The developer of the 40 Ocean Ave. project in Larchmont says it was targeted by the village’s moratorium
LARCHMONT – The developer of a controversial project in Larchmont is challenging the village’s moratorium on demolition and subdivisions in residential neighborhoods.
KOSL Building Group said the moratorium was “enacted to thwart” its proposed plans to tear down a home at 40 Ocean Ave. and build four new homes on the 1.57-acre property, according to an appeal filed on Feb. 3. The property was acquired through a private sale for $4.7 million, and the project doesn’t need a variance from the village.
“Prior to purchase, (KOSL Building) made all appropriate inquiries to confirm that there were no impediments to the demolition of the existing structure,” the developer’s attorney Lucia Chiocchio said in the appeal. “The applicant and its design team demonstrated through project studies and analyses that subdivision of this premises into four new lots fully complies with the village zoning code.”
But the project set off a firestorm in the community who love the 1896 home, known as “The Orchard.” Resident Stacy Jamar Caffrey has said demolishing it would be like “tearing down the Empire State Building.”
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KOSL Building filed its application Dec. 7. Within an hour, opposition erupted on social media. A grassroots group, Preserve Larchmont, rallied quickly and filled village hall later that night to denounce the project and the village-wide trend of subdivisions.
Projects on Palmer and Larchmont avenues that replaced one home with several are under construction. The village Planning Board is vetting plans for another similar development at 5 Vanderburgh Ave., which has also drew concern from residents.
On Jan. 11, Larchmont passed a six-month moratorium to give planner Richard Preiss time to analyze the impacts of subdivisions and make recommendations to the village board. The moratorium included pending and future applications.
“It is apparent from the community opposition to the project at 40 Ocean Ave, the media articles regarding the project and the timing of the moratorium law … that the Board of Trustees enacted the moratorium law in direct response to the project at 40 Ocean Ave.,” Chiocchio wrote in the appeal.
Chiocchio and KOSL Building did not return calls for comment.
A provision in the moratorium law sets up parameters for an appeal. If the moratorium creates an “unnecessary hardship,” the Board of Trustees has the power to grant a waiver that allows a developer to continue with its project. But the waiver cannot adversely affect the purpose of this local law or the surrounding area.
“The burden is on them to show undue hardship,” Larchmont Mayor Anne McAndrews said. The village board has 30 days from Feb. 3 to render a decision.
Joel Sachs, an attorney from Keane and Beane who’s representing Preserve Larchmont, said they plan to “vigorously oppose this appeal.”