(Editor's Note: Below is a response from Rob Greenstein regarding New Castle's settlement with Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield. The post originally appeared in the Chappaqua Moms Facebook group and Patch asked if it could then be submitted as an opinion piece):
The Town Board just let down our residents, and our merchants. I understand that reducing the risks of litigation has a benefit, but it would seem to make more sense if we were in a weak position. The State lawsuit was already dismissed (although an appeal is pending), and the Federal standard is higher. Summit Greenfield was incurring legal fees. Our legal costs were paid for by insurance. We were in a position of strength, and now we are not!
Why would OUR Town Board agree to this???? The only possible explanation is for the one-time payment of $905,000 in fees that Summit Greenfield already owed the Town from the review of the residential portion of the project. That is not a sufficient reason! And if you were gonna settle with Summit Greenfield, why doesn’t the deal affect several outstanding challenges that Summit/Greenfield has to its property tax assessments?????
An article 78 is not a viable option. The Town Board has discretion to settle. I just don’t understand why they did.
I am VERY concerned about how the economically feasible development standard will be interpreted & defined. One thing is certain, we will not be making that decision. A third party - such as a Court or an Arbitrator - will be making that decision for us thanks to OUR Town Board. Would a Court or an Arbitrator ultimately decide that a 50,000 retail development fails the economically feasible test.
Thanks to our Town Board, we lost control of guiding the process. We will now be guided by milestones, that have yet to be disclosed. Will the “milestones” mean that the Town Board will rush their decision so the developer can revise their site plan to add the retail component before the 6 month extension expires in April.
Do the “milestones” mean town board won’t listen to the recommendation of the planning board & commission a market study to assess the effects of the grocery/shopping center at Chappaqua Crossing on the existing commercial centers before changing the zoning?
Do the “milestones” mean that the Town Board can’t follow the Planning Board’s suggestion that adding 120K new retail space should only be done in conjunction with updating our master plan?
One thing is certain, the proposed law must be changed to protect local merchants and the traffic mitigation measures proposed by Summit Greenfield must be studied VERY carefully.
Thanks to OUR Town Board, I think that the retail rezoning at Chappaqua Crossing is virtually a foregone conclusion. The concerns of the residents, merchants & the Planning Board were ignored.