Greens developer wants to build 3,600-square-foot sample house

House size is double that stipulated in 2010 court case: But Chester's engineering consultant says no housing restrictions apply

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  • Part of the Greens' site plan

  • Part of the Greens' site plan

  • Part of the Greens' site plan

  • Part of the Greens' site plan

"The language in the project description was intended to provide a conceptual overview of the subdivision. It was not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to establish development standards."
Philip Salerno, Town of Chester engineering consultant

By Frances Ruth Harris

— The Greens of Chester developer wants to build a sample house of 3,600 square feet, double the size of the 1,800-square-foot single-family house stipulated in a 2010 court case.

James Farr, the Town of Chester's building inspector, denied the developer's request for a permit to build the larger house on the construction site, where 455 residential units will be built in three phases.

In a letter to the town board about the permit denial, Farr referred to a passage in the State Environmental Quality Review that the units "will be a combination of one- and two-unit dwellings; 245 one-unit dwellings and 210 two-unit dwellings constructed in 105 structures. The typical lot size depicted for the one-unit dwellings is 3,600 square feet with a building floor area of 1,700 to 2,500 square feet in a two-story structure. The two-unit dwellings will each be located on lots of approximately 1,750 square feet and will have a typical building square footage of between 1,500 and 2.300 square feet in a two-story structure. There will be substantial acreage, over 80 acres, that will be held in common and be owned and maintained by a Homeowners' Association."

Town engineer denies restrictionsJehuda Landau, managing member of the Greens of Chester, wrote the letter to Farr requesting the permit. Landau referred The Chronicle to the New York City-based attorney Steven Barshov, who responded to Farr's denial.

Barshov shared an Oct. 31, 2018, letter from Philip Salerno, the town's engineering consultant, to Livy Schwartz, co-owner of Chester Developers Corp. Salerno in the letter says no housing size restrictions apply to the Greens property.

"The language in the project description was intended to provide a conceptual overview of the subdivision," Salerno states in his letter to Schwartz. "It was not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to establish development standards."

The development standards set down by the planning board "are limited to the establishment of minimum setback lines and minimum separations between buildings," Salerno wrote. He said the town's regulations on cluster developments allow the planning board to impose floor area ratios to prevent excessively large residences on smaller lots.

"Based upon my involvement in the review process and approval of this project...I can definitively state that no such restriction was enacted; nor was it intended," Salerno wrote.

Salerno said he reviewed engineering at the Greens and was "directly involved in the discussions with the planning board and the applicant regarding the project development."

Barshov told The Chronicle that a building's footprint "is determined by set back and bedroom size, not a hard square foot range. The floor area they put in is irrelevant because it doesn't apply to this project."

He referred to a statement made by land surveyor William Youngblood at the public hearing on the Greens.

"Probably 1,700 to 2,500 square feet for the single family home on a lot 3,600 square feet as a minimum," Youngblood said at the hearing. "They go up larger than that. The builder where you have two families in one building, even though they are single family, those lots are a minimum of 750 square feet. The range up higher than that. Those are the minimum."

Town board member Cindy Smith praised Farr at a town meeting last month.

"The point being that the building inspector is seriously looking at all the permit requests that come in," she said.

Supervisor Bob Valentine said the matter "will be addressed through the attorneys."

"We'll go from there," Smith said.

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