Against Planning Bd advice, Town Bd seems set to go forward with Rosehill scoping

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
by Christine Yeres

Judging from last Tuesday’s Work Session, Town Board members seem inclined, as “lead agency,” to approve tonight the draft environmental scope—the laundry list of all environmental impacts to be considered—for the Rosehill application to construct 60 condos with a health club, tennis and a theatre at 773 Armonk Road.  Neighbors of two-acre residential zoned property pointed out to Board members during the work session that the Planning Board had directly advised against proceeding with the application until the Master Plan review is completed.

See Planning Board to Town Board: Master Plan update should come before rezoning for Rosehill, NCNOW.org, 7/1/14.

It the Town Board decides tonight to adopt the scope—the list of all potential environmental impacts that must be addressed—the applicant will, Stephen Oder of Soder Realty, will proceed with studies and reports on the potential impacts and suggested mitigation measures.  Together, these would make up the Draft EIS, or DEIS. 

“When does the town bring in its own consultants?” asked a resident.  “The applicant does its reports first,” the Town Board’s counsel, Nick Ward-Willis, explained, “after the Draft EIS is submitted—and at the applicant’s expense—” then “Sabrina [Charney-Hull, New Castle’s Town Planner] will make her recommendations on drainage, septic,” and any other areas in which she decides the Board needs further information.

“Can we hire our own environmental expert?” asked the resident.

“Residents can do that,” said Ward-Willis.

Then would come a public hearing on those studies in the Draft EIS, Ward-Willis continued. After the close of public hearings, the applicant would prepare a final Environmental Impact Statement, or FEIS, which the Town Board then accepts as the final document. 

At that point, the Town Board can—but need not—hold public hearings on the Final EIS, then issue a “Findings” statement.  If the “Findings” are positive—which means, said Ward-Willis, that the Board finds that the impacts of the proposal could be mitigated, then the Board would proceed with the change in the town’s zoning law to permit the project.

For the benefit of neighbors of the property attending the Work Session, TB member Elise Mottel estimated that it could be nine months before the applicant submits his draft.  And another two months for the town to review it, before holding the public hearing on the Draft EIS.

Planning Board involvement

The Town Board is “lead agency,” so the Planning Board must review the Draft EIS and comment on the Final EIS, but won’t have any decision to make until the positive “Findings” statement is issued and the zoning is changed by the Town Board.

“So the Town Board is moving forward despite the Planning Board’s recommendation not to?” asked a resident. “Because the Planning Board says the application should not continue at this time.”

“The Town Board will consider what to do,” responded Ward-Willis.

“We’re not going to ignore our Planning Board,” said Mottel. “We will seriously review the Planning Board’s comments.”

So assuming positive Findings and the zoning change by the Town Board, at that point the Planning Board would receive the application for “site plan approval.” 

“If the Town Board approves the proposal with positive Findings statement and approves the zoning,” asked Sharon Greene, “and it then goes to the Planning Board for site approval, what happens if the Planning Board doesn’t approve it?”

“Then the project is denied and the applicant files an Article 78 [challenging the Board’s decision] if he wants,” said Ward-Willis.

Since the zoning change by that point will have been made by the Town Board, the new “floating” zoning would remain in place, said Ward-Willis, and in theory could be applied to a property—but any other applicant or any applicant for any other property to which the zoning might “float” would have to go through its own application process.

All five Town Board members have now visited the property (the three new Board members had not until two weeks ago) and they promised to return in fall to view it again when the leaves are gone.
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Related:  Open Ltr-Community group responds to Greenstein interview on development at Armonk Road property, NCNOW.org, 4/11/14

Video of the TB Work Session of July 1, 2014

The Work Session begins with the Rosehill discussion; it runs for about 15 minutes

New Castle Town Board Work Session 7/1/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.


Comments(20):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

The town,  Rob Greenstein, because he seems to be “the town”  should have told Oder that he could build under the existing zoning and master plan guidelines.  He should wait for the updated master plan before ANY zoning changes.  The town board cannot say that they listen to the planning board and then ignore the planning board’s strong advice to “not put the cart before the horse” and to wait for the master plan.  The planning board should be the lead agency for this.  THey do the work.  The town board not only does not do the work, they do not even read what the planning board reports.  It is a travesty.

