In Chappaqua Xing public hearing, Board members try to get a handle on size and traffic levers

Developer’s litigator says time’s up, Whole Foods will walk, SG will sue
With 100 comments since publication
Saturday, November 1, 2014
by Christine Yeres

In last Tuesday’s public hearing on Chappaqua Crossing, a Whole Foods representative testified that a total of 120,000 square feet of retail—40,000 of which would be Whole Foods’ part—is the number its corporate office likes. And a new memo on traffic from the Summit Greenfield says that to reduce the 120,000 square feet would violate the terms of its conditional lease with Whole Foods. Yet Town Board members seemed still to be trying to find a way to work the amount-of-retail-square-footage and volume-of-traffic levers to find a formula that all parties can live with.  And all three parties—Town Board, Summit Greenfield and Whole Foods—want the matter decided by end-of-year.

After public comments, Summit Greenfield’s counsel introduced the developer’s lead Fried Frank litigator, who warned that not only would Whole Foods walk, but that the lawsuits against the town—suspended by a settlement in 2012—would resume if the retail zoning is not approved in what remains of 2014.

Town Board member Lisa Katz bristled at what she interpreted as the threat of a lawsuit by Summit Greenfield’s litigation attorney and pressed him to discover from his client by what amount the 120,000 square foot figure for retail originally proposed in the draft zoning—and still subject to change by the Town Board—could be reduced to reach a compromise.

Next Steps in the Process

According to Town Board counsel Nick Ward-Willis, “if the Town Board were to consider this project,” after the environmental analysis it would first amend the Town Development Plan to allow retail, then adopt a “retail local law” adding “retail” to the list of permitted uses in the zone, then approve the “preliminary development concept plan” or PDCP (—the Planning Board has asked that the Town Board officially share its review of the PDCP with the Planning Board—) and, lastly, the Planning Board would hold public hearings on approval of the final site plan.  The zoning amendment that would permit retail use does just that—make retail a permitted use on the property.  How much retail square footage and where buildings would be located, and their number and size are decided in the PDCP stage.

Although at the end of the public hearing on Tuesday the Town Board closed public comment on the amendments, the remaining hearing subjects (minor alterations to the approved residential portion of the site were approved) are continued until November 18.  Between now and then the Board expects to make changes to the drafts of each and attempt to make its decision on whether to permit retail at Chappaqua Crossing by year’s end.

The Public Hearing of October 28, 2014

An account of the meeting follows; the 3-hour and 47-minute video is embedded below it. Early on in the video is AKRF’s presentation of its “competitive effects” report.

AKRF Report on Competitive Effects on the Hamlet

Tuesday’s public hearing on a zoning change for Chappaqua Crossing began with a presentation by the firm that analyzed “the competitive effects” of retail at Chappaqua Crossing on the downtown hamlet, maintaining that the two retail centers can coexist.

Whole Foods is concerned about delays

Next, Mark Mobley, Whole Foods’ northeast region executive construction coordinator, told Board members that the company has “looked for years for a location up here.”

“Four years ago,” Mobley continued, “when Felix [Charney of Summit Greenfield] came to us we looked at the old Reader’s Digest building and determined it wouldn’t work for us.  A main shopping center is better for us.”  Whole Foods’ ” real estate board required that we be out in the shopping center in a critical mass of retail,” said Mobley, and the company “would like to be part of the community, bringing a healthy lifestyle” and working “with the schools and hospital.” 

Whole Foods was “concerned with all the delays,” said Mobley. “We’d like to get it done as soon as possible.”  If approval isn’t forthcoming by the end of the year, said Mobley, “we will consider moving on.”

Whole Foods, he said, “likes the location and the mix of tenants, which is very successful at Kings Crossing [Fairfield, CT].”

“We like the size of this center [at Chappaqua Crossing] because there’s not a lot of retail around it.”

“What’s the minimum [you feel you need]?” asked Lisa Katz.

“It’s what the real estate committee approves,” said Mobley.

“And you said there was a December 31 deadline.  After that date Whole Foods will no longer be interested?” asked Katz.

Mobley responded that Whole Foods would “consider moving on” after December 31.

Comparison between intersection at Rt. 128 and 117 with Roaring Brook Road and 117

Superintendent Rob Greenstein had asked traffic experts to analyze traffic conditions at Rt. 128 and 117, “because it has turning lanes both north and south, surrounded by commercial” and seemed to work well.  The results: Roaring Brook Road and Rt. 117 intersection “would be similar.”

TB member Adam Brodsky asks Whole Foods rep for rationale for 120,000 square feet

“Large format versus small format,” Town Board member Adam Brodsky asked, “—take the hamlet out of the equation for the moment—in your experience, what’s the best recipe to make the shopping center a success?”

“Each one is different,” said Mobley. “When you’re in another area with a lot of retail you’re feeding off each other shopping centers.  We originally wanted more retail.  This is probably about the smallest it can be.”

“My question,” said Brodsky, ” is if there’s 80,000 or 60,000 square feet [in addition to the 40,000 square foot Whole Foods and 25,000 square foot gym] what is Whole Foods’ preference?  For six 10,000 square foot [stores]?”

“Probably a mix,” said Mobley.  “A lot of retail in centers we’re in is 1,500 to 5,000 square feet and it works well… There are some up to 10,000 square feet. There’s no set formula to it.”

What makes Whole Foods think it can be successful, asked Brodsky, on a property “with no frontage on a road”?

“We’re not your typical grocery store. We do a lot of demographic research,” said Mobley.  “In this area we’ve been requested heavily for years by people that want us.  We have a good following.  We’re a totally different market than ShopRite or Stop-and-Shop.  People drive 30 minutes for a Whole Foods.  This is a part of Westchester we want to be in.” 

“In my day job I do similar things to what you do,” said Brodsky.  “When we look at projects we have a rationale.  Obviously, you might like a million square feet.  How did you get to “120… it’s got to be 120”—Why not 110,00 or 119,000?  Why 120,000?”

“That’s all taken care of in Austin [Texas] in the real estate committee,” said Mobley. “I just build them and design them.”

“That doesn’t answer our question,” said Katz.

“What does the additional 80,000 do that the 60,000 [in addition to the 40,000 Whole Foods] wouldn’t do?” asked Brodsky.

“The more retail, the more people you bring in,” said Mobley.  “It plays well between the small shops and us.  If we were up there by ourselves it wouldn’t be good.  There’s a synergy going on from other retailers.”

“Yes,” said Brodsky, “that’s why it’s called an ‘anchor’ and ‘symbiotic.’  That’s crystal clear.  What’s the magic number that gets you the synergy but at the same time reduces the impact on the community?  Everything in politics is about compromise. That’s where I’m coming from.”

Effects on existing retail, character of the town

“Part of this debate has to do with our downtown,” said Supervisor Rob Greenstein.  “A lot of our downtown merchants are struggling.  Have you opened a Whole Foods where people are concerned about their downtown?”  How do we make it a win-win? he asked.

Mobley’s example was the Whole Foods in Manhattan, at Union Square.  The green market that operates there was at first fearful that the presence of Whole Foods would harm it.  But the opposite happened, Mobley said.  The green market “had actually grown.” He cited Darien, CT— with Whole Foods on the outskirts of the downtown—as another “win-win situation.”

“Northern Westchester is more bucolic than Manhattan and Yonkers,” said Katz.  “We’re asking these questions because Whole Foods wants to come into the middle of a residential neighborhood. It’s not the same as putting it in a major downtown center.  This is going to change the whole character of the neighborhood.  So this is not a small ask.  We want to know how we can make it a win-win for everybody.  Just to say ‘120,000 square feet’—we’re trying to figure out whether this can fit into the character of our town.”

“Have you had experience,” Greenstein asked Mobley, “building a Whole Foods in a residential neighborhood?”

“We have on going in in New Jersey—a small shopping center [in Closter, NJ] that’s being renovated and added on to—that’s going into [a residential neighborhood].  Probably about 130,000 or 140,000 square feet.  It’s pretty much in a residential neighborhood.  But there’s no other retail in the neighborhood and, like AKRF said, people are driving off to other various [locations] in Bergen County, spending their dollars elsewhere.  We would not come into this area if we didn’t have a critical mass around us in order to bring other people into the area to shop.  It just doesn’t work economically. ” 

“I think what’s going to happen,” said Mobley, “is people who come here are also going to shop downtown, because they’re in the neighborhood ‘cause there’s no place else to shop in this part of the world, and it’s going to be a win-win situation for both [retail] areas.”

Public Comment, during which Board members also commented frequently

Hedy Simpson

Simpson asked how often trucks, which are unable to access the site from the Saw Mill Parkway, entering from Bedford Road across from Annandale Road will make deliveries to retail at Chappaqua Crossing.  A traffic light at the Bedford Road entrance would likely not be approved, the Board has learned, since Annandale Road is already so close to a traffic signal at Roaring Brook Road.

Mobley explained that “not more than two 18-wheelers per day,” would enter the site, “perhaps three at holiday times,” for which Whole Foods manages the logistics.  UPS and FedEx are more common carriers for other retailers.

Felix Charney of Summit Greenfield responded, “this is hypothetical,” since Summit Greenfield doesn’t have leases with stores other than Whole Foods’ conditional lease—“We were originally invited to this process and were asked to get Whole Foods interested,” he reminded Board members—“but the smaller the store, the smaller the truck. I would suspect the only 18-wheelers would be Whole Foods.” He added,

Danny Gladstone

“I’ve argued all along that there’s a business side to this that the Board hasn’t been looking at,” said Gladstone. “What traffic, rents, dollars per square foot are required, he asked, for the developer to be successful? 

“And was the Jersey center put into a residential neighborhood with $2 million homes?” asked Gladstone.

“Someone could argue too,” said Greenstein, “that the retail is being put next to 600,000 square feet of office, across from a high school, next to the Saw Mill Parkway, next to Route 117, which is a major state road ....”

“But we didn’t calculate when talking about tax revenues,” said Gladstone, “what the tax mitigations for all the homeowners will be.  Where’s the offset? We’ve only looked at one side.”

“In this region [—NY, CT, NJ—] we have not closed any stores due to being unsuccessful,” said Mobley.

Reduction in size of retail

Lynne Lambert

Lambert continued on the trail of the traffic numbers, asking Town Board members to confirm that they had seen the numbers both they and the Planning Board had asked Summit Greenfield’s traffic experts to supply: Traffic for Chappaqua Crossing if the retail space were reduced by 25% and by 50%. “You’ve seen those numbers, right?” she asked Board members.  The Board’s counsel answered for them, referring Lambert to documents published on the Town website.  One of the documents is a response from Summit Greenfield’s counsel, a letter of September 18, 2014 stating that such a reduction “will not improve the level-of-service at those intersections,”  and adding further that, “such reductions in retail space would violate the terms of the lease” between the developer and “its conditional tenant, Whole Foods.”

More traffic because of Whole Foods “regional draw”?

“By Whole Foods’ admission,” said Brodsky, “this is a regional center with a regional draw. 
A center drawing from the larger regional area.  On that basis the question is if you’re drawing from a larger region, a more affluent customer base, will more traffic be generated?” 

“The Darien, CT store draws less traffic than we had predicted,” said Summit Greenfield’s traffic expert, John Collins.  The same was true for the A&P and Target in Mt. Kisco, he said.  “We likely overestimated the traffic numbers.”

“What you have acknowledged to the Board is that this center will generate tremendous traffic to this area,” said Brodsky. “Otherwise it won’t be successful.  And the roadway [mitigations] will make it better, but not perfect.”

“It does generate traffic,” said Collins.  “It would be crazy to say it doesn’t.  That traffic is impactful on the roadways, there are intersections identified as needing improvement.  Those improvements have been done [changes have been suggested to DOT] to the maximum extent possible.  That that will improve the operation and also improve the existing operation, especially the intersection of 117 and Roaring Brook Road.  I never said there would be no traffic, because if you had no traffic you’d have no [shopping] center.”

