, and therefore the recommendation of a bedrock well was made for the option of future wells at that location. Water hardness challenges are detected daily. They are influenced by the weather which affects the aquifer. Windmill’s water is hard and the hardness varies season-to-season. He said he expects the hardness in the water to be close to what there is now. If any nuisances in the water are found to be unacceptable, they would drill a new test well, said Cusack.

Canavan said statistically there will be insignificant changes with the new well as it relates to hardness and that nobody would be able to tell the difference because the hardness measurement is expected to be minimal. Water hardness deposits scales on drinking glasses and can also clog up a shower head. It’s a nuisance, but he said that there is no health danger at a low level. While developing a bedrock well, "you go straight to the source, sample the well and if the data are off the charts," they would relocate the well.

Town Board Member Jose Berra said the cooperative effort of everyone on the Brynwood application allowed for tremendous progress and for this project to be a better one. He said there are benefits of Brynwood joining the district with a reduction in costs for the water users.

Schiliro said ROWI’s suggested buy-in fee was a moving target from $1,000,000 to $500,000. “Do the residents know the deal may disappear if there is a buy-in fee?” Adding a buy-in fee of $500,000 presents a possibility to lose the entire gains of Brynwood as part of the Water District. The voices of the District users who have not spoken would not be happy because the economics were important to ease the financial burden and to save the district users a significant amount of money.

Greene said the residents of Windmill Farm would walk from the deal if there was no buy-in fee or regulation for the hardness of the water.
Schiliro said he hears all the time that “‘My taxes are too high.” The financial impact was calculated as a $7,150 total savings for individual property owners throughout the existing debt period. The Board of Water Commissioners decided to capitalize on the opportunity to reduce the tax payers’ individual yearly taxes when Brynwood joins the District, with a projected annual savings on the capital debt of about 18% per household.

ROWI Responds to Water Commissioners’ Brynwood Application Survey

March 20, 2016
The North Castle Town Board is preparing to decide whether or not to grant approval for Brynwood Golf & Country Club’s application to extend Windmill Farm Water District No. 2 (WD2) at the April 13 Town Board meeting. Last week, the Town Board sent out another informational survey and fact sheet to the 381 users of the district's water, asking them to check their preference for Brynwood to either 1) join WD2, 2) not to join WD2, or 3) be indifferent to the choice presented, and then to fill out the reason why they made their choice.

The Town Board approved Brynwood’s zoning in June 2015. That approval followed with multiple meetings to evaluate the petition by Brynwood to join the water district. Over the course of the last six months, reports and presentations informed the residents of WD2 of the demands on the water system, the financial benefits, and the impacts on water quality by extending the water district.

Allowing Brynwood into the WD2 will require the development of a new bedrock well or wells, and the supportive infrastructure to create an additional water source. Brynwood is to invest an estimated $1.3 million dollars to cover the upgrade costs.

The Residents of Windmill, Inc. (ROWI) have been watchdogs for the Byrnwood project. On Sunday, March 20, they sent an e-mail to the residents of Windmill identifying several issues in the Town Board’s most recent correspondence to the WD2 users. Included in ROWI’s e-mail is a letter they have written to the Town Board which reiterates some of the prior written and spoken concerns that ROWI wishes to clarify in order to evaluate the pros and cons of adding a new well system. In the past, these concerns have been brought to the attention of the Town Board, which acts as the Water District’s commissioners. ROWI assumes that the Town Board's position is positive to the following points:

• ROWI suggests that if the estimated cost of $1.3 million to Brynwood exceeds that amount, then Brynwood is to “pay 100% of all costs even if there are overruns;”

• The new well capacity is to yield four times the projected new water use, which is a minimum of 100 gallons per minute (GPM). ROWI would like to see this GPM quantity as an approval condition for Brywnood;

• ROWI says the water quality must not only meet the State and Federal standards, but must also meet the existing quality standards -- and that Brynwood should supplement any necessary treatment to do so; and

• ROWI wants to see the Brynwood Clubhouse’s use of water from WD2 count as 22 homes, and to allocate any capital expenses accordingly.

In addition, ROWI has written that a connection fee is to be paid by Brynwood. At the last public hearing, several ROWI member said an additional amount of $1 million over 10 years should be considered as a connection fee due to the substantial savings Brynwood would gain if they were to build and maintain their own water system. ROWI concluded that the WD2 survey responses may include comments about a connection fee and that these responses should be tallied separately.

Professional advisors have outlined the benefits of a new water source added to the current WD2 system. The addition of a new well gives the district the ability to rest the existing wells and will extend the life of all of the wells. In addition, rotating the wells will reduce the stress on the aquifers.

The Town Board has outlined the financial impacts of extending the WD2 to Brynwood, as follows:

• 18.2% annual savings on the capital debt per household (beginning in 2018), or approximately $300 per year;

• $7,150 total savings for individual property owners throughout the existing 30-year debt period; and

• $2,724,271 contribution from Brynwood over the life of current WD2 capital debt (money that Windmill Residents do not have to pay).


Planning Board Approves Brynwood’s Phase One to Reconstruct Golf Course

March 7, 2016
North Castle’s Planning Board unanimously adopted the findings from the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), concluding the environmental process for Brynwood’s golf course redevelopment.

By adopting the findings on March 7, the Planning Board has found that Brynwood may achieve “the balance between the benefits that would occur from the golf course project and minimize the adverse environmental impacts,” said Mark Weingarten, Brynwood’s lawyer.

Phase one of the golf club facility and the new golf course residential community is the re-construction the golf course. The Planning Board also approved the resolution for the site plan, wetland permit, steep slope permit and tree removal permit for the golf course. The resolution will be signed once Brynwood has satisfied all of the 26 conditions that were subject to the Planning Board’s approval.

The outstanding conditional items are mostly administrative details with some technical engineering practices for erosion control inspections, ground water sampling, site plan construction, and filing notices and fee payments. Many of the conditions must meet state regulations and codes, as well as satisfy the consulting town engineer.

During the construction, performance standards will be closely monitored and enforced to adhere to the many regulations for the environmental issues of this project.

One of the first steps of the plan will be to remove “702 town-regulated trees, of which 109 are noted as “significant.” Also, a “significant number of the trees proposed to be removed are in a state of decline.”

A surface-water and groundwater training program will be implemented which will require drawing water samples to monitor any potential toxins from the golf course. In the event that the results of toxins are found “significant,” Joe Cermele, Town Engineer, recommended (which was accepted by the Planning Board and Brynwood) for a minimum lapse of one year worth of sampling to occur prior to any reduction or elimination of future testing.

There will be a one hundred-foot buffer along the perimeter of the Brynwood property with the permitted exception of the golf course which will not contain any building structures within the buffer.

The night lights for the tennis courts will be regulated as the lights must not be seen from within 175 feet of Bedford Road/Route 22 or any of the surrounding homes.

The Planning Board accepted the “disturbances associated with the proposed pond dredging and 11 acres of town-regulated wetland buffer disturbance associated with the golf course improvements.”

Weingarten said they greatly appreciate the Planning Board’s help. They will now be in a time crunch to get this work done before next year’s golf season. “We will start as soon as we can to get this done to the satisfaction of your professionals,” he concluded.

There are other conditions issued in the resolution’s documentation. “Prior to the issuance of the residential building permit, the recordation of a conservation easement in favor of the Town over the golf course shall be completed to the satisfaction of the Town Attorney.” A conservation easement will permanently limit the future use of the golf course. This land will be limited to use as either a golf course or as private open space. This is “regardless of whether the affiliated residential community continues to exist.”

The applicant must also provide 10 percent of the fee simple market-rate units as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH). Byrnwood’s alternative plans for the residential component depend upon if the AFFH units are located onsite or offsite. The two plans for the number of market-rate units are either 66 or 73 units. Either plan requires that the AFFH units “meet the requirements of the settlement between Westchester County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

Additional public hearings will be held by the Planning Board for the building plans, the subdivision plans, and for the site plans other than the golf course, said Roland Baroni, Town Attorney.

Brynwood’s Petition to Join the Windmill Water District Moves Forward

February 19, 2016
North Castle’s Town Board reconvened the public hearing for Brynwood Golf and Country Club’s application to join North Castle’s Water District Number 2. The public hearing, held on February 10, was a continuation of the public hearing held on December 9, 2015.

Brynwood is currently served by Water District Number 2 as an out of water district user. They pay double the inside rate to compensate for the waiver of expenses paid toward the water district’s capital debt.

The water from the district provided to Brynwood could only be used for domestic consumption said Sal Misiti, Superintendent of the Town’s Water Districts. Brynwood’s plan for 73 units includes 55 2-bedroom units, seven 3-bedroom units and 11 4-bedroom units. In addition, there will be dorm-style housing for 11 seasonal employees and anywhere from five to twenty guest suites. The clubhouse is projected to have 300 to 400 members and a 150-seat restaurant and bar.

The irrigation system for the golf course and grounds will be from another on-site source: ponds and existing irrigation wells on Brynwood’s property, not from Water District Number 2.

Brynwood is prepared to dig new bedrock wells in the Windmill water district’s well field at the projected cost of $1.2 million. Currently there are four sand and gravel wells in the fields located at Windmill and Long Pond Roads. There are 11 wells throughout North Castle’s water districts.

The new well or wells is required to supply double the average daily demand of water. This is a minimum of 47.4 gallons per minute (GPM). The Town’s hydrologist consultant Bill Canavan recommended that Brynwood look for the maximum water source of at least 100 GPM, which is well in excess of the demand.

Brynwood will also replace the existing water line under Route 22 to extend to its property.

If Brynwood were permitted to join the Windmill Water District, the projected household savings for the existing 368 users, or approximately 1,200 people, would be $7,150 per year over the 30-year debt period, ending in 2044. This includes the capital costs of the recent $10 million bond for infrastructure replacement in the district. Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the total savings will be $2,724,271 in principle and interest, or an 18 percent savings to the district users.

During non-peak demand times, the district has an adequate supply to meet the demands of its customers, Misiti said. But at peak times, it’s challenging due to the higher water demand for the seasonal irrigation systems and swimming pools in the district. Therefore, a surplus of the new wells would benefit the district. Well Number 4 was built in 1976 and Misiti said he has just bid out the job for its rehabilitation. He is hopeful that the well, when rehabilitated, will increase its yield. Similarly, last year the yield from a well on School Street, in Water District Number 4, was brought back up after it was rehabilitated.

Misiti said the benefit of adding a new bedrock well in Windmill is that it would reduce the impact from the water source of the Mianus River. The rotation of the wells also reduces stress on any one aquifer, which is an underground layer of water bearing either rock or sediment.

Hydrologist Bill Canavan said that as Brynwood uses the water, the water is then transferred to waste, and discharged to the Byram River watershed rather than back to the Mianus River. This concerns Mianus River environmentalists. But with 47 to 51 inches of annual rainfall, Canavan projected that there are about eight inches of groundwater annually recharged into the bedrock aquifer; the retention in the sand and gravel aquifer is 21 inches. Therefore, the groundwater projected to be used is minimally at less than one percent of the source from the 34 square miles of the Mianus River watershed.

Earl Yaffa, a Windmill resident, asked that while digging into a second aquifer, how do we know if the water quality will be harder or taste differently from the existing water supply?

In order to receive a permit from the New York State Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Brynwood must prove the new wells provide sufficient capacity, that its water quality is acceptable, and that there is no interference or negative influence between the two aquifer sources of bedrock and sand and gravel.

The bedrock wells will be sampled for a host of parameters, said Canavan. A new well requires extensive tests which includes an in-depth analysis of the following: its hardness from iron and manganese compound; bacteria; volatile organic compounds; herbicides; pesticides; radon. The water quality results of the bedrock wells will then be compared to the quality of the water from the sand and gravel wells. A bedrock well water is typically harder than sand and gravel water, said Canavan. Therefore, the water sources can be blended, with approval from the health department, to be comparable to the quality of what it is there today.  

Jan Bernstein, president of the board of Residents of Windmill Incorporated (ROWI), presented a letter to the Town Board outlining their essential points to adopt Brynwood into the water district.

Brynwood’s water use in the past has been equal to an average of 22 Windmill homes, “upon joining the water district, Brynwood will begin paying a tax account equivalent to an average of 22 homes.”

Schiliro proposed a formula for the cost of Brynwood’s clubhouse water consumption be reviewed yearly and adjusted accordingly.

Bernstein added, “We believe Brynwood should pay a $1,000,000 connection fee payable over ten years.”

“It’s a reasonable request [for the Town Board] to go back to the developer and ask the question [regarding the connection fee] and let them answer you, because that is who they are beholden to,” said Windmill resident Alan Blum.

Developer Michael Fareri said it’s wrong to try to get more money out of the developer since they have already agreed to pay a lot of money to get the zoning change and to be connected to the water district.

Regardless of whether the Windmill Water District is extended or not, the community benefits from the zoning change that was granted to Brynwood. The agreement includes a payment from Brynwood of $1 million. This contribution consists of  $100,000 (which is projected to be one-third of the costs) toward the repair of the water district’s three windmills. Also included is up to $75,000 toward the repair of the Route 22 stone wall.  

Because some residents are concerned about the change in water quality, we would want the connection fee as a price of getting into the district, said Yaffa. “We’re not trying to hold them up and be unreasonable,” he said of the connection fee price tag.

Brynwood has dug and tested it own wells which they will use if the Windmill District is not extended.

Yaffa wants to know the estimated cost calculations to dig their own well water system. This  would help the Town Board, as water district commissioners, to determine if ROWI’s suggested amount of the connection fee is fiducially responsible.

Blum asked, “Why do they want to join Water District Number 2?” and “What does it cost to operate a separate water district?”

Yaffa asked for a special meeting between the water commissioners and Windmill Water District users to answer some of their additional questions.

Schiliro said the proper forum is a public hearing so the entire board is present to address the issues.

“What else is unresolved besides Blum’s questions?” asked Schiliro.

Yaffa said, “Personally I don’t have anything else.” But he said the commissioners are obligated to the water users, who are the residents, to have adequate information about the water quality, to review Misiti’s presentation, and to answer any further questions.

Mark Weingarten, Brynwood’s attorney, said the Town Board must follow the New York Town Law, Section 194, which provides the appropriate legal standard of review. The Town Board must determine whether all property owners are included in the extension area and are benefitted by the extension. Most importantly, he said, you must make a determination “whether the public interest is served by the granting of the petition.”

The Town Board closed the public hearing. They plan to send an updated fact sheet to the Windmill Water District users, as well as a survey to the residents, in order to make a decision on the application.   

Windmill Farm Water Wells
Brynwood’s Application to Expand Windmill Water District

January 13, 2016
The residential development of Brynwood Golf and Country Club petitioned to connect to the water supply of North Castle’s Water District No. 2 (WD No. 2) in Windmill Farm in September 2015.

In June 2015, Brynwood had received approval from North Castle’s Town Board for a zoning amendment of 73 residential units in a golf club community to be located at 168 Bedford Road, Armonk. They proposed to build 55 two-bedroom units; seven three-bedroom units; 11 four-bedroom units, as well as dorm-style housing for 12 seasonal employees and a clubhouse for 300-to-400 club members to include seating for 150 in a restaurant and bar.

At the Town Board meeting on December 9, 2015, an application for Brynwood to join the WD No. 2 was opened for a public hearing.

If approved, Brynwood's residential component would require the WD No. 2 to build a new well, or wells, that would be necessary to extend the additional water requirements for Brynwood's 73 units if they are to join the district. WD No. 2 consists of 827 acres of land, including the 70-acre well field. The extension area of Brynwood Country Club would add another 156 acres.  

At the public hearing, Windmill Farm residents spoke about their concerns, including the district’s water quality from the expansion of the one or two new wells that would be necessary additions to the existing well fields off Long Pond Road. Brynwood Country Club and Coman Hill Elementary School are currently out-of-district users of WD No. 2 and have separate agreements with the district.

If the 73 Brynwood residents are not supplied by the WD No. 2, Sal Misiti, director of the North Castle Sewer and Water Department, said that the district would most likely need a new well anyway because of the age and the condition of some of the existing wells.

