Statement by Supervisor Greenstein on Chappaqua Crossing retail zoning approval

I’d like to start by thanking our Town Staff, my colleagues on the Town Board, and our predecessors for all of their time and hard work on this application.  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say this has been the longest and most controversial land use application in our Town’s history. 

The question before this Board is whether to change our zoning to allow retail development at Chappaqua Crossing.  I am voting in favor of allowing retail development on the site. 

I know there are some residents who would prefer that Chappaqua Crossing did not change.  The property is essentially idle, and its buildings are mostly vacant.  The problem with that view is that it is not economically sustainable.  Our property taxes make our community unaffordable to many young families, drive-out our seniors and empty nesters, and ultimately will drive down our property values.  A strong commercial tax base is essential to our community’s long term fiscal health. 

In 1987, approximately 70.2 percent of the tax roll in the Town was from residential properties.  Currently, according to Town Assessor Phillip Platz, approximately 91 percent of our tax roll consists of residential properties.  About 6% is industrial, religious, or utilities.  Our commercial tax base is a mere 3%.  That is unsustainable.  As Town Supervisor, I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges of dealing with the State’s tax cap and unfunded mandates.  The bottom line is—we must increase our commercial tax base.  I have been saying this since I ran for Town Board in 2011.

I was always in favor of a high-end specialty grocery store - like Whole Foods - at Chappaqua Crossing.  I believe that the majority of residents are looking forward to having a Whole Foods at Chappaqua Crossing.  I believe that health and fitness related uses, new restaurants, and some other retail stores, also will be welcome additions to our community.

As Supervisor, my job is to make the best possible decisions for all of our Town residents.  When I sized-up the situation with Chappaqua Crossing, I came to the conclusion that we should try to reach the best possible solution for our entire community.  Kicking the can down the road was not an option.  Denying the rezoning application, or imposing a moratorium, were options, but not good ones in my opinion.  I could not go back and rewrite history. 
Throughout this process, I’ve tried to be very candid about my views—some would say too candid.  But one of the promises that I made when I ran for office was that I’d be accessible to residents and transparent about what I was doing.  To get the residents of New Castle the best outcome, the best amenities, the best aesthetics, and the tax dollars we need, I chose to foster a working relationship with Summit Greenfield.  We took each other’s interests into consideration.

With input from our Planning Board, we’ve persuaded Summit Greenfield to move away from its original proposal to build big box stores, and instead to design a more community-oriented, walkable retail development.  We’ve also worked with Summit Greenfield on measures that will help mitigate the impacts of their proposed development.  Besides the road improvements on Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road, some of these mitigation measures are as follows:

• Provide the Town with a $1,500,000 payment to create recreational trails and other recreational opportunities; to improve the Town’s existing business hamlets; or to undertake other initiatives to mitigate impacts associated with the Chappaqua Crossing development.
• Improve the HGHS entrance drive (estimated cost $600,000).
• Improve the appearance of the Roaring Brook Road median with landscaping and/or other improvements.
• Convey title of four parcels of land along Roaring Brook Road which are currently owned by S-G to the Town, and use that land to create a green space and buffer for residents who live near the site
• Reduce the amount of existing office space available for lease by an additional 42,000 (a 35% increase) for a total reduction of 162,000 square feet of office space with a limit of no more than 500,000 square feet of office space at the property.
• Donate the Wallace Auditorium to the Town
• Extend the sewer line to Roaring Brook Road for potential future connection
• Provide free jitney shuttle service between Chappaqua Crossing & the Chappaqua hamlet
• Install and maintain an information kiosk at Chappaqua Crossing for the purpose of promoting Chappaqua hamlet businesses and activities
• Pay a $100,000 recreation fee
• Pay the Town’s outstanding consulting fees, up to $100,000, and
• Pay the Town’s future consulting fees, up to another $100,000.

We are also mandating that 25,000 SF –  20% of the total retail - be used for health and fitness-related uses.  This will reduce the amount of retail that would generate deliveries.  Replacing retail with the gym use also reduces traffic impacts. 

At its peak, Reader’s Digest had over 7,000 employees on this campus.  They were a magazine that focused on medicine, and healthy living.  The magazine never ran advertisements for cigarettes.  Instead, it began warning readers of the dangers of smoking even before the Surgeon General did in 1964.  Tobacco and liquor stores will be prohibited at Chappaqua Crossing. 

