TB gives green light for next step in environmental review of “The Spa at New Castle”

RG
Town Board will hear application with open mind; nothing has been approved
January 26, 2014
by Christine Yeres

To acquaint new Town Board members with his proposal for “The Spa at New Castle”—a hotel, spa and condominium units on the 96-acre Legionaries property at 773 Armonk Road—Stephen Oder of Soder Real Estate Equities visited last week’s Town Board work session with his attorney, David Steinmetz of Zarin & Steinmetz. “​It took us a long time to get out of the starting box on this project,” said Steinmetz, “but we’re now excited to move forward.” Half a dozen neighbors of the property had come also, to assert that the project is inappropriate for the two-acre residential zone. The Town Board has scheduled a public scoping session to identify environmental issues on Tuesday, January 28, at town hall.

The Town Board is lead agency for the project, which would require a zoning change in the two-acre residential property—originally a private residence, subsequently, by special permit, used for religious purposes and therefore tax-exempt.  It last went up for sale in 2011.  [For a history of the property, a timeline of its uses, and photographs, click HERE.]

Oder does not yet own the property, but would purchase it once he has been granted site plan approval by the Planning Board. The two-acre residential zoning should be changed, Oder’s application suggests, to a floating zone called “Resort Lifestyle Complex.” With 84 residences as part of the project, Oder characterizes The Spa proposal as mainly residential.
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Feedback from previous Town Board

An earlier version of the project included 60 condominium units in four I-shaped buildings,“stepped” and staggered down the hill on the north side of the property, commanding its far-reaching views northward.  At the time, Town Board members were not pleased with the plan, questioning both the intrusion into the view-shed and the septic capacity of the property (there are no sewers, and surrounding residents use well water). 

previous plan
Previous plan, with condo buildings to the north (top of photo)

They were concerned too that parts of the proposed wing additions to the main mansion would, in effect, be five stories buildings even if they were to rise no higher than the main mansion, because the land falls away almost immediately from that highest point.

In the previous Board’s last meeting with Spa representatives, Supervisor Susan Carpenter was decidedly cool toward the project, telling Oder and Steinmetz that the hotel-spa-condo project the developer characterized as residential was actually, in her opinion, a commercial enterprise that would be problematic in an area zoned for two-acre residential.  (The square footage of the existing buildings is 70,000, Oder stated; the project would bring that to 250,000.)

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The current plan

current plan


Gone from the hill, the condos in the current plan have instead been placed in two new wings off the main mansion. 

Steinmetz reminded Board members that there had been “a lot of questions” in previous meetings “about whether the site could support 84 units [50 condos, 34 hotel suites], [but]our studies say it can.” 

“We need to get you out there,” Steinmetz told Board members.  “Views from the top of the property are magnificent.” The developer had designed the project, he said, “to preserve the overwhelming majority of the property.”

forever view
From top of the hill, looking north

Oder showed Board members photos of the existing buildings and drawings of the proposed project. While TB members Elise Mottel and Jason Chapin have heard a similar presentation before, the three new Board members had not. 

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Features of the proposed “Spa at New Castle”
~ taken from the draft scoping document submitted at the end of November 2012

back elevation
Back (north) elevation

• Zoning proposes a floating zone “Resort Lifestyle Complex”

•  Now a two-acre residential area

• “Resort Lifestyle Complex” with spa, restaurant, indoor-outdoor pool, six tennis courts, basketball court, state-of-the-art gym “and other recreational amenities and public spaces.”  Amenities: “juice bar, 75-seat theatre, hiking and walking trails”

• Theatre likely in basement of chapel; the chapel a “great room” or reading area.

• Spa and 150-seat restaurant (4,500 SF) would be open to the general public (also open to public are passive public spaces, but not pool and gym).

• 50 two-bedroom non-age-restricted condos (attached, multifamily condo units) of 2,500 SF each, located within new three-story residential east (29) and west (21) wings.

Condos’ square footage:
East wing: 81,010 SF
West wing: 65,380 SF
Total 146,390 SF

• 34 hotel suites (650-750 SF each), “a standard size hotel suite for a typical hotel and spa experience”

• Hotel: three floors of 10,000 SF each
      4 hotel suites on upper two floors of old building
      30 hotel suites in new 30,000 SF building south of the west wing

• 96 acres

• Bedford Central School District

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Neighbors ask “Why even consider this project?”

Greenstein asked the several neighbors who had come to the Work Session—some live above, some live below the property—to describe their problems with the project.  They listed the project’s incompatibility with the two-acre residential zoning, lighting, noise levels, traffic, and, most serious, septic capacity. The area is not served by municipal water or sewers.  Residents depend on well water.  One resident, Sharon Greene, said that the Department of Health had “nixed” a previous use that seemed to her the equivalent, in size, of the proposed project.

“It’s a massive addition,” she said.  “I think it’s a wonderful project for a commercial area.  But people have bought houses in a two-acre zoned area with the expectation that it was rural in character.”  Greene pointed out that the town’s Master Plan expressly states that the eastern part of town should remain less developed.  “It’s an inappropriate location, and,” Greene pointed out, “as everyone has said, ‘Planning should precede development.’ ” 

“People who are neighbors will be seeing traffic non-stop,” Greene​ continued​, “and with 50 housing units and 30 hotel rooms, restaurants, the theatre they didn’t mention, plus swimming pool and lawn watering, that amounts to the equivalent of what the Legionaries were proposing.  These private residences are three times the magnitude of what the Legionaries would have generated.” 