He said that four of the five working wells that service WD No. 2 cannot be operated simultaneously and that well No. 4 is not functioning properly.  He said that he intends to investigate the status of that well over the winter.

The cost to dig, treat, and connect a new well is estimated to be more than $1.1 million. If Brynwood is granted permission to join the district, they will pay for the new well or wells, and will be responsible for all additional costs to upgrade WD No. 2 in order to serve the Brynwood development.  

Brynwood said that they have sufficient and viable water capacity for their own water system on their 156 acres if the petition is not approved by the town board which acts as commissioners of North Castle’s water districts. The town board will determine whether or not the district should be expanded to allow Brynwood's residential component as a user in WD No. 2.  They should know if a new well is needed even if the district is not extended to Brynwood.

The 381 WD No. 2 users of Windmill Farm will receive a survey about Brynwood's petition to join the district since the financial impacts are relevant to only the taxpayers of WD No. 2, said Supervisor Michael Schiliro. After receiving the survey results, the town board should be in a position to make a decision on the petition at a future reconvened public hearing in 2016. Schiliro continued, "The survey will provide the tools to help make a decision upon the application.”

Several Windmill residents commented about Brynwood’s fair share of the appropriate cost to expand the district. Resident Linda Sage said that if Brynwood can dig its owns wells, then obviously it is saving money by using Windmill’s Water District and “we should have some benefit.”

Resident Earl Yaffa discussed the period of time from 2008 to 2014, when Brynwood, as an out-of-district water user paid $166,000 which is double the cost of  water compared to the in-district water users’ costs. Yaffa referred back to this time when the district’s water tank was repaired and “according to Misiti’s numbers,” Yaffa said, the capital cost were about $2.4 million in interest and principal for a 15-year bond. The water tank and the repairs should last at least 40 to 50 years.

Yaffa added, “Brynwood ought to pay for a portion of the capital improvements that we made” rather than take advantage of the district users' costs from the prior years. Yaffa also said, his calculations indicated for the period of time from 2008 to 2014 that Brynwood should have been paying us in the neighborhood of $455,000, instead of the $166,000 that they paid.” And therefore, "Brynwood’s portion of the capital improvements that were made," he concluded, “should be another $318,000.”

As Brynwood receives the long-term benefits that have been paid by the district’s taxpayers, Yaffa said, "that amount is appropriate because we decided to write the bond with the expenditures of the principal and interest over 15 years. Yaffa then said, "Brynwood will get the benefit of that long term where we paid for half of it already.” He concluded that when Brynwood is fully built, perhaps in 2017, and if approved, it will use about 20 percent of the district’s water capacity.

As part of that process, GHD Consulting Engineers has been retained by Brynwood to perform a hydraulic analysis of the district’s piping infrastructure, water supply and storage, as well as the capacity to provide adequate water supply for Brynwood. The irrigation requirements for Brynwood’s golf course are excluded in the need for the WD No. 2 water since the golf course will be supplied by on-site irrigation ponds.
Mark Weingarten, Brynwood's lawyer, said that the town board must first give the applicant an indication if it intends to permit WD No. 2 to extend to Brynwood. If the direction of the board is positive, then Weingarten said that Brynwood would set conditions to investigate what is involved to extend the water source by testing the availability of the water at the gravel pit where the district's wells are located. Weingarten concluded that he wanted some direction from the board before the test is run because it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As part of the discussion, it was noted that the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) requires that the capacity of water supply must be equal or exceed the peak of the water demand. The Town of North Castle Water District No. 2 Well Field Assessment was prepared in December 2015 by Leggette, Brashears & Graham, which provide professional groundwater and environmental engineering services. This report is on the agenda to be received at the town board’s January 13, 2016 meeting.

The NYSDOH further requires that proposed developments calculate the water demand be twice the estimated average water usage. The report notes that the 2014 design standards for the average water demand of the Brynwood project is 34,154 gallons per day (GPD). Therefore, the water supply necessary for the development would be 68,308 GPD or a minimum yield of 47.4 gallons per minute (GPM).

Serving approximately 1,200 people to 368 customers, WD No. 2 is served by four working sand and gravel wells. The combination of the existing and functional well system yields 290 GPM. This amount is almost equal to the 295 GPM peak demand for the usage of the entire WD No. 2 including Brynwood Club which was calculated in 2012. (The 2012 calculations were used for the best representation of the WD No. 2 water usage because of the most recent breakage of the underground water pipes and connections. The infrastructure has been recently replaced for $10 million cost to the water district’s taxpayers.)

A combined water supply yield of 290 GPM from the current wells and the addition of Brynwood’s projected use of 47.4 GPM would be the minimal GPM requirement if the Brynwood project were permitted to join the district. The report states that the proposed yield of a newly drilled well should provide 90 GPM. To accommodate the required new yield, it’s anticipated that one or two bedrock wells should be built. This task also requires upgrades -- at Brynwood’s cost -- to the existing pump house, construction of an underground chlorine contact tank for water treatment, and the replacement of the underground water main crossing beneath Route 22 in order to continue to serve Brynwood Golf and Country Club and the Coman Hill Elementary School.

Brynwood’s hydrogeologist says the aquifers along Mianus River provide sufficient water supply to develop a high-yielding well. The water quality of bedrock aquifers is generally good, said the environmental report. “The water typically requires no treatment with the exception of chlorination.”

However, if it were to be determined that there were issues with the water quality, “water filtration and UV disinfection would be required.” Furthermore, the report stated that rotating new bedrock wells with the existing sand and gravel wells “would reduce the stress on any one aquifer from pumping withdrawals.”

Will Windmill Farm's Water District Expand to Supply Water for Brynwood Golf Community?

Updated September 17, 2015
Brynwood Partners have moved forward on their proposal to build on the 156 acres of the Brynwood Golf & Country Club at 568 Bedford Road, Armonk. Mark Weingarten, the lawyer for Brynwood Partners stood in front of North Castle's Town Board at its September 9 meeting to submit a petition to extend North Castle’s Water District No. 2.

In June 2015, North Castle's Town Board granted Brynwood Partner’s request to change Brynwood’s zoning to permit the development of a residential golf course community of 73 residences. Brynwood will submit a site plan and begin to review their plans with the Planning Board shortly.

The option to expand North Castle’s Water District No. 2 to include the 156-acre parcel is now under consideration by the Town Board, who are the commissioners of North Castle’s Water Districts. It is in the Town Board’s jurisdiction to decide if the expansion of the water district would be in the best interest of the district users. Water Distirct No. 2 is also known as the Windmill Farm's Water District which is undergoing a nearly completed $10 million underground water main installation.

Brynwood Country Club is currently an out-of-district user of Water District No 2. If the Town Board were not in favor of expanding the water use to the Brynwood residential community, “we will provide the water on our own,” said Weingarten. But if approved, Brynwood’s use of the additional water provided by Water District No. 2 would be limited for only residential use of the golf course community.  

The demands of the irrigation system for the golf course will continue to be drawn from an existing pond that provides surface groundwater, with existing Brynwood wells as a backup source.

If the water district expansion is approved, Brynwood Partners would provide the finances to improve the facilities of Water District No. 2, including the development of “one or two more wells, and other upgrades and improvements at an estimated cost of $1.1 million,” said Weingarten.

Environmental impacts and economic analyses will guide the decision of whether the benefits outweigh any downside of expanding the district. Stacey Stieber, an hydrogeologist consultant hired by Brynwood, discussed the feasibility of an additional water supply in Water District No. 2. She said there is potential room for two more potential wells to supply additional water. The district has five wells, with only four functioning. There is sufficient water supply for potentially two more bedrock wells that would be drilled in the excess depth of several hundred feet. In the assessment, she said, we determined that one bedrock well is sufficient, but two wells are optional if the supply were to come up short. Reviewing the existing wells, the aquifers and the Mianus River, conditions are suitable for the development of the additional wells in the well field.

The water demand of the residential component of the Brynwood community is projected to be 24,500 gallons per day. The variations of the data for the current water supply to the Brynwood Country Club are an additional 5,000 to 15,000 gallons per day. The yield from the geology bedrock wells is estimated to be 50,000 to 150,000 gallons per minute. Stieber said this is far in excess of the 24,500 gallons estimated, which only requires about 18 gallons per minute.

Bob Greer, a longtime Windmill resident, asked the Town Board to carefully review the economic impacts of expanding the district, as well as its effect on the reduction of the $10 million bond that was floated for the new infrastructure. This year, Windmill Farm's district users began payments on the bond. If Brynwood were to join the district, it is estimated that they would use about 20% of the district’s water supply. Therefore, they would contribute to the capital cost, which could conceivably lower everyone’s bond costs by about 10 to 20%, said Supervisor Michael Schiliro. This is equal to about $200 to $400 per year, per household.

Windmill Farm residents would be affected by the water district’s expansion. And, therefore, Schiliro said, the Town Board will most likely hold a special meeting prior to a public hearing with all the professionals in attendance to discuss this plan with the residents, to be sure that all of their questions are answered.

The Board will then work with Sal Misiti, North Castle's Director of Water & Sewer Operations, to survey District No. 2’s 372 connections for input and feedback, the results of which will assist the Board in making a decision regarding the Brynwood request.

Applicant Eliminates Condo Tax Benefits of Proposed Zone Change for Brynwood

June 10, 2015
Brynwood Partners have petitioned to the North Castle Town Board to amend the town zoning ordinance to add a Golf Course Community to a new floating overlay district for the Brynwood Golf and Country Club. Brynwood, who purchased the 156-acre property in 2009, revised their application to reduce the density to build no more than 73 fee simple residences on 17 acres with indoor parking. This number is down from the original 243 units proposed years ago, which was reduced to 88 units, then reduced to 80 units in an earlier presented proposal.

The impacts of the added density of 73 units, as opposed to the permitted zoning for 49 homes, have been the big issue, from the beginning, for the application on the two-acre zoned property.

Mark Weingarten, the attorney who represented Brynwood at the public hearing at the Town Board’s May 27 meeting, said they are at their final and best offer. "We are out of alternatives as the golf course community needs the revenue source of the residences to make this work.”

The 73 homes will be a mixture of apartment buildings with 56 two-bedrooms, seven three-bedrooms, and ten four-bedroom golf cottages. The latest plan presents all of these units to be taxed as fee simple, just as any other home in North Castle.

In addition, the new clubhouse will include up to 20 lodging rooms/suites, without kitchens, to be used as temporary places for club members and guests, management and employees to stay.

The conversion of the tax structure from condominiums to fee simple ownership has made the project more appealing to many residents who were concerned about the Brynwood homes not being age restricted, although Brynwood says they plan to market the units to 55-year-olds and older. However, without the age restriction, many interested buyers could be families with children. The change in the application from condos to fee simple taxed homes has been permitted by the Attorney General’s office, which oversees all condominium proposals in New York State.

“It was a big thing that we discovered,” said Edward Baquero, one of the Brynwood Partners. “Everybody really wanted us to be treated as fee simple and now we figured it out.”
Twenty-three-year Windmill resident Eric Reichelson is a real estate developer who has a master’s degree in urban planning, and is a licensed broker. Reichelson said that he found it preposterous that the Town is willing to throw aside the Comprehensive Plan because of the profitability of this venture. He added, this not our concern. Reichelson said that the applicant is asking for almost double the increase of the density that’s allowed, saying that the Town is supposed to uphold the zoning and master plan of the community. “It’s not just the homes. It’s the support of the facilities,” he said. “And the fact that we are seriously considering this is alarming to me. I don’t understand the rationale of considering an increase in the density.”

In addition, Brynwood offers two alternatives for the 10% affordable housing that is a required component of the project. If they can’t find a location for the affordable units off site, Weingarten said that 66 fee simple units, at market rate, will be built onsite, with the addition of the seven affordable apartments that will also be built on the property.

The other alternative they will agree to is if they find a place for the affordable housing off site, they will put the seven units off site and build 73 fee simple market units at Brynwood.

Any change in the Brynwood zoning requires a change to North Castle's Comprehensive Plan. The proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan are to include Brynwoods’ residences and the preservation of the open space of the golf course.

The Residents of Windmill Inc. (ROWI) have been vocal opponents of certain aspects of Brynwood’s proposal over the years. Because of ROWI’s concern of the conservation easement and their persistence of this point, the preservation of the open space will be carefully reviewed by Town Attorney Roland Baroni, with the assistance of Westchester Land Trust. The agreement is that the golf course will remain as open space in perpetuity. There was insufficient language to keep the space as open space in perpetuity if the golf course failed.

“The bottom line is, [the property] will be a golf course or it will be open space, and will never be built upon,” said Weingarten.

Brynwood’s extensive Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) revealed the community’s concerns, which forced the many changes to the project. "As the density was reduced, the seven villa buildings closest to Route 22 were eliminated to minimize the visual impacts from the Windmill neighborhood," said Weingarten. The internal roads of the project have been moved back from Route 22 as well, and there has been a reduction of nearly 500 linear feet of interior roads. The residential building setback is now restricted to 100 feet of the entire property line, and that provides a 100-foot buffer around the entire 156 acres.

If the zoning for the proposed community is approved by the Town Board, Brynwood has the option to generate its own water supply or to remain as a user of  Windmill Water District No. 2. Brynwood offered to pay $1,000,050 to the water district to go toward improvements of the district for a new well and water tower. Brynwood is currently an out-of-district user, as is Coman Hill Elementary School.

The Town Board, as commissioners of all North Castle’s Water Districts, must decide if Brynwood, with its increased density, will be permitted to remain a user in the district.

Windmill Farm is currently undergoing a $10 million underground infrastructure to replace the pipes for the water system of the 364 homes in the water district. The Town Board intends to thoroughly discuss this option in public with the Windmill Water District users, who will ultimately decide if the Brynwood community of 73 homes and the clubhouse will remain as an out-of-district user in Windmill’s water district.

As an alternative, Weingarten said Brynwood is capable to develop and maintain its own wells for their onsite water use.

Brynwood also has its own sewage treatment system that they will continue to maintain.

Brynwood offers the following amount of money as part of an approval with the density of the 73 units. The $1 million they will give to Water District No. 2 is above the following other contributions that depend upon approval and job bids.  
• $860,000 for general contributions throughout the community;
• $100,000 for three windmill repairs in Windmill Farm;
• $75,000 contribution to repair the Windmill wall that is owned by the property owners along Route 22; and
• $15,000 contribution to the Friends of the Miller House/Washington's Headquarters to help restore the Revolutionary era home in North White Plains.

Reichelson said it was inappropriate for the applicant to give money to individual homeowners to fix the wall, and the three windmills that are owned by Water District No. 2.

In addition to those contributions, there is a question of a tax certiorari that challenges the property tax assessment of Brynwood. Weingarten said that the certiorari amount is worth approximately $750,000. Brynwood has put this on hold and would forfeit the claims, which may result in tax refunds on the property, as part of the approval of the project.
After the zoning amendments are in place, there will then be a special use permit process that this applicant must go through.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro opened the June 3 special meeting to reconvene the public hearing. Further amendments of North Castle’s zoning ordinance were fine tuned and the wording of the amendments will continue to be reviewed. That will include the definition of a club membership, a new definition of a golf course community, an amended new section of Golf Course Community Floating Overlay District for the Brynwood property, and the consideration of special permits for the membership club. At the June 10 Town Board meeting, the Board will consider to amend the definition of membership clubs that is currently in the Town's existing code.

It is in Town Board’s purview to determine if this change in zoning is good for the community. "This [project] has to work for the community," said Schiliro. And he said it must also work for the developer based upon their business model and financial risk analysis.

Weingarten said that the economics of 73 fee simple units works for Brynwood.

If this doesn’t work for the developer, Schiliro said he would be concerned about what happens with the Brynwood property. One of the options is for Brynwood to sell the property which could then be developed as 49 homes on the entire 156 acres with no golf course or open space.

If the Town Board approves the zoning amendment and alters the Town Comprehensive Plan, there will then be a lengthy site plan process that will go before North Castle’s Planning Board.