Roger Klepper

Earlier in the evening, Jason Chapin had elicited information from Summit Greenfield’s traffic consultant John Collins that Collins has stated before: That in the cases of both Whole Foods in Darien, CT and the A&P / Target shopping center in Mt. Kisco, Collins’ projected traffic numbers had, in the end, come in lower than predicted.

In public comment, Roger Klepper addressed the over-estimates by Collins.  “Before we make any inferences about whether the traffic will be more or less than what they’re projecting,” said Klepper, “there isn’t any explanation.  So unless you can understand the specific of those projects, merely presenting the fact that the traffic was less-than-expected is meaningless. You’d have to be able to say ‘OK, those things that made it less—would we expect them to be applicable to our project?’”

“The traffic analysis,” continued Klepper, left him with “something unsatisfactory.”  He described for Board members what should have been a routine Saturday trip for him through town—but it was during Community Day, when he realized what “traffic” means “when it becomes something you have to plan around.”

Klepper noted, he said, that the traffic comparisons were based on fully utilized office space.  In looking over the traffic data, “what jumped out to me was ‘weekday peak a.m. highway hour”—which gives 859 as the number of vehicles.  That’s roughly the level of traffic we’re talking about at all times the stores are open.  That’s something we need to consider.  Once the genie’s out of the bottle, it’s out…  When you think about questions of whether 120,000 square feet is the right amount, this is what’s at stake.  I think it’s a quality of life thing for our town.  It would be great to have Whole Foods there, but we need to make sure what it means in terms of the town.”

To this comment, Greenstein suggested Klepper consider a comparison with the intersection at 117 and 128 [at Lexington Avenue]

“That’s a much larger intersection,” said Katz. 

Greenstein said he had asked the traffic experts about the 117 and 128 intersection and they confirmed, he said, that turning lanes and traffic volume there are comparable to the intersection of Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road. 

“No one disputes that there’s going to be traffic,” said Brodsky. “One of the decisions we’re going to have to make as a Board is whether the benefit of this development outweighs the impacts to the community.”

Bobby Wang

New to town, Wang’s house is located at the high school entrance.  Since the developer owns all the property along the north side of Roaring Brook Road, he suggested, can the developer use his own property as access into the shopping center? 

Rita Tobin

Tobin asked whether alterations to Route 117 would require the taking of private property?  Either the applicant owns the property needed or the property needed for the alterations is in the right-of-way, said the Board’s counsel, Nick Ward-Willis.  The cost of the alterations would be paid for by the applicant.  The developer would have to have a work permit from the Department of Transportation for such work before any building permit is issued.

Bob Lewis

“The applicant cannot propose a mitigation [for traffic] that is a solution,” said Lewis.  “I do see impacts that are not yet being addressed.  AKRF asked whether Chappaqua Crossing, as proposed, would constitute a third hamlet.  Their answer was No.  Why is that question important? Who cares whether it’s called hamlet?  We seem to want more intense development [for the Chappaqua Crossing property].  Even I can see why my wonderful residential neighborhood may have lived its useful life. And we just have to accept the fact that we don’t live here anymore.  If you decide you want development in this neighborhood, it’s your decision.  AKRF seemed to say that [retail at] Chappaqua Crossing would not hurt business in the Chappaqua hamlet. I think the argument was that there is no anchor store in the hamlet that would suffer from competition; but in the same AKRF report said that every commercial center profits from an anchor store.”

“I thought AKRF was trying to say that because there’s no anchor store in Chappaqua,” said Greenstein, “the risk to downtown Chappaqua is reduced.”

“Sounds to me that you’re creating a competitive situation,” said Lewis, “that will make it harder to develop the downtown.”

“AKRF also said that regardless of what happens at Chappaqua Crossing, there are things that have to be done for downtown Chappaqua,” noted Greenstein.  “I would hope that this may motivate some people who for whatever reason have been reluctant to do in downtown Chappaqua the things we paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to consultants to hear.  This will hopefully be the motivation we need to do it.”

“The Planning Board has made a pitch to be included in the PDCP [preliminary development concept plan] approval process,” said Lewis.  “I think they would contribute a lot and that that’s the kind of scrutiny that’s required.  Their written comments have been great—especially their ‘traditional neighborhood design’ comments, but I’m a little sad they haven’t applied those principles to the broader neighborhood.  I wonder if there’s some way we can expand this conversation—without necessarily further burdening the applicant—to develop the area, but utilize some of the principles the Planning Board talks about.”

Greenstein assured Lewis that although some people would inevitably be affected more than others by the proposed retail, the Board would attempt to mitigate those effects.  Chapin told Lewis to make his suggestions known to Board members so that they can be considered in the PDCP stage of approval.

Katz suggested that rather than consider rezoning his neighborhood for commercial development Lewis might concentrate instead on procuring more of a buffer for the homes along Roaring Brook Road. 

“Send the Board your ideas and we’ll try to integrate them,” Brodsky told Lewis.  “This is the moment.”

Betty Weitz

Weitz asked whether, if the retail project is conditioned on approval of the roadway alterations by the Department of Transportation, the retail zoning would remain. Ward-Willis explained that “the town needs to change the zoning to permit retail, the retail use would then be approved through the PDCP [preliminary development concept plan], the site plan approval that follows requires approval from DOT before any building permit is issued.” If the proposed project is not approved, the retail zoning would remain on the books perhaps for another retail development one day—a smaller retail development that wouldn’t require the roadway changes.

Weitz urged Board members to wait for Master Plan outreach before making any decision on the retail zoning.  She read from a June 13, 2013 letter written by Greenstein before his election, in which he asked, “Why is the town undertaking the review and updating of its Master Plan if they’re not going to use it as they consider a project that could forever change the character of New Castle?” and advocated for a moratorium.  She reminded Greenstein that the Findings of 2013 were a tool to help decide whether to approve the retail proposal, not a commitment to do so.

Austin Tobin

Tobin suggested that the Board require financial figures from Whole Foods’ other stores to calculate what its traffic volumes would be for Whole Foods at Chappaqua Crossing.

Cory Stevens

Stevens, “a previous resident of Chappaqua” and now a nanny for three years here, was critical of the Board’s no-time-limits on comments and found that many people made the same negative statements over and over. She read from a device, “It leaves the people who are all for a Whole Foods—like me and the family I work for—fearful to step forward.  The family I work for are all for Whole Foods along with other families they’re friends with in Chappaqua and families I’ve encountered through playdates.  But they’re afraid that the people from Cowdin Lane or Christine of the Daily Voice are going to ridicule or stone them.  I hope when you make your decision you keep that in mind, that Cowdin Lane is but one street out of many in Chappaqua and I think if you went door-to-door or sent out a letter you’d be surprised at the positive response you get.”

Philip Werbel

Werbel told Board members that the claim by residents that the proposed shopping center is “a regional center” is inaccurate.  And their complaint that it would be “smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood” is inconsistent with the location of the so-called neighborhood—“bound by a railroad track and a school campus and a major road.  Now if they were going to build it at the Mt. Kisco Country Club, that’s smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”

He told Board members that he believed that the Chappaqua Crossing proposal had been “vetted up the wazoo” and that calls for master planning were “a pretext to delay this forever.”

“We absolutely need [retail at Chappaqua Crossing],” said Werbel.  “The downtown is dead.  Now it’s your job to bring [the downtown] up.  And I’m sure you are.  On a personal level, I go to the Whole Foods in White Plains, but I don’t want to go to White Plains anymore.  I go to the one in Portchester. It’s fabulous. I can’t believe it. Anyone who doesn’t go there, you’re making a mistake. I live near Armonk.  I never shop in Chappaqua.  Never. I go to Decicco’s, I go everywhere.  The Armonk model is a success. Take advantage of it.  Make the downtown beautiful.”

Chuck Napoli

“So here it is,” said Napoli. “We have a business plan for something and [imagine] it’s time to do the executive summary.  What I’m asking you [Board members to do] is present for us an executive summary in your own words of what the benefit to the town is after all this work has been done.  It’s a business plan and it’s going to tell us what the benefits are.  [That executive summary contains] sort of the reason to change the zoning and it should show up as some kind of statement.  Before this gets done I hope you put it in a statement saying, ‘This is the benefit to the town….’”

Summit Greenfield’s counsel wraps up, introduces its lead litigator to provide advice to the Town Board

Summit Greenfield’s counsel John Marwell reminded Board members that to view traffic increases in terms of percentages is misleading, that the property is zoned for commercial activity and that two previous Boards had found that “the inconvenience of additional traffic is outweighed by the benefits of the proposed project.” 

Marwell introduced Howard Stahl of Fried Frank, Summit Greenfield’s litigation counsel, to outline where the applicant “would like to see the project” by the end of this year. 

Stahl began by noting that many property owners had expressed their views of the retail proposal and how it may affect them, “as they have every right to do.” But, he continued, “I want to talk to you about another property owner who pays more taxes than any other property owner in Chappaqua, who is now in the tenth year of trying to obtain some zoning for this site.  They’ve gone through four different boards, three or four different supervisors—every one of which has had a different proposal for Summit Greenfield.” 

“You have an opportunity to settle this,” Stahl continued.  “And you’re right, Supervisor, that everyone won’t be satisfied. And a perfect compromise is where everyone is somewhat dissatisfied, some more than others.  The last group you need to pay money to is me—and him [pointing to the Town Board’s counsel]—and other people like us who will litigate this in the courts.”  Stahl told Board members of a case with “almost the identical fact-pattern as the last ten years in Chappaqua”—Sherman versus the Town of Chester—in which a developer had spent millions as the town “kept moving the goal posts”—that been settled in May in favor of the developer. 

Stahl reminded Board members that, as supervisor in 2012, Susan Carpenter had herself proposed that Summit Greenfield consider retail use at Chappaqua Crossing.  “When the zoning was finally approved for the limited number of residential units,” which the applicant believed was economically infeasible, Summit Greenfield’s litigation began.  And Carpenter, he said, had decided to settle the litigation by suggesting the retail use—and not “just a food store,” said Stahl, “but a Whole Foods… because every community wants a Whole Foods. It’s sort of iconic.  This is the only community I’ve heard of where there’s resistance to having a Whole Foods.” 

“I can’t believe there is a single topic that you all haven’t looked at,” said Stahl.  “It’s time now for a legal reason to make a decision.  You have to decide what you want to do.  I can’t force you to do the sensible thing—which is to settle this in a way your predecessors found it ought to be settled, with this [property] being used for retail purposes.  For a food store.  You don’t have a food store.”

Stahl told Board members that he had looked at 6:30 p.m. in downtown Chappaqua for dinner before the hearing.  “It was pathetic. I found a Dunkin Donuts we were going to eat at.  It had three stools.  And two people were on two of them. Next door was a pizza place.  There was nothing else there.  The array of stores next to it—the dry cleaner and the other stores?  They were all built in the 50s or something. They all looked like little bowling alleys.  I’ve heard all of these studies about ‘we need to study the impact of this retail on the downtown.’  Anything would help downtown.  And this [retail at Chappaqua Crossing] would certainly help the downtown.”

Returning to the settlement during Carpenter’s term as Supervisor, Stahl said that she had “asked us to stop” the pending lawsuits. The resulting settlement agreement at the end of 2012, he said, stated that if the zoning could be done within the next year, where retail would be permitted and a food store would come in—and it had to be Whole Foods—that would be the resolution of the litigation and it wouldn’t be refiled. 

[Editor’s Note: In the settlement, the lawsuits were suspended, and the town agreed to review the possibility of retail zoning for a portion of the site within a year’s time—not grant it within a year’s time.  If the Board decided not to rezone, Summit Greenfield would have the option of reopening the lawsuits.  As part of the settlement Summit Greenfield also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees it owed the town.  Carpenter’s pressing for Whole Foods was a part of a strategy of “adaptive reuse”—to use existing office space to house the retail.  A Whole Foods, the thinking went, would have draw enough to be placed in a location without frontage to the street and yet have customers find it. Since that proposal, 120,000 square feet of retail in new construction has been proposed by Summit Greenfield.]