By town board a travesty on 07/09/2014 at 9:34 am

If the town board passes the floating zone- which is tailored to Odor’s development- totally- the Planning Board won’t have any choice but to fiddle around the edges.  Since the Town Board could care less what they do in the east end- it isn’t “Chappaqua” after all- the town counsel could at least tell the truth.  These folks are getting screwed- at least tell them that.

By what a load on 07/09/2014 at 10:21 am

Lisa will look at this and consider every comment.

By Not to worry on 07/09/2014 at 3:15 pm

This is yet another example of this town being “*&^%” on!!  This town board should have some affordable housing units put in their backyards.  Disgusting!!!  Functioning like our federal government——not for the voice of the people.  Let’s jam it through while the opposition is away!!!  Arrogant and disgusting!

 

By Seriously??? on 07/09/2014 at 6:05 pm

I am incredibly disgusted (I’m trying to be diplomatic) with this Town Board.  The Planning Board has explicitly stated that this project should not move forward on a number of grounds.  And yet the members of this Town Board, who have publicly acknowledged their lack of expertise in this area, are wholly ignoring the Planning Board’s counsel and pushing this project forward.  Aside from being absolutely hypocritical (anyone remember “Planning Before Development”?), it is extraordinarily short sited.  This project will produce de minimis tax revenue for the Town (all school tax revenue goes to Bedford) and NO ONE has articulated any benefit for this Town.  On the flip side, it sets a very dangerous precedent for New Castle:  It shows that deep pocketed developers can elbow their way into Chappaqua, throw out spot zoning proposals masked as “floating zones”, and flippantly undo decades of zoning laws promulgated to protect the natural beauty that is New Castle.  Yes, I live adjacent to this property, so feel free to call me a NIMBY, but people in all other parts of New Castle should understand the far reaching consequences of the actions of this Board and this proposal.  “Floating Zones” can float to your neighborhood, and based on what’s happening here, I would not count on Board Members Greenstein, Brodsky, Chapin, Mottel or Katz to protect your property.

By Jeff Goldstein on 07/10/2014 at 10:00 am

Let’s see .  What has this Board handled well so far?  I don’t live anywhere near this project but didn’t the three new board members run on “plan first, then develop”?  Have they held true to anything they said in their campaign.  Oh yes.  We get the emailed e-bulletin.  That is an accomplishment for six months in office.

By Let's get real on 07/10/2014 at 12:34 pm

I do not live anywhere near this property and I am appalled at the high handed arrogant
decision of this town board.  Greenie has not answered the continuing question as to
WHY ?  Why is he ignoring the planning board and why is he for this development ? 

Why are the other board members supporting his stupid idea ?  Why do none of them feel the obligation to say why they even entertain this zoning change proposal BEFORE the master plan update.

That brings us to another important WHY.  WHY has this new town board NOT voted to fund the master plan?  They are trying to pull a fast one on the town. The funding should have been in place by now.  I heard Elise K. Mottel say at a meeting that she needed to “inform” herself.  This is absurd, she has been on the board for 8 years or so and she is not “informed ?”  At the last meeting Rob said the the steering committee has not asked for the funding.  What a crock, as usual.  HE was a member of the steering committee.  Again, Rob lies.

By town board a travesty on 07/10/2014 at 1:37 pm

The master plan process is in grave danger of being taken over by obstructionists who want no development at all.

Editor’s Note:  It is in graver danger of being conducted incompetently.  The obstructionists, Bob, have been several years’ worth of Town Boards; a town planner who has for more than two years known that this Master Plan review was a priority; past and present Town Boards who have insisted on a home-made review process, on the cheap; and a Steering Committee that should be in command and is not, due to administrative differences of opinion. 

When you attribute people’s motive for pressing for that review to take place to a self-interest in having “no development at all” you do the entire town a grave disservice.