At the June 10 Town Board meeting, the Board plans to review the findings of the FEIS document from the Planning Board which will say if North Castle has complied with New York State law and has done everything that was necessary, says Frank Fisher, who is a town consultant on the Byrnwood project.

That should end the FEIS process. Then the Town will consider the resolution to amend the Comprehensive Plan, and consider the adoption of the local law using the revised zoning text amendments.

Brynwood Application Moves to Next Hurdle  

May 6, 2015
At North Castle’s April 22 Town Board meeting, Brynwood Partner’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was accepted as was recommended by the Town’s planning and engineering consultants. The FEIS document answers questions from residents and the Town Board about the environmental impacts of the proposed plan to build a golf-course community on Route 22.

Modifications to the project are a result of past public comments. Brynwood’s most recent proposal is a 70 two-bedroom, age-targeted, luxury condominium development, and 10 fee-simple golf cottages, similar to single-family homes, on 14 acres of the existing 150-acre Brynwood Golf and Country Club property.

“We feel the changes made in the FEIS were adequate," said Fish, the Town’s consultant planner with BFJ Planning. Brynwood's most recent changes--the reduction of density from 88 units to 80, the commitment to pay a higher yearly tax rate, and to provide a permanent conservation easement--are adequate, said Fish.

A notice of completion of the FEIS is to be filed with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). This step officially completes the FEIS document process, allowing the NYSDEC to make comments within the next 30 days. Then the Town Board may act on the findings.

On May 27, the Town Board will reconvene Byrnwood’s public hearing from July 2013. At that time, the Board will consider comments about the FEIS from the NYSDEC as well as the public.

Brynwood's April 24 email stated that the May 27 reconvened public hearing will continue the "process for the amendments to the Town Zoning Ordinance needed to accommodate the project.”

The Town Board will consider the application for a new zoning text amendment that would allow Brynwood's current single-family zoning to become a Golf Course Community Floating Overlay district. At its upcoming June 10 meeting, the Board plans to consider adopting the finding statement, based on the May 27 meeting. They will then make a decision on the application for the floating zone text amendments. Following that, another public hearing will be held on June 24 to consider the new zoning district.

New York law doesn't allow zoning to control the type of ownership; that is up to the property owner, said Fish. “The Town has the legal authority to regulate the uses of land through zoning regulation, but no municipality has the authority under state law to impose the form of ownership of land,” according to the FIES.

Fish said the owners of Brynwood "feel the condo marketplace is better to sell this type of golf unit."

An April 30 email sent out by Residents of Windmill, Inc. (ROWI) said that the group is concerned about four issues of Brynwood’s latest proposal. Their concerns are about the project’s density, a fair-share payment of the increased water usage from Windmill Farm's Water District #2, the lower tax treatment for the proposed condos, and the proposed conservation easement of the golf course.

ROWI says Brynwood's proposed tax treatment for condominiums is ambiguous. Fish said one of the biggest issues discussed in the FEIS was taxes.

The tax concerns of Brynwood's proposal are due to their plan to build condos rather than fee-simple townhomes, or as the current zoning allows, 49 single-family homes. Under New York State law, condominium owners pay about half as much taxes as townhomes or stand-alone homeowners.  

Fish said that there is a commitment in the applicant's FEIS that stipulates that the Brynwood Club will pay the difference between the assessed taxes of a fee-simple tax rate versus the tax assessment of condominiums. The difference proposed to be paid by the Club every year will be nearly $1 million.

When there are enough homes to make up the condominium association, its governing document will state that the Club will continue to pay the tax difference. All of “the homes are anticipated to generate approximately $2,598,230 in yearly taxes, plus approximately an additional $360,000 of annual property taxes for the Club,” said the FEIS.

As far as Fish sees, there is no loophole in the tax payment options. He said the Town's attorney will carefully review all the documents.

Another issue in the FEIS is the conservation easement. The document states, “A conservation easement in favor of the Town will permanently limit the future use of the golf course to either a golf course or as private open space, regardless of whether the affiliated residential community continues to exist.”

But ROWI countered, "The developer has failed to deliver an appropriate conservation easement which would make it impossible to build additional condos on the remainder of the property in the future, in the event the Town Board allows them to build more than 49 units on a portion of the property."

ROWI's email also said that the density is beyond the supposed 49 single-family homes permitted on the entire 150 acres.

An email from Brynwood dated April 24 said, "The preservation of over 150 acres of open space occupied by the golf course, with a conservation easement, will ensure that this open space is protected from future development."

Roland Baroni, North Castle Town Attorney, said the property owner remains responsible for the open space. The idea of the conservation easement is if the property were not to be a golf course, it would remain as open space in perpetuity. If the Town were to grant the easement, they have the right of inspection. Baroni concluded, “The Town has the power to enforce any violations that are imposed by the easement.”

“If adequate water supply is proven, and if Water District No. 2 (WD2) is fairly compensated,” ROWI says they would “welcome the addition of Brynwood, as long as it benefits current district customers, and views this as a substantial opportunity to benefit both the Brynwood developers and the current water district customers."

Furthermore, ROWI says its "interpretation of the current proposal is that Brynwood will pay for the cost to install an additional well(s) and any additional piping to serve the residential portion of the Brynwood project (and Coman Hill School).

"However, Brynwood has not agreed to pay a connection fee to compensate the existing district customers for a portion of the past capital expenditures, which is customary when a large new user joins an established district.

“It would be appropriate for Brynwood to pay a substantial connection fee to contribute a fair share of several major capital improvements completed in the recent past including a new water storage tank, upgraded pumps and new, modernized electronic control systems, as well as a portion of the current pipes project.

“Brynwood has a strong economic incentive to join WD2," concludes ROWI. "The annual operating costs associated with its own water district would likely cost Brynwood residents substantially more than if they were to become part of WD2.”

If Brynwood were to maintain its use of the Windmill Water District, this would require a public hearing. But Brynwood says, if necessary, they are prepared to provide their own water source.

The modified project has two alternatives for the required AFFH (Affordable Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) rental and/or for-sale units. If seven AFFH will be constructed on site, the total units are 80. If the alternative of eight AFFH units will be acquired or constructed off-site on an approved existing site or not yet constructed site, the total will be 88 units.

The applicant’s decision about which alternative they will pursue will be part of the application for the site plan approval.

The project still has many steps in the approval process. The property has operated as a membership club since 1964. The amendments to the special-use membership club, which have applied since 1964, will require a public hearing.

Further review in the application process includes the zoning issues and the site-plan review by the Planning Board. These applications will also require public hearings, giving the public further opportunity to be heard.

Brynwood’s New Housing Proposal Changes Tax Structure and Reduces Density 10%

November 10, 2014
Brynwood Partners presented two alternative modifications for residences at the Brynwood Golf & Country Club on Route 22 in Armonk. Mark Weingarten, the lawyer for Brynwood Partners, presented an overview of the proposed changes at North Castle’s Town Board meeting on November 5.

The latest development is “our last attempt to try to make this work with another 10% reduction for a total of 80 units on the property,” says Weingarten. One plan calls for 63 market rate condominiums and 10 fee simple golf cottages (taxed as homes), plus seven affordable units, all located onsite.

If Brynwood can find an off-site location for the affordable units, they propose to build 80 units onsite; 75 condos and five golf villas, and put the eight affordable units offsite. The proposed affordable housing would qualify for Westchester County’s federal settlement of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).

The only available location at this time for Brynwood’s affordable housing would be if it were part of the approved, but yet to be built, 14 units intended for rent at Developer Michael Fareri’s former lumberyard property in downtown Armonk.

To minimize the visual impact from Route 22, Brynwood’s new plan has the five golf cottages set back off Route 22 and lowered in height for less of a visual impact. All of the residences are proposed to be at least 100 feet from Brywood’s property lines, once again to minimize the neighbor impact.

The new proposed tax structure is the most significant change in the project. Weingarten says the five private golf villas would be taxed as fee simple dwellings just as all other single private family homes are in North Castle. The multi-family structure condominiums would receive real estate tax bills from the town as condominiums under New York State tax law. But the condo owners would pay an additional mitigation payment equal to the difference between fee simple taxes and the condo taxes. That payment will be part of the homeowners association (HOA) charges. Then the HOA will remit the difference in tax payments to North Castle. Weingarten says this would be presented legally as a collective benefits agreement that would eliminate the tax benefit of a home owners’ lower condominium tax. That would be equal to the tax payment if they owned a single home in accordance with an analysis of the tax assessor.

Further procedural review of the project was outlined by Town Attorney Roland Baroni. Baroni says he anticipates the applicant will post its escrow in two weeks. Then Brynwood will ask the Town Board to refer the Preliminary Final Environment Impact Statement (FEIS) for review to see if the document adequately answers the questions that were posed during the public hearing held on the draft environmental statement. Baroni expects that by the beginning of the year, the town consultants will report back either that the document is adequate or they will suggest revisions. The Public Hearing will then be reopened on the Special Use Permit, to review the new language that is being considered to change the zoning code. In addition, a review of the amendment to the town’s Comprehensive Plan is required in order to adopt the new language into the zoning code for the golf residences of Brynwood.

The Town Board will consider an environment review that will include the impacts of Byrnwood joining the Windmill Farm Water District, and the density count associated with the project and how that is to be mitigated. Then the Town Board will consider the option of amending the Comprehensive Plan, and amendments of the zoning code for the golf course community. And then an application is made to the Planning Board for a site plan review.

“With three new Town Board members, I think it’s important to have this discussion,” says Town Board member Barbara DiGiacinto. “We all have a lot to learn and we look forward to examining this carefully.”

Supervisor Michael Schiliro says, “It’s time for Brynwood to come back with a proposal for the changes they have made based upon the input from the community. The real improvement is the condo taxation piece. It’s something they had an issue with and now, with the new proposal, they are keeping the condos and levying the taxes to balance it out so condo owners pay the same taxes that everyone else pays. The cottages are now fee simple. It’s encouraging that they are willing to come back, that’s progress. The board has work to do.”

Brynwood’s last application, which was submitted a year ago, proposed 88 condominium units to be located along Route 22, surrounding the existing country club. That plan was gradually reduced from the 243 units it proposed in 2011. At that time, the plan was strongly opposed by many community members.

Earl Yaffa, a Windmill resident who spoke for Residents of Windmill Inc. (ROWI) says, “The fact that ROWI and some of its board members have been quiet should not be interpreted to mean that ROWI doesn’t have some serious concerns about the process as the application goes forward.”

Weingarten says, “The applicant intends to apply to join Windmill Farms Water District #2. Brynwood proposes to offer over $1 million toward the improvements to the water district.”

Bob Greer, a 44-year Windmill resident, says the projected $1 million offer by Brynwood would reduce the Windmill Water District’s user fees by approximately 20% for up to 30 years.

But if Brynwood were required to supply water from their own property, they are capable of doing so. If the project were approved, the decision of where Brynwood’s water supply would come from would be determined by the Town Board, whose members are the water commissioners for all five of North Castle’s water districts.

Weingarten says Brynwood needs to create a better golf club since the club is unsustainable in its current form. “We need the housing and a first class golf course to sustain Brynwood.” If they get an approval from the Town Board, Weingarten says they are ready and able to build immediately.

“A conservation easement in favor of the town will be created to permanentely limit the sites future uses exclusively to a golf course or open space and nothing else,” added Weingarten.

Since Brynwood Partners purchased the 150 acres of the Canyon Club property in 2009, they have poured millions of dollars to turn the club around. With its peak membership at 400, half are North Castle residents.

Mark DeVincenzo, an Armonk resident since 1998 and a Brynwood Club member asks, “What will happen if the residences at Brynwood Golf and Country Club are not built?”

“The only alternative is to close the club and lose our membership,” says Weingarten. “We would then be constrained to go forward with the development, in line with current zoning, of single family homes with no golf club.”

“We want to be part of the Armonk Renaissance. We see the new restaurants. We see Armonk Square. We know Armonk is the talk of Westchester County. We can’t imagine why you shouldn’t also have the leading edge of the most beautiful luxury golf course community,” closed Weingarten.

Bob Greer says, “Hopefully, the Town and Brynwood can agree on a proposal, but let’s do it in the spirit of compromise, civility and with common sense.”

Brynwood Development  -  Two Windmill Groups, Two Points of View
By Nomi Schwartz

December 22, 2013
Soon after the December 18 letter from the Windmill Water & Wall Committee (WWWC) arrived, a response from Residents of Windmill, Inc. (ROWI) president Jan Bernstein was emailed to Windmill residents. ROWI members expressed disappointment that the WWWC continues to promote the Brynwood development proposal as is. “We were hopeful,” Bernstein wrote, “that we would stop the barrage of PR materials relating to Brynwood and let the newly elected Town Board begin the process of deciding what is the best development plan for the Brynwood property.”

She reiterated that while the WWWC objects to being labeled a “Brynwood mouthpiece,” their mailing echoes Brynwood’s own promotional materials and that WWWC inexplicably “puts so much trust in Brynwood when developers so often fail to deliver promised benefits.”

“While they are entitled to their views concerning what is best for Windmill, we think that supporting 88 condos is very shortsighted. The current proposal is one-sided and clearly to Brynwood's advantage, as the owners stand to make a huge profit on condo sales while leaving the community with a 50% tax break and a too-dense residential development that is way out of scale, is contrary to the character of our community, and is in violation of our zoning laws and Town Master Plan. As long as the condominium proposal remains on the table, as a negotiating strategy Brynwood will not consider alternatives such as a reasonable number of town houses and real open space.”

The ROWI president pointed out that although Brynwood may threaten to build a 49-unit subdivision if blocked from building 88 condos, they cannot do so without the Town's approval,  “There are a myriad of environmental, drainage, water and steep slope issues that will need to be resolved, along with the costs involved in building out the infrastructure.”

Bernstein also requested that Brynwood and the WWWC entertain other alternatives besides 88 condominiums and 49 single family houses. “Some of these alternatives might maintain the golf course; others might provide real open space to the benefit of the entire town and include running, biking, walking and cross country skiing trails. All involve different levels of profit for the developer, and we believe there are alternative development plans that will likely provide benefits to Brynwood that exceed the value of building 49 homes. Such alternative plans will likely be better for Windmill and for North Castle in general.”

She noted that economics are not the only factor, “We live in a community that has a special character too; that's why we all moved here. Eighty-eight condominiums in this part of Town will change the nature of where we live. The Town's Master Plan, developed only 10 years ago, recognized that this part of town was not appropriate for multi-home development. Each year, we all spend well more than $400* to maintain our properties and we should not risk such a basic change to our community, simply to gain this benefit. * WWWC has estimated (but without presenting supporting documentation) that Windmill residents will save $400 annually if Brynwood contributes to our water project. However, the ROWI Water Committee's estimate is considerably less than that.”

The letter also pointed to the recent election of a new Town Supervisor and Town Board members who have voiced opposition to the existing Brynwood proposal, “Even if the individuals who have formed WWWC personally believe that Brynwood's condominium proposal is best (an opinion we obviously disagree with), we suggest that they let the new Town Board conduct the negotiations. We think a more positive outcome is likely to occur once Brynwood recognizes that neither the ROWI Board, nor the Town Board, will support condominiums.”

Bernstein also expressed regret that the founders of the WWWC have so far declined opportunities to attend ROWI or other Windmill resident meetings.

In response, WWWC members have argued that allowing Brynwood to build the 88 condos requested will bring many advantages to the Windmill community and to the town. But ROWI members have maintained  that promises from developers may never materialize and point to the anticipated (high) prices of the Cider Mill units and the reality of lower actual prices today. ROWI secretary Peter Coviello, in an email to individual WWWC and ROWI representatives, wrote that contractual arrangements between the developers and the Town cannot always protect residents,  “I am not aware of a proposed contract with the Town that requires Brynwood to put $20+ million into the course and clubhouse or requires white glove service for residents and high annual fees…”Google the phrase “failed golf development.”

But in response, members of WWWC, Chuck Lohrfink and Dan Zenkel, both pointed to the possibility of another developer building 49 large homes if Brynwood bails on the project due to opposition.

