A brief description of Summit Greenfield’s Modified Plan for Chappaqua Crossing
In “Read more,” see aerial view of the RD property and front elevation of North Village apartment buildings.
July 30, 2010
by Christine Yeres
In a press release dated July 23, developer Summit Greenfield returned its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) to the New Castle town board with a new alternative. The “Modified Project” includes construction of 199 non-age-restricted units, 20 of them units that would satisfy the county settlement’s requirements as “fair and affordable housing.” The developer also would retain 662,000 square feet of the existing office space, and donate 6.5 acres of land to the town for municipal uses.
The main difference between the new Modified Plan and the last new alternative presented in March (Alternative G) is the decrease in number of residential units, down from 250 to 199.
The three-volume FEIS was delivered to the New Castle town hall on Friday, July 23. “Town board members can’t comment,” said Supervisor Barbara Gerrard, “since we understand that the document contains some major changes that will take a while to absorb.”
According to the press release, “If the Town Board approves the Modified Project, Summit Development will withdraw its pending [petition for 278 units of housing],” in the interest of pursuing the Modified Plan. Although called a “final environmental impact statement,” the FEIS is a work in progress until the town board is satisfied that its content reflects town board members’ beliefs about the impacts of any proposed project. To read the release in its entirety, click Chappaqua Crossing Press Release: New “Modified Plan”.
The FEIS will be on the agenda for discussion in a joint work session of the town and school boards on August 10 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall.A quick review of the various versions proposed by the developer over the last five years
Original Plan, April 2005:
Housing units: 348 units total, 292 market-rate, 56 affordable, a combination of senior and workforce, all age-restricted for 55+
Office space: 520,000 square feet
Land donated to town: 2 acres
Second Plan—“Proposed Action” in the current application for rezoning—July 2007:
Housing units: 278 units total; 222 units market-rate, age-restricted for 55+;
44 townhouses (“fee simple”), 234 apartments (condo)
246 two-bedroom, 32 three-bedroom
24 affordable senior units,
32 workforce units for families
Total Bedrooms: 588
Land donated to town: 2 acres
Alternative G, March 2010 “Developer proposes no age-restriction, 10% fewer units, 27% more office space, 6.5 acres for town,” NCNOW.org, March 26, 2010:
Housing units: 250 non-age-restricted, 38 (or 15%) affordable
Land donated to town: 6.5 acres
New Modified Plan released July 23, 2010:
Housing units: 199 units total; of those, 20 units of affordable (10%); all non-age-restricted
60 townhouses (condo), 139 apartments (condo)
177 two-bedroom, 22 three-bedroom
Office space: Retain 662,000 of the 700,000 square feet
Land donated to town: 6.5 acres
Editor’s Note: Since this much of the above text was first published on Saturday, July 24, twenty-three readers have posted comments. To read those comments, click HERE. For new details of the FEIS, read on, below.
Geographic changes to plan
The Modified Project released last Friday includes the topographically challenging North Village of 88 housing units (down from 170 there in the Proposed Action), increases the number of townhouses in the East Village (center of property) from 44 to 60, and includes 51 apartment units there as well. “All units are proposed to be held in condominium ownership,” the developer stated in his document.
The Modified Plan splits the property into a 52.1 acre business district and a 49.4 acre multifamily planned development district, or MFPD.
Changes in plans for commercial property
The FEIS Executive Summary describes the Reader’s Digest buildings as “a partially vacant, outdated and inefficient office facility undergoing difficult marketing, and with little market acceptance.” With the complete departure of Reader’s Digest by the end of 2010, according to the Summary, the office space the Digest now occupies “will be required to be renovated for new commercial tenants.”
In the Modified Project, 520,000 square feet (as in the Proposed Action) would be for multi-tenant office use. While in the Proposed Action two northernmost buildings (identified as Nos. 600 and 700) would be demolished, the Modified Project would retain the 600 building’s 142,000 square feet for “low-intensity data center of disaster recovery facility use.” The FEIS Executive Summary does not identify a renter. The 700 (northernmost) building would still be demolished, as well as the auditorium, the Bedford Valley House and the campus maintenance garage.
The current Bedford Road gate would be moved deeper inside the property, about 550 feet west, down the entry road, to serve as an “office gatehouse” for the Modified Project. There would be “no gated access to the Modified Project’s residential villages.”
The office and residential traffic into the campus would share the entry road, then split off into separate routes to their own areas. These inner roadways would remain privately owned (not the responsibility of the town).
The Proposed Action had planned for a sidewalk along the north side of Roaring Brook Road between Bedford Road and the high school entrance. The Modified Project substitutes a pedestrian walkway for school children and others connecting the East Village walkway system to Roaring Brook Road opposite the high school entrance.
Changes in plans for residential properties
Plans for the new Modified Project show 179 market rate units and 20 affordable units, 10% of the project. The Executive Summary of the FEIS states that the affordable units of the Modified Project “would meet the requirements of the County Stipulation settling its recent federal housing litigation.” However, the text continues, “Because the County has not yet adopted an implementation plan satisfactory to the federal monitor under that Stipulation, it is not yet clear what, if any, provisions of that Plan would be applicable to affordable units in the Modified Project.”
