Fareri Presents Alternative Plans for Two Properties
January 18, 2018 Developer Michael Fareri sent a letter to the North Castle Town Board dated January 10, 2018 in which he outlined alternative plans to develop the properties at 162 Bedford Road and 470 Main Street than those already approved by the town.
The letter reads, “Presently, our approved plan is for the development of thirty market rate units and six AFFH units at the Lumberyard. As an alternative, I propose developing thirty luxurious market rate units at the Lumberyard and reducing the six approved affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) units to three AFFH units as required by Westchester County and Town of North Castle ordinance.”
The North Castle Planning Board permitted Fareri’s residential, multi-family, single structure (R-MF-SS) at 162 Bedford Road to expand the floor area ration (FAR) density to 0.9. This is more than double of North Castle’s 0.4 FAR, which is the maximum permitted on a site in a residential, multi-family, school district (R-MF-SCH District). Therefore, to allow for the “bonus density” the Town Board doubled the AFFH requirement on the proposed building at 162 Bedford Road from 10 percent to 20 percent.
“At 470 Main Street, sixteen approved units will then be eleven market rate units and five AFFH units. The justification behind this proposed reduction is: why build more AFFH units in Armonk than the County requires?” Fareri asked in his letter to the Town Board.
The Town Board considers the character of the located neighborhood and its adjoining properties to determine the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) for a residential zone. The gross floor area is the sum of all of the horizontal areas measured from the exterior walls of a building in square feet (basements, attics, and mechanical areas may be excluded). A building’s gross floor area is divided by the area of the lot in square feet to determine the FAR.
Fareri’s letter addressed relocating the AFFH units to avoid combining high end market rate units with AFFH units at 162 Bedford Road. He said that combining the two types of housing “often leads to disagreements among residents concerning maintenance costs and paying for property improvements. This inherent conflict eventually leads to legal actions such as we have seen happen in Armonk among residents of Whippoorwill Hills and Whippoorwill Commons. Relocating the AFFH units avoids such conflicts of interest, which are unfair to both parties.”
Furthermore, Fareri wrote that the combined luxury units and AFFH units are a “recipe for failure” and suggested that moving the required AFFH units off-site to 470 Main Street might represent logical urban planning, which is in the best interest of AFFH residents and North Castle taxpayers.
“Unlike the single structure building at the Lumberyard with its common lobby, hallways, elevator, etc., the proposed building at 470 Main Street is a townhouse type building(s) where there are 16 individual units, each with their own entrance and no common lobbies, hallways, elevators, etc…. The maintenance and replacement of these common elements of a building are the source of conflicts and arguments between market rate owners and affordable owners which will not exist at 470 Main Street.”
Fareri also said he would donate $500,000 to reduce the 20 percent of the AFFH requirement to 10 percent. The donation is intended to go toward the restoration of Wampus Brook Park South, and is in addition to the recreation fees that are required for new multi-family residential construction in North Castle.
In his letter Fareri concluded that he will attend the January 24 Town Board meeting and “hopefully you will allow me and other residents of our community the opportunity to again try to convince you to support this alternate development plan, the reduction and relocation of the AFFH units and to accept my donation.”
Fareri Prefers to Develop Luxury Building at 162 Bedford Road
October 3, 2016 Although Michael Fareri’s project at 162 Bedford Road has an approval to develop 30 market rate units and six AFFH units as a single structure, he said that he will not build this building. The combination of market rate apartments and affirmatively furthering fair housing [AFFH] units would fail, he said. Because of the potential financial conflicts between the residents of the affordable units and the market rate homeowners.
Fareri's attorney Alan Singer said, "It’s similar to a dispute that’s going on now at Whippoorwill Hills where there’s a disparity between homeowners over an assessment for improvements. There’s an issue with some people who can afford the assessments, while some owners of the middle-income units cannot possibly afford the assessments for the enhancements."
Brenda Schone, a current Whippoorwill Hills resident, said she has carefully reviewed Fareri’s plans for 30 apartments at the former lumberyard. She would like to move there if he were to build the luxury apartments. “There are a lot of snowbirds who want to have something under $1 million, something between $600,000 to $800,000 with private garages” and that’s what Fareri is proposing," she said. “It’s not fair. There are so many people who live in Armonk who are snowbirds and live in Whippoorwill Hills because we don’t have a place like Mike is offering. He knows that and has been offering the plan for over three years. Yet we can’t get in there. This war between two adults is so pathetic and it’s so annoying that no one will consider us. The people who pay taxes are loyal to this town, and are getting screwed.”
