Important joint meeting of school & town boards to discuss Chappaqua Crossing, TUESDAY, Aug 10

Monday, August 9, 2010
by Susie Pender

This Tuesday, August 10, the Board of Education for the Chappaqua Central School District and the New Castle Town Board will meet in a joint session at town hall at 7:00 p.m. to discuss Chappaqua Crossing. According to their public announcements, each board will reconvene for their respective regularly scheduled separate meetings at 8:15 p.m; the school board will reconvene at Horace Greeley High School in the Academic Commons. At this time, the joint meeting is not scheduled to be televised live or taped for later viewing. The meeting is open to the public.

As of this morning, August 9, 2010, neither board has published an agenda of their respective meetings that occur following their joint meeting. has complied an archive of articles, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces and announcements and statements by the respective boards published in on the subject of Chappaqua Crossing.

For background on this Tuesday’s meeting between the town board and board of education on the subject of Chappaqua Crossing as well as our readers’ comments, click HERE to access our archives.  For our complete archives on Chappaqua Crossing, click HERE.


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

Does anyone know why this important joint meeting is not being televised or taped?

By R.G. on 08/09/2010 at 8:48 am

Why is the Joint Meeting between the CCSD and New Castle Town Board not being televised? There is no more important an issue than Chappaqua Crossing that confronts us. The point of community television is to reach as many people as possible. It is August- many are on vacation. New Castle television should be airing this very important meeting AND making replays available on a regular and frequent schedule. Who made the decision NOT to air this meeting live and not to air replays?

By IN The Dark... on 08/09/2010 at 9:17 am

Follow up, I went to the Town’s website and could not find even a mention of this joint
meeting mentioned anywhere. But for our wonderful N.C.NOW how would anyone know of
this meeting?
Time after time I have heard citizens complain of not getting important information.
When will our TOWN BOARD be responsive to this most reasonable request?

By R.G. on 08/09/2010 at 10:31 am

Residential development will hamper commercial development. See Lee Bowen’s Op-Ed in this online paper. Why hasn’t the town board thought of this before?  Four to five years of residential construction at the RD site?  How will THAT attract commercial tenants? They’ll FLEE!

Clearly, the developer has his heart set on turning the whole property residential, beginning with this newest proposal for residential development.  Then, when commercial tenants turn elsewhere (wouldn’t YOU?) he’ll have demonstrated that the commercial will not rent up, and ask the courts to let him turn the remaining commercial zoning to residential. How many students will THAT mean, CCSD?

Residential is a bigger money-maker for him.  He can sell them (kind of—if anything is selling again) and get out, rather than continue to manage the commercial property—and leave US with the expense.

But the town—both its government and its residents—want COMMERCIAL REVENUES, thank you.  Keep your mind on COMMERCIAL, Summit Greenfield.  That’s our zoning—and yours.

By A ploy to make more residential on 08/09/2010 at 10:36 am

The town couldn’t have constructed anything more intended to hurt the school district than to talk about “working with” the developer, and suggesting that the developer would “abandon” us if we don’t.  It is not our board’s job to ensure that the developer “LIKE” us. This is business.

By it’s own HR&A financial consultants’ report, the micro-revenues that the town would gain as a result of residential development on the RD property would adversely affect the school district tremendously.  What is the town board THINKING?  Trim your budget, town board, rather than selling out a piece of the town.

By Is the town TRYING to hurt CCSD? on 08/09/2010 at 11:09 am

Thank you, Susie Pender, for bringing this important meeting to the attention of Chappaqua citizens.

Without NCNOW, this devastating rezoning of RD would have been railroaded through during the dog days of August when many residents are away. 

It is imperative that we attend the AUG. 10 Meeting at Town Hall at 7PM and stop this juggernaut.

Thanks, again, NCNOW for keeping us well informed.

By THANK YOU on 08/09/2010 at 12:03 pm

Well said “Is the town TRYING to hurt CCSD?”!  You have hit the nail on the head.

One can’t help wondering what the board is thinking and even, more importantly, why they would do this to the town???

Why is our elected body collaborating with and pleading the cause of a “Gekko” who does not care what cost the town pays for their enrichment?

By Wondering on 08/09/2010 at 12:18 pm

I believe that the board is honest and is doing a thorough job. Their main fault is in thinking that they need to compromise with this developer. If the board is thinking that they’ve done a great job by getting SG to whittle the project down from 348 to 199, think again.  Just because SG started with a HUGE ASK doesn’t mean that to meet them in the middle is the right thing to do for New Castle.  In this case, it’s still bad for the town.  Look at the town’s and the developer’s figures for net incremental gain to the town. 

Ms. Gerrard is the only one who’s ever mentioned “abandonment” as a possibility.  Has the developer told her that he will abandon the property if the town board does not satisfy his request for a zoning change?  If the developer wishes to abandon the property—or if he assigns as little value to it as he claims in his tax grievances—then let the town buy the property. 

If residents do not approve of what the developer is proposing, then goodbye to the developer!

By Who's talking "abandonment"? on 08/10/2010 at 3:06 am

The big question, it seems to me, is whether the developer has any RIGHT to have multifamily zoning on the RD property. Although in some ways the property might seem to satisfy the town development plan’s criteria for multifamily, in significant ways it does not.

I’m guessing that the town board is fearful of litigation on this point.  More specifically, over the possible EXPENSE of litigation on this point, because by all the developer has shown the town, he is preparing to do exactly that: litigate for the multifamily zoning.

