Town Board, School Board to Hold Joint Meeting

Gathering gives a rare chance for each board to discuss common priorities.

On Tuesday evening, the New Castle Town Board and the Chappaqua Central School District's Board of Education will hold a rare joint meeting together, providing a chance to catch up on issues that they are both interested in.

The meeting, which will be in a work session format, is at 7:45 p.m. at Horace Greeley High School. 

Joint meetings can give each board to discuss common priorities, even what is controversial in town. One notable example is a 2010 meeting that involed discussion of a contentious housing proposal for Chappaqua Crossing, which involved 199 condominiums and townhouses. That meeting, a work session held at Town Hall, was marked by frustration, as residents who gathered in a small conference room protested over the tight quarters provided for it. The meeting was then moved into Town Hall's regular assembly room, which is unavailable Tuesday because of a Planning Board meeting. 

Ultimately, the Town Board approved rezoning for 111 units the following April. The town is now in state and federal courts with developer Summit/Greenfield over the handling of its review process for the plan.

While Chappaqua Crossing is not explicitly on the agenda this time, there is an item on the agenda about the status of the town's commercial tax base. The Town Board, earlier this year, proposed rezoning the site's commercial portion to allow for 50,000 to 60,000 square feet of grocery space and retail spaces of 5,000 squaree feet each, with improving the commercial base a justification for doing so. Summit/Greenfield has unveiled a similar proposal in response and both are pending before a town review. The plans have garnered controversy from residents, with traffic and fear of competition with merchants cited as reasons. The school board, which was vocally worried about the housing proposal due to possible student enrollment, has not taken a public stance on the retail plans for the property.

Other agenda items will include emergency response, which is notable in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which closed numerous roads with trees and wires, and led to Chappaqua students being out of schools for more than a week. Specific items of this matter will include where to put power lines in the future, tree regulation, shelters, coordination between the town and school district, and dealing with utilities.

Public feedback for both boards over handling of post-Sandy response was markedly different. In online postings, such as Patch and the Chappaqua Moms Facebook group, residents assailed the town for what they felt was an inadequate job, while several praised Chappaqua schools Superintendent Lyn McKay for her updates to people via robo-call. The Town Board is interested in adding such a system for the future, along with mapping software for closed streets.

The third item pertains to underfunded or unfunded mandates, which both boards have blamed New York State for forcing upon them, such as pension costs, and thus contributing to escalating property taxes.

To access the meeting agenda, click here to search on the town's website. It is located under the Town Board's work session packets folder.


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