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Shorter Affordable Housing Unit Proposed for Chappaqua

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Conifer Realty presented Tuesday slight alterations to its affordable housing proposal to the New Castle Town Board following requests from community members and officials on its initial proposal.

The new proposal for Chappaqua Station, still located at 54 Hunts Place, shows a reduced height from five stories to four while maintaining the same number of units, 36, meaning the length of the building would be increased.

Conifer also made changes to the aesthetics of the building in hopes of giving it more of a residential feel. Among the changes is the previously proposed brick has been replaced with stone and stone veneer to complement the stone used on the new Quaker Street bridge.

"We're creating architectural elements, peaked roof elements and within them we have bay windows," said Conifer's architect Gary Warshauer. "We've articulated the building to get elements of residential scale and to break up the mass of the building."

The proposal still calls for 36 apartment units – 24 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units – ranging from 669 to 975 square feet. The first floor would be reserved for 40 spaces of parking. Conifer said it must keep the 36 units or be forced to start over the process of applying state funds for the project.

"The state of New York funded the project with 36 units, so that is what they're commitment of financing has," said Conifer representative Andy Bodewes. "We are trying to satisfy our financing commitment."

The proposed units would help Westchester meet the requirement of the county’s settlement order with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires that 750 units of affordable housing be created in Westchester by 2016.

Despite believing affordable housing would be beneficial to Chappaqua, many residents previously took issue with Conifer's proposal from safety, traffic and aesthetic standpoints. Some of those issues remained on Tuesday night.

"I think we're ignoring the elephant in the room and that's the suitability of the site," said resident Peter Davidson. "It seems to me the applicant's gotten way ahead of us with all of these details when, in fact, there's a major issue with the site."

Since the building does not comply with several of the town’s zoning laws, Conifer would need to be granted several special use permits to begin construction. The proposed building uses more floor space, more building coverage, more stories and fewer parking spaces than the current town code allows. 

Resident Will Wedge called Conifer's proposal "half-baked" and said he was disappointed with the lack of progress being made to the overall volume of the building.

"I think that they're process is demeaning to the town," Wedge said. "It's taking up residents' time and the board's time for a wholly incomplete submission. There is nothing here that is substantially changed since the last time you were in our town with material."

Resident Eric Nicolaysen expressed concerned with safety issues, especially difficulties fire departments might have in reaching the building. With the longer building using up even more of the 0.38 acres of land, fire trucks and engines would have less space to operate on the perimeter, he said.

Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter reminded residents that Conifer's proposal is in the very early stages and its application is still incomplete. Among her requests were that the developer needs to return with environmental studies and, with the altered plan, must meet with the Chappaqua Fire Department again to discuss any issues.

"Those concerns will need to be addressed," Carpenter said. "And I can assure you that as the town processes this application, we will address all of those issues."

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