Fact vs Fiction

Unfortunately, some are actively working to spread misinformation about the Underhill Farms project and misleading the public.

Here are the facts:

IMPACT ON NEIGHBORHOOD CHARACTER 

Fiction:
Some say that the Environmental Assessment Form fails to illustrate the plan’s overall visual impact on the neighborhood from Route 118, Underhill Avenue or Glenrock Street. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
If developed as a one-acre single family subdivision, there would be seven houses, 2½ stories high, on Glenrock Street as opposed to seeing one-story structures with a heavy tree-lined buffer. The Underhill Farms property, which would be developed at 10.7 units per acre, is totally consistent and in character with nearby property. To the north, Beaver Ridge has 19.8 units per acre. The Rochambeau area to the south has 9.6 units per acre. Commercial properties located directly east on Route 118.

 


IMPACT ON SITE’S HISTORY 

Fiction:
Some have said that the development plan is vague about the future use of this historic main house.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
There is only one building, the main Underhill House, that dates back to what historians deem a period of significance and retains historical integrity. We have proposed investing $1 million to preserve and enhance the mansion and pond so they remain as focal points of the property. As part of the project, Underhill Farms will create a new public park on the property — the first time in recent history that this property will be open for the public to visit and enjoy.

 


IMPACT ON TRAFFIC 

Fiction:
Some say that the plan does not explain the road improvements to the Route 118/Underhill Avenue intersection, or the impact to Beaver Ridge site traffic. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms will provide all funding for intersection improvements, providing $450,000 of the funds required with the balance coming from future tax abatements on improvements to the property. Without Underhill Farms’ commitment, the traffic problems at this intersection will continue to increase.
By 2025, the wait times for eastbound motorists on Underhill Avenue will average 80 seconds if no improvements are made. However, after Underhill Farm’s investment and solutions are in place, the wait time will be reduced to about 15 seconds. These improvements also will increase safety due to the reduction in accidents at this intersection, and the intersection will become far more pedestrian-friendly.

 


IMPACT ON TREES 

Fiction:
Some have said that there will be more than five acres of woodlands eliminated.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farm’s plan fully complies with Yorktown’s tree ordinance, one of the more stringent in Westchester County. In addition, of the 523 trees Underhill Farms plans to remove, approximately 200 are either dead, invasive or non-native to the area. Underhill Farms would plant 323 trees that are non-invasive and native to the area.

 


IMPACT ON DEMOGRAPHICS

Fiction:
Some are saying that the project does not use current census data related to population and schools. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farm’s fiscal analysis shows a net benefit of approximately $450,000 per year to the school district. The development will have 72 units restricted to age 55 and over. It should be noted that enrollment in the Yorktown schools has been decreasing over the last five years and is at approximately 75% utilization.

 


IMPACT ON PARKING 

Fiction:
Some have said that the project’s parking provisions are not adequate. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Parking will fully comply with code, with most parking being shared by different uses. There will be more than enough parking spaces provided, including 30 parking spaces to be shared with the new senior center on the adjacent property, and eight parking spaces dedicated to visitors of the park. The site also will have new electric vehicular charging stations available as part of the project’s “green” building practices and commitment to sustainability.

 


IMPACT ON RECREATION 

Fiction:
Some are saying the project’s $592,000 recreation fee should be used on other projects within Yorktown where they’re needed, and not on this site only. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
The property will feature the fully restored, historic ice pond and a two-acre park, centrally located. Both fully comply with current recreational requirements for this project. In addition, Underhill Farms will provide office space for the Yorktown Parks & Recreation Department in a new building on the Beaver Ridge property, providing a long-needed home for that community service team.

 


IMPACT ON HOUSING 

Fiction:
Some say that various housing needs for different age groups are being ignored. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Seventy-two housing units at Underhill Farms will be restricted to age 55 and over, while the balance being especially designed for young families, among other housing groups. The project will have a wide variety of types of units, as identified in Yorktown’s comprehensive plan. Underhill Farm’s housing plans also align with the New York State Governor’s recently announced Housing Compact, which calls for building 800,000 housing units in the next decade. Underhill Farms proposes a variety of housing types including apartments, condominiums and townhouse options for seniors and younger families.

 


MISSING ALTERNATIVE PLANS 

Fiction:
Some are saying that the plan is missing an alternative development plan to reduce environmental and housing impacts. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms has carefully listened to the voices in its community. As such, the plan has evolved and it currently proposes fewer housing units (148) than the original plan (165). The current site plan has taken account of the Planning Board’s concern regarding frontage along Underhill Avenue. As a result, four townhouse units were repurposed and relocated into the apartment building.