“We’re befuddled as to why this is even being entertained by the Board,” said Greene.  “The Town Board has the ability to nix this.  The special use permit for the Legionaries does not pass on to a new owner, and even that special use permit requires that any development be deemed no more offensive environmentally to the surrounding areas than the two-acre zoning.”

“There’s no question that this project will be more impactful than residential use,” said Green, noting that the property could possibly support 15 houses.

Another neighbor told Board members that he purchase his 2,500-square foot 1790s farmhouse in “one of the most magical spots in the New York City area.  To imagine something of that scale and use going into my backyard is shocking.” 

TB member Adam Brodsky said that Board members would come visit the property and homes to see for themselves where houses are positioned and what they would see of the project.

“I urge you,” said another neighbor, “to look at the records of other projects proposed that have not passed muster over the septic capacity.”

“I know the town’s eager to get the property back on the tax rolls [religious uses are untaxed],” said Greene, “and that might be a major motivation here,” but the town would, she said, essentially be creating a commercial zone where none belonged.

Residential mainly, or commercial?

Steinmetz noted that the same objections had come up previously.  “It’s not unusual,” he said, “for a use like this to be located in a residential area because it’s largely a residential use.  The bulk of this project is residential, condominium, empty-nester type units.  It’s not age-restricted, but that’s clearly the concept.  It’s also not unusual for a boutique-y type hotel-spa to be located in a non-commercial, more bucolic area.  So it suits itself very well, in my client’s vision and those that have looked at it, to be in an area like this.”

Applicant’s attorney describes a long and candid approach with the Town Board

Steinmetz said that he was “a little disappointed” that “Dr. Greene has said she’s ‘befuddled’ that we’re proposing this and that it’s been entertained, because we’ve spent 15 months discussing the concept with the Town Board and the Town Board understood that my client has a right to petition the government and ask for a zone change.”

“Jason [Chapin] and Elise [Mottel] were here on day one,” continued Steinmetz, “when I said, ‘It’s a great concept, but we can only do this, candidly, if it’s rezoned,’ and, Elise, you know I said, ‘If you guys don’t want us—as much fun as it is to come to New Castle and process land use applications—we don’t want to do it just for the fun.  So were very honest with officials and said ‘If you’re interested in studying the project and would like to explore the financial merits, even the use merits of something unique like this, then let’s do this.  If you’re not interested in this, there are lot of other ways to spend our time—and his [Oder’s] money—doing something else.”

“So after a lot of energy,” said Steinmetz, “and a fair amount of preliminary study we presented that to this town board and we were told, ‘Advance the project.’  We were told, ‘File your zoning petition. We will be lead agency, and let’s scope it and study it.’  So that’s why I don’t think anybody in the room should be befuddled.  It’s part of the process. Nobody’s voting yes, nobody’s voting no. It’s part of the process.”

“We’re here because there are three new Town Board members and new supervisor,” Steinmetz explained.  “We understand that.  We want to be open, honest and deliberate with this board—as we have been before.  I don’t want to step backward on this project, but if the Town Board no longer wants to entertain this project, we need to know that. [Battery change here; the following was dropped from the video:] The issues raised by the neighbors—noise, lighting, access, septic, community character—they all need study.  They’re matters the Town staff studied and will now be done next week in a scoping process, publicly in a scoping session.  Then we have to go through the SEQR [environmental review] process.” 

“We think it’s a great thing for the town,” Steinmetz continued, “perhaps $1 million in tax ratables for a property that’s been off your tax ratables for a very long time.  It’s 98 prime acres; someone will do something with it—it won’t stay vacant forever.  We think our project makes a lot of sense.”

[Video back on:]

Informing the public

“The public was not brought into this,” countered Greene, “until well after these discussions happened behind closed doors.  Maybe the town gave them the go-ahead on this, but if the public had been brought into this in advance they would have seen that this is not something the public wants around there.  Number two, the Town Board can legally deny an application for a change in zoning.  It’s not like they’re obliged to entertain it.  And had the Board come to ask for public input, they might have heard it sooner.  That’s not the public’s fault.”

All meetings are open; none are “behind closed doors”

Chapin noted that there had been several public presentations attended by Greene and her neighbors.  He pointed out the formal SEQR process involved more public input and public hearings, so “there have been opportunities to speak and if this goes forward there will be additional opportunities and all that will go on the record and we’ll follow State law.”  Chapin added that the Board’s meetings are never “behind closed doors.”

“You say you came in 2012,” Greene said to Steinmetz. “But I didn’t know anything about it until middle of last year.” 

“We’re going to come out and see the property and do a lot of listening,” said Brodsky, “so no decision’s going to be made for a long time.”

Whether to re-engage F.P. Clark as consultants for the town

“I know that F.P. Clark was involved in the prior application,” said Greenstein.  “What’s your opinion about bringing them back on for the review of this one?” he asked Steinmetz.

“This is a completely different project for the property,” Steinmetz replied, adding that he had already reviewed F. P. Clark materials from former applications—“some of which form the predicate for the current draft scoping document we submitted to the town—then your town staff [Town Planner Sabrina Charney] met with us, as they’re supposed to under SEQR, and gave us a host of comments, and we probably grew the scoping document from 20 pages to 32 pages as a result.”

