All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

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.