Representatives from both groups expressed their commitment to working together to fashion solutions and to arranging meetings together, and with Brynwood owners,  in the near future.

Windmill Residents Surveyed on Brynwood Options

December 19, 2013
Some Windmill residents received a second survey from the Windmill Water & Wall Committee (WWWC). WWWC is a new group formed by some Windmill residents whose expressed goal is to gather the facts and present all sides of the Brynwood issue with an independent and neutral point of view.

The WWWC survey options are as follows:
• I support the Brynwood condominium plan as outlined in [the enclosed] letter,
• I oppose the Brynwood condominium plan as outlined in this letter,
• I am undecided about the Brynwood condominium plan outlined in this letter and need more information to make a decision,
• I would like to join the Windmill Water & Wall Committee.

The December 16th letter accompanying the survey states that 80 percent of first respondents support Brynwood's proposed plan for 88 condo units. Although the letter does not indicate the number of initial responses, the group is growing in number with additional names added to the signed letter. The letter from the WWWC outlines Brynwood's plans to build 88 condominium units on 14 acres of the 154 acres of the Golf and Country Club versus the alternative of building 49 individual homes.

According to the letter, Brynwood has agreed to contribute over $5.5 million toward Windmill Farm and North Castle town amenities. The letter compares the estimated revenues and savings of 88 condos versus 49 single homes. The dollar amounts listed below are estimated payments that Brynwood would agree to pay if 88 condos were approved versus nothing that would be paid if 49 homes are built.

If Brynwood were to develop 88 condos, they propose to pay the following:
• $1 million contribution to rebuild Windmill's water system, plus a $1 million upgrade to that system.  
• Windmill wall repair and wall maintenance, estimated to be $75,000.
• $250,000 investment in a town bike path or other recreational improvements for North Castle residents.
• Forgiveness by Brynwood of a $650,000 tax refund due from the Town.
• Construction of a right-hand turn lane out of the high school, at the estimated cost of $150,000.
• Brynwood's Guarantee of $250,000 per year of additional taxes from the Clubhouse for 10 years.

The letter also indicates that each Windmill Water District #2 household would save $461 per year. Multiplied by 375 households, a savings of $3,325,250 would apparently be generated over a 25-year bond.

Also, according to statements in the letter, the detriments of single-family homes would include a loss of 140 acres of the golf course's open space, more school-age children, more traffic, and a competitive real estate market with the larger newer homes of Brynwood versus the older homes of Windmill Farm.

The loudest opposition to Brynwood's condominium proposal is another group of Windmill homeowners, Residents of Windmill Incorporated (ROWI). ROWI is spearheaded by a group who have spoken out against the proposed plan and have repeatedly said that they want to see fewer townhouses built at Brynwood. Townhouses are tax fee simple, that are approximately double the taxes of condominiums. This tax structure is set by Westchester County. If 44 townhouses were built by Brynwood, they would bring in the same amount of taxes as 88 condominiums.

The fee simple tax structure is applied to the 150 townhouses at Whippoorwill Hills near downtown Armonk. Some people have said that taxing Brynwood as condominiums would negatively impact the value of the townhouses in Whippoorwill Hills, because of the appeal of the lower tax rates of condominiums.

WWWC states that they have meet with a representative of the ROWI group in attempt to work "alongside ROWI; however, we have not found a way to do so. Our approach is not, as ROWI contends, "pro-Brynwood." On the contrary, it is pro-Windmill and pro-North Castle."

Brynwood's principal partner is Jeff Mendell, President of JBM Realty group. Mendell claims that the townhouse model, with fee simple taxes, does not work for Brynwood's targeted market of retirees who may be looking to downsize.

The tax advantage of purchasing a condominium in Westchester versus a townhouse due to the tax structure of condos is a reality in the competing condominium markets of Westchester County. From the developer's point of view, the argument for Brynwood to not build townhouses is that a buyer in the market for a luxurious condominium in a multi-dwelling housing complex would have a choice of paying an estimated $25,000 in yearly real estate taxes for a $2 million condo, versus $50,000 in taxes for a $2 million townhouse. This is only an estimated tax example to demonstrate the significant tax advantage of buying a condominium versus townhouse.

Brynwood will not propose age restricted condos. This worries some of the project's critics who are concerned about the potential growth of the school population, especially in light of the lower taxes of condominiums.

Furthermore, the WWWC letter states that Brynwood's partners plan to meet with the new Town Board to determine if their condominium plan of 88 units will be well received.

If the Brynwood partners believe they will not receive the approval from the new Town Board, they plan to subdivide the property into single-family homes. The project has gone in front of several Town Boards and Mendell says the partners are ready to throw up their hands and give up. 

The prior Town Board opted to delay the public hearing because Town Board members Diane Roth, John Cronin and Supervisor Howard Arden were questioned as to whether they could vote without prejudice on the project given the significant contributions of $78,000 that Brynwood made to a political action committee that favored the three of them in the most recent primary and general elections.  

If Brynwood does not get approval to build 88 condominiums, they say they will build 49 homes. This option loses the 140-acre golf course, while the condominium plan calls for 140-acres of the open space of the golf course to be preserved in perpetuity. If the alternative option of building the private homes is undertaken, it is still to be determined if Mendell and his partners would build the homes, or if they would sell the property to another developer. Several developers have expressed interest in the property, including Michael Fareri.  


Brynwood Partners Outlines Additional Benefits to Town in Proposal to Develop World-Class Club and Residential Community

October 7, 2013
In another significant step in its effort to transform Brynwood Golf & Country Club into a world-class club and residential community, Brynwood Partners has announced a series of additional benefits to the Town of the proposed project.

The additional benefits, which seek to address concerns expressed in oral and written comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), were outlined in a letter from Brynwood Partners to the Town Board  dated September 30 and communicated to residents in a letter dated October 4. The benefits to the Town include the following:

  • Any building permit for condominium units beyond 49 will be conditioned upon Brynwood substantially completing the renovations to the golf course and clubhouse – this further ensures the projected property taxes generated by these components are realized.
  • Brynwood will guarantee the Town $500,000 per year in property taxes on the golf course and clubhouse for ten years after they are renovated.
  • Brynwood will contribute $1 million to Water District No. 2 (which serves neighboring Windmill Farm) toward the district’s project to rebuild the community’s pipe system. Brynwood will also buy into Water District No. 2, and its annual use fees from the residences and clubhouse will be added to the district’s revenue, which will save Windmill homeowners approximately $3 million over 25 years.
  • Brynwood will permanently, via a conservation easement, limit the future use of the property to either golf course or open space.
  • Brynwood will maintain all private roads, sewage, snow plowing, ground maintenance and garbage removal at no cost to the Town.
  • Brynwood will withdraw a pending tax certiorari in the amount of approximately $1 million.
  • Brynwood will contribute $150,000 to the Town for a right turn lane on Tripp Lane for cars exiting Byram Hills High School; contribute $250,000 to the Town for the construction of a new bike path; and contribute $25,000 to help fund the relocation of the historic Miller House (Washington’s Headquarters in North White Plains).
  • As stated in the DEIS, Brynwood will implement “green” best practices for the golf course and overall club environment.
  • Brynwood will set back all new structures on the property at least 100 feet in a landscaped buffer from the perimeter property line to reduce visual impact to neighbors.

“Over the last several years, we have worked diligently and in good faith to develop a plan for Brynwood that balances the club’s objectives with those of the community. We believe this is a conscientious and responsive proposal for a project that will undoubtedly have a long lasting positive effect to the Town, surrounding homeowners, and our members. Together we are creating something of high quality that we can all be proud of being part of for many years to come,” read the letter from Brynwood Partners.

In the past year, Brynwood has undergone a comprehensive environmental impact study as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). Brynwood’s DEIS has been reviewed and commented on by the Town of North Castle and its independent experts, citizen groups, and residents. 

Brynwood will soon submit a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to the Town Board for consideration of acceptance. The acceptance of the FEIS will be followed by the adoption by the Town Board of its written findings and determinations under SEQRA, which will conclude the environmental review process.

Brynwood Submits a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

July 18, 2013
The Brynwood Golf and Country Club's proposed development project requires that the North Castle Town Board amend its current zoning for single family homes on its 156 acres. Brynwood's application seeks instead to develop 88 luxury condominiums, along with a renovation of the Brynwood Country Club building, the renovation of the 140-acre golf course, and construction of six new tennis courts. To support their request for the zoning amendment, the developers submitted a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) with multiple studies of their proposal. This analysis includes over a dozen expert opinions in three documents totaling more than 2,000 pages.

Although the Town Board closed the public hearing on Brynwood's DEIS on July 10, much work remains to be done on the application. At the end of the previous public hearing, all of the questions recorded by a stenographer will be answered. Mark Weingarten, an attorney representing the Brynwood Partners (from the White Plains law firm, Delbello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP) said, "We are in the process of compiling all of the questions. We started an initial draft the night of the first public hearing. We will send the answers to the Town Board, then the town’s consultants work with the Town Board, who have the final word. The DEIS is our document, the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) is the Town Board's document."  

At the opening of the June 27, 2013, North Castle Town Board public hearing, Supervisor Howard Arden said that the Town Board will take no position on the DEIS that was received on June 11, 2013.

The New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) process is an objective and neutral compilation of all the impact statements.

At the July 10 public hearing, Bob Greene, a resident of Windmill Farm, requested that the public hearing period be extended. Greene opposes the currently proposed Brynwood project. Greene said the project needs to be cut back and asked for more time to review the extensive DEIS to make a fair analysis.

After deliberations between the Town Board members, the Board decided to close the DEIS hearing to the public at the end of the second hearing held on July 10, 2013. The Town Board also extended the written comment period for eight days beyond the typical 30 days, until August 20. After August 20, the Town Board will be responsible for compiling any further questions. Brynwood's team of experts and the Town's consultants will provide the Town Board with all the responses, and the Town Board will be responsible for the FEIS, which will contain all of the DEIS comments, questions, and responses.

Brynwood Project History
In December 2009, the current Brynwood ownership purchased the club from the Mitsubishi Corporation. The Brynwood group has invested more than $13 million in the property. The owners want to build luxury condominiums on the grounds to enable the Brynwood golf course to remain open and financially viable.

An initial project of over 200 condominiums was withdrawn by the Brynwood partners in August 2011. In September 2012, a new plan was presented to the community. The current plan for 88 combined single luxury houses, villas and golf residences is more luxurious, and is projected to support the operation of the country club. The Brynwood team is trying to attract empty nesters.

The current Brynwood plan projects payments of $1.5 million per year in property taxes. The commercial element of the country club is projected to account for one third of the taxes. A projected one-million dollars in taxes would be paid to the Byram Hills School District. Additional fees of $1.4 million are to be paid to the town.

The current Brynwood project proposes building 88 condominiums that would be taxed at a reduced rate, approximately 40 to 50 percent of the “fee-simple” tax rate paid by local homeowners or townhouse owners.

School-Age Children
According to Weingarten, there are two development choices for Brynwood: the country club plus the 88 condominiums, or single-family homes. Some neighbors have publicly questioned how many children are projected to live in the 88 condominiums. Brynwood's owners have said that if the development were a non-golf community, they would project a total of 10 to 20 children. But, according to the developers’ research, because the condos will be age-targeted for active adults, although not actually restricted to those 55 and over, estimates for similar golf communities project approximately six children for the 88 condominiums.

Brynwood has proposed that ten percent of their housing units be affordable for middle-income earners, either onsite or offsite. The mix of the affordable units could include six or seven two-bedroom units, a three-bedroom unit and a four-bedroom unit. The nine affordable housing units alone may house families with eleven children or more, says Barbara DiGiacinto, who has served on North Castle's Housing Board. DiGiacinto recommended that the Town Board contact the Westchester County Housing Board to determine what the average number of children is in two, three and four bedroom affordable-housing condominiums.

Landscaping and Vegetation
Bonnie Von Ohlsen, a senior project manager of VHB Engineering, Survey and Landscape Architecture, P.C., who has worked on Brynwood's DEIS, said that the DEIS concluded that the visual impacts of the landscaping along Route 22 and the renovated clubhouse will not have a significant impact on the neighborhood due to the terrain and the preservation of existing vegetation. According to Brynwood’s research, about 96 percent of the land will remain undisturbed or be re-vegetated.

Brynwood's plans include an upgraded sewer treatment plant, a water treatment facility, and a maintenance area. Brynwood’s data has determined that the water supply from a planned six new wells on the Brynwood property will be sufficient to serve the project. However, Weingarten said that Brynwood is "willing to entertain a discussion if it would benefit the Windmill Water District #2 to work together and see if we can help with the problem." The Town Board recently determined that the entire underground distribution system for almost 400 customers in Windmill Water District #2 needs is to be replaced at a cost of over $9 million.

Brynwood’s DEIS includes a description of the project, its impact on the environment, and five alternative plans for the property. The proposal states that the private roads needed to develop the 88 condominiums would be maintained by Brynwood's Homeowners Association and should not have a significant need for road maintenance by North Castle’s Highway Department.

Options for Brynwood Development
The five alternatives studied for the Brynwood development included: no action and no change to the current condition; the existing zoning for a conventional subdivision of 49 lots of two acres each; the existing zoning with a conservation subdivision; a cluster alternative with fee-simple townhomes; and three different scenarios of reduced density alternatives.  

Weingarten said Brynwood has made a commitment that the open space of the golf course will never be built on if this project is approved, and language confirming that will be put in the FEIS.
Community Comments and Concerns
Karen and Dan Davis, residents near the Bedford's border with North Castle, stated in the public hearing that empty nesters like themselves would like to remain in the community, but their property has become too much for them to care for. Their daughter and grandchild live in town and attend Byram Hills schools. The Davises are considering selling their large property and would like to live in Brynwood as snowbirds (spending the winter months in the South). Dan Davis said the developers might opt to build 49 private homes, and that could have a more negative impact on the community. If the condos were taxed at the fee-simple rate as suggested by some, said Davis, the developers might not be able to make the economics work at 88 units.  

Stuart Kovensky, a board member of the Residents of Windmill (ROWI), said the project doesn't work for everybody in town. Kovensky says Brynwood is asking for the units to be taxed as condominiums and that seems to be unfair to nearly everybody else in North Castle who pays fee-simple taxes. (The only other condominiums in Armonk are Whippoorwill Commons.)

Kovensky said the marketing analysis section of the DEIS states, "condominiums are more attractive than fee-simple units to households, particularly seniors, looking for a lifestyle product because they are taxed at approximately half the regular rate." "Everybody loves half off," added Kovensky. He asked the Town Board to ensure that this discount would be good for all of the residents of the town.

Kovensky also said that he would like to see more analytical information about the current economics of the golf club and golf course's operation that, according to Brynwood’s projections, should generate about a third of the property's taxes. According to Kovensky, the town also needs to understand whether there is an existing guideline for a developer's bonus density in zoning if open space is given to the town. He also asked for an ‘as-of-right’ study. The projected ‘as-of-right’ number in the DEIS is 49 single-family homes, but Kovensky said that the DEIS offered no supporting documentation. Also, Kovensky said that the town should, if they haven't already, do a tax analysis of the projected numbers, and that the tax estimates should be shared with the public. Lastly, Kovensky asked, "Why can't this project be age restricted?"  

Stuart Fraser, speaking for himself as a Windmill resident for 25 years, owns three properties in Windmill, and has been a member of Brynwood since it was the Canyon Club. Fraser says the improved quality of the golf course will make his house worth more. He said he would prefer to see ROWI concentrate on fixing the wall along Route 22 and the area’s water pipes, things he feels diminish his property values.  