“In terms of who the consultant is,” Steinmetz continued, “my answer, Mr. Supervisor, is that this is an important, significant project.  You clearly need professional assistance, whether it’s F.P. Clark or any number of other consulting firms, I’m confident that your professionals and your Board members can share with you [whom to choose].  You need professional assistance.  You’ve hear that the neighbors are concerned about the septic.  No question—they should be.  That’s why Steve [Oder] went out [very early on and hired an engineering firm to determine whether the septic would work].”

Next step: Environmental review begins with the scoping session

Mottel asked the Town’s counsel to describe, for the benefit of the public, the next steps in the process.

The NY State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process

Town Counsel Nick Ward-Willis, Keane & Bean, explained that at the finish of next week’s scoping session, the Town Board may choose to close public comment or hold open the comment period.  If it closes comment, it may decide to hold open a written comment period for another ten days.

At some point the scoping document will be adopted by the town board and the applicant will go forth and carry out its studies.  The scoping document and its responses will eventually become the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. 

Once the Town Board judges it to be complete (that is, all the environmental questions and issues have been adequately addressed by the applicant), the Town Board will hold another public hearing to receive comments from the public and agencies involved in the review.

The Town Board will issue a “Findings Statement,” setting out all the potential environmental impacts of the project and the ways in which they might be mitigated.

The Town Board (lead agency) will make a decision to deny or accept the application.

Scoping session for identifying environmental issues, not for opinions on the merit of the project

The proper and best use of the scoping session, Ward-Willis explained to Geene and other residents, is to point out specific environmental issues that have gone unmentioned or seem insufficiently analyzed—not to describe the undesirability of the project.  He said that neighbors might, for example, say, “The scoping document should include the on-site laundry and swimming pool in the scope. We want to make sure it doesn’t impact us.”  Lighting, view-shed, noise—“these are issues that should be put on the table,” Ward-Willis said, “not whether the project is good or bad.”

“The public will be helping us to formulate the issues we should be looking at,” added Mottel.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re going to consider the application,” said Supervisor Rob Greenstein, “rather than dismiss it.  The applicant has the right to submit an application and go through the process.”

“And we’ll go through a process,” said Mottel, “as we do for every application, and we’ll listen with an open mind.  Even though as part of the prior board Jason and I have said ‘Let’s go ahead with the project,’ we haven’t approved the project, but are listening.”
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Related: Prospective buyer pitches spa-hotel-condo complex at Legionaries 98-acre property, NCNOW.org, 9/7/12

98-acre Legionaries of Christ property on the Armonk Road is up for sale, NCNOW.org, 10/7/11—with slideshow of the property.

Video of the Work Session:

Town of New Castle Board Work Session 1/22/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

The slideshow requires javascript and Flash


Comments(59):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Westchester County has been keeping afloat in this terrible economy because in part it enjoys $1,700,000,000.00 coming from the travel industry. It would be great for Team Green to support this project and just get it approved ASAP. This is the perfect type of tax base that we need to add to the Municipal collections. I would strongly urge that Team Green glue themselves to the Planning and Zoning Boards and just put the pressure on to get this project approved and to do so in a manner as never before seen in the history of New Castle. This is the right project, in the right location, coming to us all at the right time, and is absolutely something that simply needs to be approved. I would ask that we get some community gifts i.e. soccer fields, basket ball courts, olympic size swimming pool that is available to the Greeley swim team and all senior citizens of the area. Team Green shine your green light onto this application. Don’t allow the powerbrokers to stop this project; we need it approved!

By NCGPS on 01/26/2014 at 11:44 am

I think the town board has struck exactly the right note. They will listen to residents, they will listen to the proposal and I HOPE THEY WILL LISTEN TO their advisory boards for advice. As pictured here, the project seems too intense for its surroundings. THose residents up against it should be protected from seeing and hearing the business that it is. It is NOT residential.  So maybe reduce it or move it over to be less in neighbors’ faces?  And, of course, WATER WATER WATER is very important.  I can’t believe the developer intends to run this operation on well water.  Let them pay for a municipal water line to the property and offer hook up to neighbors as well. Town water is EXCELLENT. Give residents around the property the opportunity to hook up with it.

By Water most important - run a water line an share? on 01/26/2014 at 2:08 pm

Fortunately, applicants pay not only for its own consultants, but for any consultants the town needs to make use of. Make sure the town gets reputable outside consultants who can analyze the costs and benefits to town and neighbors, the septic capacity - most important of all - and all other impacts.

By Engage experts to help with decision on 01/26/2014 at 2:11 pm

You have the tiger by the tail.  Now it’s guaranteed that you will have many people who will not like you. Just do the right thing

By Dear rob g on 01/26/2014 at 2:12 pm

This sounds like Chappaqua Crossing and Conifer - & the town board in both those cases failed to listen to planning board advice. In fact, why why why is town board making itself lead agency? It should be the job of the planning bd!