Schone referred to the September 28 Town Board’s Work Session when Supervisor Michael Shiliro requested Fareri to apologize for an insult he made toward a town employee before presenting his plan, and then Fareri walked out of the meeting.
Alan Singer, Fareri’s lawyer said, "The adversity between Fareri and Schiliro is personal with two dissimilar points of view.”
When asked if personalities get in the way of what’s best for the town, Schiliro said, “Personalities or personal feelings never affect how I perform my job for the Town.”
Furthermore Schiliro said he doesn’t understand Singer’s comments. “I continue to very publicly extoll the positive virtues of Michael Fareri's construction skills, which I don't think defines adversity. The continuum that the Town is presented with is that despite continuous and repeated support by the Town Board for Michael Fareri's countless proposals, he just doesn't build anymore. Anyone in Town can drive past his properties either on Maple Avenue or the old lumberyard property at the end of Bedford Rd if they need proof.”
At the North Castle Planning Board meeting on Monday September 26, Fareri said that in the event that his applications for 30 market rate units at the former lumberyard and 16 AFFH units at 470 Main Street were not approved by the Town Board, he would opt to sell the lumberyard property as a 48-unit AFFH application.
Fareri was on the agenda for the work session with the Town Board on September 28 to discuss his project at 470 Main Street. At the Planning Board meeting, he said if he did not receive a special use permit from the Town Board for his latest project of 16 AFFH units at the 470 Main Strret location, then he wanted to go back to the Planning Board for a public hearing in four weeks, on October 24. He would then continue with the project of 48 AFFH units at 162 Bedford Road. The Planning Board agreed, if necessary, that Fareri could present an application for the 48 AFFH units at a public hearing at that time.
Singer said Westchester County has drafted a contract negotiated with Fareri to purchase the lumberyard property for the approved 36 units, which they would build as AFFH units.
However, Fareri has countered with another option: if there are 36 AFFH units, why not allow 48 units?
Singer said, “I don’t think anybody wants the 48 units, but if you are going to force a guy to do what he doesn’t want to do, obviously he’s going to do it in a manner to generate as much money as possible.”
Singer added that Fareri obviously wants the most he can get for his property and that someone else besides the county would build the project if 48 AFFH units were approved.
The plan to increase from 36 to 48 AFFH units would eliminate the garages, reducing the building from 89,000 square feet to 46,000 square feet.
Although Fareri said that the 36-unit or 48-unit plan is not the building of his choice, “Due to the difficulties with the Town Board, I may be left with no other option.”
Last year, Fareri presented his properties at 39 and 41 Maple Avenue, and received a preliminary nod of approval from the Town Board to transfer his required six AFFH units from the lumberyard to Maple Avenue. The Town Board gave him a preliminary approval to move forward with the plan with the affordable units to Maple Avenue, but Fareri never did so.
Singer said, "Maple Avenue didn’t work, it was a good idea on paper, but made no financial sense." He estimated there would have been a loss of about $2 million because of the value of the building against the value of the building once it’s redeveloped if affordable units were built there.
In addition, Singer continued, Fareri would have to evict two long-term tenants, who didn’t want to move and he didn’t want to do that. He added that building the affordable units at 470 Main Street is a more viable option, and there are no further plans to redevelop the Maple Avenue at this time.
If Fareri had had the opportunity to present his plans for 470 Main Street at the work session, he would have made two points said Singer. "One is 470 Main Street is to give the Town the opportunity to establish a zoning district for affordable units that they don’t have, which the federal government blames them for not having and comes in and says you have exclusionary zoning because you don’t have any area that’s for affordable housing. Thi gets the federal government off the town’s back.”
Armonk does have ten affordable housing located on Old Route 22 which is working toward sales and occupation.
Singer noted, that Fareri’s second point is that “he’ll show how financially building the 30 market rate units at the lumberyard is equivalent, yet without the risks, to selling the 162 Bedford Road project building to Westchester County for 36 AFFH units."
However, Singer continued, “He doesn’t think selling the property to Westchester County is the best thing for the town. If Fareri were to sell the units to the County, the town would lose, we have calculated, about $300,000 a year in real estate taxes for the projected assessed evaluation of the affordable units as against the market rate units.”
Vicky Sirota, North Castle tax assessor, said she could not verify any tax numbers for these proposals at this time, as it’s too premature.