Earl Yaffa, speaking as a Windmill resident, commented on the traffic report in the DEIS. Yaffa said he interpreted the comment of "no significant traffic impact" to mean it will indeed have some negative impact, but no one has said what that negative impact is. “Three intersections were viewed as failing already and that is as bad as you can get,” said Yaffa, “but does it mean there will have no significant impact because it is already so bad?” The DEIS does not include traffic data on the intersection turning north onto Route 22 from Cox Avenue, and Yaffa said that is already a dangerous intersection and it will become worse. The challenging intersections of Sterling Road and Creemer Road turning onto Route 22 were also not studied, Yaffa pointed out. The DEIS says the 88 units will only generate 39 additional car trips daily between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Yaffa said this seems like a bad assumption and more analysis should be done to determine if this assumption is wrong. “What would happen if there are double the amount of projected trips?” added Yaffa. “Traffic alone indicates that the number of units is way out of line - and by doubling the number of units that are allowed, the traffic will be significantly worse.”
Preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement
Brynwood will respond to all the comments made at the public hearing and to all of the written questions submitted until August 20. The developers will then submit a draft of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to the Town Board. Consultants are available to the Town Board for any issues or questions, such as traffic studies or school-aged children projections. After the Town Board reviews the draft of the FEIS and determines that the response is sufficient, the Town Board will provide a findings statement to conclude the SEQR process. The FEIS will then be distributed to the public. The public will then have the opportunity to submit further written comments. Another public hearing to discuss the FEIS may be scheduled. The Town Board will then look at the public's FEIS questions, and consider whether they choose to answer any or all of the questions. When the Town Board is ready, it will consider Brynwood's zoning change request.

Because of the importance of this decision and the time needed by the Town Board to compile all the information, the final rezoning decision will probably not be made until after the November election, when three of the Town Board's five members are up for re-election. 

Media Golf Outing Enjoyed at the Brynwood Golf & Country Club 

By Carolyn Lyall

May 16, 2013
On Tuesday May 14, Brynwood Golf & Country Club held a media event for around 12 members of the golfing press that included a buffet lunch, a presentation on the proposed future of Brynwood and a round of golf.

Since taking over the club, Troon Prive have made cosmetic changes to the clubhouse’s common areas, which now include the grill with a sports lounge and dining area over looking the course and pool; a fully equipped fitness center; a children’s games room with movie theatre and video games; a computer lab with free wi-fi.

A benefit of the club having Troon status to its members are the reciprocal playing privileges at private clubs worldwide and preferred rates at Troon Golf-managed daily fee and resort facilities.
Brynwood's current proposal includes the redesigning of the golf course by Rees Jones, the protégé of the course original designer, Albert Zikons. Already the current condition of the course has significantly improved under Troon course management.

The media group was first seated for lunch in the refurbished sports lounge at The Grill. A buffet had been arranged that consisted of a range of salads, grilled salmon, curried chicken, home-style potatoes and peppers. This had been prepared under the direction of the new Executive Chef, Cesar Guaraca from the famous Cipriani Company. The staff was attentive and efficient, and the food well cooked and presented.

During lunch a short presentation was given on the current proposal for the future of Brynwood Golf and Country Club. The presentation laid out the vision of Brynwood as a family orientated Country Club. The aim, said Josh Lowney, Director of Operations, is to make the club feel like a resort “a home away from home”.

After that, the group headed for the range and putting green to warm up before being assigned groups and heading out on the course. Each group was assigned a different hole to begin. The course was looking lush from the recent rain and well groomed. New plantings around the tees added a delightful contrasting splash of color. It was a great day to be out on the course, although it was best to be dressed in layers.

The 5th hole with its sloping fairway, towards I-684, proved a challenge to all. This is one of the holes in the proposal to be regraded. The 8th hole is a challenging par-3 as it is uphill with an elevated green and water in front of the tee. The hole has recently been featured in “Best 18 Golf Holes at Westchester County’s Clubs and Courses in 2013”. The view from the 9th fairway down over the course and water is stunning in the sunlight.

When asked if the golf course would remain if planning permission for the residential portion were refused, we were informed by Jeff Mendell, one of the principal owners that this was not an option. Mendell said the land would be divided into plots, and single-family dwellings would be constructed resulting in the loss of a valuable green space to the area.

As the last carts arrived back at the clubhouse it was generally agreed that all had enjoyed the golf and refreshments.

Brynwood Gold and Country Club
Brynwood Golf and Country Club Seeks to Build 88 Condos

April 24, 2013
The Brynwood Golf and Country Club is asking the North Castle Town Board to rezone its property as a country-club community. "Currently, we don't have housing for seniors," says Jeffrey Mendell, one of the principal owners of Brynwood, who has also been a resident of Armonk since 1994. From a planning point of view, he says, the lack of such housing is irresponsible and therefore is his challenge. Because of widespread opposition, Mendell withdrew the club's original plan for 243 housing units and resubmitted a plan with fewer units. "We have redesigned the place for the last time; 88 units is the fewest number of units to be considered, and not one unit less. I'm confident that we will be successful. We are working collaboratively with the Town Board to make this happen by the end of the year, if possible."

Mendell says the property is zoned for single-family homes on two-acre lots, but feels that building individual homes would be a mistake for a variety of reasons, including having more children in the schools, additional traffic, and a greater burden on the town's services.

The Brynwood Golf & Country Club is managed by Troon Privé. It is different from other country clubs in Westchester County. "We are striving to be an extension of your home," says Josh Lowney, the club's director of operations.

Brynwood has designed its membership program to appeal to young families living in the area. Its goal is to attract members who want to be comfortable, but who don't want to write a big check for membership, as is required by many of Westchester's exclusive country clubs. Brynwood is an affordable and high quality country club that fills a niche, says Mendell.

Mendell first played golf at the club when it was still the Canyon Club and owned by Mitsubishi, as it had been since 1975. Mitsubishi had owned the club for about 35 years when the Brynwood group bought it several years ago. It was all about timing: Mitsubishi was cutting back on its holdings in New York, and the Canyon club was a non-core asset.

"I played golf with my friends here and always thought it was an underutilized asset in Armonk," says Mendell. "This piece of real estate always attracted me because it’s the highest elevation in the area, with great views 10-20 miles away, as well as spectacular sunsets over the ridge."

Mendell said he recognized the untapped potential of the property. The new owners started by redecorating the entire 65,000-square-foot clubhouse. In the first couple of months, they sold 300 memberships and kept about 100 Canyon Club members. They attracted residents from North Castle, the surrounding communities, and even New York City.

The optimal number of members is about 300-350 says Mendell. The size of the membership has declined slightly, and the club is currently holding a membership drive to add new clients this season. Currently, there is no initiation fee and the annual dues range from $8,000 to $14,000, with a $1,500 food minimum to be used during the course of a year.

Food aficionados will be delighted with the club's new culinary team from the famed Cipriani Restaurant Group. Chef Cesar Guaraca and the new Director of Food & Beverage, Marco Arconte, have been serving fine dinners for more than 16 years. The food is prepared meticulously, with fresh ingredients. Everything is handmade and organic, from local farms with a farm-to-table approach. The skill and experience behind the new menu has elevated the dining experience at Brynwood.

Recreation opportunities at Brynwood include golf, tennis and swimming, with a summer program open to the public for children who want to learn how to golf. The clubhouse has a game room with video games, arcade games and computers, as well as a movie theatre that operates on weekends. The gym is available all year long; the complete facility offers exercise equipment, a steam room and sauna. When families come for dinner, many kids eat their chicken fingers in 30 seconds and go off to the game room, says Mendell. The parents have an opportunity to sit and enjoy a relaxed meal, knowing the kids are entertained.

Brynwood is working with the North Castle Town Board to try to obtain approval for 88-age-targeted (not age-restricted) luxury condominiums. Although there would be no place else like Brynwood in Westchester: with a golf course, a country club, and a residential community overlooking the course, the model is very common in Florida, Arizona and California. Mendell anticipates a community attracting a more affluent and somewhat older crowd, but there would still be 200 memberships available for non-residents. In addition, any new members who join in 2013 will receive $15,000 toward any further initiation fee (in the form of a membership bond).

Luxury apartments at Brynwood will range from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet of flats, two-level attached town houses, and golf cottages. Prices will range between $1.2 and $1.8 million. The plan calls for four corner units on each floor, with each corner unit having multiple views. The architectural firm Hart Howerton has designed the luxury apartments, the surrounding grounds and the clubhouse.

The concept is to provide housing for retired baby boomers, says Mendell. "There is a demographic bulge of about 77 million people nationally who are retiring and they have had an impact upon every market they’ve moved through; from college, to apartments, to family homes. Now they are at a stage where their children have grown up and they would like to downsize, while staying in the area. But there are very limited housing choices in our area, especially accommodations for seniors who wants to live on one level. About 70 percent of the units are designed as flats where everything is located on one level. Garages are on the lower level, with elevators available. The master bedrooms will be about 18 x 20 feet, with a fireplace and walkout terraces overlooking the golf course. The bathrooms will have his and her sinks, with separate showers and bathtubs."

Mendell explained the concept behind the community. “We want to create a lifestyle community that will be attractive to retirees from the local community and the New York Metropolitan area. The design and price are intended to appeal to an older clientele. It will be mandatory for residents to join the country club. The community will be built around the art of living well with beautiful residences, high quality food, an athletic facility, exercise areas, a spa, and a wellness center.

The master plan also includes a redesign of the golf course by Rees Jones. The club also intends to build nine new Har-Tru tennis courts.

Brynwood has submitted its draft environmental-impact statement to the  town. Mendell says the studies have unanimously concluded that there would be positive benefits for the town, the schools and the community. Unfortunately, there is a bias against new development in Westchester, says Mendell. But Mendell asks, "Without an increased tax base, how do you fund increased expenses?"

Brynwood’s Review Begins 
December 7, 2012      
On November 26, 2012, the Town Board welcomed the public's input during the Brynwood Golf & Country Club scoping session. Supervisor Howard Arden said the purpose of the session was to identify concerns that the public might have, beyond the study of the traffic, noise, density and economic implications of the project.

The public comments will be compiled with the Town Board's input and the applicant’s information will be assembled into a Draft Environmental Impact Document (DEIS).

The Town Board is the lead agency in the process of completing the final EIS, and they will oversee the scoping document to be presented by Town Planner Adam Kaufman. Kaufman will be responsible for compiling the comments from the DEIS scoping session. The document will be prepared by the applicant and the town will review the comments; they will carefully study and ensure that it does comply and is complete. Frank Fish of BFJ Planning has been hired by the town at Brynwood's expense to work with Kaufman and the Town Board to provide an outside review. Finally, the public will have the opportunity to review the DEIS and to provide additional comments over the course of several months.

The details of the DEIS from Brynwood were outlined by John Saccardi of VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture. Saccardi will coordinate and author the DEIS for Brynwood. Accordingly, he presented an overview of Brynwood's project. The plan calls for 88-condominiums units to be built on 14.7 acres of the 156 acres that are owned by Brynwood Golf & Country Club. Saccardi said the plans also include an upgrade to the clubhouse and golf course, construction of new tennis courts, provision of an on-site water supply and upgrading the on-site sewer system.

Brynwood's technical appendix of the scoping document will include the engineering makeup of Brynwood's water supply, well testing, traffic analysis and storm water issues, among other relevant details. The three most important chapters of the analysis, said Saccardi, will include the project description of what the units will look like, as well as the proposed zoning to allow the development. The second part of the analysis will study the existing conditions, the impact of the proposed development and the mitigation of any perceived adverse conditions. The third section of the EIS, the most important, according to Saccardi, are the alternatives to building the 88 condominiums.

Their alternative plans include no action, single-family homes that would adhere to the existing subdivision zoning in a conventional form on the 156 acres, or a development of a cluster of  single-family homes on a smaller portion of the property. Saccardi said there are other possible options, including the 98 units that had been proposed before the reduction to the current plan of 88-condominium units. Another plan to be studied would be an alternate access to Brynwood from Byram Hills High School. Saccardi said the possibility to connect to Water District Number 2 at Windmill Farm is another possibility under consideration.

Supervisor Howard Arden said he wants the best possible project, and accordingly, will study all the relevant issues concerning Brynwood. The Town Board listened to about 10 people who spoke during the meeting. They expressed their concerns for the Town Board to further study several relevant issues.  

Pete Coviello, a resident and board member of the Residents of Windmill, asked about the review process. The scoping session closed December 6; if the document has been completed, can additional comments be added, asked Coviello? The Town Board's responsibility is determining the real issues, including written comments, and eliminating irrelevant information. A scoping document will be produced based on all the concerns, and future comments would be added, if the new information were considered relevant.  

Bob Greene is a Windmill resident who recently stepped down as planning board chairman, due to a conflict of interest in the Brynwood application. Greene said he is concerned about the transparency of the process. He said it would be helpful if the final scope were presented and also included additional comments from the public. Greene added that when a developer comes before the Town Board, he is confident in the project. What the board must do is to consider what happens if the project fails; they need to evaluate the downside risk. Greene said the residential component of Brynwood is being proposed at a different tax rate than the golf and country club. Greene raised the issue of what would happen if the country club failed. The assumption is that Brynwood would prevent that from happening; but if it does fail, the condominiums are taxed at a 50- 60% discount rate, and Greene said that would need to be taken into consideration.

Thomas Whyatt, of the firm Oxman, Tulis, Kirkpatrick, Whyatt and Geiger in White Plains, said he represents neighbors of the Brynwood project. Whyatt's issues were the zoning proposal, the special use permit and the site plan approval. Whyatt emphasized that if the Town Board were to  adopt the zoning changes to create a special use permit for Brynwood, they should also include the standards for the zoning.

Whyatt's second issue is the Town Board's intention to update the town's Master Comprehensive Plan. He asked if that document would be amended before Brynwood's DEIS is completed.

Whyatt also asked, "What will the Planning Board's role will be?" Can the scope determine which recommendations are to be made during the development of the State Environmental Review Act (SEQRA) process? There is a lot going on at once with the review of Brynwood's application, its impact and the Town Board's review of the zoning.  

The considerations for the alternatives that the developer set at the beginning of the proposal, considering the lower density alternatives of the single homes, must take into account the maximum impact of school-aged children and the impact on the municipal services, said Whyatt.

If the project goes through as proposed, Whyatt stressed that a conservation easement would be the key to the permanent protection of the golf course.

The “as of right” development under the current zoning and a realistic alternative must be explained, ensuring that the public would have a better understanding of what the owner has the right to do, if the zoning were not changed, added Whyatt.  

Windmill resident Ed Woodyard asked about the construction process and how the health of students at the neighboring Coman Hill Elementary School would be protected from the construction process.

Rick Wolff, another Windmill resident, said he has several concerns about the Brynwood project and wants to understand the issues. Wolff said most people know that country clubs are having a hard time, but from his perspective, the tax projection needs to be reviewed. Wolff also asked how the traffic situation would be resolved and what the potential burdens on the school district would be.

Eric Richelson, another Windmill resident, said If Brynwood is talking about building an "adult- oriented community,” what does that mean? What are the limitations on the family compositions, are there going to be special services, will there be restrictions, how many children will live there? In an older community, would there be a drain on the town's EMT services?

Only about two dozen people attended the meeting. ROWI President Jan Bernstein said if the purpose of the scoping session was to encourage many people to attend, then there was not a reasonable amount of time given for notice of the meeting.  

Windmill resident Earle Yaffa asked how the process would work. After December 6, would there be a chance for further review? What happens next? What is the time frame and who reviews the application?

The time frame to formulate a draft with the community's input and to review the draft to complete a final SEQRA statement could take up to a year. Once the SEQRA process is complete, then a final environmental impact statement would be issued, and a public hearing would take place.

But the timing depends on the applicant, who controls the timeline in the response to all the public concerns. The Town Board will then review the final study; that process could go on for another 60-to-90 days. After that, the Town Board could take action on the zoning issues; they would decide if a change in the zoning would be allowed, enabling Brynwood to build multi-dwelling units.


Brynwood Update

Updated October 3, 2012
At its regular board meeting on September 27, North Castle's Town Board officially accepted Brynwood's petition, while declaring itself the lead agency in the State Environment Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process. At the meeting, the Town Board also referred the petition to the North Castle Planning Board, as well as Westchester County's Planning Board, to begin the reviews.