 


Underhill House

Fiction:
Unfortunately, people have been making wild and baseless claims about Underhill Farms, like a McDonald’s being built on the property” NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms will preserve and restore Underhill’s house to possibly include a new restaurant and and office space on the upper floors. The restoration and usage of the house will suit and respect the historic nature of the structure and will ultimately be a great improvement for the town and the property.

 


Traffic

Fiction:
Some have said that Underhill Farms will create added traffic congestion along Underhill Avenue and Route 118.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms will help improve existing traffic congestion at the intersection of Rte. 118 and Underhill Avenue.  After working with a Yorktown engineer to conduct an extensive analysis and develop a traffic mitigation plan, Underhill Farms will invest more than 1/2 million dollars in new signals, American with Disabilities Act compliant crosswalk, a connection to Beaveridge Senior Apartments and a new turning lane.  With approximately 80% of the new housing specially designed for seniors, Underhill Farms will produce far less additional vehicular activity than other similarly sized projects.

 


Density

Fiction:
Some have said that Underhill Farms is sidestepping town zoning requirements to allow the construction of many more housing units than the surrounding neighborhoods.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms includes a mix of 148 townhouses, condominiums and apartments, with 72 restricted for seniors.  With a density of 10.7 units per acre, Underhill Farms is consistent with the surrounding area.  In fact, Underhill Farm’s density is much less than those to the north and the east, with densities of approximately 20 units per acre, including Beaveridge Senior Apartments.  The project’s engineering and design team have engaged the Yorktown planning department to ensure that Underhill Farms conforms with existing and proposed state and local regulations.

 


 

Commercial Use

Fiction:
Some have criticized the mixed-use elements of Underhill Farm, instead suggesting that any commercial use on the property will create negative effects for the business community and the surrounding area.  In fact, a recent letter-to-the-editor in a local newspaper even suggested that “the residents of Yorktown could expect to see a drive-through Taco Bell, KFC, Krispy Kreme restaurant, a McDonald’s McMansion, or worse on the Soundview property.”  

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
The project has received support from the local business community, including the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, and may also include space for neighborhood retail, medical office and/or a restaurant.  Despite the wild and baseless claims made by those trying to malign the project, historic preservation will be the priority for Underhill Farms and drive-through chain restaurants and other inappropriate uses have no place on the property.  The amenities are designed to be a benefit for Underhill residents, expand the local tax base and create a self-sustaining ecosystem allowing the park and Underhill House to be first-class facilities that are available to the public at no cost to taxpayers.

 


 

State Environmental Quality Renew Act (SEQRA) Environmental Review

Fiction:
Some have said that Underhill Farms will be exempted from state environmental review requirements. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
There is no mechanism for a development project to be exempted from the SEQRA process.  In fact, the project will be subject to additional environmental reviews because it’s located within the New York City watershed.

 

 


 

Project Timeline

Fiction:
Bogus and disparaging claims have been made about the acquisition of the property and the development of the Underhill Farms project. 

THESE CLAIMS ARE TOTALLY FALSE.

FACT:
In late 2019 and early 2020, Unicorn Contracting was reviewing investment opportunities in Yorktown because of its belief in the town’s great potential.  In fact, Unicorn was in active discussions and negotiations about other properties in the town.  On February 3, 2020, Unicorn officials saw the segment on News 12 about the closure of the Soundview Preparatory School.  After becoming aware of of this opportunity, Unicorn officials immediately knew this had the potential to be exactly what they were seeking.

Shortly thereafter, Unicorn engaged in initial conversations with Soundview to purchase the property and also spoke with town officials to let them know of its interest in the property. Throughout the course of its negotiations with Soundview, Unicorn kept the town abreast of its plans.

On July 28, 2020, the town announced its intention to pass legislation creating overlay zones for the town’s business hamlets: Crompond, Jefferson Valley, Mohegan Lake, Shrub Oak and Yorktown Heights.  At that time, town officials said it would “enable the creation of live/work retail-residential spaces and encourage the construction of diversified housing options and new economic development opportunities.” Town officials said there would “be a focus on pedestrian and bike-friendly streets that foster a downtown walkability.”  This is exactly what Unicorn was pursuing for Underhill Farms.

