CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The New Castle Town Board voted Thursday night to approve retail zoning for Chappaqua Crossing.
The zone allows for up to 120,000 square feet of retail space and for Summit/Greenfield, the site's owner, to keep up to 500,000 of other commercial space. It is applicable as an overlay to the site's existing commercial zone.
Summit/Greenfield has proposed having a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Grocery store on the site. The Town Board authorized having a grocery store of 30,000 to 45,000, a narrower range than the 36,000 to 66,000 the developer initially proposed.
The Town Board also approved amending the town's master plan, which last had a major update in 1989, to accommodate the proposal. It also adopted a resolution determining that another environmental impact statement was not needed and voted to amend a previously adopted findings statement.
The approvals were each by 4-1 votes. Voting in favor were Supervisor Rob Greenstein, Councilman Adam Brodsky, Councilwoman Elise Kessler Mottel and Councilman Jason Chapin. Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz was the only dissenting board member on each resolutions.
Board members who voted in favor cited helping the town's commercial tax base while acknowledging concerns raised by residents. They voiced support for traffic mitigation measures, along with displeasure at the site's office space being largely empty.
“I believe we are building a better New Castle by our decision, one that provides more for the community, while maintaining those assets and values that drew us to this town," Greenstein said.
“The status quo – vacant, obsolete office space and a hole in our commercial tax base – is not the best choice for our town, in my opinion," Brodsky said.
Mottel discussed her traffic concerns and about the proposed location of the retail on the site. However, she argued that allowing retail will encourage commercial occupancy and help to enhance the commercial tax base. The councilwoman also contended the town will seek to ensure that Summit/Greenfield implements mitigation measures. She also promised to push for further changes to the site's plan and for re-use of existing buildings.
Chapin spoke positively about the town's review process, noting the town did more than what the law required.
Katz, who has often asked skeptical questions pertaining to the project, objected to the proposal's size in her remarks.
Katz questioned the property tax benefits from the proposal. She also contended that nearby homeowners and owners of downtown buildings will have lowered assessed values that, in turn, will offset tax-revenue growth.
The Town Board is not done with the project. It still needs to vote on remapping part of Chappaqua Crossing for the retail zone and on the project's preliminary development concept plan (PDCP) which dictates the layout of the buildings. Summit/Greenfield will submit a revised PDCP, according to spokesman Geoffrey Thompson.
The eastern portion of the site has a multifamily housing zone, which was approved in 2011. It allows for up to 111 townhouses and condos.
Asked to weigh in on the voting outcomes, Thompson called the news a “major step forward.” He added that the 4-1 vote was a “solid endorsement of this.”
Thompson also discussed the closeness of the news with the approaching 10-year anniversary of when Summit/Greenfield bought the property from Reader's Digest, which will be on Dec. 22.
“It is really ironic."
Robert Lewis, who lives near the property and has been vocally concerned, was not surprised about the voting outcome.
“Not a bit."
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