Fareri maintained that his preference was to reduce the combined 36 market rate and AFFH units and to build 30 luxury units at 162 Bedford Road. And then to move his 20% obligation of six AFFH to 470 Main Street. He said there he could construct up to 16 AFFH units, but planned to build only the required six AFFH units and then land bank 10 additional AFFH units for future obligations.
Singer concluded, "While a town typically is more concerned about ecological situations, such as wetlands and open space, more so than a developer, in most cases two reasonable people can come to an agreement that’s satisfactory to both."
Fareri asked for the 470 application to be on the October 13 Town Board agenda. When asked if the application will be on the agenda, Schiliro said, “All agenda items, except previously scheduled public hearings, are decided upon during the week before the meeting.” Therefore he can not answer that question until he reviews everything and can advise later in the week.
Fareri Asks to Appear on Town Board’s Next Agenda and Apologizes
September 30, 2016 Many would agree with Developer Michael Fareri when he says the impact of the growth within the hamlet of Armonk has been an on-going concern for 30 years. Subsequently, out of necessity, the hamlet’s sewer system has been improved and expanded to meet those demands. However, the impact of the additional sewer flow must be considered for Fareri’s most recent application presented to the Planning Board on September 26 that increases the number of units in the building at 162 Bedford Road—the former lumberyard—from 36 to 48.
At the September 26 Planning Board meeting, Fareri outlined that during the past two years, the Town Board has approved sewer line extensions for six homes on Cox Avenue, two Main Street developments of 16 units for senior housing, and a subdivision with seven individual homes, as well as 13 houses on Orchard Drive, where North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro lives.
Fareri said that while there’s ample sewer capacity for those projects, “For some reason, the lumberyard property, which is presently approved for 36 units, did not present a sewer problem," remarked Fareri, "but when the new application is submitted for 48 AFFH units, the additional 12 bedrooms present a problem.”
Fareri then said he had sent a letter to Sal Misiti, superintendent for Water and Sewer, to tell “him to come the September 26 Planning Board meeting so I could ask him some questions. But he chose not to come, he chose to hide, frankly.”
That comment infuriated Supervisor Michael Schiliro. At the opening of the Town Board’s September 28 work session, Schiliro said Misiti is a hard-working employee and nobody will treat him with disrespect. Schiliro insisted that Fareri publicly apologize to Misiti before he begin his presentation of the 16 AFFH units at 470 Main Street. Fareri refused to apologize and walked out of the work session.
Earlier at the Planning Board meeting, Roland Baroni, North Castle town attorney, said the GHD engineers, an outside engineering firm, had alerted the Town Board to a potential problem in Armonk’s sewer and water capacity. Baroni added that the engineering firm has indicated they believe the town is at or past sewer capacity.
But it is hard to figure the capacity because of IBM’s reserves that have never been used for over 50 years. A plan to build an undeveloped 32 acres of IBM’s property has come forward and that plan depends upon IBM’s reserved 125,000 gallons of sewer capacity per day, said Baroni.
Therefore, the town board has commissioned a study be done by outside engineers to be sure the reserves are there for use by the IBM development. In addition, the town board has commissioned a study to find out where Armonk is with its water capacity.
Allan Singer, Fareri’s lawyer, said that while he didn’t watch the Planning Board meeting, he doesn’t understand what the problem was. But, Singer continued, “I’m sure he [Fareri] didn’t mean to insult anybody and certainly doesn’t bear Sal Misiti any ill will.” Singer then said that it was inappropriate to reprimand Fareri in public.
"The adversity between Fareri and Schiliro is personal with two dissimilar points of view," said Singer. Furthermore, he said that the animosity toward one another is from Fareri bringing up things that have occurred that are potentially embarrassing for the Town Board, which he let that be known publicly, questioning what the Town Board does and how they do it. “We have to swallow our pride and get this thing done. It’s unfair to the town that the personalities get in the way of what is in the best interest of the town.”
Schiliro did not comment in time for this article.
The day after the work session, Fareri sent two e-mails. One to Schiliro saying, “Since you did not give me the opportunity to speak at last night's work session (Sept. 28, 2016), please place the 470 Main Street application on the next Town Board agenda for the meeting on Thursday, October 13, 2016.”
A second e-mail followed the work session in which Fareri apologized to Sal Misiti. The e-mail said, “Sal. I want to apologize to u [sic] if I offended u [sic] at the Monday night planning board meeting. As u [sic] remember just months ago I complemented u [sic] how fortunate the town is to have u [sic]. As I discussed with u [sic] my frustration in understanding sewer capacity for different developers and being able to expand the district while not allowing in the district to increase. Anyway, if I offended u [sic] please forgive me.”
