New Castle's Town Board voted Tuesday night to grant another extension for Chappaqua Crossing's multifamily housing zone, the last one that can be issued under current town law.
Town Clerk Jill Shapiro, who confirmed the vote, explained that it passed 3-0. Deputy Supervsior Elise Kessler Mottel, whose law firm has a business connection to Greenfield Partners - its half of the Summit/Greenfield joint venture that owns Chappaqua Crossing - is recusing herself. Meanwhile, Councilman Robin Stout was absent, she confirmed.
The Town Board granted 111 units, a mix of condos and townhouses, with , less than the 199 that Summit/Greenfield proposed. A concept plan created for the approval stipulated that the developer had one year from the initial rezoning to go to the Planning Board for site plan review and approval but could request two, 6-month extensions. In March, the Town Board voted to give its first extension, which runs from April 11 to Oct. 11. In late September, Summit/Greenfield filed a request with the town for the second extension.
“We are pleased that the Town Board granted our request for a six-month extension for the residential approval," said Geoff Thompson, Summit/Greenfield's spokesman.
Summit/Greenfield, which bought the property from Reader's Digest in 2004, had sought since the mid 2000s to develop a mix of residential and commercial for the site. An enviromental review ran from 2007 to 2011 on its proposal, which initially included more than 200 units that included age-restricted space, before being scaled down to 199 units in 2010.
The housing proposal was highly controversial in town, with concerns from residents ranging from a large and costly influx of new kids into the Chappaqua school district, to traffic, to cannibalizing land that could otherwise be use for commercial zoning.
Frustrated with the Town Board's review process for the rezoning application, Summit/Greenfield filed state and federal lawsuits against the town in February 2011, claiming that the process is a sham. The lawsuits were amended that spring to reflect the 111-unit rezoning vote, with an argument that the smaller number is not economically sufficient. Summit/Greenfield has argued that the town deprived it of the property's economic use.
On Sept. 26, a state Supreme Court judge dismissed the state lawsuit, arguing that Summit/Greenfield, with existing commercial and single-family zoning on the site, had other economic uses for development. The also ruled that the 111-unit rezoning did not destroy the property's value as a whole. The federal lawsuit is still pending.
The board's Tuesday vote is the latest event in what is shaping to be a busy month for news on Chappaqua Crossing. In addition to the judge's ruling being made public, debate is continuing over a Town Board proposal to rezone the property's existing commercial zone to also allow for a supermarket and ancillary retail. The supermarket, under the proposed overlay zone, must be between 50,000 to 60,000 square feet, with the ancillary uses being 5,000 square feet each. The new proposal has sparked opposition from neighbors worried about increase traffic and an idea that the site could become a strip mall. Another local concern is that the rezoning could create a new business district in town that would unfairly compete with existing merchants.
The Town Board, which held a public hearing on Sept. 24 about the grocery zone, will resume it on Oct. 30. Meanwhile, the Planning Board, which has provided initially skeptical input, will discuss the rezoning again at an Oct. 16 work session.
Summit/Greenfield, at the Sept. 24 hearing, also announced that it intends to submit a new plan that takes into account the Town Board's proposed rezoning.
“As we have previously stated, we are currently working on a plan that responds to the Town Board’s retail zone concept and expect to make a submission to the town in the near future," Thompson replied Wednesday.
Summit/Greenfield also intends to submit an application to the Planning Board for site plan approval, something previously noted earlier this year.
"That will follow," Thompson explained. "At the moment we are focused on completing the retail submission."
Editor's Note: The story has been updated to include additional information.