“And then you were elected,” said Stahl, continuing with his history and addressing Greenstein, “and we had to basically start over.  And you had every right to want to know all about this.” 

“We are now a year later,” continued Stahl.  The end of the tolling period [the pause in the litigation] is the end of this year.  And you not only have to worry about Whole Foods leaving at the end of this year—they believe they have other things to do than go through this endlessly, when there are other places that want them—but our litigation either has to be commenced and finalized or settled.”

“Do your deliberations, you considerations, issue your reports, read your reports—it’s got to be done by the end of the year.  That’s the end of the tolling agreement.  After that, you’re back wasting millions of dollars.  And if you lose, if you lose you will have these folks who are opponents of the development thrilled with you because you will own—will have paid for—Chappaqua Crossing, because that’s what the litigation is about. That’s silly.  You need the tax revenue.  You get $3 million more a year [* see note, below] if you just do this development.  It’s been ten years and [Summit Greenfield] still has no valuable, useful zoning on that property.”  Stahl concluded, “It’s time to end it, one way or the other.” 

Katz told Stahl, “I, for one, am not going to make a decision that will affect this town forever based on the threat of litigation that—it’s my understanding—you were losing, and was dismissed.  You said that in a compromise everyone’s a little unhappy. I want to know,” said Katz, “what will make your client exceedingly unhappy but not unhappy enough to continue a lawsuit.”

“You’re there right now,” said Stahl.

“No, we’re not there,” said Katz, “because there’s been no compromise.  I want to know how unhappy they can be and not sue.”

“It’s ten years,” said Stahl.

“What I want to know if you’re asking us to negotiate and to settle this, what is that point where your client will be unhappy enough to settle…”

“You’re at it,” repeated Stahl.

“No.  I’m not talking about the time. I’m talking about the size,” said Katz.

“She’s talking about the square footage of the retail,” explained Greenfield to Stahl.

“What are the parameters of the project that can still get done,” said Katz, “where your client will not be happy, our town will not be happy and there will be no litigation?”

“We don’t have time to start over,” said Stahl.

“So you’re saying it’s not negotiable at all?” asked Katz.

Stahl responded that Summit Greenfield and the town had been negotiating for ten years.

“I cannot revisit [residential],” said Katz. “That’s been done.  [Residential] has been approved.  I’m talking about the project that’s currently before the Town Board, are you saying that you will not negotiate on behalf of your client to change the size [of the retail] at all?  That if [the retail zoning] is not approved exactly as written [in the draft zoning, at 120,000 square feet] you’re suing us—is that what you’re threatening?”

“We’ve already sued you,” said Stahl.

And you lost,” said Katz.  “Let’s not go there.  So you’re not willing to negotiate?”

“It’s been negotiated for ten years,” said Stahl.

“Not…this…project,” said Katz. “It has not been ten years. And I worked at Reader’s Digest when Summit Greenfield owned it and I was there when Reader’s Digest left. So I know full well that this has not been going on for ten years.”

“OK, how about the two years with Ms. Carpenter as the supervisor?” asked Stahl.

“Two years is not ten years,” said Katz. “And what I’m asking you is how can this particular project that is currently before the board be negotiated in a way that is acceptable and unacceptable to all parties?”

“It’s been negotiated for two years,” said Stahl.

“You’re talking like a lawyer,” ,” said Katz.  “You need to stop and talk like someone who wants to compromise. I’m not asking you for an answer now. You probably don’t have one.  You’re telling me that a compromise is when all sides are unhappy, but what you’re telling me is that your client is unwilling to be any less happy than they are right now. I know they’re upset that this has taken so long.  I can’t change that.  What I can do is vote to approve or disapprove this project, so I want to know how we’re going to figure out a compromise.”

Stahl advised Katz to read the Sherman versus the Town of Chester. “It’s pretty amazing,” said Stahl.  “It’s this case.”

“I’ve read it,” said Katz.

“You are the Board.  You are an extension and a follow-on to Ms. Carpenter and the prior Board where Mr. Chapin was a member,” said Stahl.  “It doesn’t start or stop when you get on of off the Board.  Summit Greenfield has been negotiating with this Board for over ten years.”

“I understand,” said Katz.  “But not on this project. And what I’m asking you is to sit down at the table and figure out what your client’s willing to give on.”

“So the answer is—to continue Lisa’s thought,” said Brodsky, “is that if you don’t want to give us an answer, then we’ll make the decision for you.  So we can either have a back and forth in a discussion about how we want to work as partners, or we can carry out our duty and make the decision on your behalf.”

“Whatever happens with the litigation happens,” said Greenstein.  “Hopefully it’s a win for everybody—for the community and for the developer.  I agree with you it’s time to make a decision and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”

As the hearing ended and Stahl turned to leave, several Board members called after him that he hadn’t gone far enough in search of his dinner, that there were places in town he just didn’t know about.

Public comment closed; public hearing adjourned to November 18

The hearings on the zoning change, the Town Development Plan changes and the preliminary development concept plan will remain open—adjourned to November 18, 2014—Greenstein announced, since the Town Board will likely make alterations to the draft amendments in meetings between now and then.*[*Note: An earlier version of this article stated that public comment had ended; it has not.  So long as the public hearing remains open, members of the public may comment.]


[* note:] “$3 million more a year” in tax revenues is calculated based on the complete occupancy and leasing of all the existing office buildings plus the retail space.  According to charts provided in 2012, the increment between a fully-leased Chappaqua Crossing with retail—and one without—is around $500,000.  More recently, the AKRF report assessed the economic benefit this way: The more stores, the more rent. 

To find NCNOW’s archived pieces on Chappaqua Crossing, click HERE.


Town of New Castle Board Meeting 10/28/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

This beautiful! -“Town Board member Lisa Katz bristled at what she interpreted as the threat of a lawsuit by Summit Greenfield’s litigation attorney ...” And -“Katz told Stahl, “I, for one, am not going to make a decision that will affect this town forever based on the threat of litigation that—...”
Lisa Katz was upset that Summit Greenfield’s lawyer “threatened” a lawsuit. Why wasn’t Ms Katz equally upset when Jessica Reinmann and her neighbors did the very same thing back in June? These NIMBys , fellow residents, are threatening our town board and our community that if they don’t get their way they will sue. They formed The Coalition for Reasonable Zoning (CRZ). They hired a law firm and that firm promptly sent a formal letter to The Town Board. Make no mistake - this is a threat of legal action but it didn’t seem to bother Katz.
Katz now asks if SG would be willing to compromise and negotiate. For 2 years retail at CC has been on the table. Changes have been made compromises reached. Greenstein has been working behind the seems to follow thru on his promise to negotiate and seek a resolution. All he has gotten is criticism and backlash from Katz’s neighbors. 
Its been 10 years since the developer has been trying to work with our community but they have been thwarted LARGELY because of Katz and her neighbors. NOW after all this time Katz asks about compromise and negotiation - WHAT A PATHETIC JOKE!

By Stop The Madness on 11/01/2014 at 12:22 pm

The problem has and will always be that Summit Greenfield has been trying to jam our community for 8 years with off-market proposals designed to profit from their bad investment decision.  They overpaid for Readers Digest property and have been pressuring our community for a a bailout over and over.  Let them sue us.  They have no case.  Local boards have discretion over zoning.  Period, end of story.  As a Resident, I am sick and tired of SG’s threats.  Let’s go to litigation.  I would be happy to pay higher taxes to fund our lawsuit, although I believe our Town Board has insurance for this.  Force SG to put forward a proposal that is equitable to our community and truly reflects the market value of their investment.  NO BAILOUT!!

By SG Bailout on 11/01/2014 at 12:49 pm

It is refreshing to see a few people stand up in support of CC. I took special notice of the person that accurately stated that many people favor the development but remain silent due to fear of intimidation. That’s very different than candidate Katz contention that “nobody wants this” and ” I haven’t met a single person in favor”.
As expected many of the same people spoke again - Weitz, Tobin, developer Napoli, Gladstone - and said absolutely nothing new. Again we heard about a moratorium until Master Plan is complete. That’s a non starter and has no legal merit. In fact it will trigger a lawsuit.
This has been ongoing for 10 years - 2 years specifically for the current retail proposal. Embarrassingly deputy supervisor Katz asks SG lawyer to what extents is SG willing to negotiate. Hasn’t SG already made multiple changes and multiple concessions? The strip mall is gone in favor of Town Square design - largely at the suggestion of New Castle planning board. The big 60k sq ft supermarket has been scaled back and the fear of Shop Rite has been replaced with a smaller upscale Whole Foods. A gym has been added replacing additional retail.
Katz circulated a petition full of distortions and inaccuracies including sewage treatment plant. She and her neighbors have done everything they can to stir up objections using fear and intimidation. They offer no facts and no data to support their objections. They care little about the benefits this will bring to the community at large.
Now she asks SG about compromise? Really?

By Resident on 11/01/2014 at 1:12 pm

can we please stop talking about moratoriums and Master Plan updates. It has no place in this discussion. The ship has sailed and we must grapple with the task at hand. Can we please stop linking the demise of downtown with retail at CC.
Sadly our downtown has been in decline for years. Some of it has to do policy and planning but most of the decline is that we are suffering the same fate as most Main St USA shopping and commerce. The Internet has forever changed how and where we shop. Creative destruction advances like streaming music, Shutterly, online books, Trevelocity/ Expedia and Zappos have decimated retailers like the local music store, book store, camera store, travel agent and shoe store. Add to that Costco, Home Depot and Target and the little guy doesn’t have a chance.
So this argument that retail/ Whole Foods and a gym will destroy downtown is a smokescreen intended on continuing to throw obstacles in the way developing CC.
That’s not to say we can’t still dress up downtown and salvage our quaint charming downtown. Improvements can be made but let’s not blame Summit Greenfield for something that has been deteriorating for years.
Let’s not forget that one person organized and mobilized the merchants of our community. He formed and spearheaded New Castle Chamber of Commerce. Events and promotions continue to this day. That person was Rob Greenstein.

By Rayj on 11/01/2014 at 1:34 pm

SG has never “negotiated” with the town. Never, ever. They have continued to propose uses that THEY WANT that have had nothing to do with what might be good for the town.

Katz is right to ask now for some real negotiating, and I believe the entire town board intends to do. The 120,000 figure was pulled from the air by SG. It was a place holder in the DRAFT zoning. The town board has always had and continues to have the power to reduce the 120,000 figure. And, judging from Tuesday night’s hearing, it will exercise that power for the good of the town.

By TB has the Power on 11/01/2014 at 1:35 pm

SG’s NYC litigation lawyer was too amusing by half. Let him halve the 120,000 square feet and make a deal. The case he suggested the TB read is BS. Even Susan Carpenter never agreed to change the zoning by the end of the “tolling period”. The agreement only ever agreed to con-sid-er retail. OK, we considered it.  Now the town board needs to decide how much of it to allow or whether to allow it at all.

By Make a deal on 11/01/2014 at 1:38 pm

Did someone call this a bailout?  It’s an outright gift to SG to give them a 120,000 sq ft shopping center. They can’t build more than they have, get more and different zoning than they have, and expect to keep it all when the traffic mess will harm the town. They have to give up something.  A lot of something!

By Someone's gotta give on 11/01/2014 at 1:40 pm

Mr. Werbel says he never shops in Chappaqua, loves loves loves WF in Portchester and says downtown Armonk should be a model to us. He’s very confused. Downtown Armonk as a model?  That would mean put a grocery in downtown Chappaqua - not up at Reader’s Digest. No one believes that retail at CC will not hurt the downtown.

By Model, yes! But not what you mean on 11/01/2014 at 1:44 pm

So Summit’s NY lawyer calls what Summit’s been doing with the town “negotiating” - for ten years, two years, then back to ten years. More like bullying the town. 

Lisa Katz was right to push him back. It’s been ten years of the developer proposing stuff he’s not allowed to do there.  Hello.  THe Zoning wasn’t there for what he’s been trying for. The board must negotiate now with Summit. It hasn’t been time till now.  Now’s the time. Yes.