Brynwood Partners' petition requires a legislative act to modify North Castle's regulations governing membership clubs, to establish a golf course community of 88-luxury condominiums, and to change the current two-acre zoning in a one-family residential district to a cluster development for multi-dwellings units. The residences are designed to surround the Brynwood Golf & Country Club at 568 Bedford Road in Armonk.
The town's current zoning ordinance stipulates that membership clubs are owned and operated by the membership association and shall not be operated primarily for profit. Brynwood Partners are seeking to amend the town's definition of "club membership" to eliminate the provision that the members  have a financial interest and control of the assets and management of the club. They also want to strike from Section 213-13 of the Town Code the requirement that membership clubs shall not be operated primarily for profit; Armonk's seasonal clubs at Windmill and Whippoorwill abide by this requirement.

While the Town must review the proposed amendments for club memberships, it will start the laborious review of Brynwood’s submitted plans. During the three-hour public discussion attended by about two hundred people, the speakers were respectful, but divided over Brynwood's proposal. Many Brynwood supporters wore green circular stickers that read, "SAVE BRYNWOOD."  

Jeff Mendell, one of the principal owners of Brynwood and an Armonk resident, said, "I never worked so hard to get a chance to get into the batter's box." The Brynwood Partners initially presented an application for 243 units during Supervisor Bill Weaver's administration in 2011, but the petition was rejected at the time because of its density.

During the election of November 2011, Brynwood's application became a political issue for all the candidates running for office (including those elected: Howard Arden, Michael Schiliro and Steve D'Angelo), who pledged not to allow the developers to build more than about 50 residential units.

Since the election, Brynwood directors have attended over 20 meetings with residents and civic groups to discuss the proposal and hear the community's concerns.

During that time, the most vocal opposition to Brynwood's proposal has been from the Residents of Windmill (ROWI), who are now 200-members strong; that figure represents a little more than half of Windmill's almost 400 homeowners.

Stuart Kovensky, Co-President of ROWI and son-in-law of Planning Board Chairman Bob Greene, said -- to a round of applause -- that he is afraid to see Brynwood's project move forward because he has seen the negative effects of dense developments such as the multi-dwelling residences of Whippoorwill Hills. He said that our taxes go up, our town gets more crowded, and overall, it is not a good result. Kovensky said that the Town should work with the developer and key concerned residents to have something built at Brynwood that works for everyone, not just the developer. The condominium plan also allows for a substantial tax break of 40- 60% less then the taxes paid by residents living in equal-size housing, said Kovensky.

Kovensky added that he would say the same thing if the project were in Pleasantville or Whippoorwill. Supervisor Howard Arden said he would work with him and welcome his help crunching the numbers.  

In response to the community's concerns, Brynwood reduced the number of units it proposed to build to 123, then to 98, and finally, in their petition, to 88 condominiums that will be both detached and semi-detached; multi-family dwelling units targeted to active adults.  

"ROWI does not speak for all Windmill residents," said Steve Buschel, a Windmill resident of 33 years. He said many of the allegations regarding the project are being made out of fear, not out of reason. Buschel quoted President Roosevelt who said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." Buschel questioned why there is a problem with Brynwood's proposal if more tax dollars would be provided, and more jobs would be available. Brynwood has also stated that it is willing to work with Windmill to solve the water problems of Water District 2, said Buschel. He added that Brynwood is entitled to a fair review and is willing to pay for the entire review process.

Brynwood's objective over the past three-and-a-half years has always been to save the golf club, said Mendell. But Mendell and Brynwood Partner's Attorney Mark Weingarten said they are prepared, if the plan for the cluster development is not approved, to build independent homes.

Edward Baquero, President of the Corigin Real Estate Group, one of the other partners of Brynwood, said, "There is still a lot to be determined and the door is open for all kinds of outcomes." Furthermore, Baquero said that now Brynwood can start to deal with the issues in a professional forum, rather than through emotions and conjecture. It is the start of a new beginning, with a study of the core issues as to what is important to our town.

The applicant and their professional team will work in tandem with the town's professionals over the next 12 to 18 months; their goal will be to assess the objective data and review the information about the project and its site. An in-depth study of the project will be conducted to review its environmental impact and the significance it may have on the community. After discovery has been completed, the North Castle Town Board will make the final decision as to whether or not to approve the Brynwood project.

Supervisor Howard Arden has insisted that Brynwood Partners agree to a conservation easement on the golf course, saying, "This project doesn't even start unless we have a condition that the golf course will function as an open space in perpetuity." Weingarten has agreed to a restrictive covenant in perpetuity.

Councilman Steve D'Angelo emphasized that Brynwood’s projection of 15 children living in the community is an underestimate, and accordingly, Brynwood might be a burden on the schools, especially if the real estate market is soft and more people consider condominiums. D'Angelo added that 87% of Armonk's residents (a higher percentage than in other surrounding communities) are currently enrolled in the Byram Hills School District.

Windmill resident Stan Simon said he is concerned that young families from New York City might seize the opportunity to move into a community like Brynwood and take advantage of Armonk's wonderful public school system.

"The Brynwood residences would be in nineteen structures on the North Parcel, and one structure on the South Parcel, all generally sited within currently developed areas and located to maximize views of the adjoining golf course. On the North Parcel, five of the structures would be four-bedroom “Golf Cottages,” four of the structures would each contain ten two-bedroom “Golf Residences,” three of the structures would each contain six two-bedroom and two three-bedroom “Golf Residences,” and seven structures would each contain two three-bedroom “Club Villas.” The structure on the South Parcel would contain five three-bedroom “Fairway Residences”and potentially up to four lodging rooms/suites. The Club Villa structures, which would be designed to emulate single-family homes, would be located nearer to Bedford Road than the higher density Golf Residence structures, which would step down the existing slope away from Bedford Road and toward the golf course. The residences are currently anticipated to range from 1,900 square feet (two-bedroom Golf Residences) to 3,200 square feet (three-bedroom Fairway Residences and four-bedroom Golf Cottages). Sixteen of the Golf Residences would be served by grade level accessory cabanas and “plunge” pools. Each of the residences would be served by two garage parking spaces."

Councilman John Cronin said he would like to keep the Brynwood discussion alive and engage in a dialogue. He is not satisfied that the issue of traffic on Route 22, where he resides, has been addressed. He also asked if Brynwood is willing to buy into Windmill's Water District to help solve the significant problems Windmill is facing. "There is no risk in accepting this petition and starting the SEQRA process because we can stop it at any point in time; there is no downside in starting the process," Cronin said.  He added, "We have to understand it comes down to numbers: the density of how many units and how the development is treated from a tax standpoint.

"Zoning is one of the most important factors that you trust us with," said Councilman Michael Schiliro. The Town Comprehensive Plan addresses the density issues in our residential areas and recommends not changing those numbers. Although he is in favor of both clustering the housing on top of the hill for this project and saving the golf course, he is comfortable with the number of units that are as-of-right, which has yet to be determined.

Although the Brynwood petition is proceeding to a further review by a majority vote of the Town Board, the Board initially split the vote. Schiliro and D'Angelo voted no, and Arden, Cronin and Roth voted in favor of accepting the application.    

Attorney Richard O'Rouke of Keane and Beane in White Plains has been hired as a special counsel. O'Rouke worked with the North Castle Town Board in the past to reach a settlement with Westwood Organic Recycling.

This is the beginning of a process to consider Brynwood's relevant social, environmental and economical impacts, said O'Rouke. But the process allows for a rejection of their petition at anytime. If the petition does proceed, O'Rourke predicts that a project of this magnitude will involve a minimum of five public hearings, with the opportunity for continued public participation.

Brynwood and Windmill Petitions
Sept. 23, 2012
In an earlier article, misconstrued a statement from Jan Bernstein, President of Residents of Windmill, Inc. (ROWI) in reference to the circulating petitions from both ROWI and Brynwood Golf & Country Club. In an e-mail regarding the Windmill petition, Bernstein said, "We amassed several hundred hand-written signatures in the last couple of weeks by residents of all areas of North Castle, as opposed to all over the country."
Furthermore, Bernstein said, "You should note that many people have signed Brynwood's petition (her reference was not to the Windmill petition, as indicated) under less than forthright circumstances, i.e., signing in exchange for a free round of golf, signing a petition that only states the development will have 2-bedroom condos, signing online... In addition, I know of at least one person, and there could be many more, that received an email thanking them for signing their online petition when they did nothing of the kind."
Jeff Mendell, a partner of Brynwood Gold & Country Club said, "The leaders of ROWI will say and do anything to try to prevent us from getting a fair hearing. They consistently misrepresent the facts. We heard [the above] allegation recently and it is another lie."
In a prepared statement  Justin Lapatine, Partner of Global Strategy Group, who was hired by Brynwood Gold & Country Club to manage their petition, said, "I’m disgusted that someone would question the legitimacy of our petitions. Global Strategy Group is one of the most highly respected political consulting firms in the country. We would never take any action that would undermine the reputation we have built over the last 15-plus years. We take our business very seriously and ethically and apply methodologies from years of experience. How someone can assert that we paid people for signatures is totally absurd, and frankly, slanderous to our reputation. As we all agreed up front, we accepted signatures from people outside of North Castle to establish that there was an outside market demand for the contemplated project and product type. It does not take away from the hundreds of petitions that were signed and direct emails from residents of North Castle and Windmill Farms.
"This summer, Brynwood employed Armonk high school students and recent graduates to engage in a community education and outreach petitioning program targeting North Castle residents, which we directed and supervised. We sent them to high-pedestrian traffic locations such as the bagel shop on weekend mornings, youth sports events and the Fol De Rol, where they engaged local residents in conversations. The residents of North Castle are educated and thoughtful citizens and would not just sign a petition without careful consideration and discussion. To say that signatures were somehow coerced or paid for is outrageous and obviously coming from someone opposing the project and trying to desperately discredit and disparage the facts. We are proud of the petitioners’ hard work, their dedication, and the skills they learned this summer, and we are disappointed to have the efforts of young Armonk high school students denigrated.”
Mr. Lapatine continued, “They were trained on a script and taught the best way to petition respectfully and informatively. We believe in the character of these Armonk high school students and would gladly stand behind them against accusations that they gained signatures in any way other than how they were instructed. Myself and my staff directly supervised the program and stand behind its legitimacy.
"In addition to these efforts, we have seen a large number of signatures come through our website online. Many have come from North Castle, but we have not blocked supportive friends, family and potential future North Castle residents from sharing their support for our project.

"I hope this clears up any misconceptions about our efforts to educate the community and reach out to its citizens."


Brynwood Asks for a Fair Hearing

Updated Sept. 23, 2012
There are concerns regarding Brynwood's latest proposal for 98-condominium units, expressed in an email dated September 8, 2012, and signed by Jan Bernstein, President of the Residents of Windmill (ROWI). Bernstein has asked Windmill residents to circulate petitions "to persuade the Town Board’s members to reject Brynwood's application."  ROWI has about 200 members or a little more than half of Windmill residents.

The ROWI petition states that the "undersigned residents of North Castle” oppose the application of Brynwood partners to modify the regulations governing ‘Membership Clubs’ and establish a ‘Golf Course Community’ as a new special-use permit in the R-2A One-Family Residence District."

Bernstein said that the New York's State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) is little more than a rubber stamp of the developer’s plans, and the appropriate time to agree upon the material terms of the project is prior to the start of the SEQRA, not during or after.

If this is the case, then why bother with all the hours of professional reviews and public comments? Why bother with any public hearings?

In response, Brynwood's partners have circulated their own town-wide email on September 20, asking the community to attend the Town Board meeting on September 27 and demand that town officials give the project a fair hearing. A state law was passed to avoid backroom deals with developers, says Jeff Mendell, an Armonk resident and a Brynwood partner. "During the comprehensive 12 -18 month SEQRA process, the Town will evaluate and weigh the merits of the project through its own independent professionals (whose fiduciary duty is to the Town) for impact on taxes, traffic, planning and the environment." Mendell wants support for the right to a fair hearing and said if in the end the town can't render an agreement, then they can turn us down.

Mendell stressed that the "existing business model for golf clubs no longer works and the introduction of residences to a golf-and country-club property is a proven formula in an industry that is marred with club closings throughout the country, including closings in Westchester County.”  

Bernstein responded, "The developers not only knew this when they purchased the property in December 2009 [for $5.6 million], but they also knew it was zoned for two-acre development. This is their dilemma, not the Town's."

The biggest issue between the two sides involves the decision whether to build condominiums or individual homes on the 156 acres. Brynwood management said that $1.82 million dollars of taxes would be paid by the residents of the 98 condominiums and club house. There are some Windmill homeowners that say they would prefer to see the property become a residential subdivision, with residents of individual homes paying a full share of property taxes for their homes, one that would be substantially higher than those of condominium taxes.

The obvious compromise would be to have Brynwood build town houses whose owners would be required to pay taxes based on the full-market value of the units; the units would be priced from $1.2 to $1.8 million. Whippoorwill Hills, Whippoorwill Ridge and Cider Mill are multi-dwelling town house residences on Old Route 22 that are taxed at full-market value. If there are 15-or-more children, as projected by Brynwood, the 98-townhouses’ taxes should cover the cost to educate every child who would live in Brynwood. The current annual cost for each student’s education in the Byram HIlls School district is approximately $26,000.

Mendell said that Brynwood's competition for homebuyers includes residences such as the Ritz-Carlton in White Plains that are condominiums with a significantly lower-tax rate than those of townhouses. The style of living at Brynwood Golf & Country Club will be marketed toward empty nesters, but management is not opposed to having children live there. If the units are heavily taxed, they may become less attractive to empty nesters, who may feel they have already paid their fair share of property taxes, as they downsize and sell their larger homes.

One of the other challenges that Windmill residents foresee is additional traffic on Route 22, especially during the morning drop-off time from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. at the high school. During the SEQRA process, let the experts resolve the traffic issues and request that Brynwood pay for it. A possible solution would be adding another lane into the high school, especially by the drop-off circle, so the traffic can move faster into the parking lot; this would ease the traffic at the top of the hill by the light.  

Windmill residents might also want to take advantage of Brynwood's deep pockets to assist with the $10 million restoration required to update Windwill’s water district's infrastructure. To finance the project, the estimated water tax could be approximately $2,500 per home for twenty years. The Brynwood Club, like Coman Hill Elementary School, buys water from the Windmill Water District #2 at twice the rate of Windmill's almost four hundred homes. Mendell originally proposed that they expand the water usage from Water District #2, but said they are able to dig their own wells and expand their own water supply.

There are several issues restricting the 156-acre subdivision into individual lots: steep slopes, wetlands, roadways, and infrastructure which would restrict a subdivision of the property to be somewhere between 40 and 50 lots that will be allowed under the current town zoning. Brynwood partners said, “If the Town Board elects not to hear our plan, the golf course will be replaced with another residential sub-division under its current ‘as of right ‘zoning.”

Every multi-unit residential development in town is required by law to provide a percentage of their development as middle-income units. Several options have been considered to comply with Brynwood's middle-income requirements. Initially, when Brynwood proposed the 243 condominiums, they were interested in placing the middle-income units off site in North White Plains. The problem with locating the units in North White Plains is that almost 70% of the taxes paid by Brynwood's property in Armonk would go toward the Byram Hills School district, rather than the Valhalla School district, where residents of the middle-income units living in North White Plains would attend school.

When the 243 units were initially proposed, Councilman John Cronin said that the required middle-income units should be built on the Brynwood property. Mendell said he is committed to doing whatever the Town Board wants, but added that the middle-income units don't belong on the site with a luxury-country club; in turn, he feels it would be a bad public decision.

Another option under consideration to satisfy the middle-income requirement is payment in lieu of building the units. The money can be used to satisfy a portion of Westchester County's HUD affordable housing settlement in North Castle, said Mendell.

Perhaps the Town Board will steer Brynwood toward the old Armonk Lumberyard on Bedford Road near I-684, as a possible site for the middle-income or affordable-income housing. In 2011, Developer Michael Fareri said he had proposed the old lumberyard as a possible location for affordable housing. This proposal occurred before Howard Arden was Supervisor and Arden had suggested transferring the required middle-income units for Cider Mill from the Cockren property on Old Route 22 to the lumberyard.

