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Chappaqua Crossing Law Change Vote Delayed

Because Westchester County's planning department did not weigh in on a proposed change for renewal of the site's housing zone, a public hearing and vote were postponed.

A procedural technicality led the New Castle Town Board Tuesday night to delay a vote on changing the law that governs Chappaqua Crossing's housing zone.

A public hearing and vote on the change were originally slated for the Tuesday meeting but were put off, with the hearing adjourned until March 12. 

Town Attorney Clinton Smith, at the meeting, said the problem stemmed from not getting a report from Westchester County's planning board, which is required by the state for zoning issues.   

The proposed change affects the Multifamily Planned Development (MFPD) zone on the property, which the town board approved in April 2011. The town code allows for one year after the approval to receive site plan approval from the planning board, the next step in the process, or else the zoning lapses. However, up to two, 6-month extensions can be granted, both of which developer Summit/Greenfield has exhausted for the property. The change in the law would allow for Summit/Greenfield, an any other MFPD applicant, to request an unlimited number of 6-month extensions. Each extension would still be subject to town board approval.

Summit/Greenfield, which bought the property from Reader's Digest in 2004, spent the later half of the 2000s, and into the current decade, trying to get rezoning so that it could develop a mix of condos and townhouses. Its housing proposal, which would have been mixed use along with existing office space, was tweaked several times, and its last revision included 199 units.

The board, however, only gave approval for 111 in its rezoning vote. The developer sued the town in federal and state courts in February 2011 over how the review process for its rezoning bid was handled, arguing that it was a "sham" and that the town deprived it of economic use of the site.

The housing plan was highly controversial; residents worried that it would result in a large number of new kids for the Chappaqua school district and create a financial burden as a result, along with traffic.

The two sides reached a settlement in December 2012, in which the developer agreed to suspend the lawsuits, which can be dropped if the town and planning boards give their respective rezoning and site plan approvals for a new proposal: 120,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by a grocery store of 36,000 to 66,000 square feet. The plan, first submitted in October, was in response to a similar idea from the town board, which sought to replace the shuttered D'Agostino grocery store on King Street that closed in 2011. The D'Agostino site will be filled with a Walgreens.

One of the conditions of the settlement involves the town board giving more time for keeping the MFPD.

The grocery and retail proposal has also received controversy. Some residents fear that it will result in a third hamlet for the town, in addition to Chappaqua and Millwood, creating businesses that will compete with existing ones. Others believe that the proposal will result in a strip mall, while traffic is another concern.

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