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2013: The Stories Ahead

The New Year is expected to be much like the old, with several major 2012 stories continuing into 2013.

The year may be new, but many of the old year's stories and topics will remain for the indefinite future. Here's a look at what to expect for 2013, based on what appears likely for now:

Groundbreaking Goal for New Millwood Firehouse

After years of planning and local approvals, groundbreaking is desired for a new Millwood firehouse. The structure, which will be 18,000 square feet and have five bays, will be located on a driveway off of Millwood Road, several hundred feet east of the current site for the department's main station in downtown Millwood. The goal has been to have the groundbreaking during the spring and completion in 2014.

Chappaqua Crossing Retail Review and Possible Approval

Although Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield and the Town of New Castle reached a settlement last month to end two outstanding lawsuits over the owner's previous proposal for residential rezoning, the two parties agreed to a deal that calls for approval of a newer plan to allow for retail and grocery use. Under the terms of the deal, the town's environmental review will wrap up in May, with Town Board votes in favor of rezoning and a specific plan to follow soon. The Planning Board is then expected to give site plan and subdivision approval in the months following the initial town votes. However, the deadlines can be adjusted and the town and planning boards are not legally obligated to follow the deal, although failure to do so would allow for the developer to bring back its lawsuits.

Conifer Plan Review Continues

The New Castle Town Board is expected to continue its review of Conifer Realty's Chappaqua Station affordable housing apartment building for downtown Chappaqua. The board, last month, voted to adjourn a public hearing to January. It may, however, reach a crucial point in the review: a determination of environmental significance. If the board reaches a negative declaration in that decision, the environmental review would be relatively quick, but a positive declaration would trigger the required production of an lengthy environmental impact statement. Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter recently suggested that the board may soon have enough materials to make a determination.

The Town Board is tasked with deciding whether to approve a special permit for the property, which it would vote on after an environmental review is done.

West End Mosque: FEIS Submission is Next

The New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals will continue its review of the Upper Westchester Muslim Society's proposed mosque for the town's West End. 

Tensions flared last summer amid a public hearing for a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the project, as residents worried about traffic and other environmental issues. Proponents of the mosque contend that UWMS does not have enough space at its current location in Thornwood. 

Currently, UWMS is working on a final environmental impact statement (FEIS), and local dialogue about the subject has been quiet. It is not clear when the FEIS will be submitted to the zoning board. The ZBA is tasked with deciding whether to grant a special permit for the building and would take its vote after the environmental review is finished.

School Security Talk

The mass school shooting in nearby Newtown, CT has left local parents and school districts wondering about what should be done to improve security locally. The Bedford school district could have updates on possible measures, Superintendent Jere Hochman told a group of parents in a talk, and there is interest in Chappaqua for doing so.

Bedford Schools Bond Vote?

A major capital plan, coupled with a high bonding price tag, may be put to a vote this coming fall. Currently, items being considered include a massive renovation for West Patent Elementary School, new science labs, entrance and cafeteria space for Fox Lane Middle School, and a slew of other items, such as air conditioning for the newer section of Fox Lane High School and roof work on several buildings. The estimated cost at the moment, assuming all items were to be included in the vote, standings at about $73 million, a figure that is very likely to change givne the scope of the fixes has not been made final yet.

The goal for holding a vote is in October.

Napoli Plan Pitch to Continue

Longtime Chappaqua resident, architect and developer Chuck Napoli expects to present his Hamlet Revitalization Plan to the Chappaqua school board at a future meeting. Napoli, who has lived in Chappaqua for roughly 40 years, has already made presentations to the New Castle town and planning boards. His proposal calls for filling in the South Greeley parking lot in Chappaqua with new shops, a European-style market, housing and a performing arts center. The parking spaces would be redistributed to the east, where a school district-owned ball field is now. A turf field deck would cover the new parking lot.

Mt. Kisco Diner's Planning Board Approval Likely

Roughly three years after getting rezoning approval from Mount Kisco's Village Board of Trustees, Mt. Kisco Coach Diner is likely to get site plan approval from the Planning Board for its major additions and extra parking. The Examiner reports that the vote could come at the board's Jan. 8 meeting. The board spent the later part of 2012 with draft approval documentation. 

'The Hearth' Review to Get Under Way

After being dormant for more than three years, a proposed 129-unit senior housing building on the former site of the Swiss Benevolent Society's property is again being reviewed by Mount Kisco officials.

The project has been renamed The Hearth at Mount Kisco, as a new developer has entered the fray to take majority control over the plan's business. The Planning Board took up review again at an October meeting and it was announced that a technical memo of outstanding site issues would be prepared.

More Lean Times for School Districts

Local schools are approaching the half-decade mark for slimmed-down operating budgets and there are no signs that the 2013-14 fiscal year will be any different. Bedford Central Superintendent Jere Hochman recently warned that the district is facing a $5 million to $6 million shortfall, although a tenative budget proposal will not be presented until late winter.. Chappaqua's school board is expected to get a budget preview, but not proposal, at a Jan. 16 meeting with an tenative proposal to be unveiled on Feb. 27.

The 2013-14 school year will be the second-straight cycle in which the districts will have to deal with the state-mandated tax levy increase cap.

Elections: Town Board, Village Board and County

Look for a slew of local and regional races in 2013, as terms approach expiration.

In New Castle, this will include the supervisor's office, occupied by Susan Carpenter, and two council seats that are occupied by John Buckley and Robin Stout. Additionally, a special election will be held to fill the town justice seat that is being vacated by David Zuckerman because he was elected to a county judge position.

In Mount Kisco, the mayor's office, occupied by J. Michael Cindrich, is up, along with village board seats held by Deputy Mayor George Griffin and village Trustee Anthony Markus.

At the county level, County Executive Rob Astorino is up for re-election, as are all seats in the County Board of Legislators, including those held by local legislators Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers) and Peter Harckham (D-North Salem). Their legislative districts include New Castle and Mount Kisco, respectively. Also up for votes at the county-wide level are the District Attorney offices, which is held by Janet DiFiore, and the County Clerk's office that is currently held by Tim Idoni.

Hillary Clinton to Step Down as Secretary of State

As President Barack Obama enters a second term, Secretary of State (and Chappaqua resident) Hillary Clinton plans to leave his cabinet. Obama, in December, nominated Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry as her replacement, which requires confirmation by the Senate.

Kennedy Legal Issues

Although he was acquitted in a Mount Kisco criminal trial, Douglas Kennedy faces a civil lawsuit filed by the Northern Westchester Hospital nurses involved with him in an alleged scuffle over his moving of newborn son, Bo, out of the maternity ward in January 2012. Kennedy, a Chappaqua resident, is expected to fight the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Kerry Kennedy, a Bedford resident, still faces an impaired driving charge in North Castle in connection his a car accident involving her vehicle and a truck last July on Interstate 684.

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