Under the Modified Plan, the North Village would consist of 88 two-bedroom market-rate units in two four-story U-shaped buildings of 44 units each. Units would range in size between 1,300 and 2,200 square feet. A fourth story on each of these U-shaped buildings would require a zoning amendment for the additional height. Parking for the units would be underground with outside spaces for visitors.
The East Village would consists of 49 two-bedroom and two three-bedroom units in three two-story I-shaped buildings. The I-shaped building nearest the high school would contain 18 two-bedroom affordable units (from 875 to 975 square feet) and two three-bedroom affordable units of approximately 1,175 square feet. The two other I-shaped buildings would contain a total of 31 two-bedroom market-rate units (from 1,300 to 2,200 square feet). Parking would be underground with outside spaces for visitors, 610 parking spaces in total for the two villages, about three spaces for each condominium.
A total of 60 two-story townhouses with internal garages would be located in clusters along the east side of the East Village.
Resident clubhouse and outdoor swimming pool will be fashioned by renovation and expansion of the existing Guest House.
Rather than the two separate one-acre lots along Roaring Brook Road, the developer would donate 6.5 acres to the town for municipal uses, approximately two acres along Roaring Brook Road, by three acres into the site.
Site access and circulation
As part of the Modified Project, the developer would donate to the NYS Department of Transportation the land necessary to create a right-turn lane from Bedford Road southbound onto Roaring Brook Road.
In the Modified Project, the developer still intends to provide 1,350 parking spaces (or 2.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet) for the 520,000 square feet of office space. But for the additional 140,000 in building 600, the developer has applied for a zoning variance to provide only 60 parking spaces (or 1 space per 2,500 square feet), since the developer intends the space to be occupied by a “low-intensity data center of disaster recovery facility use.” The zoning board of appeals and the developer have an ongoing difference of opinion on whether these parking ratios are permissible under the town’s current zoning regulations.
The Modified Project also includes “the creation and implementation of a transportation demand management plan, or commuter mobility plan, to encourage the reduction of single-occupancy vehicle trips and parking demand through such measures as discounted transit passes, shuttle service to nearby transit stations, provision of on-site food service, car sharing strategies/programs, ride-matching services, preferred parking for van and car pools, and shower and storage facilities for bikers and walkers,” according to the Executive Summary.
In the East Village, 79 of 111 units are located within the existing sewer district. For the 32 that are not, as well as the 88 units of the North Village, the developer has asked the town board to request a sewer district extension from Westchester County. Town board members intend to add Summit Greenfield’s request to the Town of New Castle’s longstanding request for sewer extension for Random Farms, Yeshiva and Riverwoods.
The renovations to the interiors of the commercial space would occur as new tenants signed on and requested specific build-outs. The schedule for the construction of the residential portion of the Modified Project would be phased in over four and a half years rather than the five and a half years suggested for the Proposed Action.
Zoning variance for business zone
The New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals has declined to rule on the developer’s requests for commercial zoning variances until the town board has completed the SEQR review for the entire Chappaqua Crossing project, a mix of commercial and residential. As part of the Proposed Action, the developer has asked the zoning board of appeals for relief from:
(a) all restrictions on the number of commercial users on the Property;
(b) the minimum square footage requirement of at least 200,000 square feet for one such user; and
(c) the maximum square footage limitation of 171,000 square feet for the three additional users.
For the new Modified Project, the developer says he is not seeking any variance. Instead, the developer has submitted a petition that would delete from the business zoning provisions “all restrictions on the number of users and all minimum and maximum square footage requirements for commercial tenants.”
Requesting MFPD, or multifamily planned development, zoning
The developer states that the Modified Project “would advance the goals and principles set forth in the Town’s Zoning Code for multifamily housing as follows:
• Provide suitable opportunities within the Town for development of housing designed to satisfy the needs of smaller households, particularly the young and elderly, and of families of low/moderate income.
• Encourage a broad array of housing types, dwelling unit sizes and forms of ownership/occupancy.
• Encourage the construction of multifamily housing on sites determined to be appropriate, based on criteria established in the TDP [Town Development Plan, or master plan] and in conformance with standards recommended therein responsive to various needs of present and future residents of the Town and the region.
• Like the Proposed Action, the Modified Project would require the expansion of the County’s Saw Mill River Valley Sewer District to incorporate the balance of the site in order to serve all of the proposed affordable and multifamily residential units.
The purpose of the MFPD District is to “provide the opportunity within the Town of New Castle for the development on a planned basis of medium-density multifamily housing on sites located in existing single-family residential neighborhoods but in reasonable proximity to shopping services and other community facilities and with access to major roads.” Town Development Plan, p. 60-417.4.
According to the developer’s FEIS, the project he proposes satisfies all these conditions and requires only one zoning exception: to permit a maximum building height in the North Village of four rather than three stories—in all, 50 feet in height rather than 35.
The Proposed Action calls for building 278 housing units on 64.3 acres, or 4.3 units per acre. The Modified Project would place 199 housing units on 61.6 acres, which results in a density of 3.2 units per acre.