By Why not make planning board the lead on this? on 01/26/2014 at 2:30 pm

Maybe a spa, maybe a restaurant, maybe condos, but a hotel also?  What happened to the mantra of redo the master plan BEFORE you just amend it.  There is no zoning in place in the town for this anywhere, and the master plan specifically says this sort of commercial development doesn’t belong in the 2 acre part of town. If retail at an already zoned commercial lot is bad, why is this OK?  If they want residential there are multifamily provisions in the code- they should use one of those.  If they want a big commercial development like this, the master plan should provide for oversized lots to have hotels and restaurants.  But those of you who live near one in some other part of town should watch out.  How about a Holiday Inn at the Mt Kisco Country Club? Oh- I forgot, Liza Katz lives near there, and Legionnaires is over on the East side of town- so who cares.

Bedford of course will like it- its in the Bedford School District and they get almost all the revenue, and the neighbors on the east side get all the lights, noise,and pollution- in their back yards- really in their back yards, not figuratively. But obviously power corrupts. I am just disappointed that after Greenstein’s speech about how every neighborhood is important, he can just totally allow this one to be destroyed.

By just another flip flop on 01/26/2014 at 4:14 pm

This is a property that is out of the way, is not known by many tax paying residents of the area, and where no one is allowed to trespass onto the property. It would be great to have the applicant install a network of walking trails open to the public, a bicycle path loop around the property for all to use and a connected horse trail. I would even suggest that the applicant install or create access to onsite bathrooms for all those residents that would then be allowed to use this property free of charge. Right now as it stands no one from the community can legally step foot onto this property and enjoy the beauty of it; such enjoyment is only limited to a handful of residents on what is really not an allowed practice of use. This project has to quickly identify the community gifts, request them from the applicant, and move to approve. In my opinion calling in FPC is a clear sign that you do not want this project to ever take place! In my opinion FPC has a practice of drafting up way too many documents during their review. In my opinion, a vote to bring back FPC is a clear signal for this applicant to ‘pack up’ and go home. New Castle can use exactly what is being proposed, if not, a 2500 sqft 3 bdrm home on 1 acre is going to be paying $45,000 in property taxes before a decade is up. New Castle needs to address and approve these kinds of projects. New Castle needs to survey its existing commercial properties along with all transitional properties and locations to understand how all such properties can be allowed to be modified, developed, or enhanced in its use to produce the greatest return for the Muncipality. Our Community must move to reduce residential taxes by increasing or enhancing its existing commercial base; this will help our Town and School Budgets. Why has no study ever been done to supply such answers? Did it take a $2.5 Million Dollar budget shortfall? How much value has the residential sector lost vs. the commercial sector since 2007?

By Blazing trails on 01/27/2014 at 10:34 am

Perhaps those on the east side will now learn to empathize with those living on the west end and begin to understand the harm that town boards have done to those citizens.

By bob on 01/27/2014 at 12:07 pm

It looks better than the previous plan, but for the inn/spa, something on the scale of Crabtree’s Kittle House would be more appropriate in that neighborhood.

By Mary on 01/27/2014 at 2:29 pm

Any taxes (the developer mentions something like $1million that his project would generate) would go mainly to the Bedford sch district. Very little to town of new Castle

By Taxes go mostly to Bedford SD on 01/27/2014 at 2:58 pm

The property in question is directly across the street from the HAAS AUDUBON SANCTUARY, a protected wildlife area. There is no way the town should even be considering putting a commercial development there. In the same area, there are many residential properties over 10 acres and some over 60 acres and 90 acres that only have single family homes, as per the residential zoning. People choose to live in that area to have a rural feel, and they should be able to trust the town they support to uphold the residential zoning. The “Spa” proposal goes against the master plan, and the spirit of the town. The town board should protect New Castle and its residents from an out-of-town developer who wants to put in condos, a hotel, restaurant, swimming pools, basketball courts, a parking garage, and even a theater in a residential area that borders a protected wildlife area. It should concern all New Castle residents that the town let it get this far.

By HOW DARE THE TOWN LET IT GET THIS FAR! on 01/27/2014 at 3:03 pm

It is totally hypocritical for Team New Castle to even CONSIDER this.  Where are the calls for the master plan to be updated?  Where are the cries about the armageddon traffic situation?  Where are the pleas to not destroy the character of this town?

By honeymoon is over! on 01/27/2014 at 4:47 pm

Get landlords together for strategizing. They need to understand that their places are tumbledown and overpriced. Might help to let them build higher.  THen they might bother to invest rather than just run these places into the ground.

By Landlords are key on 01/27/2014 at 6:09 pm

This would be a good place for the mosque.

Editor’s Note:  I would guess that the property alone is too expensive.

By bob on 01/27/2014 at 7:11 pm

Subdividing would fix it.

By bob on 01/27/2014 at 7:48 pm

Don’t miss the boat here - read the description of the proposed action in the scoping document…“the proposed action is the creation of a new floating zone district and related development…”
  The “spa” is just related, the real proposal is for the creation of the floating spot zone, the ultimate handout to a developer. 
  Who knows where the zone will float to next?