By bob on 07/10/2014 at 3:32 pm

And to all this I say again—a page out of the Federal Government’s script.  Greenstein should be so ashamed of himself.  And the town board should be held accountable for their miserable decisions.  You know what’s in the best interest of this community?  Getting all of these absurdly liberal ideas about redistribution of wealth in the sleaziest ways and sending them and their supporters packing.  Enough of this absurdity. 

Everyone better wake up and help to save this community from these nutters!

By Seriously??? on 07/10/2014 at 4:14 pm

Not being privy to the steering committee’s administrative differences of opinion (and I believe there are such differences), one can only judge the master plan process by listening to the words of those heavily involved. They speak for themselves. They are not disinterested. And from what they say (and repeat ad nauseam), they are often not doing the town a great service. The planning process should shun overt political motives.

By bob on 07/10/2014 at 4:58 pm

Bob,
You do not know what you are talking about. What you say is completely bogus.
And you sound like a clown.

By bobaloo on 07/10/2014 at 5:41 pm

bob,

There you go again.  You do not know what you are talking about.  What you say is completely bogus.  And, you sound like a clown.

By Rob's clown on 07/10/2014 at 5:52 pm

What is going on with the Steering Committee?  What happened with the Pace report on the meetings that were held?  Where is the transparency that was promised? 

Editor’s Note: Pace report is due out July 15.

By Answers please on 07/10/2014 at 11:26 pm

I agree with bob and disagree with the editor. If you examine CLOSELY the loudest people with the loudest voices calling for an updated master plan you will find they have an agenda.  Katz, Napoli, NIMBYs and the like regularly demand a new master plan before we proceed with any new initiatives. It is a thinly veiled tactic to further delay and obstruct. According to, PACE ( they are conducting the survey) it will take at least another year and probably 18 months to complete the master plan. Even then the plan is suspect because the committees and subcommittees are comprised of residents intent on obstructing and influencing outcomes. As an example , Napoli sits on a commerce committee and he is a developer with an advanced plan for downtown complete with investors. He stands opposed to any and all progress at CC. We know the NIMBYs oppose CC and they are partipating in this PACE process. It has been said before and worth repeating - GIGO-Garbage in Garbage out.
The master plan if/ when complete in late 2015-2016 will not be the holy grail. It is simply a guide. It is not intended to block progress and improvements. Those that regularly cry ” we can not proceed without a new master plan” are just stalling and obstructing. They would love for every plan every development to simply grind to a halt for the next year or 2. They ignore the very real probability that SG sues us and wins.
This town needs so much. We need a supermarket. We need diversity of housing options like condos/ townhouses for empty nesters looking to downsize. We need an expanded tax base - we need commercial retail tax revenues. A small band of obstructionists want to hide behind a master plan update and obstruct. They must not be allowed to hijack the process for their own selfish agenda.

By Resident on 07/11/2014 at 7:54 am

Editor-Your NIMBY stripes are showing in your response to bob. You hold past&present; town boards-town planner responsible calling them obstructionists. What about the CC NIMBY for objecting to every plan for 8 years? Their bogus petitions and fear mongoring. Previous town board listened -pushed back against SG -you didnt have a problem then.
You fall victim to the misplaced idea that a master plan update is the end all-be all. The MP is nothing more than a set of guidelines&goals;. It is not a law or a statute. MAny Towns have made advancements, approved housing and retail developments without an updated master plan. Our town is at a crossroads. We are losing to other communities that offer excellent schools, lower taxes, a supermarket, town pool/community center, etc. Ask any Chapp real estate broker- that is what they will tell you (off the record). Half of our homeowners are emptynesters. They have no downsizing option in Chapp and continue to exit the community made difficult because new home buyers are choosing other towns.
PACE says the MP is 1-2 year proposition. In the meantime we have an opportunity to advance retail at CC (Whole Foods!) build more diversified housing stock, and solve problems. Those calling for a halt to any progress so that we wait another 1-2 years for a master plan ONLY have their own self interests at heart. For sure a 1 year moratorium at CC will trigger a lawsuits that we will lose. Past and current town lawyers confirm this.
You continue to advance the notion that we do nothing for another 1-2 years. That is the stall and obstruct NIMBY position.
I have not been a fan of Greenstein tactics but he is starting to look like the only adult in the room. He undertstands what this town needs and wants. Shutting all progress down waiting for a master plan is a joke- especially since the MP is not a legally binding document. And what validity is there to a MP put together by a bunch of people hell bent on stopping certain projects.

