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Mt. Kisco, The Hearth Developer in Tax Discussion

Bedford Central's school board, meanwhile, is concerned about process.

A photo of the presented site plan of The Hearth at Mount Kisco.
A photo of the presented site plan of The Hearth at Mount Kisco.

Mount Kisco and the developer of a proposed senior housing complex are talking with each other after it was revealed that tax exemptions were being sought through the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency, Village Attorney Whitney Singleton confirmed at a public hearing for the IDA.

The development team for the 129-unit proposal, called The Hearth at Mount Kisco, is seeking exemptions on mortgage and sales taxes. However, the matter could also impact property taxes. As part of the deal, if approved by the IDA, the developer would enter into talks with the village to get a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement.

At the hearing, held Wednesday at village hall, Singleton acknowledged the talks, describing them as constructive and collaborative, and noted that they were over if the village forgoing as much as it would be for mortgage taxes is in its best interests.

The bid for tax exemptions was first announced by Singleton at a planning board meeting in late August, prompting an angry backlash from board members because they were not previously told about it by the applicant. The Hearth is currently under review by the board for site plan approval and a special permit request. The planning board will take up the application, including a public hearing, again on Sept. 24, according to Singleton.

Mayor Michael Cindrich also spoke at the sparsely attended hearing, saying that he hopes any adjustments in taxes that are made are done so in the best interests of the village.

Singleton, at the hearing, also requested more time for the IDA before it decides on the taxes request. An official with the IDA replied that the hearing would be adjourned until Sept. 18, starting at 11:30 a.m. at village hall.

Also present was Christian Sexton, who is an official with the Fortus Group, a joint-venture partner in the development team. Cindrich told him about getting together with village officials and raised the hope of having a resolution to the matter.

“I agree," Sexton replied.

School Board Concerned

In a Sept. 10 letter to the IDA, Bedford Central school board President Susan Wollin wrote with concern on behalf of her colleagues, stating that not enough notice was given for the hearing.

"We do not have representatives available to attend this on such short notice, nor can the District participate meaningfully in the absence of substantive information concerning the fiscal impacts associated with IDA involvement in the Hearth project." she wrote.

Wollin also brought up the fact that district officials had previously reviewed documentation for the project under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), and noted that they did not include mention of a PILOT. The district learned about it after being contacted by an attorney from The Hearth who wanted to discuss terms for a PILOT, she wrote.

"We are hoping this lack of transparency is not an indication that further discussion and potential approval of this project will be rushed, incomplete or taken without through input from the District.  This is especially true as the tax implications stand to affect the District more than any other taxing jurisdiction."

During the SEQRA process for an earlier version of the proposal, an estimate of $495,000 in annual property tax revenue was given, Singleton recently said.

The Hearth would be built on more than 17 acres of the former Swiss Benevolent Society property. Its entrance would be located off of Kisco Avenue, across from Holiday Inn Drive. The proposal includes 80 assisted (or enriched) living units and 40 memory care units.

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