By Chris Roberta on 01/27/2014 at 10:49 pm

Why is this even being considered? It is very rural and residential in this area, and very quiet, and we need to keep it that way. That’s why we ALL moved to Chappaqua - and according to zoning and the master plan that we checked before moving here, there are protections in place to prevent this. Stick with the plan and go build a bunch of properly zoned residential homes here… but NOT a commercial enterprise, and certainly not one of this magnitude. This is zoned to accommodate approximately 15 two-acre residences… so why does it take a “study” to understand the difference between that and 120 residences/rooms in total + other commercial businesses and facilities? Route 128 has already become very dangerous (try to pull out of my driveway, I dare you)... this will just kill it! Why are commercial projects suddenly being considered for this area anyway?? First a cell tower, now a hotel and spa + condos + restaurant + theater + covered parking +++?? Seriously?!? What’s next? A manufacturing plant and strip club? This area was zoned specifically NOT to allow this level of commercial developments here. It is pathetic that our town is turning our backyards into a commercial profit center with little to no local benefit at the expense of our peace, quiet, safety, sanity and quality of life here in residential parts of Chappaqua! Hoping this new board does the right thing, since it is just so incredibly obvious that this does not belong in this location.

By Jeff on 01/28/2014 at 1:49 am

All we heard from Team New Castle is that there should be no major development until the master plan is completed.  Why doesn’t this fall into that category?  Any way we can buy Katz a house in that area?  That would stop the project

By Master Plan please on 01/28/2014 at 8:24 am

@ Landlords are key - Have you ever taken the time to talk to a landlord? I have spoken to dozens! Have you ever asked them what they need out of Town Hall in order to keep the area vibrant and alive? Have you ever wondered why the existing commercial properties are losing value, going vacant, staying vacant, or staying occupied with minimum to zero rent being collected by the area landlords.

Yes, half a loaf of bread is better than no bread, but what is a landlord to do when there is no bread to collect? What is a landlord to do, when Town Hall has previously made it so onerous and expensive to open up a business, to expand a business, to relocate a business? What is a landlord to do to combat Amazon.com, Brown UPS Truck, Target, Sears?  As far as I know, this project is not affected by Amazon.com. We need to change our commercial uses, allow new uses in, and insulate our Community against Brick and Mortar Store Busters of the kind and type of a Walmart.

We need area landlords, without the burden of a FPC review, to be able to open up stores and business so that applications like the “Spa” or “CC” are not that appealing to approve by local Government. What percentage of a commercial base exist in New Castle and does it need to shrink or grow? How as a Community do we fairly go about answering this question without using made to fit manufactured answers that are meant to either support or reject one side of an issue?

How does Team Green plan to allow businesses that otherwise would not have been allowed to open, or expand by placing outside tables, benches, or signage - plan to allow the flexibility of Town Hall discretion to be used to grant Town Hall approval to our existing landlords without the need for a full blown review on very simple common sense matters? Previous Town Hall practices have been breaking down the landlord to tenant relationships! How do you plan Team Green to start your legacy of leadership?

By NCGPS on 01/28/2014 at 9:58 am

“Why is this even being considered? It is very rural and residential in this area, and very quiet, and we need to keep it that way. That’s why we ALL moved to Chappaqua - and according to zoning and the master plan that we checked before moving here, there are protections in place to prevent this.”

Gosh, for a second there I thought this was referring to what has been done to—and what is planned for—the west end.

By bob on 01/28/2014 at 11:04 am

Enough from the would-be planners. C’mon all you gabby attorneys, fill us in. Is the TB obligated to hear more about this plan because the plan has already come before the previous TB and received a go-ahead from Chapin and Mottel (see her quote at the end of the story above: “Let’s go ahead with the project”)? Or can the TB tell the developer to get lost at any time it chooses?

Editor’s Note: I believe Mottel’s “go ahead” was the same as the current board’s go-ahead: “Go ahead with the assessment of environmental impacts,” not “go ahead with the project.”

By bob on 01/28/2014 at 11:19 am

Just quoting her.


Editor’s Note: Come on: If you’re going to get quotes from what I write, please keep the context along-with.

By bob on 01/28/2014 at 5:22 pm

Is this going to be a residential, commercial or mixed use development which requires a zoning change?  We must update the non-binding master plan before we can proceed with anything.  Oh, wait.  This is not Chappaqua Crossing, so we don’t need to consult the master plan. Double standard?  What a joke. 

Greenstein and Katz - would love to hear your explanation as to why this is not a double standard.  So far, all we have heard are crickets.

By Why the double standard? on 01/28/2014 at 9:06 pm

Haha, bob got scolded by the editor. 

And with 6 posts out of 23, he is also 26% of the messages on this article. Keep up the good work bob.

By C.R. on 01/28/2014 at 11:12 pm

I think back to a few months ago when Lisa Katz stood at the mike begging and pleading the board to wait until the master plan was updated before proceeding with Chappaqua Crossing.  But last night, silence.

By it figures on 01/29/2014 at 9:02 am

I wish I had voted for Russell Brand this election.
Our local government has priorities all sorts of mixed up.

By disappointed on 01/29/2014 at 9:17 am

C.R.,

You count?

By bob on 01/29/2014 at 6:35 pm

The town board must allow the developer a fair hearing on their request for the zoning change and the project. To summarily deny it would be an illegal act by the board and the town would be subject to a lawsuit.

I am also concerned about the term Team New Castle. That was used for the purposes of election. Everyone on the board should make their decision based on what they feel is the best for the town not on a political basis.  The issues before the board are not democratic or republican. 

By goldlawny on 01/29/2014 at 9:36 pm

That would be tax exempt .

By Mosque on 01/30/2014 at 7:55 am

What happened to their campaign slogan: “First plan (complete the Town Plan) and then develop?