September 28, 2016 At the North Castle Town Board's work session on September 28, the only item on the 45-minute allotted agenda was Michael Fareri's multi-family housing project application at 470 Main Street. North Castle Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro referenced the North Castle Planning Board meeting of September 26. Schiliro said he was concerned about Michael Fareri's comment about sewers being proposed for Orchard Drive, where Schiliro lives, made at the planning board meeting during a discussion for Fareri's proposal of 48 AFFH units at the former lumberyard property. The sewer proposal on Orchard Drive is from a private developer who intends to pay for the installation.
Fareri questioned why Schiliro's street was getting sewers. "He [Fareri] knows the answer to that question and he shouldn't have made the comment," said Schiliro.
He continued, "Orchard Drive has always been in the sewer district to get sewers if the residents ever proposed to bring sewers up to Annadale, Orchard, Old Mount Kisco Road, Cox and a few other streets. So the allotment is there for those streets in reserve since the 1980s when the Board of Health recommended that those streets be included in the sewer district. So the comment should not have been made."
"But the more disturbing comment, and I have to address it,” added Schiliro, "and then Michael Fareri can begin. We have some very hard-working employees for this town from department heads right on down to the folks in line. And I can't think of anybody who is more conscientious and works with integrity and class than Sal Misiti."
Sal Misiti is the North Castle superintendent of sewer and highways.
Schiliro continued that Fareri "thought he was able to take the liberty to invite Sal to the meeting to have his presence there, which is done by the Town Board or the Planning Board. And then he made a statement about Sal hiding and not showing up to the meeting. It's a deplorable comment and has no place in this town. We will not allow it. Nobody is going to make comments about our employees, especially Sal Misiti, and his name is pronounced M-I-S-I-T-I, not M-I-S-T-Y, Michael, and you know that.
"You can't find a harder working employee than Sal. If you have a sewer main or a water burst at 2:00 a.m., when it is 10 degrees out, Sal is there. Nobody works harder for this town than Sal, and nobody will treat him with that disrespect. And I don't understand why you continue to conduct yourself in this fashion. I would be curious to know why you would make a comment like that for somebody who you know quite well and works as hard as he does. It's a question, Michael. Care to answer it?"
Fareri stood at the podium with his head bowed down with no response.
After a moment of silence, Schiliro continued, "I'll take that as a no. I'd like you to begin, but before you do that, you owe that gentleman an apology, and I'd like to hear it in this room, because he does not deserve that treatment."
After an uncomfortable silence of over three minutes, Schiliro repeated there is no public comment at a work session. It's a meeting of the Town Board. "We're ready to begin, if Michael Fareri would like to begin."
At that point Schiliro addressed Fareri directly. "But we're not beginning our meeting until you apologize to that man."
"Does that mean we are not having the meeting?" responded Fareri.
"It's a very simple task, Michael,” answered Schiliro.
"Okay, no problem. Thank you very much for your time. I'm sorry. I didn't come to this meeting to get reprimanded. Thank you very much, Mr. Supervisor."
"Your choice, Michael," said Schiliro. "You know you owe him an apology,” concluded Schiliro referring to Misiti.
At that point, Fareri gathered his presentation and walked out of the meeting.
Check back with All About Armonk for further coverage on this topic, including an interview with Allan Singer, Michael Fareri’s lawyer.
Fareri Looks for Feedback to Relocate Affordable Units Required for 162 Bedford Road Apartment Building
July 25, 2016 Michael Fareri has reconsidered his plans for the former lumberyard at 162 Bedford Road. His latest plan is to develop 35 market rate units in one building. He is also trying to relocate the required Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing units (AFFH) to 470 Main Street, which he is in contract to purchase. In February, the Town Board gave Fareri the nod to relocate the then six required affordable units to his properties at 37 and 41 Maple Avenue when he reduced 162 Bedford Road to 30 market rate units.
"I am trying to get on the agenda of the Town Board's meeting on Wednesday July 27 to have a short discussion for them to see the plan to develop 470 Main Street," said Fareri. He has plans to build between 12 and 16 AFFH units; the number of AFFH units is determined by the Planning Board. Fareri says this project would accommodate his now seven required AFFH units from the lumberyard and possibly Brynwood's eight required AFFH units, or other future AFFH demands. "It would be great to have all of them in the one place." Whether they will be rentals or for sale has yet to be determined.