By It's time now on 11/01/2014 at 1:48 pm

to SG Bailout - maybe you don’t mind getting sued but most of the rest of us are already paying too much in taxes and we don’t want the additional burden. A publicized Lawsuit will further tarnish and damage our communities reputation. Would you want to move to Chapp if you knew a multi million dollar lawsuit was pending that cost tax payers. It will also call attention to the fact that this community has no super market.
I recognize the current threat of legal action by SG but I disagree with you regarding SG threats. In fact I have some sympathy for them. It is true they bought the property at the top of the market and had the bad luck of Readers Digest going bust. That was 10 years ago and since that time they have proposed many uses and many plans. Most of which were rejected stalled out and objected. Only 110 condos have been approved and that only after 300 and 200 were rejected. Also obstructed were age restricted housing and larger residential subdivisions. Retail at CC currently exists because all other previous plans were thwarted. Retail exists because the Carpenter Board suggested to SG that they resubmit with retail after DAGS left Chapp. How is any of this a BAILOUT as you describe it?
This development will bring millions in tax revenue. We have already forfeited millions in lost revenue as CC sits practically empty. Now you want us to lose more!!! Just ask a real estate broker about the challenges of selling here and competing with towns that now also have great schools and lower taxes and a supermarket. Now you encourage a lawsuit ? Watch what happens to property values and taxes then! They do have a case - a very strong one.

By Collaboration and problem solving on 11/01/2014 at 1:54 pm

SG asked for 300’condos. We said no. They asked for 200 we said no. 110 was agreed. That seems like they gave up something. They wanted senior/ age restricted housing. We said no. SG wanted larger residential sub divisions. We said no.
They were asked by New Castle Town Board to draw up plans and studies for retail at CC including a supermarket. The early plans were changed because,people objected to the ” strip mall ” design. So they changed it. People objected to a 60 thousand sq ft supermarket because it would invite a large market like Stop n Shop. So they changed it to 40k sq ft and found Whole Foods. People didn’t want too many retailers at CC so they are planning a gym.
How is this a bailout? How can you not see that SG has made changes, has compromised and has negotiated. All the while they successfully grieve taxes lower paying our town less money. Let them build this already. We want and need the market we want and desperately need the taxes.

By The NiMbys are all over this board on 11/01/2014 at 2:04 pm

watched the board meeting on TV as did many others. was upset with the behavior of some.  one catches more bees with honey than with vinegar.  the town is finally starting to recover from the recession and be able to hire help in departments.  A new law suit that we will lose this time will hurt all taxpayers for many years to come.  The former board came up with this idea of retail.  It has been studied to death.  time to accept the modified plan
and get some sorely needed tax relief for school taxes and town/county as well.

By JJS on 11/01/2014 at 2:12 pm

The whole Summit Greenfield Extended Family was at the public hearing last Tues. Our board will be a match for them. This is the right direction. Reduce traffic or SF.They can’t have it all.

By One or the other on 11/01/2014 at 2:20 pm

i commented on a previous article and this is a good time to repeat something. I agree with Collaberation and Problem solving above comment.
I recently pulled my house off the market after months of frustration. The typical buyer is a young family looking for good schools and a great community. That is what brought most of us here in the first place. But now Chapp Schools are no longer in a league by themselves. Several surrounded towns offer great schools. They also offer lower taxes and town amenities and convienences ( supermarket, towN pools etc).
Several local real estate professionals agree that competition from surrounding comminties makes selling in Chapp more of a challenge. Our high taxes and lack of supermarket are no secret.
Should a well publicized lawsuit be initiated I assure you that will be terrible for all of our real estate values. I am sure it will be covered in the media - Town of New Castle sued for Millions by Developer”. The story will highlight that we don’t have a supermarket and it the potential monetary damages will scare people away.
Build Whole Foods at CC and get the message out that commercial/ retail taxes will be flowing and real estate brokers will use that to entice buyers. Right now buyers understand we have ever escalating taxes with no end in sight. Why pay those high taxes and still have to drive to another town to do grocery shopping. It’s makes Norse sense to buy in Armonk Pleasantville or a number of other towns. That’s what’s happening now.

By Empty nester on 11/01/2014 at 3:22 pm

Town Board members: stay at it!

By make it a win win on 11/01/2014 at 3:25 pm

Face it—- these proposed traffic “mitigations” by the developer are in no way up to the job. Reduce reasons for traffic. If they’re adding Whole Foods and stores as a reason to go there then get rid of other reasons to go there (taht aren’t working anyway, like the big old office barns) and make sure they don’t get used in a “retail creep” across the property.

By Curtail retail creep on 11/01/2014 at 3:32 pm

your argument is disturbing on several levels but the most flagrant is the one that you use for bolstering real estate which pretty much ignores the rest of us that live in town and will continue to live in town and have to deal with the traffic that will be forthcoming from cc.  i don’t want to have to deal with waiting 20 minutes or more to go from kittle house to chapp because the roads simply cannot deal with the extra traffic from shoppers and trucks.  having a supermarket in town would not in any way make my decision to buy a house here an issue.  the increased traffic that would happen if wf and all come to town would probably influence me a lot though. 

By response to empty nester on 11/01/2014 at 3:44 pm

It is because Katz and her NIMBY neighbors Objected and obstructed all previous Summit Greenfield proposals that they now find themselves facing retail at CC.
We would not even be discussing traffic and other retail related issues if the early residential proposals had been approved.
Once retail was on the table they conjured up and fabricated every consequence and negative ramifications under the sun meant to scare residents and bolster their cause. Bogus petition false claims hysterical assertions like shootings and emergency services being hampered were offered up. They vilified the developer and disparaged their legal Team , consultans and experts. They trashed and insulted Town officials
Now she asks if they are willing to negotiate and compromise. Perhaps if she/ they came into the discussion that way from the start this would not be nearly as contentious.

By Isn't it Ironic on 11/01/2014 at 4:11 pm

Note to Lisa Katz-
Lisa , I have lived here close to 25 years. My wife and I have generally been civic minded participating in school and community events. We were fully involved in the new middle school debate a decade ago. We were staunchly opposed on grounds that have proven correct today. We didn’t need the school and the cost would increase taxes and put a noose around our necks for years. Most of the CCSD school board were determined to build this school. It was highly contentious And passed by a slim margin - approx 105 votes. To this day most of us remember who is responsible. We hear their names and occasionally see them around town. EVERYTIME I get my tax bill I mutter and curse them. The president of the board was most visible pushing the school. Putting it as delicate as I can, she is not thought of very highly by many of us. She will always be remembered for the wasteful white elephant that 7 Bridges MS is.
Not since then has an issue been this contentious as retail at CC. The middle school debate only lasted about a year - CC is going on 10 years!  If this town board does not recognize the need to resolve this favorably all of you will all be remembered as failures. If a lawsuit ensues resulting in reputational and monetary damages to our community you will bear the brunt. I single you out because you stand out as adamantly opposed and unbending in your opposition. You are surrounded by neighbor cheerleaders egging you and you are out of touch with the rest of us. Just like our school board president years ago. Stop attacking SG and their lawyers and start working on a solution. From where I sit following this CC situation the developer has been jerked around and they have come back multiple time with multiple revisions trying to please us. Now it’s your turn. Or not… It’s your legacy.

By Long time tax payer on 11/01/2014 at 4:49 pm

Putting a grocery store in downtown Chappaqua in our context, gnarls whatever downtown traffic there is. Those who promote and favor a downtown grocery, where there is no place to build one, and its certain-to-occur-worse-than-Chapp Crossing-traffic gluts are therefore accepting of traffic increases that a grocery store brings.
At least Chappaqua Crossing is in an outlying area and does not tie the downtown into a knot….. and it is more centrally located for ALL town residents. Opponents of CC are being inconsistent: Accepting of traffic in one very important, central place but not in another, remote location.

Whether or not Downtown is further hurt is no longer the issue. The TOWN AS A WHOLE, seems to be the correct focus which as the board expresses. Yes, the downtown is something to be concerned about. But we cannot let that tail wag the dog. The area outside the downtown dwarfs downtown both in terms of area, concern and importance. Former postings have stated, without any contradiction, that most of the downtown merchants neither live nor pay taxes here. Our concern should be for ourselves. A stronger Chappaqua as a whole, creates a stronger need for a stronger downtown…in whatever form it will evolve into.

The Armonk Square model works because it had the vacant land that we lack. We have had three supermarkets over the past 35 years that closed (Gristedes, D’Agostino, Grand Union). Why for heavens sake do you, ‘Model. Yes’ think that another regular store downtown or close to downtown will work for a fourth time?

What is the expression: Lead, follow or get out of the way? Empty criticism is IN the way. Just read the postings above. The tide has turned. One cannot hold back an ocean of reason and logic by putting up one’s hand and say “stop” it, because I simply don’t like it.

By P. Werbel on 11/01/2014 at 5:34 pm

Let’s be clear - Greenstein, Katz and Brodsky were voted in to office because a large majority of our voters were AGAINST the current retail proposal at Chappaqua Crossing. That is the overwhelming reason why those three running on the Republican ticket won in this town.

I applaud Katz for asking the tough questions and not rolling over for SG like the rest of the Board.  No matter what, the retail proposal will impact our town forever, and should be done in a way that is most beneficial to our town, not just the developer.  I thought Katz was great at the Board meeting - asking for a compromise is the right step to a win-win for all.  Thank you Lisa for staying the course and doing what you said you would do.

By Keep at it on 11/01/2014 at 6:06 pm

Whole Foods wants 120,000 sf total.  Just 40,000 sf is for its own store.  The rest is ‘needed’ because the rents that will be charged to those businesses that occupy the extra 80,000 sf will subsidize the Whole Foods’ 40,000 sf operation.  That’s it.  No magical econometric model from AKRF about retail trade areas or from the Whole Foods committee in Austin.  It’s just a subsidy to reduce Whole Foods’ net costs.  Apparently, the prices they charge for groceries are not sufficient to cover their actual costs and produce a profit.  Perhaps the former supermarkets in downtown would not have had to close if they too had been subsidized by the surrounding businesses.

By subsidize and they will come on 11/01/2014 at 6:47 pm

I cannot believe that reducing the retail space by 25 or 50 percent would not affect traffic. Something’s wrong with the traffic handbook the experts use. And so what if Summit Greenfield promised 120,000 sq ft to Whole Foods?  It was not Summit Greenfield’s to promise.

By Skeptical in Chappaqua on 11/01/2014 at 7:01 pm

I am not in favor of retail at Chappaqua Crossing.  Too big and too many issues with traffic etc. for the entire town.  But if something will go there then at least make it fit our town.  Demand high end boutiques like the Americana in Manhasset (stores like LuluLemon, Burberry, Chanel, Louis Vuitton). No nail salons, dry cleaners or chain restaurants.

By Make it fit on 11/01/2014 at 9:15 pm

The process is working after all. Now is the time when the town decides whether to grant the zoning or, if they grant it, how much to grant.

Traffic seems to be the biggest mechanical problem.  The problem of what this does to the character of the town is a much larger one, but in terms of character a smaller Chappaqua Crossing could be a smaller problem.

It’s a really tough decision to make.

By Traffic / character on 11/02/2014 at 8:07 am

Town board member Katz and her neighbors have for years waged a war against any and all development at CC. They used every tactic including a bogus petition, fear mongoring, deceit and deception. Based on their assertions and objections if Summit Greenfield had magically reincarnated Readers Digest and got them to re-occupy all the buildings these Nimbys would protest that the thousands of Readers Digest employees would create terrible traffic and ruin their neighborhood.
Because years have passed and every plan was rejected or sent back to the drawing board CC remains near empty. The property is throwing off less and less tax revenue. This constant and relentless campaign to deny SG usage has cost ALL residents of New Castle millions of dollars in lost tax revenue which we have to make up. To further deny-delay will cost us more. When the inevitable lawsuit by SG follows it will cost us $$millions$$ more! What price are the rest of us required to pay while the exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims continue? Someone above continues the outlandish without fact claim that he/ doesn’t want to wait “20 minutes or more going from Kittle House to Chap”. Prove that.
Now after all the NIMBY vitriol and manipulation, after the charecter assignations and disrespect aimed at anyone who is in favor, and especially directed at the SG team Lisa Katz asks about compromise. Obviously she hasn’t been paying attention because SG has made multiple changes to the retail plan based on feedback and suggestions. They already have been compromising. Maybe Katz wasn’t paying attention when her running mate Greenstein promised to negotiate and work with SG. Maybe she missed his letter and comments promoting Whole Foods. 120,000 sq ft with a Whole Foods and a gym will work just fine. Both the WF and gym are included at the suggestion of our community.