The empty lot at the lumberyard site is owned by developer Michael Fareri. In the past, the property has been approved as a 10,000-square-foot shopping center. But since the 2008 economic downturn, the site has been discussed as a multi-residential-unit development in one, large building. Recently, there have been discussions of multi-residential units built separately at the lumberyard, similar to the accessory building that the property owner built at 20 Bedford Road. The accessory building at 20 Bedford Road is 1,576-square-feet, with two floors and a finished basement of 850-square-feet. The unit has four rooms: one bedroom, two-and-a-half bathrooms and a patio. Michael Fareri has not responded to our request for comments about his plans for the lumberyard property.

Dom Dioguardi, developer and property owner of Armonk Square and Cider Mill, said the Town has requested an extension to determine where the required middle-income housing for Cider Mill and Armonk Square will be located.

Another location being considered to fulfill either the requirement for Cider Mill or possibly for Brynwood middle-income housing is the education center that is located in the back of the Methodist Church on Bedford Road. The church has closed and the Town is considering buying the back portion of the building from the Methodist Church. This opens up a multitude of possibilities for the reconfiguration of Town Hall, the police department and the affordable housing. Supervisor Howard Arden has not yet responded to our inquiry.

To correct the record of Brynwood's September 20 email: New York City Department of Environmental Protection bought 6.8 acres at the bowling alley site on Old Route 22 to protect the New York's Kensico watershed. In 2008, they paid $12.82 million to Michael Fareri, who purchased the property in 1998 for $3.7 million. The property today is valued at $2.2 million and this year NYCDEP will pay $55,000 in town, county and school taxes.

Brynwood Golf & Country Club
Brynwood Refiles an Application for 98 Luxury Condominiums

Updated September 11, 2012
Brynwood Golf & Country Club recently filed new plans with the Town of North Castle to develop 98 residential condominium units in a luxury, residential country-club community, while preserving more than the 140-acre golf course. They have located the majority of the new neighborhood of 98 units on about 15 acres, and they are trying to protect and preserve a large portion of the property.

“The bulk of the site that we are building on has already been graded. It is a reuse of an existing area of tennis courts, pavement and a maintenance shed, and we are taking advantage of that,” said Jeff Mendell, principal owner of Brynwood. The revised plan, with a new variety of units proposed, will include fewer units at a higher price point; they will range from $1.2 to $1.8 million, depending on the size of the units.  

“It is more than just real estate -- it is a lifestyle for people who have worked hard in their lives, achieved some success and want to live well and have five-star hotel type services,” added Mr. Mendell.

The residences will be marketed to empty nesters who have sold their large homes but still have high living standards. To help satisfy their needs, the units at Brynwood will be unique, rather than cookie cutter. The one size fits  all, multi-dwelling real estate models frequently fail. The thought process at Brynwood, however, is that buyers will sell their large homes and will want to move into flat living, where everything is maintained and parking is easy. They are creating a neighborhood, one like all the neighborhoods in town in which there are a variety of homes.

Special attention will be paid to the landscape and to details in the building materials and architectural plans. The scale and type of structure to be built will reflect the traditions of the area, said Jim Tinson of Hart Howerton, an international-architectural firm renowned for its award-winning design of golf resort communities.  

There will be a mix of shingle, stones and wood materials, like the homes built across Route 22 in Windmill Farms. There will be a variety of roof lines, including the use of dormers. Porches will serve as an extension of the interior rooms that open up to gardens, and landscaping will distinguish these units.

The Brynwood team has held more than 20 information sessions with community members and club members to make them part of the process and to take into account their opinions on how they envision the neighborhood integrated.

The cluster of 98 residences represents 60 percent fewer units than the original 243 units that had been proposed two and a half years ago. They took another look at the plan and the size of the mixed units and they changed the heights of the buildings. Mr.Tinson explained that he and Brynwood management have tried to be responsive to the feedback they have received.

The mix of 98 units are separated into different sections of 14 club-villas units, 74 golf residences, five club cottages and five fairway residences.  

The club villas have a smaller footprint that consists of seven, two-story buildings that will resemble houses and will be located close to the entrance of Route 22. There will be 14 units in a series of two units in each building, consisting of three bedrooms at 2,650-square-feet each. The master bedroom will be located on the main floor, while there will be a second and third bedroom upstairs.

They will maintain pedestrian walkways that lead to the units and outdoor sitting gardens, which will be outside the family rooms. The structures will take advantage of the site elevations, so it won’t be necessary to do extensive digging for the underground, two-car garages that have been proposed; the garages will also have elevators.  

The golf residences will be 74 units in eight buildings. They will include a combination of two-and-three bedroom units that range from 1,900 square feet to 2,900 square feet. The third bedrooms will be  located in the loft of the dormers. With over 30 feet of grade change going downhill, the three-story buildings will be located behind the other units, directly off the 10th fairway of the golf course.  

Five-smaller golf cottages are planned to be situated closest to the tennis courts and clubhouse. The individual cottages will be 4,200-square-feet in size; they will not have yards, but will have porches overlooking the golf course.

"The fairway residences are three-bedroom, 3,200 square-foot units that are located in one building, by the first tee at the end of the parking lot. These are units intended for the developers themselves, who intend to have units of their own and be right on the property," said Mr. Tinson.

The plan calls for the revitalization of the clubhouse. It will be reduced from the existing 65,000-square-foot facility and scaled back from the initial proposal of 89,000 square feet. The reconstruction calls for a 61,800-square-foot clubhouse. There will be many amenities and features offered in the clubhouse; the plan calls for new dining options in the club, with the capacity to hold 250 people. They also plan to renovate the outdoor pool terraces.

The golf course, which will be completely redesigned, is proposed to be one of the top courses in the region; management feels that this, in turn, will create value in the surrounding area. There will also be a new irrigation system, new grading and new turf. They will continue to collect and reuse water.

Nine of the club’s 14 tennis courts are currently in use; they plan to reduce the number of tennis courts to six. Mendell said, “Tennis is an important component and we have an active tennis program for adults and kids. We worked with the tennis pro to scale the program to our needs.”

All of the 98-unit residents of the homeowners association will be obligated to join the Brynwood Club. There will also be more than enough room for non-resident community members, with space for about 400, added Mr. Mendell. There will be no difference between club dues and annual costs for residents, and non-resident members will have the same access to all the amenities. The residential population will help support the dining options, programs and staff working year round. Accordingly, there will be a vibrant, active club open all year, with a gym, a full health club, a spa, a wellness center, theatre, game room, full food and beverage activities and a sports lounge.

Listening to everyone's comments in over 20 informational meetings was part of the lengthy process. Brynwood has already garnered growing support for its plan, including a petition signed by more than 1,000 residents. The application was submitted to the town last Friday, and Mendell plans to present the new plan to the Town Board at a public meeting on September 12, 2012.

The fiscal impact and additional revenue calculated from the engineering and economics team estimates that Brynwood will pay $1.82 million in annual real estate property taxes to the town, of which the school district would receive approximately 70 percent, or $1.2 million annually. In addition, there will be a one-time $1.6 million fee paid in building permits and recreation fees.

"This is certainly the best thing to happen to the Byram Hills School District since Swiss Re was built; it translates into more taxes, without adding any children to the district," said Mr. Mendell. All the residential units will be part of a homeowners association and the tax estimate is based on New York State law that regulates the taxes paid for condominiums.

The $1.82 million annual real estate tax estimate breaks down as follows: the clubhouse and golf course pay $500,000 and the residential units are estimated to pay $1,320,000, or an average of $13,470.

The analysis of the tax assessment was derived by data from units sold at the Ritz Carlton in White Plains and Christie Place in Scarsdale. Brynwood management reviewed a combination of 40 condominiums that were sold from 2010 to the first quarter of 2012, with an average selling price of $1,244,933: the units averaged 1,907 square-feet; and sold for an average of $648 per square foot. The 40 units translated into an average of $9,926 per year in taxes.

Taxes accessed on condominiums are determined by the projected income to market value. Condominiums are typically taxed somewhere between 40 to 50 percent less than single homes of the same value. This difference in taxable income is one of the reasons that residents who object to having Brynwood build condominiums say they would like to see single homes built on the site of 150 acres, rather than condos.

Jan Bernstein, President of Residents of Windmill, Inc. did not respond to our request for a comment about Brynwood's latest plan.

"There will always be people that are opposed to change, progress, everything,” said Mendell. “But we think that is an extremely small minority of the 12,500 people that live in North Castle. We think it is a benefit to the vast majority of the town. It is incumbent on our leaders to represent the entire community, and hopefully, that's what will happen."

Jeff Mendell said, "It is a very transparent process; we have no choice, that is the law." The entire team is working to get the project through the SEQR process.

The professional team will not be presenting the plans to the town board on September 12, 2012. They are still on the agenda, but it's only a procedural matter relating to the application they filed, says Brynwood's spokeman Dean Bender. "Brynwood expects to make their formal presentation at the next board meeting on Sept. 27, 2012." That is kick-off time for the public approval process. It will go through a well-orchestrated series of steps, culminating in the production of an environmental impact statement. This also involves a draft statement, hearings, feedback and studies, and eventually, there will be a final environmental statement. All of these steps will take a significant amount of time, anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

Supervisor Howard Arden said, "Having had an opportunity to review this revised plan in greater detail, I have a solid understanding of the project and its potential impacts and benefits. We appreciate the efforts the Brynwood team has made to reduce the size and scope of their plan, while maintaining the project's feasibility and anticipate providing this application a fair and complete hearing during the SEQRA process. Ultimately, we will judge the project based on an analytical appraisal of its overall impact -- both positive and negative -- on the Town of North Castle and the Byram Hills School District."

"We are certainly encouraged by the leadership that is in town today as we are proactive with smart development," added Mr. Mendell.

Mr. Mendell said the logic behind Brynwood’s plan is that it is good for the town. It will generate income and will involve very little offset of costs. The town will not be responsible for maintaining roads or sewers on the property; additionally, they will not maintain trees or pick up trash, he added. The property already receives fire and police protection. The revenue which will be generated for the town in his estimation is 99% net profit in the long run and the same holds true for the schools district. He added that since this community will attract empty nesters and retirees, there will be few if any school-aged children; it is projected that fewer than 10 children will live in Brynwood, just like in other Westchester golf communities such as Saint Andrews and Doral Arrowwood.

Jeff Mendell said, "The people in Windmill in Water District #2 have a big problem: They need to replace all of their distribution pipes and we know it is an expensive proposition to do that. We had approached Windmill the first time around about joining Water District #2 and it would have been a great benefit to them. It would have cost them nothing and probably reduced everyone’s bills. But they rejected us, so we are now developing our own site-water supply. Testing for that is in the works and we will pursue that unless there is a viable alternative. If there is, we are more than willing to talk with the town about an alternative solution.”

Mr. Mendell said they anticipate that "the project will take anywhere from three to five years to build, depending on the sales pace."

Brynwood Updates

June 30, 2012
Brynwood Golf and Country Club invited their Windmill Farms’ neighbors to a barbecue on June 28, 2012 for an opportunity to provide more details on updates to Brynwood’s residential plan.
Many Windmill residents said they hadn’t received the invitation. The turnout at the event was low, with under 20 families represented.

Supervisor Reese Berman, who is a Windmill Farms resident, attended the barbecue. She said the changes proposed involved the number of residences, reduced to 115 condominiums and villas, along with 12-middle-income units, which would be located on the premise. Berman said people have to recognize and accept the fact that either the golf course remains with the condominiums or there will be private houses without the golf course instead.

Windmill resident Susan Miller said the presenters proposed that the middle-income units be separated from the condos and villas; the latter would be sold at market rate. It was also said that residents of the middle-income units would not be afforded the same privileges as those offered to residents of the the market-rate condos and villas, as members of the golf and country club.

The invitation said Brynwood's plan "provides new age-targeted luxury golf condos for empty nesters and active adults who want to downsize and remain in the region."

Additional discussions revealed that the attached two-bedroom units would be priced at about $1.2 million while the three-bedroom units would be listed at $1.5 million.

The invitation said the plan for 127 units will help preserve open space. "The current golf course and open space, over 140 acres, will be deeded as open space in perpetuity,” whereas the alternate plan of 49-single-family homes would eliminate the golf course, increase traffic, increase student enrollment and burden town services.

Many Windmill Farms residents have expressed concern that the Brynwood development would add more traffic to Route 22, especially during the morning drop-off time at the high school. The impact of traffic in the area needs to be reviewed. It was indicated that a traffic study would be done after the plan was accepted by the town; still, the invitation stated, "We are working with the town of North Castle to study ways to mitigate and even improve the traffic on Rte 22."

It was also said during the barbecue that further discussions involving the water supply for Brynwood are needed. The options of either drilling private wells on the property or continuing to pay for water from Windmill's Water District No. 2 were also briefly mentioned.

A recent Town study indicated that the infrastructure of Windmill Farms’ water supply requires overhauling. The improvements are projected to cost approximately 14 to 19 million dollars; this would, in turn, cost Windmill residents, who are taxpayers of Water District No. 2, more than $2,000 each year for a 20-year bond.

Brynwood Golf & Country Club Providing Summer Jobs for 30 Local Youth in Armonk Area

June 3, 2012
Finding a summer job can be tough in this challenging economy. But Brynwood Golf & Country Club is doing its part to boost the local economy by hiring 30 local youths for summer jobs at the Armonk country club.

“Brynwood has always prided itself on offering summer jobs for young people from the local Armonk community. We anticipate a very busy summer this year and look forward to having these young people on board,” said Friedrich Eder, General Manager of the Brynwood Golf & Country Club.

Armonk residents are delighted that their sons and daughters have the opportunity to work at Brynwood during the summer. The club is managed by Troon Golf, the world’s leading golf management company who provides training and supervision.  

Lisa Hogan of Armonk has two daughters working at Brynwood -- Kira, 21, and Jenna, 19.  “Working at Brynwood has given my daughters a sense of purpose and responsibility,” said Ms. Hogan, who is managing broker for the Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate office in Armonk. “The money they have earned working at Brynwood in the summer has provided them with the financial ability to travel and study abroad. Overall, it’s been a very positive experience. I commend Brynwood for providing summer jobs for our residents,” she added.

Long-time Armonk resident Dino Liso agrees. “It’s great to have these summer employment opportunities for our local kids. A lot of my friends have kids who work at Brynwood and they’re all very pleased,” said Mr. Liso, whose daughter Diana, has worked at the Brynwood Pro Shop for several summers.

Providing summer jobs for youth is just one example of how Brynwood’s contributes to the local economy. Brynwood annually generates much-needed property tax revenue for the Town of North Castle and the Bryam Hills School District. The country club has also become a focal point of social activity in the community as over half of its members residents of Armonk.

Brynwood is active in the local community on many levels, whether it’s supporting   local merchants or contributing to local organizations. Last year, Brynwood opened its doors to residents affected by Hurricane Irene. “We certainly hope the hurricane season is much milder than last year, but if we have a repeat, Brynwood will do its part to help the community,” said Jeffrey B. Mendell, a principal in Brynwood’s ownership.  

Formerly known as the Canyon Club, the property was acquired in late 2009 by a group of investors led by Mr. Mendell, a long-time resident of Armonk. They have invested millions of dollars renovating the clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts and the, 18-hole golf course.

Conveniently located just minutes off I-684 on Route 22 in Armonk, Brynwood Golf & Country Club currently features an 18-hole, championship golf course; 9 Har-Tru tennis courts; an outdoor swimming pool, and a spectacular 65,000-
square-foot clubhouse. The newly renovated clubhouse features an elegant lobby and ballroom that can accommodate up to 400 guests. There is also a sports lounge, a fully equipped fitness center, a business center with Apple computers and a children’s playroom with a movie theatre and video games. Brynwood’s restaurant also offers outstanding cuisine and includes an outdoor cocktail and dining area overlooking the pool, golf course, surrounding hills and features spectacular sunsets.  For more information about Brynwood Golf & Country Club visit

March 9, 2012


Brynwood Golf & Country Club introduced its revised plans for a housing development in Armonk during two presentations last week. A handful of people gathered on Thursday night and about thirty people attended Sunday afternoon's event at the club.

