Resident tells TB approval & construction of road changes will make it years before CC can operate


December 12, 2014
by Christine Yeres

Speaking for neighbors in Lawrence Farms East, Bill Devaney challenged the work of Summit Greenfield’s traffic consultant, John Collins, with a report of his own.  In the December 9 continuation of the public hearing on Chappaqua Crossing, Devaney asked Town Board counsel Nick Ward-Willis to confirm that the State would require Summit Greenfield to construct all roadway improvements before any certificate of occupancy were issued. Ward-Willis did so, explaining that Summit Greenfield cannot get a building permit until New York State’s Department of Transportation has approved Summit Greenfield’s proposed road improvements or “mitigations,” and cannot obtain a certificate of occupancy until those improvements are completed. Devaney then read sections of the report he had commissioned from an independent traffic consultant.

“We used [the Collins traffic report] information,” said Devaney, “and noted that Collins collected studies from 2003, 2004 and 2005—reiterations, ‘Take this away, add that, take this other one away and it’s about equal to this other thing…’—But did we notice that traffic volumes had increased over the years, so we obtained DOT’s data to verify volumes around the site.  And we analyzed traffic from a ‘no build’ to a ‘build’ position of what the site would look like in five years.”  Devaney listed the intersections around the project and their “level of service” grade [DOT grades range from A to F]:

Left turn from Route 117 northbound: F
Roaring Brook Road east: F
Saw Mill Parkway northbound: F
Turn lane: F
Saw Mill Parkway southbound: F
Roaring Brook Road eastbound: F
Roaring Brook Road westbound: F
Annandale: F

“There are some Cs and Ds,” continued Devaney, “But what it really says is that for the site access off Route 117, making a left turn across from Annandale will always be an F, no matter what is done.”

Quoting from his report, Devaney noted that, with changes, the intersection of Roaring Brook Road and 117 ” ‘would improve to a service level B, however, more detailed improvements should be prepared because they cannot be made within the existing 50-foot right-of-way.’ That brings in utility folks.  Con Ed probably won’t want to move that backbone [of utility poles on the west side].  They’ll try to build an additional lane on the east side, northbound, possibly taking land on adjoining properties or require construction easements.  Now the power those people have through the court system before construction starts will be extensive in causing delays in approvals. Time equals money, and that’s really not what we want.  We’d like to get our project built—but we see a big slowdown in approvals—that will take years, not months. For people who think that Whole Foods is going to be here next year to do their holiday shopping—probably not.  On that road, all the drainage, utility and signal poles, relocation of overhead lines by the utility companies, retaining walls, slope stabilization, drainage—it just goes on and on. 

“And what DOT has said is that they would probably ask for a backdown [left turn lane on 117 south of Roaring Brook Road] of 200 linear feet—not 100 feet—and probably extend that road up past Annandale Drive.  It’s not going to be easy.  God bless the developer—spending all that money for us. 

“Noise studies? When you take that amount of land and move toward that direction [east side of 117], even if it’s Bob Lewis’s [west] side, that triggers environmental noise studies and everything else that goes along with it, for the ‘quiet enjoyment of the neighbors.’  And, as Jason has said,  there has to be an economic benefit that goes along with that, which we really haven’t seen yet.

“Then we talk about Roaring Brook Road, where 75% of the traffic will come in to the property from the Saw Mill.  That right turn—whatever’s done to it—will always remain an ‘F’.  Collins’ [Summit Greenfield’s traffic consultant] report doesn’t really talk about the Saw Mill Parkway, which will require extensive work to make it a ‘D’. Left turns southbound on the Saw Mill don’t work.  Everything has to be rearranged on the Saw Mill for considerable dollars, considerable time.  Studies have to be done by DOT, contracts have to be issued, work has to be done.  We’re downstream, ladies and gentlemen, three years.” 

“Safety analysis,” said Devaney, “Not done by Collins.” He read from the traffic report he commissioned, ” ‘Given the size of the project and traffic volumes, the adjacent location with access to the high school, roadway grades at Roaring Brook, narrow roadways on 117, the close proximity of the railroad crossing’—which everyone seems to forget that there’s Metro North whipping by there at 70 miles per hour—‘a study of the crash area should be undertaken by the applicant.  This recommendation is supported by the September 25, 2014 letter from DOT to the applicant’s engineer indicating that a few priority investigation locations exist along the 117 entrance and the west [Saw Mill] entrance to the property.’ A “priority investigation” location is determined by a physical analysis and the number of crashes above a certain set threshold for a roadway.’  We’re a long ways off from doing anything on this site.”

[Editor’s Note: According to the text of the zoning amendment, once approved by the Town Board, the retail zoning “shall expire within 12 months of the date of Town Board approval if the applicant has not applied for and received site development plan approval and final subdivision plat approval, if appropriate, from the Planning Board in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and unless work on the site is begun within 18 months of Town Board approval and is being prosecuted to conclusion with reasonable diligence.”]