On August 19, 2020, Soundview filed for bankruptcy in federal court.  The court authorized the sale of the Soundview property for $2.85 million to Unicorn Contracting.  The sale was approved by a federal judge—allowing the school to repay its creditors, including parents who had prepaid tuition for their children.

Following the sale of the property, the project development team worked to complete plans for the project.  Throughout this process, the project development team shared information with the town planning department about its vision for the property.

On November 13th, the Yorktown Town Board passed legislation providing the framework for new overlay zones, which would afford the town flexibility in reviewing proposals in designated areas and intended to stimulate growth and spur economic development.  A pre-application was filed with the town planning department on December 9, 2020.

 


 

Neighbor Discussions

Fiction:
Some have inexplicability stated that the Underhill Farms team was unwilling to meet or have discussions with neighbors who had concerns regarding the project.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Not only were the discussions held by the two parties, but it was the Underhill Farms team that was willing to accommodate and revise the expectations of the project, while the other party was unwilling to compromise.


 

Project Approval

Fiction:
Some have made claims that the project’s approval timeline is being fast-tracked due to a special relationship with the town.  

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
The property was purchased nearly a year and a half ago and the project has just started progressing through the approval process. Regarding the project being expedited: The overlay zone law was specifically written so that projects that qualified under the overlay zone, and met certain criteria, would be fast-tracked through the approval process to help stimulate development in the town. There is nothing unethical with a project meeting the criteria listed in the overlay law, or pursuing approval for a project that will significantly advance and grow the town on multiple levels.


 

Refreshed Scenic Gateway

Fiction:
A scenic gateway will be replaced with dense residential complex.  

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms will transform the gateway to downtown Yorktown Heights from an underutilized old school into a multi-use, tax-revenue-producing property. This attractive, historic, refreshed property will be a catalyst for quality of life. It will feature new senior housing, a new public park around the historic ice pond, and the 11,000 square feet of new commercial space (not 17,000 square feet) will be open to new Underhill Farms residents and all Yorktown residents. This project will be the first project in Yorktown’s new Overlay Zone, and as such, will respect and honor the property’s history, significance and potential. The density of the units for this project are comparable, or in some cases less, than the densities of the adjacent properties.


 

Historic Preservation

Fiction:
Historic structures and bucolic grounds will be destroyed, and 200 years of Yorktown history will be gone forever.  

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
The opposite is true. The centerpieces of the property, the Underhill House and the pond,  will not only be preserved and restored to their former glory, but will be enhanced. The Underhill House is one of only two structures on the property dating to the Underhill Family era. In addition, new walking trails and sitting areas around the ice pond will be added, and the property’s natural beauty will be maximized for all Yorktown residents to enjoy. Underhill Farm’s developer has meticulously taken special care to preserve, protect and honor the property’s significant historic attributes so they enjoy vibrant futures.


 

New Open Park Space

Fiction:
The park-like open space and hundreds of trees will be destroyed.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms will include a new public park for Yorktown residents to enjoy. Several of the trees that would be removed are invasive species; they will be replaced with new, appropriate species for this environment, and they will help maximize the beauty and enjoyment of the property.


 

Traffic Mitigation & Intersection Improvement

Fiction:
Current traffic congestion will be compounded.

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farm’s careful planning and vision will neutralize any traffic it creates. In addition, the project will be the catalyst for crucial improvements needed at the intersection of Route 118 and Underhill Avenue. In short, Underhill Farms will help finally solve longstanding and annoying traffic congestion, and Underhill Farms is volunteering to subsidize the significant cost of these improvements. If Underhill Farms is not permitted to proceed, these issues will remain, with no solutions and no funding sources in sight.


 

Development Impact

Fiction:

No more peace and quiet for your families and you.  

         THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Underhill Farms is a residential development mostly consisting of housing for senior citizens. The proposed development will add a new park and power Yorktown’s downtown to a stronger, more vibrant and more attractive future.


 

Property Value

Fiction:
Property value of neighboring properties will likely fall.  

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Property values will rise! An underutilized property that did not pay taxes for decades will be transformed into a thriving community that will enhance Yorktown. Underhill Farm’s proposed price scale for its new, well-appointed residential units is projected to be higher than the values of adjacent housing units. This introduction of these higher-valued residential units will increase property values.


 

Public Hearing

Fiction:
Inexplicably, some have said that there will be no opportunity for the public to weigh in on the plan for Underhill Farms. 

THIS IS FICTION.

FACT:
Multiple public hearings will be required before Underhill Farms can proceed.  Further, any questions about the project can be submitted here.