By What happened--or more of the same? on 01/30/2014 at 11:29 am

Something incredible is happening in New Castle!  Have you ever heard of a “Resort Lifestyle Complex”?  Of course not, and that’s because you could be one of the very first to have one in YOUR town.  Are you tired of your overly quiet natural setting?  Then this is for you.  Just think, a pool, trail, tennis courts, hotel, spa, restaurant, condos, covered parking, movie theater…all this with a minimal environmental footprint.  But wait, there’s more! The “Resort Lifestyle Complex” is the newest technology, basically paying for itself in tax dollars, and built to last.  If you want proof of that, just take a look at the list of successful past projects by the developer, or the beautiful portfolio of the architect’s past projects.  Wait a second…where is the history?  Google, got anything?

Hopefully this Town Board will have the discipline to refrain from kissing the first boy that smiles at this property.

By RLC on 02/02/2014 at 11:44 pm

The only thing you have anything to say about is a volume of use that exceeds the use of readers digest on its business day in history…. Because that is the developers right to use it to that extent.  That use predates 2 acre zoning and road upgrades over the past 50 years

By Dear comercial CC neighbors on 02/03/2014 at 9:26 am

there is something called town and state codes to follow

By dear ncgps on 02/05/2014 at 1:04 am

@dear ncgps - New York is dead last in attracting, retaining, growing, or inspiring all and any type of business from wanting to be located throughout all parts of New York State. When it comes to a project like this, this is a project that makes sense for all but a handful of residents that would like to stop this project from before step number one. This is a project that will raise all residential home values, this is a project that will help offset the loss of traffic in downtown Chappaqua, when such buyers take their wallets up to CC. This is a project that can truly allow all residents to go on retreat and treat themselves just minutes away from their home. If you are advocating that we utilize the existing laws to try and stop this project; I and many others in the Community are not in your corner. It would be absolutely wonderful to get the approvals for this project moving forward and to issue a building permit by no later than the end of October 2014. The percentage of difference between what is allowed to take place and can take place on the site, is not so extreme that we can’t move this project along. Both the Federal and State level Governments are useless, it is our local Planning and Zoning Boards that control the downswing or upswing of our local economy. Move to approve!I for one would love the ability to walk around such a beautiful property and then get a mixed drink at one of the restaurants - Sounds great!Public access to elegance in an elegant setting for all to enjoy - WONDERFUL - Approve it!!!!!!!! After this Winter I would love a great local SPA!!!

By NCGPS on 02/06/2014 at 6:23 pm

NCGPS,

Get back to us when you wake from your dream.  A dream that would be a nightmare for the town.

By nonsense on 02/06/2014 at 8:27 pm

@nonsense - Please define and describe the nightmare that you attach to this project? Again, this property is NOT known by the majority of the residents, most residents of New Castle wouldn’t even know how to find the driveway to this property. It is a property that many living in the area have never seen, never experienced, and never will if left to remain either “As is,” or restricted to 2 or 4 acre development. Except for a handful of residents, please explain to the taxpayer why this project should be stopped? New Castle needs this project, it needs to show that it can move to approve, and it needs to show the nimby people that if they want to stop it go out and hire your own lawyers, but leave town hall alone so that it can do what it must. Between CC, Conifer, the SPA, and other projects that the vocal nimby do not want; it really is time to set up an investment fund where these people can just go around and pay top dollar to buy these sites and then return them to nature. Would it be worth it to buy CC for $80m and then tear the entire site down back to nature?

By NCGPS on 02/07/2014 at 11:12 am

NCGPS sounds suspiciously like the developer of this project, and hence someone not familiar with this area or New Castle.  You really think this monstrosity of a development is going to attract business to Chappaqua?  Your site, I mean the site, is right on the Armonk border.  Increase home values?  Increase home values for whom?  The only person benefitting from this is currently living in Montclair, NJ.  It is an outrage for all citizens of New Castle that this is even being considered.  We all live in New Castle for its bucolic beauty and our public servants should be safeguarding our community—not selling out to a NJ real estate developer with a fancy lawyer who only cares about making a buck. 

So, New Castle Board Members:  Go ahead and revitalize the downtown area but making permanent changes to our zoning laws to accommodate a huge commercial development will have far reaching consequences for our community.  Don’t sell out.  Listen to your taxpayers.

By Listen to your taxpayers on 02/07/2014 at 11:40 am

NCGPS (as well as other aliases posted by this or another user with similar interests, viewpoints an writing style) is clearly the developer or has some form of vested interest in commercializing this property… because if NCGPS were truly a resident he/she would know how damaging this commercialization of residential property is to the residents that will be affected and the town overall. This is NOT the middle of nowhere. This is the Town of New Castle. Your discussion points only further prove your ignorance about the area that you are looking to negatively impact.

Downtown is indeed suffering. Not because of population density, but because of the economy and ecommerce alternatives. Perhaps additional residents may help, but do we really need a HOTEL? I don’t think so. Or a Spa? There are plenty already it town, one could argue there are too many… and I’m sure they too would have a point of view on this new development siphoning business from them when they are already struggling to survive. Same with the idea of a restaurant… local restaurants are going out of business much too frequently, so why should this one survive… and why must any of this be placed on residential property when there is so much depressed commercial real estate available in town and neighboring vicinities just waiting for someone to lease?