By I vote yes on 11/02/2014 at 9:11 am

Lisa Katz asking Summit Greenfield if they will compromise and negotiate reminds me of the joke about the teenager that kills his parents and then asks the judge for mercy because he is an orphan.

By Rodney Dangerfield on 11/02/2014 at 9:15 am

The inclusion of a large gym in part controls traffic. One large gym will attract less foot traffic and fewer truck deliveries than 3, 4, or 5 stores that might otherwise occupy the same space. I believe the gym was added after suggestions and feedback from those of us looking for solutions. I believe it’s an example of compromise and negotiation already taking place.

By Resident on 11/02/2014 at 9:30 am

Only one problem, only a very few of those stores will work. You miss the critical point that a center must have a certain fit to be successful, which is not the manhasset miracle mile model

By Dear make it fit on 11/02/2014 at 10:28 am

we keep asking SG to reduce traffic.  who is the real culprit?  with nothing built it is a mess because of HGSH.  why do so many students have to drive or parents drive them and pick them up?  this problem needs to be looked at for some common sense.

By KMN on 11/02/2014 at 10:34 am

So in order to fit, opposers prefer the strip mall style they initially claimed they hated? And the developer redesigned away from that model?

By Manhasset is a strip mall on 11/02/2014 at 10:44 am

Why would anyone trust the TB ?  SG was the wrong fit for this town and for that parcel from the very beginning, going back to 2005 when they first came to town.  Jan Wells was the supervisor then.  Beautiful buildings like the Readers Digest are repurposed to wonderful effect across the world. SG was never interested in doing that.

Barbara Gerrard continued the poor stewardship.  Susan Carpenter proposed retail to SG to find a use for existing builidings and secondarily to stop the lawsuit. That was wrong and stupid on both counts.  But Susan Carpenter listened to no one and certainly not to the residents and merchants. She knew that she knew best.
SG never intended to use that building for a grocery and NEVER attempted to market it.  This town has been snookered by SG from the get go.  They never were and are not the developers for that site. They should have been shown the door years ago.

No, there is no reason to trust any of them and certainly not Greenstein.

By Resident on 11/01/2014 at 12:51 pm

By Resident on 11/02/2014 at 1:32 pm

Agree with KMN- all the concern and worry about traffic by the very people who drive their kids to school even though we bus our kids. I’ve observed it for years. The families near CC / Greeley drive their children to school jamming up the roads while buses remain practically empty.
These people are also concerned about downtown Chapp should retail be built at CC. But they are shopping in Mt Kisco and Armonk now.
I really think it’s time to build this. Every argument has been made and studies done. The people I know are in favor and the people objecting are dividing our community and dominating the narrative. It’s time to move on. I hope the town board does the right thing.

By Patty K on 11/02/2014 at 5:54 pm

Less retail won’t improve the level-of-service? Really? I can tell you why that is: Because the level-letters only go to F. There’s no G to Z.

As the traffic experts have taught bd members, after the intersection merits an F, it’s evaluated as degrees-worse within the F-grade in terms of “delay-time” - how long drivers sit waiting to get through an intersection.

So to say that the “LOS” doesn’t get any better with less retail at CC is only technically true: even if the reduced traffic results in less delay-time for drivers, the intersections can remain F.  Because—HELLO—delay time for F intersections is anything 80 OR MORE seconds at an unsignalized intersection; 50 OR MORE seconds at a signalized one.

So the question to ask is what the delay-time becomes if there is 25% less and 50% less retail.


Signalized Intersection Unsignalized Intersection
A ≤10 sec       ≤10 sec
B 10–20 sec 10–15 sec
C 20–35 sec 15–25 sec
D 35–55 sec 25–35 sec
E 55–80 sec 35–50 sec
F ≥80 sec       ≥50 sec

By Traffic tricksters on 11/03/2014 at 8:03 am

Traffic tricksters may br correct. It makes no sense that less retail means less traffic. I am for mixed use at that site but have been concerned about traffic. The retail has to be smaller than now.  We cannot give SG everything it expects. At this ppint just because they threaten to litigate. Make a decision town board. It is difficult. Then let the chips fall where they may. Btw the age restricted idea and the all residential were not capriciously rejected by the prior board. Age restricted has strict federal criteria. If they are not complied with, the development becomes open to all ages. They just don’t hold up well. The all residential was going to be a significant net money loser if something like 60 kids resided there. Condis are taxed lower and when you figured what we spent to educate one student, considering there would be several 100 more bedrooms in the all residential plan than in the current plan, the net dollar loss would be pretty big. Both plans were properly rejected by the other board.

By LT on 11/03/2014 at 9:29 am

Editor do you know what portion of the county sales tax goes to the municipality?  Are there sales tax projections for whole foods? 

Editor’s Note:  I’ve seen only Summit Greenfield’s projections from its environmental impact statement, charts reproduced in this article—“A primer on the proposal for grocery and retail at Chappaqua Crossing,” originally published in NCNOW in November 2012:

By Questions on 11/03/2014 at 9:43 am

We need to hold our property taxes down (ours have increased more than tenfold since we moved to the Chappaqua School District).  We need a greater variety of grocery store options, especially since we have exactly none. We need to be open to change. We need to have something in New Castle (like the Jacob Burns in Pleasantville or the new development in Armonk) that is exciting and attractive. We need to join the rest of America in moving toward mixed uses, higher densities, and more variety. Just a few decades ago, Chappaqua was more desirable than Armonk or Manhattan in terms of average real estate prices. Now, read the figures and weep. And yet the Town Board continues to fight development at Readers Digest and to spend more taxpayer money to retain an unsatisfactory status quo.  We are embarrassed to be part of a community that is such a perfect example of Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) thinking.

By Barbara and Ken Jackson, Lawrence Farms East on 11/03/2014 at 12:17 pm

This is my new favorite quote from the night. It is SO TRUE!!!

Werbel told Board members that the claim by residents that the proposed shopping center is “a regional center” is inaccurate.  And their complaint that it would be “smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood” is inconsistent with the location of the so-called neighborhood—“bound by a railroad track and a school campus and a major road.  Now if they were going to build it at the Mt. Kisco Country Club, that’s smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”

By anonymous on 11/03/2014 at 1:43 pm

My friends from Armonk drive 15-20 mins every morning just to get to the train station in North White Plains.  That’s 30-40 mins a day rather than 5-10 for the average person in New Castle. Not being on a train line is a non-starter for a lot of families coming from NYC. 

Armonk is also flat as anything compared to New Castle. Everything downtown has multiple ways in and out. Traffic not nearly the same kind of issue there and they still didn’t build a big enough parking lot at the new grocer.

By Armonk lacks as a comparison on 11/03/2014 at 3:12 pm

Armonk lacks as a comparison,

You make great sense.  Our supervisor Mr. Greenstein does not seem to realize that Chappaqua has its own character and benefits.  That is the reason many, many residents chose it.  They did not want an Armonk or a Scarsdale.  He has called Chappaqua “a dump.” He wants to turn this town into a Scarsdale. 

When SG came here in 2005 their then lawyer, cannot remember his name, said to the TB “Your town has no plan.”  Here we are so many years later with no updated master plan.  If in fact the majority of the town does want to bring retail to Chappaqua, we would learn that from master plan work.  We should not go ahead until we know what the town’s people want.  It took Greenstein 6 months after he took office to get that ball rolling and has done everything to keep control of it.  Why is he resistant to the planning board sharing control ?

All those who say they know what everyone wants are not credible. THey know what they want.  They do not know what the majority wants.

By Greenstein is bad for this town on 11/03/2014 at 5:36 pm

Mr. and Mrs. Jackson,

You should investigate the financials of this plan before you weigh in.  There are no demonstrable financial benefits from this development.  Collecting back taxes is a not financial

You are also for major development around Grand Central Station too.  Maybe you should come out of your ivory tower and listen to planners. A historian does not a planner make.

No one I know is against change. Planning first.

By no thank you on 11/03/2014 at 5:42 pm

Mr and Mrs Jackson,

If you two are truly embarrassed at the lower density and the residential uses that predominate in our community and that are exemplified in the very neighborhood in which you have chosen to reside, then why don’t you vote with your feet and just move?  In New Castle, there are plenty of quarter-acre lots and condos within walking distance of downtown Chappaqua.  New Castle still has a grocer in Chappaqua (Village Market), numerous restaurants, a farmer’s market, and an A&P in Millwood.  But if you want more, neighboring Mt. Kisco has greater density and a mixture of use. You have a choice of where you live.  Some people may actually like what’s here now and want it to remain less dense than Mt. Kisco. Instead of waiting for the area to be urbanized, move to the place that you find ideal.

By You have a choice on 11/03/2014 at 6:21 pm

Werbel lives near and shops in Armonk and White Plains. So he wants this because he thinks that it will bring down his taxes.  Even Greenie in a rare moment of candor acknowledged that it would not.
Anyone who has looked at the financials and knows what they are looking at has said that it will not.
Werbel does not seem like an unintelligent man. He is seething with rage.  Maybe that rage is clouding his judgment.

By R.G. on 11/03/2014 at 6:24 pm

Mr. And Mrs. Jackson,

Maybe you should consider moving to a town more to your liking.  You have probably lived here long enough to get a good return on your original investment.

Not true that we have no grocery options.  Not true at all.

By resident on 11/03/2014 at 6:57 pm

“Just a few decades ago, Chappaqua was more desirable than Armonk or Manhattan in terms of average real estate prices.” 

Comparing Chappaqua to the whole of Manhattan is idiotic.  The home prices in Manhattan have and will continue to vary much more widely than they do in Chappaqua because Manahttan has many more neighborhoods of differing income levels and varied housing types, from tenements and subsidized housing to the skyscraper second homes of foreign billionaires. It’s like taking the average temperature of the Earth and not understanding that there is a meaningful difference between Hawaii and Alaska. 

Perhaps the relative desirability of Manhattan has improved due to the reduction in its crime rates over the past decades and the employment opportunities in high finance.

There are many more variables at play than the simplistic ‘reasoning’ of the Jacksons who write in support of a new suburban mall for New Castle with Whole Foods and various smaller chain stores.

By poor metric on 11/03/2014 at 7:08 pm

The Armonk commute from north white plains has double the amount of trains and is 20 minutes less on train time than from Chappaqua. The train commute is infinitely more reliable and convenient as a trade off for the extra 10 minutes it takes to get to the North White Plains train station. If you miss one train, the next one arrives in under 15 minutes during rush hour. Next Stop, Grand Central on most express trains. Local trains start at North White, 40 minutes at most.

Armonk Downtown is a simple in and out with multiple choices to avoid traffic. Its new Armonk Square added 3 new ways to get in and out and to park.

Yes, it is no comparison because our downtown is a joke compared to the fabulous Armonk model. There is NO train station glut in Armonk. I have lived on the border for 35 years…’s not even close. Armonk has it hands down. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought the house across the street to live in North Castle.

By Armonk works on 11/03/2014 at 7:28 pm

Dear Jacksons,

Most of my friends of a certain age (empty nesters, like you and me) tend to mindlessly repeat that their taxes will go down if the town will only let Summit Greenfield do what it wants.

What, exactly, are the tax benefits that Chappaqua Crossing will bring to us and you?