This property will return to a vibrant commercial center while keeping up the tradition of healthy living.  The property will be a community-oriented, walkable retail development.  New retail tenants – like Whole Foods and fitness-related uses – will join existing office tenants such as Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco Medical Group, ACCESS Nursing Services & WeeZee. 

The Town now has a tremendous opportunity to not only help put the Chappaqua Crossing campus into productive use, but to rejuvenate our existing business hamlets at the same time.  It is now time to finish our Master Plan update and turn our undivided attention to our existing business hamlets. 
When I started the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce, one of my goals was to help revitalize our existing business hamlets.  When Pace Land Use Law Center conducted their public outreach as part of the Master Plan update, participants repeatedly focused their attention on downtown Chappaqua Hamlet.  Likewise, when AKRF conducted their Competitive Effects Analysis for Chappaqua Crossing, they recommended that the Town explores ways to attract greater consumer interest in the downtown.

We’ve already formed the Downtown Business Development Committee.  I plan to propose the creation of a Business Improvement District to offer incentives to new and expanding businesses and for business recruitment.  We can also explore infrastructural upgrades like ChapLine—the bicycle/foot path that would connect Chappaqua Crossing to downtown Chappaqua.

While this Town Board did not agree on everything, I truly believe we put aside our differences and each of us worked together and acted in the best interests of the community.  We also looked out for the interests of the neighbors who will be most affected by this development. 

A community is the product of many voices and views, with different perspectives. An important job of an elected official is to listen to those voices and allow them to build something together. No one gets everything they want, and no one is left out.  As a community, we share the burden, and as a community we change, grow and improve. We are, here in New Castle, a special community. Let’s go forward as one. 

I believe that we are building a better New Castle by our decision, one that provides more for the community while maintaining those assets and values that drew us to this Town.  Chappaqua Crossing will bring new and different amenities for our residents while enhancing our commercial tax base.  For me, that is the bottom line.

I look forward to continuing to work with all of our neighbors, including Summit Greenfield, to ensure that this development is in the best interests of the community.

I’d like to start by thanking our Town Staff, my colleagues on the Town Board, and our predecessors for all of their time and hard work on this application.  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say this has been the longest and most controversial land use application in our Town’s history. 
The question before this Board is whether to change our zoning to allow retail development at Chappaqua Crossing.  I am voting in favor of allowing retail development on the site. 
I know there are some residents who would prefer that Chappaqua Crossing did not change.  The property is essentially idle, and its buildings are mostly vacant.  The problem with that view is that it is not economically sustainable.  Our property taxes make our community unaffordable to many young families, drive-out our seniors and empty nesters, and ultimately will drive down our property values.  A strong commercial tax base is essential to our community’s long term fiscal health. 
In 1987, approximately 70.2 percent of the tax roll in the Town was from residential properties.  Currently, according to Town Assessor Phillip Platz, approximately 91 percent of our tax roll consists of residential properties.  About 6% is industrial, religious, or utilities.  Our commercial tax base is a mere 3%.  That is unsustainable.  As Town Supervisor, I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges of dealing with the State’s tax cap and unfunded mandates.  The bottom line is—we must increase our commercial tax base.  I have been saying this since I ran for Town Board in 2011.
I was always in favor of a high-end specialty grocery store - like Whole Foods - at Chappaqua Crossing.  I believe that the majority of residents are looking forward to having a Whole Foods at Chappaqua Crossing.  I believe that health and fitness related uses, new restaurants, and some other retail stores, also will be welcome additions to our community.
As Supervisor, my job is to make the best possible decisions for all of our Town residents.  When I sized-up the situation with Chappaqua Crossing, I came to the conclusion that we should try to reach the best possible solution for our entire community.  Kicking the can down the road was not an option.  Denying the rezoning application, or imposing a moratorium, were options, but not good ones in my opinion.  I could not go back and rewrite history. 
Throughout this process, I’ve tried to be very candid about my views—some would say too candid.  But one of the promises that I made when I ran for office was that I’d be accessible to residents and transparent about what I was doing.  To get the residents of New Castle the best outcome, the best amenities, the best aesthetics, and the tax dollars we need, I chose to foster a working relationship with Summit Greenfield.  We took each other’s interests into consideration. 
With input from our Planning Board, we’ve persuaded Summit Greenfield to move away from its original proposal to build big box stores, and instead to design a more community-oriented, walkable retail development.  We’ve also worked with Summit Greenfield on measures that will help mitigate the impacts of their proposed development.  Besides the road improvements on Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road, some of these mitigation measures are as follows:
• Provide the Town with a $1,500,000 payment to create recreational trails and other recreational opportunities; to improve the Town’s existing business hamlets; or to undertake other initiatives to mitigate impacts associated with the Chappaqua Crossing development.
• Improve the HGHS entrance drive (estimated cost $600,000).
• Improve the appearance of the Roaring Brook Road median with landscaping and/or other improvements.
• Convey title of four parcels of land along Roaring Brook Road which are currently owned by S-G to the Town, and use that land to create a green space and buffer for residents who live near the site
• Reduce the amount of existing office space available for lease by an additional 42,000 (a 35% increase) for a total reduction of 162,000 square feet of office space with a limit of no more than 500,000 square feet of office space at the property.
• Donate the Wallace Auditorium to the Town
• Extend the sewer line to Roaring Brook Road for potential future connection
• Provide free jitney shuttle service between Chappaqua Crossing & the Chappaqua hamlet
• Install and maintain an information kiosk at Chappaqua Crossing for the purpose of promoting Chappaqua hamlet businesses and activities
• Pay a $100,000 recreation fee
• Pay the Town’s outstanding consulting fees, up to $100,000, and
• Pay the Town’s future consulting fees, up to another $100,000.

