CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Tourists seeking to get a glimpse of Hillary and Bill Clinton's home in Chappaqua by driving into their neighborhood street are no longer allowed to do so under a new town law.
The law, which was unanimously approved on Tuesday by the New Castle Town Board, restricts vehicular access to Old House Lane to “local traffic” only.
Chappaqua is a hamlet, or unincorporated section of, the town of New Castle.
While “local traffic” does not have a formal legal definition under the town code, Town Attorney Ed Phillips called it a “term of art.” Essentially, the attorney explained, permitted traffic includes residents and others who have business being in the neighborhood, such as people making deliveries. An example of a driver who is not allowed, Phillips added, is somebody who is “taking in the sights.”
Old House Lane is a residential cul de sac, which allows for the new law to be used as a way of cutting off tourism. The new law also covers Green Lane, which is a nearby roadway that runs parallel to the Clintons' street and is located to the immediate south.
The law was requested by New Castle Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry due to the security needs of the roads, Town Administrator Jill Shapiro told Daily Voice, adding that no one, in turn, asked him for it.
“Chief Ferry advises that he recommended establishing local traffic only restrictions on Old House Lane and Green Lane based upon the safety, traffic and security needs associated with those particular roads, and not from a particular request,” Shapiro wrote in an email to Daily Voice.
The email was in response to a New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking documentation of how the proposed law came about. The town does not have a written record of the request, according to Shapiro.
Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state, senator and first lady, is the Democratic presidential nominee. She is currently favored to win the race for the White House, as polls show her with leads over her main rival, Republican nominee and celebrity businessman Donald Trump.
Against the backdrop of security being a legislative impetus, town officials preferred to discuss the law in implicit terms instead of drawing attention to who it affects.
For example, when Chappaqua resident John Ehrlich mentioned the famous couple's ties – he also recalled memories of his kids trick or treeting in the neighborhood – Councilwoman Hala Makowska tried to discourage him from delving into it further.
“You cannot keep that secret,” Ehrlich added, noting that pictures and maps are already available online.
Tourism gained national coverage last month when CNN reported on an array of people who were flocking to the neighborhood.
It is not entirely clear what the penalty for violating the new law is, although it is grouped, along with similar statutes, into a town-code article that calls for a fine of up to $50 or imprisonment. However, the verbiage noting the penalty describes it as being in connection to violations of stop and yield-sign laws.
The new law is not the only tool that the town has to clamp down on outside traffic. Parking is already banned on both sides of Old House Lane, a restriction that was enacted in the fall of 1999, after news reports came out of the Clintons moving to the area. The Clintons closed on their home purchase in November of that year, according to Westchester County records.
If Hillary Clinton is elected in November, it would mark the second time that Old House Lane hosts a sitting president, as it held the distinction for the approximately final 14 months of Bill Clinton's presidency, which ended in January 2001.
Old House Lane has served in the past as a space for political expressions of various sorts.
Last summer, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino held a press conference in front of the Clintons' home to bring attention to the county's affordable-housing settlement with the federal government.
A few months prior to that, local resident Gary Murphy held a mock computer sale at another section of the road – the intersection with Route 117 was picked, which is far from the Clintons' property – as a way to lampoon Hillary Clinton's usage of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
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