Principal owner Jeff Mendell said he is committed to a comprehensive community effort.

This time their goal is to reach out and meet with members of civic organizations. They are committed to working with town officials and "our motivation is the right use for the town, and everyone wins if it is a collaborate effort," said Mendell.

They have reduced the number of units from last year’s plan of 243 condominiums to 123. The parking has also been reduced from 564 spaces to 271. Lastly, the banquet hall would accommodate 200 guests, rather than last year's proposed 400 guests.

The most important question at hand is whether or not the town would be better off having Brynwood remain a golf and country club with 123 units along Route 22, or have them demolish the golf course and build up to 49 homes on the 150-acre site. If the plan is not approved, Brynwood intends to proceed with the latter option. Mendell said the private homes would be in the 4,000 to 5,000 square-foot range, and would sell for an average price of $1,470,000 per unit.

Jan Bernstein, President of Residents of Windmill Inc., (ROWI) emphasized that she is speaking for herself. She is not in favor of Brynwood’s proposal to build condominiums because she feels it would be too dense. "Permitting an amendment to the zoning code for more density than exists anywhere else in town sets a bad precedent," said Bernstein.  "Zoning exists for a reason and the only way a town should amend a zoning ordinance is if it is clearly in the best interests of the town."

Bernstein believes the Brynwood proposal, as it currently stands, is not in the town’s best interest. Her concern is the major impact on the character of the town that may occur as a result of congestion, traffic and financial factors associated with the new condominium complex.

Bernstein has not seen the new Brynwood plans, and accordingly, cannot comment on whether or not she prefers individual homes on the 150 acres. However, she said the property is zoned for, and has the right to build, two-acre, single-family homes. She estimates the number of homes to be between 35 and 50; she feels that this will generate traffic of about 75-to-100 cars, rather than the 250-or-more cars associated with 123 units. This figure is an estimated total representing the following: two residents' cars per unit, plus cars of members, and those owned by management and employees of the country club.

Bernstein asserted that the 123-housing-unit proposal makes the assumption that 10 children will be added to the district. She questions that figure because it doesn't take into account the total number of children that may be added to the school district. In addition, it does not factor in the number of empty nesters currently living in town that may move to Brynwood after selling their homes. Furthermore, families who would move into the required, offsite 25-middle-income units should be part of the equation.

Mendell said they will comply with the provision for the required middle-income housing of 10%-onsite and 20%-offsite, but given the model of luxury homes, the middle-income units would not fit into the plans onsite.

John Saccardi, Principal of VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture, said they will provide a compelling rationale, as he prepares the study for Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). "It's a big task to minimize the impact and the process will take about a year." The two most important factors to consider appear to be the school system and increased traffic on Route 22.

Saccardi said that Brynwwood is targeting the 123 residences to empty nesters and, as a result, the units would be smaller and would provide a housing option for the town that currently doesn't exist. Saccardi has studied other Westchester country club residential developments, including Rye Brook's Doral Arrowwood and St. Andrews Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson. Both clubs have three school-aged children, said Saccardi. Furthermore, based on the standard textbook study of Rutgers Urban Research, Brynwood is projected to have 10 school-aged children, at the most, added Saccardi. He projects 51 school-aged children for the alternative plan of 49 single-family homes.

Jim Tinson, an architect with the firm Hart Howerton, said the plans include 108 homes that would consist of two-bedroom units and 15 homes of 3-bedroom villas. Two-to-four of the units would be maintained as guest suites. Brynwood plans to open the units in phases of about 20 at a time, depending upon real estate market demand. Mendell anticipates the building phases may take from three-to-five years.

One unidentified audience member said that as an empty nester, she would like to stay in town, but if she were to sell her home for $1.5 million, she wouldn't be able to afford Brynwood. She also asked about assessments. Mendell said that there will not be any assessments charged to residents because the model stipulates that management pay for all capital improvements.

Alan Cohen, an 18-year-Armonk resident, said he is an upcoming empty nester and thinks Brynwood is the best project to come to North Castle.

The projected buying costs will not be easy on the pocketbook. The estimated purchase price of the 123 condominiums is between $1.2 and $1.5 million. Residents would also be required to pay common charges associated with private services for garbage collection, road maintenance, and gate house security, in addition to golf & country club membership and a 100%-refundable-membership bond.  All road maintenance and other services, including snow plowing, would be privately handled at no additional cost to the town.

Westchester condominium taxes are typically 50% of a single-family home that is assessed at the same value. Projected taxes for 123 condos are $2.4 million. 60% of the money would go to the school district, and with the projection of 10 students at the expense of $26,000, Mendell said the surplus of school taxes would be $1.4 million each year.

Brynwood is located just north of Byram Hills High School on Route 22, across from Windmill Farms. Windmill resident Sue Miller pointed out that Route 22, from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m., resembles the Long Island Expressway. The problem is a function of the location of the entrance and exit at the high school, and the congestion that is caused by buses, as well as students, teachers, administrators and parents who drive to school.

Saccardi said the impact of the 123 units will be far less, since there will be fewer school-aged-children living there than in the 49 private homes. Route 22 is owned by the state and Brynwood will work with the state and town on this project. Stan Simon, a 35-year-Windmill resident, said he was concerned with the increase in cut-through traffic that now translates into speeds of 50-60 MPH through Windmill.

Brynwood has proposed a self-sustaining water supply from onsite wells. The club now uses water that is piped in under Route 22 from the Windmill Water District. 123 units require 60,060 gallons of water daily, which is comparable to the projected use of water for the alternative proposal of 49 private homes.

Mendell said construction of the project would have a halo effect that would benefit the local economy. It would create 300 construction jobs and 75 additional jobs to run the club; Brynwood would also continue to employ about 30 high school students during the summer.

An unidentified audience member, who said he was a resident, asked about the impact that additional residents would have on the fire and police department’s emergency services.

Under a separate email, Armonk Fire Chief LuciLabriola-Cuff said, "As the Fire Department noted to the Town Board, the assisted living center that is proposed to go into Business Park has the potential to increase our call volume by 10%. This number is based on the number of emergency calls they have had at their other facilities with the same number of residents. If we add the Brynwood Development, this has the potential to increase our call volume even more. This is certainly going to put a strain on our department and may cause us to have to go with some additional career staffing, most likely career EMTs, rather than drivers."

30-year- Windmill resident Linda Sage expressed concern about pesticide use on golf courses to "keep the greens green". She referenced studies that demonstrate the potential link for ground water contamination from pesticide use to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Brynwood spokesman Justin Lapatine responded that golf course designer and architect Rees Jones will implement the best pesticide management program, since residents will be near the golf course. "We want to make sure health is not negatively impacted."

Brynwood Redesign Addresses Neighborhood Concerns

Updated February 13, 2012
The partnership of the Brynwood Golf & Country Club has rethought their proposed project over the past eight months and recently unveiled a new design that calls for fewer residential units then earlier projections. The redesigned golf and country club year-round community has been downsized from 243 units to 123 luxury condominium and golf villa residences.
Jeffrey Mendell, North Castle resident and Brynwood Principal Owner said, "We have heard loud and clear the issues and concerns and the revised plans are responsive to the community." They have started over with a new concept of scaling everything back to insure the best outcome. "It's more intimate, better-designed, and more in-sync with the community," said Mendell.
There will be fewer units on the same 14-acres as part of the total 156 acres. The 14-acres of the site is level property near Route 22. Each unit has been designed to be more private and intimate than earlier designs in the original plan. Fifteen of the villas will be three-bedroom units; 108 condos will be two-bedroom, 1950-square-foot homes. Each one will be a corner unit with views of the rolling hills and sunset overlooking the Brynwood golf course. The four-unit buildings will look like large single homes laid out in two stories. The homes will be located behind a stone wall along Route 22, and will be screened by extensive landscaping. The 14 acres will include a fully renovated clubhouse, tennis courts and a new swimming pool.
The club house will be gutted and remodeled. Mendell explained that the reduction in the density will result in a more luxurious development. The 89,000 square-foot clubhouse will be reduced by 40,000 square feet. The wing of the 18 hotel-like rooms connected to the clubhouse will be demolished. The upstairs ballroom, originally designated for 400 guests, will accommodate 200 guests.

Mendell anticipates attracting homebuyers from Manhattan who are looking for second homes. The complex will be targeted toward the retiring baby boomers, with a minimum of school-aged children. "Common sense says that young families moving into town would rather spend $1-to-$2-million dollars on a private home with a backyard." Their research of similar year-round Westchester country club communities such as St. Andrews in Hastings-on-Hudson and Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook indicates that there are very few families who have school-aged children living there. Their studies, which are based on Rutgers' analysis, show the proposed Brynwood community may have 10 school children at the most, said Mendell.
Mendell estimates the project cost to be in excess of $100 million, which represents half of the initial estimate of last year's project. The new estimated tax revenue is $2.4 million per year, of which 67 percent or $1.6 million would be allotted to the Byram Hills School District.
We should be aware that if retired baby boomers sell their homes in North Castle and move to Brynwood, the new homebuyers of their units would most likely be families. For example, let's say there are as many in-town unit buyers as members, or 50 percent. That figure represents about 60 of the 123 homes in Brynwood that would be sold to North Castle residents. Those 60 homes that baby boomers are downsizing from may be sold to families with an average of 2.3 children: That translates into an additional 138 children in our school district. 
Approximately 15 percent of the tax revenue ($363,000) is paid to the town of North Castle. It is estimated that "the Town will also receive revenue in excess of $2 million by collecting building permit fees and recreation fees from the construction of the project." The project is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 75 permanent jobs. The golf and country club is the largest employer of local kids: Thirty high school students work at Brynwood during the summer. The golf course is also the home course of Byram Hills Girls Golf Team.
Mendell said there will be very little impact on town services. All their services will be privately maintained; this includes snow plowing, brush clean up, and refuse collection. Initially, Brynwood considered expanding its usage of the neighboring Windmill water supply; however, this expansion is no longer part of their plans. Brynwood intends to build their own wells and provide their own water. Water from a couple of golf course ponds is recycled and used for maintenance and upkeep of the golf course.
Last summer Brynwood Country Club had a total of 360 members, with a cap of 500. Half of their members live in North Castle and the other half reside in the surrounding towns/cities of Bedford, Greenwich, Chappaqua, Stamford, White Plains, Rye Brook and Manhattan. Mendell explained that country clubs generally draw from about a 20-mile radius. Under the new plan, they intend to cap the membership at 400. The goal is fewer people and more exclusivity.
The new plans accommodate less people, and therefore, less traffic. Parking has been reduced from 564 spaces to 271 spaces. In addition, the proposed parking structure has been eliminated. The heaviest traffic flow on Route 22 is from 7:30a.m. to 9:00a.m. on school mornings. Mendell added that Transportation Engineer John Collins has studied the impact of the new plans and predicts that the country club residents would add one additional car-per-minute to Route 22; as a result, the impact would be minimal.
An All-Star team of professionals is on board with the project. The homes and clubhouse will be designed by Architectural Firm Hart Howerton. They are recognized internationally for award-winning golf communities. Legendary golf course Designer and Architect Rees Jones has developed a new master plan for the 18-hole championship golf course. Mendell takes credit for working with Jones and suggesting a few improvements for the redesigned and renovated course that will stretch to more than 6,700 yards and par 71. World preeminent golf management company Troon Golf manages the golf club and has recognized Brynwood as "one of the top up-and-coming country clubs in the United States."
The property is zoned for single family homes existing on 2-acre lots. "49 homes on three-to-four acres each could be built as of right with no variances," said Mendell. "But I don't think it is a good use for the property. It doesn't make sense to destroy the club," he added. Brynwood's dilemma is the concern that the business is not sustainable as a seasonal country club. However, Mendell believes the new project is a good land use. The alternative plan of building 49 private homes has attracted interest from Toll Brothers home builders.
The new plans will be submitted to the town on March 14. Mendell said he is encouraged by the changes in the town government. He finds the new leadership more enlightened as the previous administration had sent back the initial plans to the developer last year.

Brynwood must adhere to the required middle-income housing code of either 10 percent of the 123 units onsite, or 24.6 units/20 percent offsite. It is unlikely that Brynwood will build the required affordable or middle-income housing onsite because it would not fit into the upscale model. Mendell said a possible alternative plan would require a monetary value paid for offsite housing; the funds could be applied toward the town's public housing costs, as is often done elsewhere.
The Brynwood team is extending an invitation to the North Casatle residents to an open house at Brynwood Golf & Country Club, located at 568 Bedford Road in Armonk, on Thursday March 1 at 8:00p.m. and Sunday March 4 at 3:00p.m. They will present the revised plans and answer all questions at the upcoming open houses. The open houses for Brynwood members are scheduled for March 1 at 6:30p.m. and Sunday March 4 at 5p.m. For more information visit
Brynwood Club Proposes 243 Condos

October 28, 2011
The Brynwood Golf and Country Club withdrew its application for a special use permit to build 243 luxury condominiums. As announced by attorney Mark Weingarten, of DelBello, Donnellan, Weingartern, Wise & Wiederkehr, the club's plan proposed the construction of one-and two-bedroom homes and cottages near the existing clubhouse and golf course. The plan also called for an expansion and exterior renovation of the clubhouse, and the building of new swimming pools and a health club, a spa and new tennis courts.

Country Club living on a golf course, although popular in Florida and other resort areas, is a lifestyle unavailable in Westchester; the club would be an important part of the daily life of the residents. Architect Jim Tinson, CEO of Hart Howerton, is a Westchester resident and a member of the Brynwood Club. Hart Howerton specializes in creating golf communities around the globe. The before and after photos of Brynwood revealed plenty of areas in need of improvement. The 65,000 square foot club house looks tired. Tinson says the facility needs an entirely new facade that blends in with the architectural feel of the community. In addition, improvements will be made to the landscape along Route 22. Everything will be coordinated with the restaurant, tennis courts, pool and spa. "It's not just about golf," says Tinson. "It's a country club offering a life style."

The Brynwood Partnership consists of three partners: including 17-year resident and established developer Jeff Mendell of the JBM Realty group; the Corigan Realty Group, which is a large developer based in New York City with $2 billion in assets; and Florida East Coast Realty, which for 90 has been one of the largest developers in the nation.

Weingarten says he has been in this business in Westchester for 20 years, and this is the strongest group he has ever worked with. They can get the job done with their experience and financial ware-with-all. He says the benefits to North Castle will include an increase in estimated annual property tax revenue of $3 to $5 million, with the Town receiving up to $750,000 in annual taxes. Weingarten says the development will have little impact on the schools since it is targeted for empty-nesters, and the school district will receive an estimated $2.1 to $3.5 million in taxes.  The building permits and recreation fees will be in excess of $2 million. Additional benefits will include 300 construction jobs and over 100 permanent jobs at the club itself.

North Castle regulations require any applicants for multiple home developments to provide the town with a percentage of affordable housing units. Weingarten says the applicant is aware of this and they don't have a location yet, but they are looking to meet this regulation off-site. They don't believe it will work on-site because of the type of housing choices that will be offered at Brynwood.
The work will to be done by a team of professionals: Rees Jones, a world-renowned golf course designer and architect; the Troon Golf management company; and John Myers, an Armonk site development consultant. The water supply is a big issue and Weingarten offers two possibilities. One is to draw water directly from the 156 acre site and the other is to expand Water District Number 2 in Windmill Farm by letting the water supply cross under Route 22.

Rees Jones, the US Open "Doctor," is widely known for his renovation of tournament golf courses. Jones developed a new plan for a 6,350-yard par 70, 18-hole course, stretching it to more than 6,700 yards and par 71. "The new design will attract golfers of all levels," says Jones. "The course is designed to be fun and challenging to all golfers in a beautiful setting."

Jeff Mendell says "we have a unique opportunity to save a golf course and enhance a valuable community asset. In the process we will generate an estimated $5 million annually in real estate taxes and create a fantastic lifestyle for empty-nesters looking to downsize. This is intelligent development and is a "win-win" for North Castle and both the current, and future, members of Brynwood."