Editor’s Note:  One to two years is the timeline for the entire review to be completed.  You mislead by insisting on that one to two years.  To “fast track” the CC, commercial development, portion of the master plan review (including a feasibility study) would have taken—would still take—three months, with professional assistance and some dollars.  It could have been done twice over by now.  Any one of us would put more research into purchasing a house than you seem to be willing to put into a change much more significant to a town’s worth of people.

How supernaturally perceptive you are to be able to judge people’s motives!  And as to the Legionaries property, I’m afraid the Master Plan is more than you think it is.  In order to change the zoning there from the underlying 2 acre residential zoning, the town board needs to change the Master Plan to agree with the applying of multifamily zoning in the eastern end of town.  Right now it does not.

By Resident on 07/11/2014 at 10:16 am

The intent of those calling for all developements and all progress to cease and desist pending a master plan review and update are the obstructionists. In theory there is nothing wrong with a document that sets out goals and objectives for a town. It makes sense to have a comprehensive plan with a vision. The problem with this MP process is that it is born from bad intentions. It was thrust upon us by those that see progress and development coming to their backyard and in an attempt to block such progress they cry “wait we need a new master plan”. Their plan which is playing out is to infiltrate the process and influence the outcome to their liking.
If there is any value in a MP it must come from good intentions and be objective. How can this MP be of any value if the participants are only concerns with protecting their self interests. It becomes about them - not about the greater good of the town.
They would have all plans - early stage thru late stage- stopped pending a new MP. That will take 12-18 months. We lose WHole Foods, lose tax revenue at multiple pending locations, and lawsuits ensue.
That is absurd! Especially when you understand that the resulting MP will be biased and poisened.

By Resident on 07/11/2014 at 10:35 am

What is the point of having a planning board?  Or Master plan?  Or zoning if all of them will be ignored by the town board?  Whose interests are they representing?  For most of us, our housing is the single biggest investment we will ever make.  We did so on the basis of the zoning.  The zoning is designed to keep just this sort of project out to protect the current residents.

By concerned neighbor on 07/11/2014 at 3:05 pm

Dear editor Yeres- even if the town board listened to you - dropped everything and fasted tracked the commercial portion of the master plan to only take 3 months the result would be biased and currupted.  Look who has been involved , influencing outcomes and dominating the committees and discussions. It has been the same annoying NIMBYs and those with personal agendas. I am pleased that our town board did not fast track retail at CC. That would be inappropriate. The results poisened by the aggressive loud minority.
There is nothing wrong with an updated master plan but it should not be substituted for progress that benefits the community at large.

Editor’s Note:  It is not residents who have poisoned the Master Plan review, but the several Town Board administrations up to the present that have not understood the purpose and benefits of the master plan review and have instead sat on the sidelines and allowed random actors—both for and against particular developments—duke it out, without direction and without empirical information, to decide for themselves what “benefits the community at large.”

By Oh please! on 07/11/2014 at 9:53 pm

I agree don’t wait for the master plan it’s only a “guide” as you say.  Well then develop this property under its current zoning….not one nearby resident has voiced any opposition to that.  Why has a development proposal under current zoning never been presented?  The planning board was created to make these decisions not the town board.

By Liam Donnelly on 07/11/2014 at 10:19 pm

Bob,
You do not know what you are talking about. What you say is completely bogus.
And you sound like a clown.
By bobaloo on 07/10/2014 at 5:41 pm

bob,
There you go again.  You do not know what you are talking about.  What you say is completely bogus.  And, you sound like a clown.
By Rob’s clown on 07/10/2014 at 5:52 pm

So, just how many names to you post under?

By bob on 07/26/2014 at 11:17 am


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