One of the major creditors to Mamaroneck-based Strait Gate Church is seeking to lift a stay of action and foreclose on a church-owned, 8-acre parcel of land at 380 Mamaroneck Ave. in Harrison.
The church planned to protest Hudson Valley Bank's request at a hearing scheduled last Friday, but it was postponed.
The well-known church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October of last year and its case is now before a federal judge in White Plains.
The bank has expressed a preference for facilitating a sale by selling the lot to one buyer, but the church is now looking at the possibility of selling the land in individual parcels. The site is zoned R1 residential, allowing for single family homes only, despite its proximity to the Mamaroneck Avenue strip of land that is mostly home to office buildings.
Multiple attempts to change the zoning over the many years the site has remained vacant have been unsuccessful. Proposals for the site have included a nursing home, a church and a supermarket. Most recently, a proposal for townhouses was voted down unanimously by the previous Harrison administration. This followed one of the strongest resident turn-outs at a town board meeting in town memory, with residents strongly protesting the townhouse proposal.
Residents made it clear that they did not want high-density housing in Harrison, or downgrading of residential zoning, and the site became a focus for the town's views on vacant land and zoning.
While several members of the board at that time, most notably Supervisor Stephen Malfitano and Councilman Joseph Canella, supported the general concept of townhouses in Harrison, the board unanimously voted against the proposal, refusing to support any change to the zoning on this site.
The current administration is of a similar mind.
Harrison's Supervisor/Mayor Joan Walsh made this clear in a statement regarding the site, earlier this week:
"I certainly favor single-lot housing on the site. It fits in with the neighborhood, The commercial section of Mamaroneck Ave. that lies in Harrison is clustered close to the Hutch, and to extend it to this site would have a severe negative effect on the existing neighbors."
The Mamaroneck Board of Trustees appears to agree and has put in a formal request that they be notified if and when any proposal for development is brought before the Harrison Town Board.
Mamaroneck residents are alarmed at the possibility of increased water run-off, blasting, and the ancillary effect that any development would have on existing residential home flooding in bordering Mamaroneck.
Peggy Jackson is a member of the Harbor Heights Association, the residents' committee for the Mamaroneck neighborhood most affected by the flooding. She expressed the association's anxiety over any development of the site.
"Our neighborhood lies immediately downstream from this site. We have experienced catastrophic flooding in 2004, and twice in 2007," she said. "In addition, homes were affected by flooding in the March 2010 storms. We implore the Town of Harrison to leave this property undeveloped to help us in our efforts to mitigate the flooding."
Editor's note: As of May 24, sources have informed Patch that the bankruptcy judge in the Strait Gate Church hearing has issued a ruling refusing Hudson Valley Bank's request to lift the stay of proceeding and allow the bank to foreclose on the church's land at 380 Mamaroneck Ave. in Harrison. Instead, the church will retain rights to the land, which they plan to market in individual parcels.