Developer wants 29 waterfront homes; neighbors want none

ZappiCo faces familiar foe at Westchester lake

ZappiCo's Jim Zappi and Pocantico Lake (ZappiCo Real Estate Development, Google Maps)
ZappiCo's Jim Zappi and Pocantico Lake (ZappiCo Real Estate Development, Google Maps)

A developer’s dream of building a 29-home community near Pocantico Lake is getting some cold water from local residents.

ZappiCo bought the 42-acre estate in Mount Pleasant in 2020 for $2.4 million, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported. The estate once belonged to former Philip Morris CEO Joseph Cullman, whose heirs tried to sell it for $4 million.

The developer decided to build 29 houses on it. But those who enjoy the 69-acre lake and its park — thanks to ownership of their own homes — have pushed back, citing concerns about pollution runoff and their obstructed views.

The residents want Westchester County to step in and purchase the land. They have persuaded the Westchester planning and parks boards to endorse the plan. Pocantico Lake is between Route 117 and Sleepy Hollow Road, about 30 miles north of Midtown.

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The developer, however, has not indicated that it would entertain selling it to the county or anyone else. ZappiCo has already split off six acres for two of the homes and is working on an environmental study for its proposed development.

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Concerns about pollution, though par for the course in rural development fights, may be unfounded. The new homes would be hooked up to the county sewer system, sparing the lake from potential septic system leakage.

If the county wants to purchase the land for use as a park, the site would have to meet certain criteria, including potential for open space protection, recreation and connection to other parks. At least one planner was skeptical of the idea, noting the inaccessibility of the lake frontage, the Journal News reported.

There’s a history of similar fights at the lake. Three decades ago, a developer tried building 43 homes abutting it. Opposition was so fierce that the county bought 164 acres and turned it into Pocantico Lake Park.

— Holden Walter-Warner