Fareri plans to offer the 36 market rate apartments at 162 Bedford Road combined as for sale and rent, which he said would fill the need for community members who are looking for an alternative to single family homes. Main Street is a better location for affordable housing than Maple Avenue, he said, because there are no adjacent properties that would be negatively affected. He added, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Federal Monitor and presiding federal judge still have their eye on North Castle for affordable housing and this plan accommodates that.
Fareri has asked Supervisor Michael Schiliro for time at the Town Board's July 27 meeting to make a brief and informal presentation for his latest plan at 470 Main Street. Supervisor Michael Schiliro has responded via email that if Fareri has a plan that he would like the Town Board to review, he should submit an application.
Fareri said all residents of the community should have an opportunity to see the plan and give invaluable input to the Town Board. He added, "The decision [on this project] should not only be made by the Town Board because it has significant impact on the entire community. If they think the plan has merit, then I'll go forward with the application." He added, "It would be better to work amicably to present an informal plan to determine what works best for the town."
As recommended by Adam Kaufman, North Castle's Director of Planning, Fareri submitted the application for Armonk Commons at 470 Main Street to North Castle's Planning Board. At the Planning Board's meeting on June 6, when that application was first discussed, Town Attorney Roland Baroni said it was out of position. Fareri was asked to submit the application to the Town Board as they are the primary agency for the two special use permits required for this project's mixed retail with a residential component of a multi-family dwelling with apartments on both the first floor and the second floor in a central business zoning district. The Town Board could then refer the special use application back to the Planning Board.
Fareri said Westchester County housing officials have seen the .91 acre property and his plan to redevelop 470 Main Street, and that they have given him the nod that this property and plan is acceptable to meet the County's affordable housing requirements.
If Fareri is not able to get on the Town Board's July 27 agenda, he'll consider all of his options, including the option to sell the lumberyard property to Westchester County as they are interested in purchasing the lumberyard for affordable housing. He said he doesn't have much time to make that decision, but the plan to develop the two properties--162 Bedford Road and 470 Main Street--is "financially better and also better for the community."
He is hoping to be granted permission from the Town Supervisor to speak at the July 27 Town Board meeting, if not, he can speak during the public comment period. "As North Castle's fair and affordable housing ordinance is a fifty-year commitment, there's a great impact and the Town Board should welcome the opportunity to see what my thoughts are."
Fareri's plan for his building at 37 Maple Avenue is for the Cocobollo Interior Design business to remain on the first floor as well as the business that occupies the second floor office. He is undecided about what to do with the building at 41 Maple Avenue that has been vacant for years. It's an existing nonconforming mix of retail with a three-bedroom apartment on the second floor. He is considering the renovation of the building but there is the issue of insufficient parking. "The best thing to do is to tear the building down and have additional parking, but the problem with that is that I would provide parking for the benefit of everybody. That's not a bad thing, but it shouldn't be at my expense."
North Castle's affordable housing ordinance requires new multi-dwelling housing projects to include 10 percent of AFFH units. In February the Town Board approved 36 units at the lumberyard as an additional bonus, resulting in 20 percent of AFFH units. The economic difference between 10 and 20 percent of the AFFH requirement affects the bottom line of the market rate portion of the project. Fareri would like to see a reduction of 10 percent in the number of required affordable units at 162 Bedford Road. He said he would consider negotiating the property at 41 Maple Avenue with the town to have for needed parking, in exchange for a reduction of 10 percent for the AFFH component of the lumberyard property to be located at 470 Main Street.
North Castle's Planning Board to Consider Fareri's Latest Affordable Housing Plan
July 9, 2016 Michael Fareri has developed a new plan for the apartment building at 170 Bedford Road near the exit ramp of I-684. The plan for the 48 affordable apartments, known as Armonk Commons, was received by North Castle’s Planning Department on February 8, 2016, and is on the agenda for the Planning Board meeting on July 11.
On March 9, 2015, Fareri’s prior Armonk Commons plan received site-plan approval for 36 units in a multi-family single-structure building. Six of those units were to be for affordable housing.
On February 24, 2016, Fareri asked the Town Board for a zoning change for mixed use of a retail space and the six required affordable units to be transferred from 170 Bedford Road to his property at 37/41 Maple Avenue. The Town Board said there were two conditions for approval:
1. 37/41 Maple Avenue needed to be built before any certificates of occupancy were issued for 170 Bedford Road. 2. 170 Bedford Road would be deed-restricted and limited to 30 units.
