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Town Starts Review of Chap Crossing Grocery Plan

New Castle Town Board votes to accept petition for proposed grocery store and retail. Board also starts environmental review.

Less than two days after Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield submitted its grocery store and retail proposal for the site, the New Castle Town Board voted to accept the petition for it and to kick off its review process.

By a 4-0 vote during a work session Tuesday night, the board got the ball rolling for the review process of the proposal, with a resolution outlining various procedural items. Deputy Supervisor Elise Kessler Mottel recused herself because her law firm has a business connection to the developer.

The new plan calls for a large supermarket of 36,000 to 66,000 square feet, with a total of 120,000 square feet of commercial space being converted from office to retail usage. The proposal is in response to the Town Board's own plan for rezoning the site for the same uses. That legislation calls for a grocery store under narrower range of 50,000 to 60,000 square feet, with ancillary retail uses being 5,000 square feet each.

Noting the similarities between the plans of the town board and the developer, Town Attorney Clinton Smith described Summit/Greenfield's version as literally “a modification of the town’s proposal."

There are some notable differences, however. The town's plan calls for creating a retail zone that would overlay the site's existing commercial district  meant for office space. That legislation can be applied anywhere in the zone. However, according to Smith, Summit/Greenfield's plan calls for building on a specific part of the commercial zone, using the existing buildings 100 and 200, along with the parking lot on the southern end of the property.

Summit/Greenfield's plan also calls for, Smith explained, altering the boundary of the multifamily housing zone, which the Town Board approved in April 2011 in response to the developer's proposal for 199 condos and townhouses. The board only voted to rezone so that 111 units were permitted and Summit/Greenfield is suing the town in federal and state courts over how the review was conducted by the town board.

The board also voted on its intent to become the lead agency for the project's environmental review. Along with its petition, Summit/Greenfield submitted a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (draft SEIS), which serves to supplement a larger, similar study for the site that it did during the late 2000s, and revised in 2010, for the housing proposal.

One point of concern was the escrow amount of $150,000 that Summit/Greenfield would be asked to pay up front, as some board members felt it should be higher. The developer still owes fees to the town in connection with the housing rezoning review. The board went along with the number, but initially hestitated and went into a closed executive session for legal advice before reopening a public meeting and then voting.

In addition, the town board voted to set an Oct. 30 public hearing, at 8 p.m., for the plan.  It will be held at the same time as a hearing for the town board's rezoning proposal. Some residents have blasted the town's plan, feeling that it would create traffic problems, an undesirable strip mall and a third commercial center that would compete with existing merchants in town.

The town board also voted to refer the proposal to both the New Castle Planning Board and the Westchester County Planning Board.

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