“Will help offset the loss of traffic in downtown Chappaqua”... Really?!?! If you lived here, you would know that this property is in much closer proximity to the business districts of Armonk and Mt. Kisco than downtown Chappaqua, so it is doubtful that this is the answer to the business challenges facing downtown Chappaqua.

By DON'T BE FOOLED BY THIS SLICK DEVELOPER, and don't on 02/08/2014 at 1:32 pm

(continued…)

“This is a project that will raise all residential home values”... really!?!!? Tell that to all the people who live on that side of town, or those unfortunate people who happen to live on Tripp Street and along Route 128 who will experience serious sewage issues, serious well water issues, dangerous traffic, property value losses and a complete disruption and disturbance of the rural, residential, serene character of the neighborhood.

“When it comes to a project like this, this is a project that makes sense for all but a handful of residents that would like to stop this project”... Really?!?!? Because if you lived here, you would know how much local residents treasure the rural and residential characteristics of where we live. Additionally “all but a handful of residents” is not only untrue, but who are you to determine that the “handful of residents” most (TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY) disrupted by this don’t count!? Additionally, has the developer of this project or the Town of New Castle even notified people of this town that this is even being considered? I know people that live two houses away from this property line who were not even aware of this. They are now! How is this possible? Shame on the developer AND the town for not properly notifying residents and all other potentially affected parties.


“This is a project that can truly allow all residents to go on retreat and treat themselves just minutes away from their home”.... Really?!?! Because if you lived here, you would realize that our homes ARE ALREADY our retreats, and this development threatens to change those unique characteristics that make New Castle our home, and turn our home retreats into a traffic burdened, noisy, obnoxious commercial nightmare.

“Are you tired of your overly quiet natural setting?”... NO! NO! NO! And that’s the point! This is our home, and this is why we moved to the Town of New Castle.

By DON'T BE FOOLED BY THIS SLICK DEVELOPER, and don't on 02/08/2014 at 1:33 pm

(continued…)

“It is a property that many living in the area have never seen, never experienced, and never will if left to remain either”... True! It is currently private property, owned by a religious institution, and trespassing on this property would be illegal. Likewise, because of this, it does not currently attract large amounts of traffic or other disruptions to the neighborhood or town. We like it that way. We hope that whoever purchases and redevelops this land will do so according to the zoning established for this property, and this neighborhood, and would welcome the addition of new neighbors to our town.

“If you are advocating that we utilize the existing laws to try and stop this project; I and many others in the Community are not in your corner. Both the Federal and State level Governments are useless”.... Really?!?!? Existing laws are EXISTING LAWS. Let’s not break them merely so that a developer from Millwood, NJ can benefit on the heels of and to the dismay of New Castle residents. Additionally, we fully expect the Town of New Castle to abide and rule according to all Federal, State and local laws, statutes, ordinances and codes related to this project, the environment and the last-resort tactic of creating attempting to create “floating zone” (which appears to be more of a camouflaged “spot zone” complete with all the smoke and mirrors needed to confuse a newly appointed town board).

“It would be absolutely wonderful to get the approvals for this project moving forward and to issue a building permit by no later than the end of October 2014”.... OK, so now it’s pretty obvious that someone with a vested interest in this development is writing this. WELCOME TO THE PARTY… because this community has NOT EVEN STARTED fighting this yet, and there is a tremendous amount of support AGAINST rezoning this property, or similar residential properties in this town for your commercial use and personal benefit at the expense of tax-paying residents.

By DON'T BE FOOLED BY THIS SLICK DEVELOPER, and don't on 02/08/2014 at 1:34 pm

(continued…)


“Except for a handful of residents”... again, who are you to determine which residents count, and which don’t, or that ANY residents and taxpayers affected by this commercial intrusion do not count? If you love this project so much, perhaps you should open this up in YOUR back yard, and leave the Town of New Castle and its residents alone!

By DON'T BE FOOLED BY THIS SLICK DEVELOPER, and don't on 02/08/2014 at 1:34 pm

Beware all New Castle residents. This rezoning issue could end up in your backyard too. Once the zoning of this beautiful rural part is opened up for commercial development, no are will be safe. Listen carefully and consider all the ramifications of a project that will not enhance the quality of life in our town.

By B. Haymson on 02/08/2014 at 1:59 pm

Agreed with the message above - NCGPS is clearly the developer.  Interesting that NCGPS is also the only person on this whole message board who is in support of this absurd endeavor.  I sincerely hope our local politicians (and I emphasize “politicians” over “representatives” since the latter would have turned down the project immediately)take note that the citizenry will not re-elect somebody who sells the entire character of the area down the river to NCGPS, i mean, the developer.

By Concerned citizen on 02/08/2014 at 2:05 pm

Agreed with the message above - NCGPS is clearly the developer.  Interesting that NCGPS is also the only person on this whole message board who is in support of this absurd endeavor..

By Concerned citizen on 02/08/2014 at 2:06 pm

I sincerely hope our local politicians (and I emphasize “politicians” over “representatives” since the latter would have turned down the project immediately)take note that the citizenry will not re-elect somebody who sells the entire character of the area down the river to NCGPS, i mean, the developer.

By Concerned citizen on 02/08/2014 at 2:07 pm

I just drove by the proposed building site and could clearly hear trees being cut down.  Why is this developer able to proceed with work before any real approvals?  Why would they want to?  This gives me the impression that there has already been some sort of tacit approval given behind the scenes.

