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Housing Discussion Heats Up in Chappaqua

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - Chappaqua residents continued their outward opposition of Conifer Realty's proposed affordable housing project at a New Castle Town Board meeting Tuesday night.

"It is a very bad site as far as the train noise, the vibration from the train and it really is not an appropriate place for us to be allowing anybody to consider living," said resident Ellen Schlossberg, who also took issue with the size of the building.

The proposed five-story building, called Chappaqua Station, would be west of the Metro-North train station and east of the Saw Mill River Parkway near the exit 32 northbound off-ramp.

Along with taking issue with Conifer's proposal from aesthetic standpoints, Schlossberg expressed her concerns to the board that people living in the complex might be stigmatized.

"My kids didn't have what everybody else had. Well, you put a child into the school who doesn't look like everybody else and they will get picked on," Schlossberg said. "I do not want these people to feel that they’re being stigmatized by being put into a position where they have absolutely and truly no decent set of living standards." 

Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter responded by saying regardless of race and class, there should be no issue integrating the new residents into the town.

"If you think we can’t bring anybody who looks different into this town and have them be accepted, I think you got a problem," Carpenter said. "We cannot have that attitude."

Joan Corwin, owner of Chappaqua Transportation on Hunts Lane, disagreed with Carpenter about no stigma being attached to residents living in the affordable housing units.

"My children all went to school here. When they were little, people shunned them because they said they smelled like gasoline from being at a bus company," Corwin said. "We endured that. You don’t know what you’re doing."

Carpenter recently met with architect and resident Bill Spade, who was representing the group Chappaqua for Responsible Affordable Housing, about looking into alternate locations for the building.

"We believe there are alternative locations that are viable," Spade said. "So, we would like to engage the town board in a process as to how we can review those."

Spade also said the board should take a closer look at the environmental assessment form submitted by Conifer as he believes there are possible contamination issues with the property.

"Mr. Spade’s comments were very compelling," Carpenter said. "We should go back and ask counsel to look at some of the other issues and we should look at some of the other issues."

After public comment, the board unanimously voted to declare itself lead agency in the process, which would give it final say over all environmental studies.

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