New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter said that she tried to get Conifer Realty to look at alternative sites for its affordable housing plan, but believes that there are no other viable locations at the moment.
Carpenter gave her thoughts on the issue on Tuesday morning at a League of Women Voters discussion in which the public could ask her questions about a myriad of town issues, ranging from post-Hurricane Sandy response, to the retail and grocery proposal for Chappaqua Crossing, to the Millwood train station replica plan.
The challenge for possible alternatives that involve private property owners has been a lack of interest from those who control the locations, such as the former Bistro Maxime site on North Greeley Avenue in Chappaqua.
“We can't make people sell those sites” for affordable housing, she said.
Carpenter also noted that Conifer did look elsewhere.
“We suggested other locations. they were not able to make any of those other locations work and they've got a big investment in the site that they're in.”
Carpenter also dismissed building on town-owned properties in downtown, such as the Chappaqua train station parking lot, a green space behind town hall and a strip along Washington Avenue. Her respective reasons included not wanting to reduce commuter parking - she cited strong demand - planned construction of a police storage shed and the edge of the later site including wetland.
The supervisor also noted that the town board, in its recent resolution giving its sentiments, called on Conifer to propose a smaller building.
The board's recent resolution calls for limiting a building to three stories, with an exception if the mass can be cut, having the building further set back from the property line, eliminating a proposed pedestrian walkway onto the Route 120 bridge and not using municipal parking spots for overflow usage.
The current proposal involves a 36-unit structure ranging from three to five stories in height, located on a 0.38-acre rectangular site at the end of Hunts Place. Critics, focusing on the fact that it borders the Metro-North train tracks and the Saw Mill River Parkway, question whether the site provides an adequate quality of life for residents, while also doubting the location's safety.
The supervisor also noted that the resolution supports keeping the site zoned for affordable housing usage in addition to its industrial classification, arguing that the eliminate that use now - it was added on by the town board in June 2010 - could lead to a lawsuit.
“The site is zoned for housing. We are not going to go back now and tell them 'oh, gee we changed our mind.' I don't think we can do that. I mean, I guess we could if we wanted to spend the next five years in a housing discrimination case, but we're not going to do that.”
Carpenter would like to see Conifer return with a modified plan that takes the board's resolution criteria into account. Reached on Tuesday, Conifer attorney Alfred DelBello declined to comment on whether or not a revised plan would be submitted.
Conifer has recently requested adjournments for appearances before the town board and zoning board of appeals. Last night, the town board voted to adjourn an ongoing public hearing for Conifer, which is in connection to its special permit request for the project. The hearing was briefly kept open, and the only person who spoke was Conifer critic Wallace Toscano, who noted that unit count and building size do not necessarily have to be the same as proposed.