We are also mandating that 25,000 SF –  20% of the total retail - be used for health and fitness-related uses.  This will reduce the amount of retail that would generate deliveries.  Replacing retail with the gym use also reduces traffic impacts. 
At its peak, Reader’s Digest had over 7,000 employees on this campus.  They were a magazine that focused on medicine, and healthy living.  The magazine never ran advertisements for cigarettes.  Instead, it began warning readers of the dangers of smoking even before the Surgeon General did in 1964.  Tobacco and liquor stores will be prohibited at Chappaqua Crossing. 
This property will return to a vibrant commercial center while keeping up the tradition of healthy living.  The property will be a community-oriented, walkable retail development.  New retail tenants – like Whole Foods and fitness-related uses – will join existing office tenants such as Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco Medical Group, ACCESS Nursing Services & WeeZee. 
The Town now has a tremendous opportunity to not only help put the Chappaqua Crossing campus into productive use, but to rejuvenate our existing business hamlets at the same time.  It is now time to finish our Master Plan update and turn our undivided attention to our existing business hamlets. 
When I started the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce, one of my goals was to help revitalize our existing business hamlets.  When Pace Land Use Law Center conducted their public outreach as part of the Master Plan update, participants repeatedly focused their attention on downtown Chappaqua Hamlet.  Likewise, when AKRF conducted their Competitive Effects Analysis for Chappaqua Crossing, they recommended that the Town explores ways to attract greater consumer interest in the downtown.
We’ve already formed the Downtown Business Development Committee.  I plan to propose the creation of a Business Improvement District to offer incentives to new and expanding businesses and for business recruitment.  We can also explore infrastructural upgrades like ChapLine—the bicycle/foot path that would connect Chappaqua Crossing to downtown Chappaqua. 
While this Town Board did not agree on everything, I truly believe we put aside our differences and each of us worked together and acted in the best interests of the community.  We also looked out for the interests of the neighbors who will be most affected by this development. 
A community is the product of many voices and views, with different perspectives. An important job of an elected official is to listen to those voices and allow them to build something together. No one gets everything they want, and no one is left out.  As a community, we share the burden, and as a community we change, grow and improve. We are, here in New Castle, a special community. Let’s go forward as one. 
I believe that we are building a better New Castle by our decision, one that provides more for the community while maintaining those assets and values that drew us to this Town.  Chappaqua Crossing will bring new and different amenities for our residents while enhancing our commercial tax base.  For me, that is the bottom line.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of our neighbors, including Summit Greenfield, to ensure that this development is in the best interests of the community.


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