But the expense of any litigation is minuscule compared to the cost to New Castle of the developer’s project.

The developer’s FEIS—as well as the town’s own financial consultants—have shown that the bottom-line INCREMENTAL gain to the town (and school district) of the ENTIRE project is somewhere between $138,000 and $673,000 in 2008 dollars, and between $876,000 and $1.4 million in 2015 dollars (after assuming a wildly fantastic growth rate in the real estate market between now and 2015). And we all know that in real estate right now, even the 2008 dollars are inflated.

More importantly, we also know that

1) the bulk of these projected TAX REVENUES are generated by the COMMERCIAL side of the developer’s proposal; and

2) the bulk of the projected EXPENSE to the town is generated by the RESIDENTIAL side of the proposal.

The big money INTO the developer’s pocket would come from the residential.

The big money OUT OF all residents’ pockets comes from the addition of students to the school system.  And if the developer’s estimate of around 50 additional students is wrong by even another 50 students, any incremental gain in taxes is wiped out.  That’s asking New Castle residents to take a massive risk.

The town board should gird itself for a fight with the developer. This project is a transfer of wealth from residents’ pockets to his.

By Town board, litigate on behalf of residents! on 08/10/2010 at 5:40 am

I agree with the advice to the town board to “litigate on behalf of residents.”  This matter is the most important the town board has ever had before it.  The board should set up a litigation fund.  Halt all other discretionary expenditures, including gazebo.  Make this a priority.

By I Agree on 08/10/2010 at 5:45 am

Can the good folks who operate and write for this wonderful website -NEWCASTLENOW.ORG - get an answer for us? As previously asked- Why isn’t this VERY Important joint meeting of the CCSD board and the Town Board being televised??? What is the point of having community television if something this important is not broadcast? I can watch someone in town apply for a variance to put a room over his/her garage but we can’t watch the discussion about Chapp Crossing and the impact it will have on all of us????

By Why the black out?? on 08/10/2010 at 8:06 am

My pre-work session thoughts.

By JSM on 08/10/2010 at 9:03 am

Is anyone in our town for this project?  If so, I have yet to see them come forward.  In the trading world, rezoning the RD property would be an asymmetrical trade - we, the town residents, bear the downside and uncertainty risk and the developer gets the jump in value attributable to the re-zoning plus the economic bump in selling out the property.  I do not see the towns’ upside to approving the conversion from commercial to residential zoning.  The community has spoken clearly and on numerous occasions with a chorus opposing the development.  To the extent our town board failed to hear it, chosen to waffle (as appears to be the case with at least one member) or have chosen to ignore our direction, it’s time to vote them out of office.

I understand the need to allow all parties to be heard (and thus this elongated process) but fail to understand the rationale for allowing the re-zoning to go through.  If the entire RD property were vacant and, literally, pay on a zero tax base, the net effect on the town is minute.  Re-zoning the RD property carries a litany of adverse economics consequences and enormous potential to strain our school system and infrastructure.  The (aggressively) calculated incremental tax boost is illusionary and even if correct, the allocated shared cost among our residents would be de minimus - about $100 over the next several years— and the adversity in no way compensates our town for the development’s expense.  And who knows if the developer’s (aggressive) tax calculations will hold?  No one. I would rather write the check than risk decimating our town.  Vote “No.”  If they sue, they sue.  It will be a lot better getting this behind us with one lawsuit than the suits to come grieving taxes, etc.

By Just say "no" on 08/10/2010 at 1:24 pm




By Not in This Town! on 08/10/2010 at 3:28 pm

From CCSD School Board Member Jeffrey Mester’s blog post regarding last night’s meeting:

“I offered 4 solutions…They were to tax all residential development as fee simple, to do a town wide revaluation and invoke the Homestead Act, not approve any change in the residential zoning, or to require the developer to post a bond in escrow that would be used to offset any additional expenses above tax revenues by the district.”

I think that there would be enthusiastic support from the West End for the second solution offered above, a town wide revaluation and an Homestead election (which allows the Town to assess all residential property based on market value regardless of the form of ownership). Although the first proposed solution, taxing all residential development as fee simple, would do little to address the equalization issues in the West End, I would support that as well. I assume that his fourth proposal, having the developer post a bond, is directed at addressing a shortfall in school taxes (although I suppose the equivalent can be done for Town taxes). Again, I see nothing objectionable there.

Proposal number three, however, not approving any residential rezoning, is where I am concerned. If the amount of Town taxes paid on the property does not decrease as a result of denying Summit Greenfield’s application, then we, collectively are no better or worse off than we are today. Unfortunately, I don’t see how that can happen with the current zoning. If the Town believes that changes to the restrictions on the commercial use of the property can preserve the property’s value and tax contribution, then appropriate changes should be made. If it is impossible to maintain the level of taxes paid by Summit Greenfield with just commercial use of the property, then I believe that residents of both the Town and CCSD would be best served by allowing some residential development and implementation of one of the solutions offered by Mr. Mester.

By West Ender on 08/11/2010 at 11:45 am

To West Ender…. The developer bought this property and knew, understood, and agreed to the terms. It’s unfortunate that things did not work out as SG anticipated. I bought stocks that are down, the value of my house is down, my taxes keep going up. Who is changing the rules for me to lessen my pain? NO WAY this developer should be allowed to build residential even if the tax structure were fee simple. As your past comments make perfectly clear—you represent a very very small minority of town residents that reside here but are outside the CCSD.

By No Thanks on 08/12/2010 at 9:27 am

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