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New Planner Looks Long-Term at Chappaqua, Millwood

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -  Many factors led to Sabrina Charney Hull's acceptance of the job as New Castle's town planner, she said, but none greater than simply knowing the town would let her do what she does best: plan.

"There is a will to plan in this town, which, given the economy and in other towns, it doesn’t seem as if they want to plan," Charney Hull said. "They look at planning as very consistent with what’s happening at the moment, whereas planning has a history in more of a long-term or more strategic planning. So it’s over a period of time, not necessarily over a year of economic business."

Charney Hull spent the previous six-and-a-half years as Somers' town planner. Before that, the Newtown, Conn., resident received an undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University, and a graduate degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin. She worked in Wisconsin for three years before moving back east and working with the Westchester County Department of Planning for a decade.

During her time with the county, Charney Hull said she familiarized herself with the different municipalitles in Northern Westchester, including working closely with New Castle's former Town Administrator Jerry Faiella on bringing sewers to the town.

After a near 14-year process, the plan to bring sewers to Random Farms, Riverwoods, Yeshiva and Chappaqua Crossing was approved in December of 2011. Charney Hull said she has heard the desire to bring sewers to Millwood, also, but believes such a plan is too far down the road to truly discuss.

"I think we have an opportunity right now to take care of what was originally proposed in that diversion study," Charney Hull said. "To talk about what will happen after that I think is jumping the gun. They’re not easy questions. If we all had our crystal balls we could only hope to get the answers."

Having worked in the town for less than two weeks, Charney Hull said she cannot yet take a stance on Conifer Realty's affordable housing proposal for Chappaqua, but said she has plenty of questions about it.

"We have zoning that projects need to comply with," Charney Hull said. "Projects need to really fit in with our code requirements, but also fit in with the way the town looks. To put in five-story apartment buildings, is that consistent with downtown Chappaqua?"

Whether it's sewers, affordable housing, supermarkets, or updating the town's master plan, Charney Hull said she looks forward to being part of New Castle's planning process long-term.

"I never thought, 16 years ago, 'would I be working here?,'" Charney Hull said. "But  the stars aligned, everything’s in place. So here I am, and I’m happy to be here."

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