New Castle Supervisor’s Report – June 13, 2017
Supervisor, New Castle
LOWV Comprehensive Plan Letter
The League of Women Voters of New Castle has reviewed our draft comprehensive plan. They “commended the Steering Committee, New Castle Planning Division, New Castle Town staff, Town Board, PACE Land Use Law Center and others for their considerable time and efforts in developing a draft Comprehensive Plan”. The League of Women Voters recognized that the “planners made significant attempts to engage the community throughout the comprehensive planning process”. Specifically, they wrote:
- In 2012, a Steering Committee and workgroups were formed, comprised of local residents. During 2012-2014, these groups and others analyzed the 1989 Town Development Plan, identifying strengths and weaknesses and sections either important or no longer relevant and provided feedback. Westchester County Base Studies provided much of the data used in the analyses. PACE Land Use Law Center was hired to help with the process, consolidate the comments and develop a draft document. League members observed many of these initial workgroups.
- In 2014-2015, numerous public outreach workshops and sessions were held with residents, community groups and merchants. League members attended many of these outreach sessions, and the League sponsored one of them. PACE consultants conducted many of the sessions. The workshops and sessions were held at alternative times of the day and at varied locations, including Gedney Park. In addition, an online survey was conducted for 1½ months. Residents were also provided the chance to offer feedback on the draft Plan via email.
- In 2016, the team working on developing the Comprehensive Plan met with all of the Town’s Advisory Boards and Committees, soliciting their input. We understand that the Town Planning Division has continued to work closely with the Planning Board.
- The latest draft Comprehensive Plan has been available for residents to review since early 2017 and five public hearings in April and May 2017 were held for public comments. Also, comments by email were submitted during the public comment period.
The League of Women Voters recognized that “the process followed in developing the Comprehensive Plan was open, transparent and inclusive. The community had numerous opportunities to be heard in the process”. They also noted that “experts were called in to help with analyzing the information, consolidating input and summarizing all findings”. As far as the structure, they noted that “the Comprehensive Plan follows the American Planning Association (APA) Comprehensive Plan Standards and Best Practices. The APA standards help communities that are interested in integrating sustainability principles and practices into their comprehensive plans. New Castle strives to be a leader in sustainability and the League supports New Castle’s focus on sustainability”. Their conclusion…..”the League of Women Voters of New Castle supports the process followed in developing the draft Comprehensive Plan and recognizes that APA best practices were used to structure the Plan”.
Please join us for a reception on Wednesday, June 21st, 7:15p in the Town Hall Assembly Room for a reception to thank all our volunteers who worked on the 2017 Comprehensive Plan.
The draft of the Comprehensive Plan can be accessed on the Comprehensive Plan section of the Town’s website:
Last night, the Town brought to an official close a pair of lawsuits that Summit Greenfield (“SG”), the developer of Chappaqua Crossing, filed against the Town back in 2011. Specifically, SG filed a federal action alleging that the Town had violated SG’s rights under the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws. SG also filed a state action alleging that the Town’s delays and other actions had deprived SG of all economically viable use of the property and prevented the construction of affordable housing on the site.
At the time, many residents, including myself, believed that the Town Board was mishandling Chappaqua Crossing. By 2011, SG had already spent 6 years before the Town Board. To me, the Town Board looked lost. They didn’t know what they wanted at Chappaqua Crossing and were spinning their wheels. Only the lawyers benefited – they were paid handsomely!
The Town and SG reached a settlement in December 2012. What broke the impasse? Retail zoning. Specifically, the Town Board decided to invite SG to pursue the conversion of 120,000 square feet of commercial office space to retail space that would include a Whole Foods as the anchor tenant. The lawsuits were suspended while the Town Board studied the traffic, safety and other impacts that might be created by the conversion to retail.
In October 2013, one week before I was elected, the Town Board adopted a SEQRA Findings Statement. A Finding Statement is a legally binding document that closes the book on the Town’s ability to review a project’s impacts on things like traffic, and explore possible mitigation measures. The Town’s Findings Statement determined, among other things, that the adverse traffic, safety and other impacts from having retail at Chappaqua Crossing would be minimal after road improvements were done to Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road.
In very simple terms, what the 2013 Findings Statement did was prevent my administration from stopping the conversion to retail zoning based on our concerns over how the project would impact traffic, safety, community character and other environmental issues. Believe me, we all had those concerns. In fact, we still do. But the Findings Statement resolved all of those questions in favor of SG and retail zoning. Those are the facts.
As a brand new Supervisor, my job was to lead the Town Board towards making the best possible decision for all of our residents. When I sized-up the situation with Chappaqua Crossing, it was clear that we could not go back and rewrite history. Given the binding effect of the Findings Statement, going back to court with SG was a very risky and expensive option. Instead, the Board decided to make the project as good as it could be, with the best amenities, best aesthetics, and the tax dollars we need. With input from our Planning Board, we persuaded Summit Greenfield to move away from its original proposal to build big box stores, and instead to design a more community-oriented, walkable retail development. We also negotiated with SG on additional improvements and benefits for the Town, including the following:
- We required that 20% of the total retail space on the property be dedicated to health and fitness-related uses. Life Time Fitness is now coming to Chappaqua Crossing. Lifetime will be utilizing 1/3 of the retail space. The remaining retail space will include a mix of new restaurants and small stores that will compliment, not destabilize, our existing merchants.
