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Town Board Passes Zoning Law For Workforce Housing In Downtown Chappaqua

Affordable housing added to list of permitted uses in parts of the area.

The New Castle Town Board approved a local law that adds workforce housing to permitted zoning uses in parts of downtown Chappaqua.

Such housing would be for people who are at or below the median annual salary for town employees, the Chappaqua Central School District or the county, whichever is higher. Occupancy would be income restricted for at least 25 years after a Certificate of Occupancy is issued.

The income threshold is on a sliding scale, ranging from 70 percent of the area median for a one-person household, to 100 percent for a four-person household. Floor size per unit is permitted in a range of 300 sqaure feet to 1,200 square, and studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units are permitted to be built. Three-bedroom units are at the Town Board's discretion.

Under the law, three areas downtown are eligible. They are a currently vacant parcel south of Hunts Place and west of the railroad tracks, as well as much of the land just south of the intersection with Maple Avene and North Greeley Avenue, down to South Greeley Avenue and north of the library. The first area is covered by what is called a General Industrial district (I-G), while the rest of the plots fall under existing uses for business, retail and/or parking. Much of the I-G region is permitted, as it most falls within 500 feet of the Chappaqua train station, the proximity of which was used as a guideline for where to permit the zoning. The business and retail areas will be able to accommodate the housing if they are within 1,500 feet of the station.

The passage represents a victory for the Town Board in trying to bring affordable housing to the area.

Supervisor Barbara Gerrard explained that New Castle has been unsuccessful in working in the past, and explained that it won't happen if they do not give options. She also said that the buildings could be mixed use, which would allow for commercial in addition.

The public hearing preceding the law's passage was quiet, but one person spoke about against it.

Jeff Gugick, a Chappaqua resident, cited existing traffic and parking issues in the downtown area. He also felt that the income levels of the town, employees to use an example, were high enough to Chappaqua's median income, which would allow many current residents to move in.

"And how much sense does that make?" he asked.

Gugick also brought up Westchester County's affordable housing settlement with the federal government. In an interview, Gerrard explained that the local law is not part of the county settlement.

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