New Castle's town board voted Tuesday night to change a law that regulates the duration of Chappaqua Crossing's housing zone.
The former Reader's Digest property is partially zoned as a Multifamily Planned Development (MFPD). In April 2011, rezoning approval was given for 111 units of condos and townhouses. Under the new law, any applicant who gets town board rezoning approval to add an MFPD has a year to then get site plan backing from the planning board, but can ask for an unlimited number of 6-month zoning extensions if they do not time the first deadline. Previously, the law only allowed for up to two, 6-month reprieves.
Without more time granted, the town code requires that the zoning lapses.
The change to the law will affect any proposal that gets an MFPD rezoning, but Chappaqua Crossing is the only plan that would immediately be impacted by it.
The town board was originally set to vote on the matter on Feb. 26 but did not because it did not have feedback material from the Westchester County Planning Board. In addition, the board voted last night to amend its April 2011 approval resolution for the site, which had conditions modeled on the old town code provision. It also voted specifically to grant another 6-month extension to developer Summit/Greenfield, which will preserve the MFPD at least until Oct. 11. More extensions can now be sought in addition to the time given until the fall.
The law change is the latest chapter in the long saga for housing on the site. Summit/Greenfield, which bought the property in 2004, spent the later half of the 2000s trying to build a mix-used residential/commercial complex, with various tweaked versions explored. Its last iteration, unveiled in 2010, involved 199 housing units. The idea of dense housing on the site was highly controversial, as residents worried that it would bring a costly influx of new kids into the Chappaqua school district, along with creating an adverse traffic impact.
While the town board gave approval for part of the rezoning request, Summit/Greenfield sued it in federal and state courts over how the rezoning review was done, claiming that it was deprived economical use of the property and that the review was a sham.
The suits, filed in February 2011, were settled in December, where the developer agreed to suspend its lawsuit, and then drop them if the town and planning boards give approvals for a new proposal that involves a rezoning and site plan to allow for 120,000 square feet of retail spaces, including a large grocery store. That plan would be in addition to the 111 housing units. Another term of the settlement called for the town giving Summit/Greenfield more time to work on the housing aspect.