Repurposing that handsome property as a shopping center is like burning part of the house to heat your house. It will work to heat the house, sort of, but it will leave your house, er, rather diminished.


By What tax benefits? on 11/03/2014 at 7:33 pm

On a square-footage basis, the assessed value of retail space is lower than that of the high-end residential housing that surrounds Chappaqua Crossing.  Thinking we can build our way out of high property and school taxes is ridiculous.  If property taxes are really your concern, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, then pension reform for school teachers should be on the top of your advocacy to-do list.  And, add to that a local option sales tax for New Castle to levy directly on retail stores, like NYC does, rather than depend on some share from the county.

By high taxes on 11/03/2014 at 7:52 pm

I agree that CC is a net negative on housing values and with many of the opinions above (poor traffic plan, revenue fantasy), but getting personal with a private citizen who voices their opinion on here undermines every factual statement made about why this plan still needs work. 

Disagree with the facts, not the people.  Even if you are really upset about the whole situation, any resident one who signs their name here with an opinion is not your enemy. I respect your right to privacy, but don’t use it to be a bully like the ill-advised lawyer for SG who would like nothing better than to see this back in court so he can run the bill up.

By The facts are your best case on 11/03/2014 at 7:53 pm

Dear RG
I am angry at nothing and no one other than the folks who prefer to do nothing rather than something and who have already cost us a million dollars in lost tax revenue (including future losses), tax certiorari-wise.  Ok, I confess, I want a supermarket, especially Whole Foods, According to you, that viewpoint entitles me to be belittled. Exactly what reasonable people who comment in this publication decry. You have made, again, the point that it is either your NIMBY way or the High-way. I am glad for your silly comment.

Yes, readers digest at it’s highest traffic volume is less than the proposed CC volume (not including the 111 residential units). Ok, yes,  I am angry at the people who falsely portray it otherwise and who have cost us hundreds of thousands of lost tax dollars and who are keeping our town from being competitive with everyone else.

By P Werbel on 11/03/2014 at 8:09 pm

Reader’s Digest is a non residential property being tweaked to a beneficial use rather than constituting “legal waste” as that term is used in the law field. The 111 residential units is the crime, not a Whole Foods that faces the Saw Mill Parkway and Railroad tracks. Give me a break

By ITS NOT REPURPOSING on 11/03/2014 at 8:16 pm

to The Jacksons - Bravo. You are correct and you are brave to come out and state it. I know several other homeowners in your vicinity ( NIMBY country) that are also strongly in favor of retail at CC. They are probably some of these annoy,our postings in favor of CC.
As far as those trying to convince us that there is minimal tax advantages to retail at CC, they do not know what they are talking about. We have already lost millions of dollars in lost taxes due to an unoccupied CC. Once complete it will generate millions of dollars. AKRF and SG study both acknowledge millions of $$ in additional taxes.
Then there is the benefit to the entire community and downtown as people currentlY shopping in other towns will shop here. And it will draw people from other communities to shop in Chapp. How can anyone argue that a near empty CC generating minimal taxes and vibrant multi-use facility with Whole Foods and a gym have similar tax revenues. Besides, the taxes ( large or small) is only one benefit. Keeping people here and provided needed goods and services to our community is a benefit to us all. I don’t know how to put a number on it but it is true. This town is hurting and it should take advantage of an ideal property to give us a shot in the arm.

By Bravo Jacksons on 11/03/2014 at 8:18 pm

The Jackson’s are Nimbys and have it right

By Nimbys can move too on 11/03/2014 at 8:51 pm

Editor’s Note: Some Armonk addresses are within the Town of New Castle.

By Does anybody know? on 11/04/2014 at 12:15 am

we support retail at CC and we live near the Jacksons.
This town was a beacon for years on the strength of our school system. Now others towns have upped their game and offer outstanding schools. But those towns also provide residents with a supermarket and a respectable cluster of stores and commerce - we like the expression ” lifestyle center”.
It is ridiculous of people to claim there is little or no tax benefit. We have already lost millions of tax dollars while CC sits almost empty. Build it and millions of dollars will flow. If you stop the declining tax revenue and reverse it millions will be paid to our town. Millions lost plus millions gained seems like real money to us. This town needs to be competitive and retail at CC will accomplish that. A rising tide lifts all boats and our community with a gym, Whole Foods, and a respectable upscale lifestyle center will be a huge positive to all. Won’t it be funny when everyone’s property values go up our taxes stabilize and we look back and say what a great addition CC turned out to be.

Agree with Jacksons and applaud their courage. We also live in the area and support retail at CC.
We have been most embarrassed and disappointed by the behavior of some of our neighbors. It’s hard to explain to our children how adults can act like this. The exaggerations and out right lies. The manipulation of a local survey. The disrespect and acrimony directed at elected officials and other residentsN it’s been horrible.

By RDD on 11/04/2014 at 7:56 am

The Jackson’s are not nimbys…they are Yimbys, ‘yes, in my back yard’. Sorry. They are people of character and mettle, besides speaking the truth.

By correction on 11/04/2014 at 8:12 am

thank you Jackson’s! The only better comment on the board is from Rodney Dangerfield above. It’s perfect and hysterical and soo true!

By Great comments on 11/04/2014 at 8:50 am

For obvious reasons I will remain anonymous. I am a 20 year resident , 12 of which I have worked as a real estate broker- agent. Several comments above are highly accurate regarding choices home buyers evaluate. Unquestionably a challenge in selling a home in our community is our high taxes. The super market issue frequently comes up when potential buyers are looking in several communities. Buyers often use one broker in one community and a different broker in another. Sometimes we show houses to our client in several communities. The point is that town convienences and amenities also weigh on a buyers decision. Residential Real estate professionals know that the woman/ mother often has the most to say about where they buy. Having a supermarket matters and other towns often point out that the drawbacks of Chapp are high taxes, no retail/ commercial tax base, and no supermarket. Young moms want to shop and work out near their kids and not have to spend extra time driving around. It matters. And retail at CC will unquestionably help and allow us to compete with neighboring communities.

By Multiple listing on 11/04/2014 at 11:36 am

It’s OK to criticize the shills for SG and their misleading generalizations, whether they are anonymous or provide their full names.  I hope that they are getting paid for their comments rather than just serving corporate interests voluntarily as “useful idiots.”

By Criticism is OK on 11/04/2014 at 12:26 pm

Here is that article Mr. Jackson wrote about midtown N.Y. development.  The same lack of sense that he demonstrates here.  Suggest you take a look at the comments following, much more critical than those shown here.,{“1”:“RI:9”}

By FYI on 11/04/2014 at 2:51 pm

The incremental tax benefit is 500K at most and all the numbers are a fantasy if they don’t lease up the other office property which they have offered no plan on except to say that once the retail is approved, the office properties will be easier to lease.  Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

RE broker, how does a traffic tie up on the the major road serving half of the town and one that affects the entire town impact someone’s decision on where to buy.  Also, a sizable portion of residents will still be closer to shopping in Mt. Kisco, Millwood and Pleasantville even if this goes in.  Happy to have WF for those who want it, but that doesn’t mean that the entire plan doesn’t need to be right sized - their is more to CC than just retail plan - to make sure traffic doesn’t get out of hand. 

By Criticism is OK, just stick to the facts on 11/04/2014 at 4:16 pm

Not really upset. It’s over but the Nimbys don’t see it. Their compatriots oppose their opposition .  I love it!!!!!

The majority of people who live near CC want it. A vocal miserable few don’t.  Let’s go

Even handed approach supports the boards decision.  Nimby illogic and split in its ranks shows that they lose.  But it really is not a loss .  Whole foods (where they will shop). Benefits them, although they don’t want that t benefit .

By Nimbys are broken on 11/04/2014 at 5:03 pm

I don’t care if the tax revenue is $500k of $5mill- we need this and we want this vany contribution to our commercial/ retail tax revenue is a positive development. Or we can sit around and wait for Millwood and Downtown to start to increase tax revenues- which we know just is not going to happen.
The real estate broker us 100% correct!
And the NIMBY who claims a “traffic tie up” on a major road has absolutely no evidence No study and no expert to substantiate such a claim. NONE!
I lived near CC for /5 years thru a fully operational Readers Digest with night shifts deliveries and Bus tours. I lived here while Grand Union Supermarket had a major distribution center in Mt Kisco with its trucks barreling up n down rt 117 Day and night.  More trucks than 1 Whole Foids and a few tires will ever require. The idea that CC will crate ” traffic jams” is absurd. It may take a few more minutes to get to your apikate and Yoga class and it may take you a few more minutes To drive little Jonny and Jane to school ( maybe they should take the bus) but it won’t create a traffic jam.  So far every Glom and doom sob story presented by the NIMBYs has no basis in fact.  It’s all BS.

By Let's build this!!!!! on 11/04/2014 at 8:08 pm

I for one do not understand the appeal of Whole Foods. The store is over priced and pretentious. Lining up the carrots and apples do not make them more nutritious than the ones in Shop Rite. The food is just over priced. If it makes one feel fancy to buy food for a higher price because it is arranged nicer on the display tables, then Whole Foods belongs in Chappaqua. It’s a shame the community has to go through all if this and the traffic that will follow for a community fancy. With my high taxes I will value shop elsewhere.

By Not impressed! on 11/04/2014 at 8:17 pm

@FYI, Really?  The Jacksons come on here using their real name and offer up their opinions.  Now you, hiding behind the shield of an alias, call them out using their identity to reference information completely irrelevant to the matter at hand.  This is why people post anonymously!  Because there are those like you, in the simplest of all terms, are just plain cowards.

By Lowest Form of Human on 11/04/2014 at 9:01 pm

It could be that in Dr. Jackson’s long experience in urban study it is pointless to expect that something interesting or even appropriate can result from the combination of

- a smallish town whose main business (and expense) is schools


- a one-trick developer who will create anything he can to sell off to maximum dollar effect to the next developer


- a town government with no development or planning expertise whose obsession is commercial revenue as fast as it can get it


- a lot of empty nesters (including himself, as he makes clear) who are in too big a hurry for the supposed tax relief the developer is dangling to require critical and out-of-the-box thinking from both developer and town government.

By Maybe he knows it's the-way-of-the-world on 11/05/2014 at 6:56 am

Anything to stop the decreasing tax revenues currently generated at CC is better than doing nothing. Anything to increase tax revenues is better than decreasing tax revenues. Throw in a development that keeps our residents from shopping elsewhere is better than an empty CC. The net result of this multi purpose development will be to make our community more competitive and more vibrant.
As a reminder, CC is bordered by a parkway a railroad track and a state road already used as a truck route. The development will not be seen from the residential side only from the parkway side. At peak times a once three minute ride may take a few more minutes - certainly not create 20 minute traffic jams and dangerous traffic.
Had Armonk town officials listened to the small group of residents opposed to development based on parking and traffic Deciccos would not have been approved. Now everyone holds Armonk as a shining example.

By Resident In favor on 11/05/2014 at 8:25 am

We live in Lawrence Farm East, too, and the reason that residents contributed to the legal CRZ fund is that we DON’T want the development built here.  My husband and I left the meeting before the exchange between Lisa Katz and the SG counsel, but we cheer Lisa on—she was exactly right.  Even if the property is rezoned to permit some retail, a change that few of us oppose in its entirety, there does not have to be 120,000 square feet of retail on the property.  SG is proposing what will make money for SG, not what is in the best interests of the town residents.

It is not true—a lie—that those of us who oppose the current SG plan are opposed to all development, including some retail development, at CC.  Susan Carpenter suggested a grocery store on the scale of D’Agostino’s, and the town had already approved 100 condos.  The developer came back with a huge development that would require major rebuilding of roads and bring in traffic from all over northern Westchester.

If they won’t compromise, vote them down.  As Lisa said, we won the law suit in the lower court—and we would win again on appeal and in a new law suit.  The case law is clear that the town board has the discretion to force SG to downscale its proposal.

