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Voters Overwhelmingly Defeat Proposal For Multi-Generational Housing
By Tina Traster
For the second time in two years, voters defeated a proposed development for the former crumbling Letchworth Village site in Stony Point.
Although this year’s proposal was markedly different from the previous one, voters via a referendum on Tuesday’s ballot rejected the opportunity for the Town Board to continue negotiating with a Westchester developer who had proposed a multi-generational development that included millennial and senior housing.
This time around, the proposed development did not include the sale of the town-owned Patriot Hills Golf Course.
Voters defeated the proposal by a 70% to 30% margin, with the “No” votes totaling 3,926 and the “Yes” votes totaling 1,716.
Town board members have said privately that they will be wont to shepherd any new proposals because of anti-development sentiment in town. The Town has owned the former psychiatric site for more than 20 years, with proposals coming and going. Some residents have called for a master plan for the site but are essentially the same people who stoke opposition and create fear that the property could be flipped and become dense housing.
The town board last May had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Hudson Park Group LLC, a Westchester-based real estate development and investment firm, to purchase and redevelop the property. The agreed upon purchase price was $3.1 million, which included Letchworth Village plus six acres of adjoining land to both the east and the west, plus whatever expenses are incurred to renovate the Kirkbride Hall, construct a town recreation center and reconfigure two holes on the golf course.
The MOU was nonbinding, meaning neither side was yet locked in. The MOU did not include the sale of the town-owned Patriot Hills golf course. The agreement said “the MOU is intended to establish and confirm the basic principles, framework and understanding under which the parties will commence and engage in exclusive negotiations” toward a more final agreement. The document says that the developer is responsible for footing the bill for demolition of nearly all the buildings, including any needed removal of asbestos, and site improvements.
The developer had proposed to absorb all of the costs estimated at nearly $10 million to raze eight contaminated buildings and remediate the site and spend an additional $2 million to build a recreation center, relocate the courthouse to the town owned Kirkbride building, and relocate two golf holes.
Meanwhile the Town of Haverstraw has negotiated a contract with a housing developer to build market-rate apartments on a vacant portion of the former Letchworth Village site in Haverstraw, just across the street from Stony Point’s Letchworth Village.
The Town Board recently amended its Urban Renewal Plan to clear the way to facilitate a $12 million sale of nearly 23 acres in the south east corner of the property to BNE Acquisitions, LLC of Livingston, NJ.
Changes to the 2006 Urban Renewal Plan added BNE Acquisitions, LLC of Livington, NJ as a “qualified and eligible sponsor” and gave the Town the authority to enter into a “conditional contract” with BNE to purchase a portion of the Letchworth property for redevelopment.
The town has been in talks with BNE for more than a year; at least one other developer has approached the town with plans to redevelop other portions of the property.
Haverstraw, in contrast, is not having voters weigh in on the sale of land. Residential development is a permitted use under the existing zoning for the site and the Urban Renewal Plan allows the Town to sell the property without a referendum.