Fareri’s February 8, 2016 plan calls for an increase from the 36-unit building to 48 affordable apartments at 170 Bedford Road. The newer plan reduces the building footprint from 18,984 square feet to 15,368 square feet, even though there is an increase from 36 units with 55 bedrooms, to 48 units with 72 bedrooms. The three floors of the 48-unit plan total 46,560 square feet, which remains under the allowable floor area ratio of 49,420 square feet on the lot area of .85 acre. Two studios, 22 one-bedrooms, and 24 two-bedrooms make up the mix of 48 units.
An amended engineering report was also submitted for the projected increase in water use and sewage demand for the 72 bedrooms.
The new estimated water and sewer demand is:
72 bedrooms x 150 gpd/br: 10,800 gpd* less 20% for water saving devices - 2,160 gpd = Average Daily Flow 8,640 gpd or 6.0 gpm**
The gallon per day difference from the original plan of 55 bedrooms and 72 bedrooms is 2,040, a 30% increase above the original plan.
Note: *gpd = gallons per day; **gpm = gallons per minute; br = bedroom)
The effect on future projects, the additional water use, and the capacity for increased sewer usage by this project should be "cautiously scrutinized,” says Sal Misiti, Director of Water & Sewer Operations.
The total surface of the project would remain the same since the 36 above-ground garages for the 36 units would be replaced with outdoor parking of 85 spaces for the 48 units.
On February 8, 2016 Brynwood Partners said in an email to Michael Fareri that they “would be interested in transferring our Affordable Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) units to your site located at 170 Bedford Road in Armonk." In addition, they said they would commit to paying a predetermined price per unit in exchange for Fareri building the units at 170 Bedford Road.
On May 16, 2016, Fareri wrote to Westchester County Commissioner Ed Burroughs and North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro, saying he will present a plan to the Town that will provide 16 [AFFH] units of additional housing. This email was written prior to Fareri’s request to discuss the 48 AFFH unit option. Fareri’s six required AFFH units, plus Brynwood’s eight required AFFH units, and Frank Madonna’s Old Mount Kisco Road project, requiring two AFFH unit, equals 16 AFFH units total.
Fareri has a contract to buy the building at 470 Main Street for almost $2 million. The lot is about one acre in size and could be considered for a location for the 16 AFFH units that Fareri referred to in his May 16 email.
Fareri’s Plan of 48 Affordable Units in Armonk Discussed at Town Board Meeting
June 23, 2016 Supervisor Michael Schiliro updated the public at the June 22 North Castle Town Board meeting with Developer Michael Fareri’s most recent plan of 48 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) units at the former Lumberyard and Green Property at 170 Bedford Road, Armonk.
The Town Board approved Fareri’s prior applications which have evolved over several years. The most recent approval was for an apartment building of 30 fair market apartments with the AFFH housing component of six affordable units that were to be developed in a mixed retail/residential space located on Fareri’s property at 41 Maple Avenue.
“We just found out a few days ago that the current status is that Michael Fareri wants to move forward with the affordable project on that property and not the market rate project,” said Schiliro.
Fareri has asked the North Castle Planning Board to put his latest presentation on the agenda of their next meeting on July 11.
Schiliro said that Westchester County has advised him that Fareri was moving forward with his proposal to have the county purchase the Lumberyard property and to have affordable development on that site.
“The Town Board has no issues with the AFFH program,” says Schiliro. “We have created a model ordinance and have done everything we should do to further it with 25 units partially built or to be built [in Armonk].”
Town Board member Barbara DiGiacinto said Michael Fareri requested a special use permit for the AFFH to be transferred to Maple Avenue. Yet, continued DiGiacinto, there never was a public hearing nor did the Town Board deny the applicant the right to move those six affordable units from the former Lumberyard/Green property to the Maple Avenue location.
Regardless, North Castle Town Attorney Roland Baroni commented that Fareri did schedule a public hearing twice, but both times the hearings were cancelled by the applicant. Baroni said that a public hearing would not be held if an applicant doesn’t want to pursue one; however, the application still needs approvals from the North Castle Planning Board regarding the project’s traffic, sewer, water and any other planning issues.
Michael Fareri has not responded to All About Armonk’s request to comment on the latest proposal. Back in mid-May, Fareri sent us a copy of an e-mail that he wrote on May 16 to Westchester County Commissioner Ed Burroughs and Supervisor Michael Schiliro:
“Thank you for your continued support and efforts in providing AFFH units in North Castle. As you know, presently there is little or no areas, that is zoned, that allows for any residential housing other than high-end single family homes. There is a need to provide housing for young and old, rich or poor, but this community failed. I am also going to present a plan, to the town, that will provide 16 units of additional housing. I hope I will have your support in that application as you have had in the past. I hope the town will look favorably to this plan as well.”