- We persuaded Summit Greenfield to pay the Town $1.5 million, which will be used to create other recreational opportunities and further mitigate impacts associated with the development. The townhouses on the site will be taxed as individual, fee-simple properties, not as condominiums. This will ensure that townhouse owners pay their fair share of property taxes.
- We persuaded Summit Greenfield to widen and approve the driveway entrance into Horace Greeley High School to alleviate the traffic congestion that occurs there every weekday morning.
- We saved the Wallace Auditorium from destruction. We persuaded Summit Greenfield to transfer ownership of the facility to the Town, for free, so it can be used and enjoyed by our residents, civic groups and other organizations.
- We created new open space by persuading Summit Greenfield to remove the houses it owns along Roaring Brook Road and transfer those properties to the Town, for free, so the land can be forever preserved as a natural buffer between the development and surrounding neighborhood.
- The cupola building is being redeveloped for market rate, workforce and affordable rental housing. The renovation is already underway, and I’ve walked through the building. It’s awesome. It’s a project we can all be proud of.
Here we are in 2017. All of the Town approvals have been granted for retail. As a result, the lawsuits that SG filed are being dismissed once and for all. It’s been a long road. Given the cards we were dealt in 2014, I’m proud of what my administrations have accomplished at Chappaqua Crossing.
Chappaqua Crossing – Cupola Building
As I mentioned, the iconic Cupola building at Chappaqua Crossing is being adaptively reused for 28 units of affordable housing, 10 work force, 25 market rate units. These units will exemplify how new and affordable housing options should be integrated. When completed, the Cupola Building will offer affordable, market rate and workforce housing options in a beautiful, vibrant location. Check out this virtual tour! Now this is affordable housing we can be proud of!
Our Sustainability Advisory Board is currently formulating a concrete plan so New Castle can honor the goals of the Paris Accord. To do so, New Castle must reduce our emissions 26 percent by 2025, based on 2005 levels. I look forward to hearing their recommendations.
Our Electric vehicle has arrived!
Dr. William Flank
Last Wednesday we marked the end of an era! Dr. William Flank has stepped down as Troop 1’s Scoutmaster, a position he has held since 1990. He has been Troop 1’s longest serving scoutmaster. He leaves behind some very big shoes to fill. Over the Troop’s history, which is 105 years, 112 scouts have reached the rank of Eagle Scout. Dr. Flank participated in 94 of the Eagle projects. Under Dr. Flank’s tenure, 55 of his Scouts became Eagles! We would be hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere, who has trained more Scout leaders! He will be missed but always remembered by those whose lives he’s touched, and he has touched many young lives, for sure!!!
We Need a Bridge!
We wrote a letter to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, and, once again, reiterated our request to be added to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list. We pointed out the need for design and construction of a bridge over the Metro-North Railroad grade crossing at Roaring Brook Road and its intersection with the Saw Mill River Parkway, less than a quarter mile from Horace Greeley High School, NYS Route 117 (Truck Route) and the multi-use Chappaqua Crossing. This letter was sent to: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congress Woman Nita Lowey, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Senator Terrence Murphy, NYS Assemblyman David Buchwald, County Executive Robert P. Astorino, Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, New York State Department of Transportation, MTA & Federal Railroad Administration Region.
Our efforts were recognized on the front cover of the Journal News.
Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester – Youth of the Year
Congratulations to Tatiana Restrepo and Nethme DeSilvia for being honored as Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester – Youth of the Year. Both will be the first in their family generation to graduate high school and go to College in the United States. Tati is going to Pace and Nethme is going to SUNY Binghamton. Youth of the Year is the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester national signature teen program. The competition is based upon academic excellence, character and commitment to community and the Club. It culminates with presentations and interviews before judges. We are exploring ways that our newly formed New Castle Coalition for Youth can work with Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester. Click here to read more about their achievements.
Habitat for Humanity – Millwood
I was proud to attend a great Habitat for Humanity fundraiser last week at their house located at 437 Saw Mill River Road, Millwood. Nice story: Jim Killoran, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Westchester, was buying food at DeCicco’s for the fundraiser and started speaking to the woman in line behind him. The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, picked up the $750 tab! Incredible gesture! Special thanks also to Le Jardin for donating delicious pulled pork and corn salad. For those who couldn’t make the event, you can donate online here
Parking on Weekends
I would like to remind residents that we have 1,300 parking spots in our commuter lot and parking is free from 6:01 pm Friday night until 5:59am on Mon. Many of us lived in NYC before moving to New Castle, walking 20 blocks was the norm. The walk from the commuter lot to Starbucks is about 5 blocks.
All Are Welcome Here Banners Coming to a Light Pole Near You Soon