I, for one, don’t want to live in Armonk, and I’m sure that, if I put my house on the market, I would find a buyer who feels the same way.  If the Jacksons—nice people, I’m sure—would like to live in a more urbanized suburb, then they can move to one.

By Lawrence Farm East Resident on 11/05/2014 at 12:13 pm

The new code word for thwarting the development is “compromise”.  The current pretext is “master plan”. The record shows there have been many compromises already. The only acceptable nimby compromise seems to be one that makes the project unprofitable, which of course kills it. That’s not going to happen.

By How much more compromise? on 11/05/2014 at 1:11 pm

To Lawrence Farms east resident- you moved to and live in an area that includes a parkway, a train line, NYS Rt 117 (truck route), and a 110 acre commercial parcel of land. There was never any guarantee it would remain only commercial and certainly no guarantee Readers Digest would occupy forever. Things change, economies change, communities change, you cant stop progress.
I am a resident over 25 years. When we moved here there were protests about ongoing construction at Random Farms - NIMBYs didn’t want it. West siders objected to the new middle school with its traffic and buses. In Armonk some residents were opposed to new retail construction.
The school was a waste but the dreaded traffic and declining property values the NIMBYs worried about NEVER materialized at any of these sites.. The handful of you that hired and funded a law firm to form your CRZ are surely dividing our community. In effect your threat is to sue our town board and our residents.
Your hero and ring leader , Ms Katz is not to be applauded. I watched her disrespectful antics these last few years. She wrote the inaccurate and deceitful petition you all signed and it was full of lies meant to scare. She badgered and belittled town officials. She unequivocally publically stated that “no one wants this” and that she “has not met a single person in favor”. Then a week later a survey came out completely negating her claims. You all tried to manipulate that survey by completing multiple ballots. With no compassion, she exploited school shootings as if to infer that retail at CC near Greeley will have tragic results.
Lastly, if you are all so proud of these actions than why don’t all of you - CRZ - publicly state who you are. At least SG perceived threat of a lawsuit was made by their lawyer and their officials. You all are threatening to sue fellow residents but you wont identify yourselves.

By Then move on 11/05/2014 at 1:14 pm

Armonk has surpassed us in many ways. Folks choose how and where they live. But make no mistake about it, it only lacks a train station but it has a large commercial tax based in office parks and campuses that do not impact homes. 10 minute extra drive to train each way per day saves 15 minutes on the train and….. It is less expensive and more reliable.  But that is only my 35 year experience talking

By Armonk is more countrified on 11/05/2014 at 1:43 pm

I favor retail at CC. I have been angered at the behavior and temperament of many of my neighbors on this matter. I wouldn’t sign their Peyton and certainly would never contribute to their legal fund - CRZ , which is a threat to sue fellow residents. Last year I was on the receiving end of a text from a neighbor who thought I was against CC. She instructed me on how to fill out Dawn Greenburg’s survey multiple times so that it would register more opposition. Out of curiosity I attended and sat quietly at their meeting at the Kittle House when they realized the candidates they supported might not Stop development.
I suggest that they come out publicly and tell the rest of the community who they are and what their plans are if their CRZ uses legal action. They should identify themselves and tell us if they also will pay for the towns lawyers and for the tax revenue we lose if the continue to obstruct. AND they should tell us how much they will pay in damages once the developer sues us if they are forced off their timeline again. I thought their selfish behavior could get no worse until I read their lawyers letter signed by CRZ. So come folks…..won’t you tell us who you are. Suing your neighbors is despicable.

By Another Lawrence Farms East resident on 11/05/2014 at 1:49 pm

Resident in favor,

You need to understand the financial picture from this development. It is not what you say or what you think.  Many such as yourself are either deluding yourselves or using this misinformation to support turning CC into a shopping haven.  Funny how you all call the surrounding neighbors and all who live elsewhere and are against this as greedy.  It is you who is greedy.

Vibrancy should be confined to the two existing hamlets. Am wondering, if it was vibrancy you sought, why did you move here?

By get your facts straight on 11/05/2014 at 2:48 pm

It is suburbanization

By CC is not urbanization on 11/05/2014 at 3:05 pm

To Lawrence Farns East Resident - you are entitled to your opinion and you and the other NIMBYs are entitled to pay for and hire your own lawyer but understand this is about our entire community. You are a very very small minority. Even some of your neighbors have written and spoken publicly in favor of retail at CC.
Ours is a society based on democracy and majority rule. Ours is a society in which elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to ALL constituents not just a few dozen threatening legal action. You have dominated and monopolized the narrative for years. It’s time for our town board to approve this. I am very confident that the only real issue , traffic, will be handled appropriately. Your other concerns are and always have been hogwash.

By Chapp mom on 11/05/2014 at 3:56 pm

To Chapp mom: Our society is as importantly based on the protection of the minority from the majority, as in: 

““All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.” - Thos Jefferson

You’ve done more screaming, Chapp mom, about how a “very very small minority” has the temerity to expect to protect themselves (and thwart your wishes) than any “screaming” they’ve done. They’ve been quite rational in all this.

By Protection of the minority on 11/05/2014 at 4:06 pm

However, as far as protection goes, the overall community is the only interest that counts. A minority NIMBY who simply doesnt want the development as a matter of her personal preferences, will not be allowed to stop an important plus to the entire town. Ok, so you dont like it. Fine, but also, “TOUGH”. The developer also has rights which dwarf the handful of NIMBY obstructionists.

I remember a case in Manhattan, where, one rent controlled tenant held up a 100 million dollar neighborhood upgrade and redevelopment because she and her 9 cats had “rights”. Of course the development materialized, but that cat lady exploited her right to delay and thwart to the ‘nth degree’. My question is, are NIMBYS ‘rent control cat ladies’ or are they educated people who know that nothing is guaranteed but that they cannot help themselves from being out and out obstructionists?

By yes, the minority is to protected on 11/05/2014 at 4:28 pm

i wonder how many of these anonymous NIMBY comments are from Editor Yeres. It’s very obvious she responds to comments by pro CC before she even posts them for the rest of us to see.

By Gotcha on 11/05/2014 at 5:04 pm

To Protection of the minority-what rights are being denied the NIMBYs should retail at CC be built?They still live in their multi million dollar homes on 1,2,3 acres. Maybe they will have a few more minutes of traffic to contend with. That is a maybe and that is only a few minutes. 
Apparently you have not been following along if you can say with a straight face that they have “been quite rationale all this”. Really?
You must have missed their irrational fear mongoring including sewer treatment facility at CC, ambulances stuck on 117, child predators at Greeley and mass shootings. That’s rational? Hah. Not to mention that CC will destroy downtown and destroy property values. Perhaps you ought to rethink your description of them as rational. Now they threaten the rest of their community with a lawsuit. Rational? I don’t think so

By C'mon man on 11/05/2014 at 5:13 pm

There is now far more screaming about how your NIMBY neighbors are standing in the way of what you want than there is noise from them. You’re so loud you don’t hear them - our how you sound.

By Ug-ly on 11/05/2014 at 5:24 pm

The case Summit Greenfield’s lawyer was waving around is nothing like our case. It was b.s.

By Legal grandstanding on 11/05/2014 at 5:27 pm

Katz is great in that meeting.

By You tell him! on 11/05/2014 at 5:54 pm

Dear Editor - perhaps you can shed some light on this CRZ organization. You have already published the letter they had their lawyers draft sent to our Town Board but can you illuminate who the actual people are that have contributed money and make up CRZ.  Is this a public document under FOIL and should they be required to identify themselves if they are threatening a lawsuit?
Thank you

By Not a NIMBY on 11/05/2014 at 6:01 pm

Sadly u r correct

By Dear c'mon on 11/05/2014 at 6:08 pm

@ legal grandstanding - at least Summit Greenfield and their lawyers are not hiding in the shadows like you. They have identified themselves as they always have. You on the other hand criticize their ” case” calling it b.s. But you do so anonymously.
I guess the lawyers hired by New Castle boards , past and present , ( 2 separate firms) both agree that SG has a valid and strong case. You, who won’t even identify yourself, and hide behind some fantom made up community organization ( CRZ) must know better and you must be a lawyer since you know more than them.

By Resident on 11/05/2014 at 6:08 pm

C’mon Man is correct.
And Rodney Dangerfield has nailed Lisa Latz.

By Right on on 11/05/2014 at 7:36 pm

Not really on any side of this.  No doubt those living around CC are the minority.  But I’m not buying claims that the commenters above as being representative of some vast majority.  It’s almost as if there is an underlying tone of angry class warfare that would do Willy Loman proud.  Unfortunately, resolution of this or any numerous other grievances will provide no magic panacea for this group.

By The Angry Minority on 11/05/2014 at 7:38 pm

im not happy about being threatened with a lawsuit by SG, but at least I know who they are and who their lawyers are. This bogus silly little group of people living in their big million dollars homes have formed CRZ , citizens for reasonable zoning. They have hired a lawyer and they are threatening a lawsuit as well. But we don’t know who they are because they haven’t identified themselves. Who are you? How much are you each paying? It’s cowardly to threaten to sue your fellow residents and not even identify yourselves.

By 10514 on 11/05/2014 at 8:15 pm


One of the major reasons that we are in this situation is because of the lousy representation by our lawyers, by our poor legal representation.  I speak of the previous and present.

By another resident on 11/05/2014 at 8:44 pm

Thank you editor - I just read your comprehensive article and all the comments. Well done.
My 2 cents- I think Lisa Katz has some nerve asking Summit Greenfield to what extent they will compromise. First, she above everyone else antagonized and obstructed every step of the way. She spread lies and exaggerations.
Second- SG had been compromising all along. They have changed plans multiple times in response to feedback and studies. Asking them to change and downsize to a point they can’t make it work is unreasonable and puts the entire project in jeopardy- Whole Foods walks. Katz declared she would not be threatened by a lawsuit yet she didn’t say the same thing of her neighbors who are also threatening to sue.

By The town board must approve on 11/05/2014 at 9:19 pm

Town board must approve,

You spout nonsense. There is nothing wrong with anyone hiring a lawyer to protect themselves.  The comparison you make is erroneous.

SG made no compromises .  They began with a grocery INSIDE the existing building and now, many years later we have 120.000 sq. ft. of NEW CONSTRUCTION and they say THAT IS WHAT THEY NEED.  Rather than downsizing, they have OUTSIZED.
Do you think that you can say anything and that that makes it so ?  You are downright lying.

Whole Foods also says that people will come from 30 minutes in all directions to come to a Whole Foods.  I believe that and so then WHY DO THEY NEED, nay MUST HAVE A LARGE CRITICAL MIX.  It is because that MIX is paying their rent.

Perhaps you are fine with that but I along with many residents near and away from that site are not.  We do not want our town to be subsidizing Whole Foods and SG, no matter how you may be drooling to shop there.

By No, town board must not approve on 11/06/2014 at 11:49 am

i didn’t want the new middle school a block away from me either. But the majority prevailed and it was built. The traffic we all feared is a non event but for 15 minutes in the morning. The weekend youth sports and evening activities also have been without incident and all the bad stuff never happened.
My neighbors and I never dreamed of hiring lawyers and suing. This CRZ organization of some NiMbys are trying to continue to derail progress at CC. It’s been 10 years!!!!!
I know first hand that all their fears and exaggerated claims don’t hold up. Worst case basis, they gave a few minutes of extra traffic at peak times. That’s it! And for that they risk something that will benefit all of us.
At the very least all the people who chipped in to hire a lawyer and form CRZ should publicly identify themselves. We should know who these selfish people are.
If they block thus any longer and Whole Foods pulls out and we get sued I would like to know who these people are that will cost all of us millions of dollars.

By West side R on 11/06/2014 at 12:35 pm

It is time for Greenstein and his minions to stop with the scare mongering about our school system - which is still top-notch.

More evidence of how he will do or say anything to his own ends.  He says that HE will save us.  What bull.