The Town Board has nothing to do with new site plans or amendments, said DiGiacinto. Their latest position with Fareri was to work with him in terms of rezoning the Green property, which is adjacent to the old Lumberyard.
“Without a doubt, it was that plan that influenced me to vote yes to amend the zoning for the Green property so he could go forward with the 36 units. He [Fareri] certainly has the right to change his mind, but that was the plan we had before us when we amended the zoning for the Green property,” said DiGiacinto.
"We loved the plan he proposed with two different buildings," said Town Board member Stephen D’Angelo. Subsequently, continued D'Angelo, the town "quickly worked through the approval process."
Schiliro added, “The density on the [Lumberyard/Green] parcels has increased over time; one time there were 14 affordable units with 20 market rate [apartments]. But the latest proposal that Fareri was going to build, which we were in favor of, was 30 market [rate units] and six affordable units. He thought the project would be more successful if the number of market rate units were moved down to thirty, and then move the affordable units to the Maple Avenue property.”
Fareri purchased the Lumberyard property in 2007 for $1,850,000 and the adjacent Green property for $999,700 in 2014. He merged the two properties in 2015. The unconfirmed sale price of 170 Bedford Road is $8 million.
Nevertheless, Fareri's latest proposal provokes questions. “Who will own the property going forward, and who will be the manager of that property?” asked Neal Baumann, a long-time Armonk resident.
“Sometimes Westchester County takes ownership and then re-transacts it into an affordable housing developer,” responded Baroni. “Other times they fund an affordable housing developer as he buys it directly from the property owner, in this case, Fareri. It will be an affordable developer that builds out that property and the affordable developer will be the manager,” said Baroni.
Lou Larizza is the developer of the ten affordable housing units located on Old Route 22, Armonk. He could likely be the developer of 170 Bedford Road as he has a 25-year history of developing and constructing affordable housing.
But at this time, who manages the property is really unknown. Norma Drummond, Westchester County's Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Planning, has not responded to AllAboutArmonk's request for clarification.
Resident Norma Hill said that according to e-mails she has read, the 48 units will be rentals as opposed to being offered for sale.
Schiliro said he didn’t know if the AFFH units will be for rent or for sale. That is up to Fareri, or the new property owner, he said.
In addition, Hill asked, “What is going to be the impact on schools, fire department and so forth because we don’t know if there will be two or three bedrooms.”
The impact on the schools, as well as the combination of bedrooms, has to be studied by the Planning Board, responded Baroni.
“This is a pretty scary situation should it come to pass,” said Hill. “This could present a serious issue in terms of the number of residents, how many children come into the school district, the tax base and so forth,” she added. Schiliro said that if the application were to continue, it will go through the standard process to determine what the impacts are and what is best for North Castle. Schiliro also said that the AFFH component is not an issue, to which Hill agreed, but Schiliro stressed that if Fareri wants to increase the density of this development, that’s his (Fareri's) choice.
Since the Town Board can’t control Fareri’s decision on what he wants to build because that is not a Town Board issue, the changed proposal will not come before the Town Board. If people have concerns or issues, Schiliro suggested that they raise them at the Planning Board meeting or directly with the applicant.
Rendering for 38 units at 170 Bedford Road, Armonk
Rendering for mixed-use at 37/41 Maple Avenue, Armonk
Fareri Gets Nod to Build 36 Units Downtown Armonk
Updated February 29, 2016 The North Castle Town Board gave a vote of confidence to developer Michael Fareri to move forward on his two housing projects: 170 Bedford Road at the former Armonk lumberyard, and 37/41 Maple Avenue, next to Fortina's.
Fareri’s latest proposal located at 162 Bedford Road is for one large high-end residential luxury building reduced from 36 units to 30 condominiums which he intends to target toward senior citizens. “People have been waiting for this type of development for years,” he said at North Castle’s Town Board’s public hearing on February 24. “Nothing like this has ever been built before in Armonk.”
He does have site plan approval from North Castle’s Planning Board to develop a building of 36 mixed housing units as 30 market rate units and six Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) units. A bonus density was issued for this project which meets North Castle’s requirement that multi-family dwelling projects include Westchester County AFFH units. Although, Fareri said, “It’s difficult to integrate AFFH units and market rate units within one structure.”
Therefore, his latest plan is to move the six AFFH required units to 37 and 41 Maple Avenue. 37 Maple Avenue currently has the Cocobolo Interior designers retail showroom on the first floor and office space on the second floor, while 41 Maple Avenue is a vacant building with a retail space on the first floor and a large 3-bedroom apartment on the second floor. Fareri estimates the market value of the two buildings at $2.5 million.
