With the ongoing debate over the Chappaqua Crossing development, several key issues have received new scrutiny since a final environmental impact statement was released in July. Tonight, New Castle Town Board and Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education members will meet in a joint work session to discuss the matter, at 7 p.m., at New Castle Town Hall in Chappaqua.
A Glance: Commercial and Residential
The FEIS, most notably, includes a new build option, known as Alternative I. It will allow for more office space – 662,000 square feet – versus 520,000 in the proposed action, or applicant Summit/Greenfield's desired development version. There are only 199 housing units in Alternative I, versus 278 in the proposed action.
Tonight's joint work session between the New Castle Town Board and the Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education will also highlight another contentious ongoing issue, and that is the extent to which school-aged children would live in the development. While the proposed action includes an age restriction permitting only adults 55 and older with children 18 and up, Alternative I does not. Numbers from the newest FEIS iteration show that roughly 58 new students could potentially be added to the school system. While Summit/Greenfield noted that the Chappaqua school district is projected to be under capacity, board members are concerned. In a recent email, school board President Janet Benton explained that operating costs, such as staffing and transportation need to be considered. This argument was made by the board as a whole in an email that it sent out recently.
"We adhere to district guidelines to determine the number of students per class by grade level," Benton wrote a few weeks ago. "It is quite possible for additional children at any one grade level to bring us up to the maximum number and necessitate the need for an additional classroom section, thereby increasing the number of teachers we need."
Board Member Jeffrey Mester has weighed in personally on the matter in a blog he started Monday, called 10514 Musings. In it, he argued that savings from declining enrollment should return to the taxpayers. He gave a number of suggestions for the Town Board – which is the lead agency and has the authority over the project – to consider. They included the housing units to be taxed on a "fee simply" basis where housing units are taxed like single-family dwellings, which is something that the school board also supports. Additionally, he called for town-wide revaluation and would like to see residential rezoning consideration dropped.
As the Town Board considers the issues with the school board, it has looked at another one that has attracted attention: traffic.
Michael Galante from Frederick P. Clark Associates – which has handled traffic study for the town – stated at an Aug. 4 Town Board work session that the traffic impact between the proposed action and Alternative I is about the same. Figures from the newest FEIS, when reconciled with the previous version from March show this. According to the findings for both the proposed action and Alternative I, most of the major intersections near the development site would have a drop in the level of service (LOS) from a C to D, At the work session, Galante said that he wants to hear from the applicant more traffic for a proposed 142,000 square foot data center for Alternative I. Additionally, parking is on the mind of the town board, which at the work session considered how parking spaces could be distributed on the site and with potential demand for it (a one-story, vertical structure was briefly mentioned as a hypothetical possibility, among others.