By what bull on 11/06/2014 at 1:33 pm

To What Bull - I’ve read all the comments and I see no fear mongoring about our schools. Zero. Our schools have been mentioned several times as the reason most move here. Because our schools have always stood above most we pay higher taxes and put up with some deficiencies and lack of consciences.  The point being made and one you obviously are not understanding is that other communities have improved their schools and offer home buyers more options as to where to live. When I moved here years ago Byram Hills, John Jay, Fox Lane and Pleasantville were distant second place to CHapp schools. Now their schools are greatly improved with standardized test results and college acceptances to top colleges matching Greeley.
The point is that those communities compete for home buyers and they offer lower taxes and community entire like a simple Supet market. We need to be competitive and CC will accomplish that.
Why is it that if we support retail at CC you call us GREENSTEINs minions? I never met the man but I fully support his efforts to negotiate a good deal for our town. After all that is what he promised.
There are a few dozen NIMBYs opposed to this. That’s it. The rest of us supports it and it will be an important positive addition.

By Resident- not RG minion on 11/06/2014 at 3:34 pm

Our school system is still number one in over spending for special Ed. We ways were I the top 3 otherwise. That top 3 is now 6, including armonk (g e tech awards. 12 years in a row) which districts have taxes 25 % less than us.  The marketplace factors thAt exorbitance in determining market value.  We have not declined, but others have caught up to us .  Please wake up

By Dear what bull on 11/06/2014 at 4:23 pm

Several people say they trust the traffic issue will be dealt with.  I don’t live anywhere near the property, but I am curious as to why anyone is confident in the proposed traffic plan that promises multiple of the traffic we have know all day long.  What is the great traffic management plan that everyone is taking so much comfort in?  I would like to feel good too.

If you turn 117 into a traffic problem, the quality of life in this down goes down the tubes.  We are what we are, and that is a town with limited major roads, basically one on each side of town.  And backing up the SMP at that exist isn’t going to make me feel any better as well.

if it makes you feel better to call everyone who isn’t drinking the kool aid a NIMBY, go right ahead, but that is simply not the case. 

By Please share with the rest of us on 11/06/2014 at 6:45 pm

I don’t find Lisa Katz to be a respectful board member. She came on as a member with her opinion set, not of what’s best for the town, but what’s best for her. Everyone’s entitled to there own opinions, yes, but hers have gotten in the way of her duties as a board member and caused her to remain bias. If she were any kind of respectful lawyer, she would’ve recused herself from the voting of cc & I find it shocking that the board as a whole didnt decide that should be done.

There’s just no pleasing you chappaqua residents but the way I see it is, you’ve made your bed. When dagastinos went out of business, the residents were in an uproar demanding that another grocery store be put in its place and now that they have that option, its a problem too. You constantly complain about the traffic yet everyone insists on driving there kids to and from school. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

And for shop owners in chappaqua, the crossing could be a blessing in disguise. It could bring more people to the town itself & therefore more shoppers. More shoppers could mean more attention to the town which could turn the town into a better one. I’m sick of the 5 nail salons, hair salons & banks, not to mention almost everything in town closes so early that a drive thru at 8pm is the look of a ghost town.

By All for whole foods & against Lisa Katz on 11/06/2014 at 11:01 pm

To Please share- the traffic issue can and will be managed. Summit Greenfield will not be able to do whatever they want. So far an environmental review has been done which includes traffic and a world class traffic consultant has been engaged. Before all the NIMBYs cry that the traffic consultant is a hired hand, paid for by SG- he is also a renowned and highly regarded expert who has consulted on hundreds of similar projects. He is not going to say everything will be OK if it is not supported by evidence, data, and years of experience.
In addition, The NY State Department of Transportation(DOT) gets involved and weighs in as does Westchester County related authorities. That is how the traffic issue will be dealt with. By people experts and organizations that do this for a living and understand the ramifications. Not by a bunch of emotional whining NIMBYs crying the sky is falling down. To date, every issue the NIMBYs claim will negatively result from retail at CC has yet to be proven or substantiated. In fact they have all been dispelled and dismissed by multiple studies and reviews done by the state, county, and private consultants (paid for by BOTH New Castle and SG).
The result of retail at CC will be hugely beneficial to New Castle in many ways already outlined by so many comments. The drawback will be some minimal inconvenience in the form of a bit more traffic. So instead of it taking 2 minutes to exit the area or drive into town it will take 5 minutes. A small price to pay!

By traffic cop on 11/07/2014 at 6:36 am

It scares me that this important decision is going to be made by board members with such limited knowledge and experience.  Yet Greenstein says over and over again how this is going to be a “win-win” - much like a used car salesman who tells you how great everything is - until you end up with a LEMON

By sour taste in my mouth on 11/07/2014 at 10:49 am

traffic cop,

Dr. Collins is a mouthpiece for S.G.  That is the fact, not a repudiation of the man or his background.
There is nothing credible to support your assertions that this will be beneficial to the community at large.

By no thank you on 11/07/2014 at 10:54 am

What’s wrong here?  Most people want CC. Y are those view points not published ?

Editor’s Note:  What are you talking about? “The point of view” that “most people want CC” has been published, as has the point of view that “most people don’t want it.” Both, in the context of random comments, are meaningless. 

There are individuals who say they want or don’t want it. That’s some kind of information, but not really useful either.  Most useful is to hear why the person wants it or doesn’t want it. 

And then there are comments stating that everyone wants it or that everyone doesn’t want it.  Those are lease useful—because there is no reliable data that tells us how many want it and how many don’t want it. 

As things have worked out, the Town Board has to decide whether to allow retail—or, if allowed, what amount of it—without knowing that.

By Why stiffling? on 11/07/2014 at 11:32 am

to No Thank You ( aka NIMBY) - let me help you out and give you a few clues. Dr Collins and every reputable consultant/ expert delivers results and conclusions based on facts and data. He has a masters and phd from Columbia and NYU. He has over 40 years of experience. It’s all on their website. If his recommendations and conclusions were based on who pays him then he would be exposed as such. But that is Clearly not the case. One could easily back test his projects. If he regularly underestimated traffic and congestion he would not be held in high esteem. He has done hundreds of projects including retail shopping. In the real world of consulting, if Dr Collins conclusions would have been detrimental to SG than they simply would have not released his results.
Now let me enlighten you regarding your statement that there is nothing credible to support assertions that retail will be beneficial to the community at large. Commercial / retail tax revenue from CC will stop decreasing and will start increasing. Increasing tax revenues is a benefit to us all.  Our residents will not have to drive extra distances to other towns for basic shopping needs. That saves time, saves gasoline, benefits the environment and allows us more time with our families and less time shopping. These are very obvious benefits. Also, as stated above, having a supermarket in our town with a gym etc makes our community more competitive with towns that offer these basic services. That’s a benefit. And a likely result is that keeping and drawing people to CC will have a spillover effect for downtown. Both studies agree on this be fit as well. Both studies ( 1 paid by SG - 1 paid by town of new castle) agree on ALL of these benefits as well as others. So there will be a bit more traffic- big deal.

By 10514 on 11/07/2014 at 2:39 pm

“A bit more traffic”????

“The results of the traffic study demonstrated that the retail project would result in significant impacts at seven (7) locations. The SFS set forth information indicating that with the incorporation of certain traffic mitigation (e.g. addition of turning lanes, signals, and crosswalks), the significant adverse impacts at four (4) of the seven (7) intersections could be adequately mitigated.

In addition to mitigation at four (4) of the intersections, it was determined that mitigation at an eighth intersection, the intersection of Roaring Brook Road and the Horace Greeley High School driveway, would assist in alleviating impacts at all seven intersections during the morning peak and the afternoon school hour.

The information provided by the Applicant in regards to the remaining three intersections indicated that the significant impacts could not be mitigated. However the Town, based on information from the Town’s traffic consultant, believed it may be possible to avoid or further reduce the impacts at these intersections by instituting signal timing refinements.”

By Are u serious? on 11/08/2014 at 2:46 am

To Are U serious- if Readers Digest and the Grand Union distribution Center in Mt Kisco were suddenly reincarnated there would be “significant impacts” at multiple locations as well.
It can all be solved by rational and reasonable people looking for a mutually beneficial solution.

By resident on 11/08/2014 at 12:03 pm

I do think that a lot of these comments and these people who’ve gone just crazy over Chappaqua crossing need to realize that there are much worse things going on in the world then having whole foods in your local neighborhood & a little more traffic. And I think if everyone took a minute to take a look at that, then maybe you wouldn’t be wasting all your time on this. Put your time to a better use. If you feel the need to stand up for something, make it something worth standing up for. We’ve got Ebola, wars, cancer and your in an uproar over a food market? Things could be so much worse and I think those who are overly involved in this obviously havent experienced much negativity in their life.

By Everyone needs to chill on 11/10/2014 at 10:20 pm

Apparently SG and their associates have seized control of, and have commandeered the comments regarding CC and are intent upon disputing anything negative about CC.

However, in the last town board election, Team New Castle ran on the Republican line in a heavily Democratic town and won the election based upon their primary election platform of being opposed to SG proposals that would be detrimental to CC neighbors, the downtown business district, and the town in general. It follows that the majority of residents therefore oppose retail at CC whereas the SG commandeered comments above lacking any credible basis submit that the majority of town residents support SG’s proposals.

The last town board election was a referendum on SG’s CC proposals and the clear message is that the majority of town residents oppose SG’s proposals. If the town voters were overwhelming in favor of retail with Whole Foods at CC, the Republican ticket would not have won the town board election. That is indisputable.

By The last town board election on 11/12/2014 at 8:31 pm

To Everyone needs to chill: 
It’s possible to care about and comment on more than one topic.  Trying to shame the commenters on this site is condescending, however disagreeable you may find them.  The Town Board should not base its decisions on what’s happening in West Africa, the Ukraine, China, etc. but in what the Town Ordinances require and what the Development Plan (master plan) recommends.  By seeking to silence criticism of local actions, you would give a free pass to every developer and business to do whatever they want , obtain any zoning amendment, regardless of the consequences, because somewhere else something really bad is occurring.  No thanks.

By Warm up on 11/13/2014 at 11:57 am

to The Last Town Board Election- clearly you are in denial. The last town board election was in no way a referendum on SG proposals and majority of residents in no way oppose SG and retail at CC.
I voted for Greenstein and Brodsky. I actually met them in town one Saturday prior to the election. I specifically asked them about CC. They did not say they were running for TB to stop development. Quite the contrary. Both said that we needed a new town board and a new approach to dealing with and negotiating with SG. Both recognized that stopping and preventing development was not their strategy. In fact Greenstein was on the record many times during the election of supporting negotiation and favoring a Whole Foods at CC. I voted for them because I wanted them to negotiate the best deal for our town. I want a multi- use facility that is uplifting and beneficial to our community. 
To your incorrect assertion that the majority of residents oppose SG- 2 surveys have been done and both concluded majority favor CC.
Comments like your damage credibility of all Nimbys. Not like you have any credibility left.

By Old timer on 11/13/2014 at 2:39 pm

Old Timer,

Here lies your problem.  Everyone has a voice.  Your feeble attempt to deny others their input is a destructive tactic. So, to me, you have destroyed your credibility.

To remind you and all readers here, Rob Greenstein has said everything there is to say on ALL
SIDES OF EVERY ISSUE. That is what makes him a self serving huckster who is not to be trusted.  And as for a new way to negotiate with SG.  Now that is rich, the big mouth caved as soon as he took office. He has gotten us a big fat NOTHING. 

You really need to stop shilling for your hero and start paying attention as to what is actually happening here.

By dear Old timer on 11/14/2014 at 8:58 am

I have lived here for a long time and have never seen anything quite like this. Yes, it would be lovely to have a supermarket, but an affordable one, not a “boutique” one. And not there.

I live on the opposite side of the parkway but I forsee trucks making mistakes and trying to go down Roaring Brook, which could be a disaster. We also know that at some point, a truck will make a mistake and end up on the Saw Mill.

As for people driving their kids to Greeley, I did that too, so they could sleep a little later. School starts too early, as studies have shown, but that’s another subject.

By Long Time Resident on 11/18/2014 at 6:06 pm

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