He plans to tear down 41 Maple Avenue and to renovate 37 Maple Avenue to generate six AFFH apartments with two apartments and 1,000 square feet of retail on the first floor, and four apartments on the second floor. There will be 3 two-bedroom units, and 3 one-bedroom units which most likely will be rental units, unlike the 10 AFFH units on Old Route 22 which are for sale. He said this plan is supported by Westchester County Planning Board. The plan to rebuild 37 Maple Avenue is estimated to cost $1.5 million. He plans to renovate the one building which will be the same square footage as the two buildings combined: 8,260 square feet.
Fareri said the required parking for the mixed use on Maple Avenue is only 15 spaces, which he is able to provide.
Town Board Member Barbara DiGiacinto said Fareri’s plan is a good one. “The fact that apartments in the Central Business District are allowed on the first and second floor, he is not asking for something that does not already exist.”
One of the issues with the different types of housing in one building, said Fareri, is that Westchester County sets the AFFH market price based upon the average Westchester County income levels. “If $800,000 were the price of the market-rate units, and the AFFH units would sell for approximately $200,000, the residents of the income-level restricted units may have a difficult time paying an increase in common charges for any upgrades to the common areas of the building.”
Fareri has been a resident of North Castle for 42 years. During that time he has built several residential multi-family communities in Armonk. In some of those housing complexes, the requirements for North Castle’s (MIU) middle-income units (prior to the AFFH requirements) were transferred off-site to other building lots.
Fareri built the following multi-family residential complexes in Armonk:
Wampus Close, near Wampus Brook Park (18 units);
Whippoorwill Ridge on Old Route 22 (55 units);
Whippoorwill Hills (150 units); also on Old Route 22, with 126 market rate units and 24 middle income units (Fareri sold Whippoorwill Hills to Toll Brothers, who developed the complex);
Whippoorwill Commons on Whippoorwill Road East (22 units), with 10 units that are middle-income housing, meeting the requirement of the MIU for Whippoorwill Ridge.
Supervisor Mike Schiliro said, “I know what your quality is on the projects you built in town. What I like is hearing you say that you are going to build it. Are you giving me a commitment tonight that you are going to build both of these projects?”
Fareri verbally agreed to build both buildings himself. He will move forward to develop the plans for the two buildings as quickly as possible.
Fareri has owned the vacant lot at the former lumberyard on Bedford Road for the past 13 years. Over the years, he has presented proposals for the Bedford Road property, ranging from a 10,000-square foot strip mall to a more recent plan for one building of 48 AFFH units, which he said if approved, he would sell for someone else to build.
Based upon statistics from other Westchester County AFFH condominiums complexes, Fareri estimated that the 48 AFFH unit option would have 17 school-aged kids. The option for the 30 market rate units of 12 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom is estimated to house 13 school-aged kids.
The estimated taxes for the different condominium structures vary, said Fareri. The real estate property taxes on the 48 AFFH units is approximately $100,000, or an average of $2,083 per unit, per year. The development of the combined 30 market-rate units and six AFFH units are estimated to bring in $262,786 in taxes. Fareri prefers the option of 30 market rate units which will be larger apartments sold at a higher cost. Therefore, he estimates the taxes on the 30 units to be $312,840. The six AFFH units combined into one building on Maple Avenue are estimated to be taxed at $23,000, which is below the current tax rate for the two buildings. Therefore, Fareri said his preferred plan is projected to bring in a total of $336,168 in yearly taxes.
Although Schiliro said he has some differences with Fareri’s tax calculations, Schiliro said, “in the end I would like to see these projects built.”
A public hearing must be scheduled, most likely in four weeks. The application needs to be referred to the Westchester County Planning Board, and the site plan, which includes new sidewalks at 37/41 Maple Avenue, needs to be reviewed by North Castle’s Planning Board. Within in a month or two, Fareri said he can have the foundation poured at 170 Bedford Road and he would like to enclose the building by the end of September.
Town Attorney Roland Baroni said that he and Town Planner Adam Kaufman will work with Fareri “to formulate the exact zoning [regulations] that accomplishes the objective and bring that back to the Town Board at its next meeting” on March 9.
There were two required conditions agreed to: Maple Avenue is to be built before the certificates of occupancy are issued for 170 Bedford Road. And secondly, 170 Bedford Road would be deed restricted and limited to 30 units.