CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – More than 100 residents packed New Castle Town Hall on Tuesday night, as the Town Board held the first of three public hearings on Summit/Greenfield’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for its Chappaqua Crossing property.
Nearly 30 of the residents approached the microphone with concerns about the 120,000-square-foot Chappaqua Crossing grocery-retail development plan. If any residents in attendance were in favor of the site plan, they did not make their opinion known.
Concerns about traffic, the town’s apathy for a grocery store, the town's Master Plan, safety concerns about its proximity to Horace Greeley High School and the loss of Chappaqua’s “charm” were the most complaints.
“How in the world will this traffic be handled?” asked Chappaqua resident Scott Rose, who was the night’s first speaker. Rose suggested the roads surrounding Chappaqua Crossing go through bad traffic stretches three times day now.
Several residents suggested that the added traffic would also be for something that the town does not desire or need.
“We have no problems getting groceries now,” said Chappaqua resident David Aplin, which was met with a loud applause. “I don’t know of anyone in town who has this problem.”
Andrew V. Tung, one of the planners in attendance representing Summit/Greenfield, said recent research had shown New Castle’s demographic would support a grocery-retail center and would keep such business from “leaking” to other towns.
Tung said the size and type of retail stores would be different than those currently in New Castle downtown hamlets and that the center could even have a “beneficial effect of keeping customers in town.”
Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce founder Rob Greenstein said competition for downtown merchants would be a good thing but said what is proposed is more than that.
“This is not about competition,” he said. “This is about creating a third business district that is in direct contradiction to the existing master plan and that could negatively impact our existing business districts, our community and our quality of life.”
Residents pushed the Town Board to see eye-to-eye with them on the issues brought up throughout the night, with several residents telling the board, "You represent us, not them."
“This is our town. We will fight for our town and do what we need to do—hopefully with your help—to keep it the way it is,” said New Castle resident Brian Ratnor.
Greenstein concluded Tuesday night’s public hearing segment—which lasted more than two hours—by claiming Summit Greenfield was holding the Chappaqua property “hostage,” in an effort to get the property rezoned for retail, referring to the property’s potential in tax revenue for the town.
“Unfortunately, you have some people on the board who are desperate for money and they’re actually contemplating giving you the zoning,” he said.
“But I’m going to plead with the Town Board to not focus on the short term. Think about the long term. Don’t let these people pressure you for the short-term monetary problems you find yourself in, and change Chappaqua forever. So please—tough it out. Be like the people in your town,” he said.
Although some were eager to hear immediate feedback from the Town Board, Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter said the purpose of the hearing was for the board to listen to the public, saying, “You’ll get answers, but not tonight.”
Before the public hearing began, New Castle Town Board member John Buckley said there was a misconception among local blogs and social media sites that the Town Board had already made up its mind to move forward with the Chappaqua Crossing plan.
“I would like to clarify that I have not made up my mind,” he said. “You can print that.”
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