By Something is rotten on 02/08/2014 at 2:26 pm

I just drove by the proposed building site and could clearly hear trees being cut down.  Why is this developer able to proceed with work now?  Why would they want to?  This gives me the impression that there is something shady going on behind the scenes.

Editor’s Note:  The developer told the Town Board (lead agency) in a public meeting that he had scheduled tree removal only of trees knocked down by Storm Sandy,  no living trees.

By Something is rotten on 02/08/2014 at 2:27 pm

To those of you who appear to support this application, please note (especially NCGPS) – it is most definitely not just a ‘handful of neighbors’ who have serious and legitimate concerns regarding the proposal for this property.  If approved, it is likely to have severe environmental impacts – potentially irreversible ones – on very serious things such as the Croton Watershed.  The property is very rocky and has soils that have been studied in the past and found to be inappropriate for the on-site septic system proposed. In addition, the numbers of people that would be coming and going in such a commercial venture exceeds that for which it is zoned, by AT LEAST a factor of four.  This property is surrounded on all sides by 2 acre residential zoning. The master plan explicitly says this part of town should remain low density, residential, since the infrastructure is just not present to have more intense usage.  Traffic on 128 – now bad – will become blatantly dangerous.  The wildlife that exists there now will be displaced.  The lights and noise from the property will affect at minimum about 30 homes surrounding the property.  Allowing an application to change the zone is not a legal right – the Town Board could have, and should, refuse to entertain something that is so out of line with what New Castle is about, and so clearly counters the directions of the town’s Master Plan.  This should be a wake-up call for any resident in New Castle – allowing a change to a floating zone means your backyard could be next.

By Not just a handful of neighbors on 02/08/2014 at 2:30 pm

For those of you who support this, I ask “WHAT IF IT WERE IN YOUR BACKYARD?” Would you care about the tax revenue then?

By You know who you are on 02/09/2014 at 10:03 am

I just heard about this for the first time tonight. This has been in the works since 2012?? How on earth did we not know?

Looks like the Town of New Castle is selling out!

Disturbing.

By Shocked! on 02/09/2014 at 9:00 pm

This project will allow all future developers in New Castle to create the zoning that suits their project! Does the developers proposed “floating zone” give them the right to change their proposal midstream? The developer should work within the current zoning for this project. What is the purpose of a master plan that calls for low density development in this area? All residents of New Castle should be concerned that the current master plan and zoning laws aren’t worth the paper ithey are written on if this project is allowed to move forward!

By Spot zoning on 02/09/2014 at 9:15 pm

Why not just put up 2-acre residential homes on that property and collect tax revenue that way? It’s already zoned for it, and in accordance with the town’s master plan. Unless they changed master plan. I’m not sure. I don’t live on that side of town, but know it well. This will kill the area for sure.

Also, what’s with this floating zone the developer is suggesting? I looked at the town code, and there does not seem to be anything in it pertaining to this. I don’t think I have seen this before. I’m no expert, but this seems more like spot zoning. Does anyone know about this stuff?

Thank you.

MT

By M. Thompson on 02/09/2014 at 9:33 pm

The proposed project is the right kind of project that the Municipality on a whole can support and should move to approve. Why should 97 percent of tax paying New Castle residents be denied seeing to it that this project gets rejected? What is being proposed is the kind of project that will keep the majority of the property undeveloped. Most New Castle residents presently do not get any enjoyment out of this property, the developer would change this by opening up the property for all to come and use his spa and hotel. This is a great project of the kind that will be good for all of New Castle.

By NCGPS on 02/10/2014 at 12:59 pm

This project concerns me as I don’t want commercial zoning in New Castle! This area must be preserved. New projects on this property must respect the current zoning and long term town plans! Since when does a developer get to write the zoning? We chose to live in this area because of the rural nature and the zoning codes for this area. The town board must consider the nature of this area before jumping to put in a commercial development. This project will not add anything to the community. Please retain the current zoning.
Thank You,
Veronique

By Veronique on 02/10/2014 at 1:11 pm

I wonder how safe people would feel to have a 500 plus person septic field uphill and 200 feet from their drinking supply( in this case my well).  It is pretty well known, I hope, that water flows downhill and our or your drinking water enters the ground in most cases less than a mile from your home.  If an area has a high water table or wet soil as this area of their proposed septic fields does in fact have….please walk around my backyard if you don’t believe it, those distances need to be increased and well water should be tested frequently.  I am very concerned….if this goes thru when do I realize that my drinking water is contaminated?  I understand this property will not be vacant forever but is this the right project?

By Liam Donnelly on 02/10/2014 at 2:42 pm

Here is something for the people that say we need the tax revenue.  Is 50 non age restricted condos with 50 school age children, or many more, a tax break?  Lets just worry about today and not plan for the future

By JD on 02/10/2014 at 2:47 pm

@You know who you are,

You write: “For those of you who support this, I ask “WHAT IF IT WERE IN YOUR BACKYARD?” Would you care about the tax revenue then?”

So, where do you stand on retail at CC and the building of the giant mosque?

By bob on 02/11/2014 at 2:17 pm

What is this talk of a Mosque. Is there a Mosque being planned ??

By What Mosque on 02/13/2014 at 11:24 am

exactly

By bob on 02/14/2014 at 9:45 am


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