The developer cites densities of other condos in New Castle:
Pheasant Run: 4.8 units/acre
Old Farm Lake: 3.7 units/acre
Stone Creek: 4.3 units/acre
Ledgewood Commons: 2.3 units/acre
Riverwoods 1.2 units/acre
The developer emphasizes that those features that the town has determined “legislatively” to be desirable – such as affordable housing, underground parking, open space preservation – would ordinarily earn the developer the ability to increase the density further, and adds that even so, the developer would not seek any density bonuses.
In assessing the impact on the Chappaqua hamlet business area of the multifamily housing, the FEIS states only that the Modified Project “would have essentially the same impacts as the Proposed Action,” but does not specify in the Executive Summary what those impacts would be.
Modified Plan is consistent with Town Development Plan, developer contends
On page III-13 of the Executive Summary, the developer points out the consistency of the Modified Project with the Town Development Plan, which cites open space as desirable, but notes also that the TDP acknowledges that there is no guarantee that these lands [such as the RD campus] would remain so. The TDP does recommend that such properties “not be developed for higher intensity uses that would impair the open space character of the Town.”
On p. III-14 of the Executive Summary the developer reminds readers that Reader’s Digest’s departure was unexpected and that the real estate market has dramatically changed over the last several decades, leading the developer “to pursue approvals for a multi-tenant office project (to retain the commercial tax base for the Town while providing smaller tenant space that responds to the existing marketplace), as well as a multifamily residential project on an underutilized portion of the property.”
The town’s TDP’s Residential Land Use Policy, notes the developer, encourages “development of both single-family and multifamily dwellings, and in particular townhouses, accessory apartments in single-family residences, small low-rise garden apartment developments and apartments in mixed use business district buildings.” The TDP, continues the developer, “recommends that multifamily housing not be concentrated in one area of the Town, but be dispersed in various locations,” guided by the following site selection criteria:
The site should have “[c]onvenient access to shopping, jobs, community facilities (schools, parks, libraries, community centers, fire and police stations, places of worship, etc.) and mass transportation services.”
The developer notes in the Executive Summary, “The Modified Project would be located approximately two miles from the local center and would have enhanced transit opportunities via County BeeLine bus route and a private jitney (both for commercial employees and residents) to the MetroNorth railroad and hamlet.”
“Multifamily sites should be served by the major existing public water supply and sewer service district.”
The developer has asked the town board to request the county to extend the sewer district so that all residential units will be sewered.
Adjoining Land Uses
The TDP states,“[m]ultifamily sites should be appropriately and harmoniously related to the adjoining land use pattern, e.g., where they can serve as transitional uses between more and less intensive development and where there is adequate separation form single-family residences.”
The proposed setbacks from Cowdin Lane of between 350 and 400 feet, the FEIS states, as well as the 40 acres of mature woodland perimeter should serve to “minimize visibility of the proposed buildings.” In addition, in the Modified Project, the developer notes, between the North Village and the east property line with Cowdin Lane he will augment the existing woodland buffer with additional “berming and evergreen and native deciduous trees.”
The TDP states, “Multifamily sites should have safe and adequate traffic access.”
To this the developer’s document states that the Modified Project would provide traffic improvements around the site, including the dedicated right-turn lane southbound on Route 117 at Roaring Brook Road.
The TDP states that the development of multifamily housing should not require “extensive earth-moving, landfilling or other similar incursions that would create excessive disturbance of the natural environment, particularly affecting sensitive areas such as wetlands and steep slopes.”
For the Modified Project, notes the developer, 35% of the residential buildings would be positioned on previously developed building pads, parking lots and roadways, and “72% of the vegetated areas of the Site would be undisturbed.”
The TDP states, “[m]ultifamily sites should have enough space to allow for required setbacks.”
The developer intends to leave 40 acres of existing perimeter landscape buffer in place.
The overall population in the Modified Project would decrease from 565 in the Proposed Action of 278 housing units to 425 in the Modified Project of 199 housing units. Since the Modified Project has no age restriction, it will result, says the developer, in a decrease in the over-55 population (from 492 to 140), an increase in the 18-to-54 age group from 44 to 261, and an increase in school age children to 58 students, up from 11 students in the Proposed Action.
Proposed 278 Modified 199
Overall 565 425
Over 55 492 140
18-to-54 44 261
School Age 11 58
Total tax revenue from the Modified Project is greater, according to the developer, than for the Proposed Action. The developer argues that the Modified Project’s additional 142,000 square feet of office space, the increased number of townhouses in the Modified Project (60 rather than 44 in the Proposed Action) and the drop in the number of affordable units (from 56 to 20) would all work to increase residential tax revenues.
Modified Plan map; the two U-shaped buildings in the upper right corner are the “North Village;” the “East Village” is located in the center of the property and contains both apartment buildings and townhouse clusters.
Map of the property with proposed plantings
Front view of one of two U-shaped four-story apartment buildings in the “North Village,” 44 condominium units in each.
To view all of NCNOW’s coverage of Chappaqua Crossing, click HERE.