The Economics

Finished with his traffic report comments, Devaney returned to the economics of the project.  “Jason and Rob have said, ‘Market will dictate.’ I love that.  I love market.  ‘Market will dictate’ This is how I see it.  Where is the new Whole Foods?  In Chappaqua Crossing.  Right place.  But there’s a problem.  The main entrance where 75% of the traffic will enter is 150 feet from a railway crossing.  The entrance today is marked ‘F’—right next to the Saw Mill River Parkway—also a very dangerous intersection.  The market is going to tell me that someone at Whole Foods is going to take a look at this and say ‘Are we out of our minds, corporately, to locate our brand next to a railway crossing that everyone in Northern Westchester acknowledges is dangerous?’

“So is that a good marketing ploy?  Market will dictate, Jason—I agree with you.  The smart guys from Whole Foods will come here and take a look at this. The national brands that are trying to piggyback Whole Foods are going to say ‘Do we really want to be next to a railway crossing 150 feet away?’ I doubt it. I would rather have the Board and the developer sit down and get this thing right, because we can’t afford to get it wrong.  And right now, it’s wrong.” 

Devaney submitted his traffic report comments to the Town Board on Friday, December 12, the last day for written comment.


Comments(22):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Another NIMBY - more of the same- twisting data twisting words - trying to refute what we already know is true.
How many darn letters , articles, OP-EDs will dominate and monopolize this blog. It used to be a place I turned to for community information. NOw it seems most content is about CC and its almost entirely one sided and NIMBY positioned.
I think it should be renamed from NEWCASTLENOW to NIMBY-R-US

Editor’s Note:  It only seems one-sided to people who are on one side.  Stop reading it if it upsets you.

By blah blah blah on 12/13/2014 at 11:03 am

Speaking for neighbors in Lawrence Farms East, Bill Devaney challenged the work of Summit Greenfield’s traffic consultant, John Collins, with a report of his own.
Devaney does not plan on making the study available to the public.
Devaney declined to disclose who commissioned the study or who was hired for it.
So we have a study discussed by a NIMBY. He wont tell us who did the study or who paid for it.
That speak volumes as to the validity and ulterior motive here. Why should the community or the town board give a hoot about a study that we know nothing about, don’t know who conducted it and those that funded it don’t want their names known. For all we know a bunch of amateurs did it. And why wont those behind the funding makes themselves known? What are they ashamed of?
This is another divisive and transparent attempt to block retail at CC. This study and Mr Devaney should be ignored. If he / they wont even tell us who paid and who conducted his study than it is not worth the paper it os written on.
Not surprisingly, Editor Yeres gives him/it full access to her blog and doesn’t even ask the basic questions. Who did the study? Who paid for the study? AND WHY WON’T you share the full study with the town board and the community?
Rubbish!

Editor’s Note: I reported what took place at the public hearing.  You might want to wait to discount Mr. Devaney’s study until he reveals these details to the Town Board. He was unwilling to share the study that night, but has since submitted a comment on CC to the Town Board.  Perhaps details of the study are in his comment.

By 10514 on 12/13/2014 at 12:06 pm

Bill Devaney exposes the folly of this project. It’s not an appropriate place for a large shopping center. If somehow it is implemented it will harm the entire area not just Chappaqua.

By Chappdad on 12/13/2014 at 12:14 pm

This guy comes to the town board meeting- public hearing speaking for the neighbors in Lawrence Farms East- AKA Nimbys. He claims to have commissioned a study that is critical of development at CC. There is a real surprise!
He refuses to give the board and the commnity the actual study. He won’t divulge who paid for it. He won’t even divulge the name of the engineer that did the study.
Seriously? Really?
The more the Nimbys speak the less credible they are.
Can you imagine if the developer or the town or even some pro retail at CC residents came before the town board and presented a study supporting CC and they refused to identify the expert they used. Refused to hand over the study for scrutiny. Refused to explain who funded the study.  The NIMBYs would go nuts - they would cry foul. Lisa Katz would be up on her perch criticizing and insulting these people and their study for lack of transparency. But in this she remains silent.

By Are you kidding me? on 12/13/2014 at 1:22 pm

Editor - why should we have to wait for important details like who did the study , who paid for it, and why didn’t he make it public.
The man went to a public hearing and presented his own study challenging existing studies and experts. If he was prepared to make public comments and be seen on TV then it shouldn’t be too much to expect that he share with us important details.
If it had been a pro CC presentation or another presentation by the developer you would never let him get away with that. I can just imagine the sarcasm and comments from Ms Katz if a pro CC resident came before the board claiming to have his own study supporting CC but refused to divulge the name of the engineer , the study itself, or name the people who paid.

By Agree with 10514 on 12/13/2014 at 2:18 pm

I f the study is included with a submission in the public comments, perhaps you can publish a link. 

By Please link to the study on 12/13/2014 at 2:25 pm

A study by a phantom engineer paid for by a group of people that won’t come out from the shadows. What a joke. Let’s just call it the NIMBY project. 
To the editor- why should we have to wait until Devaney and NIMBYs reveal details. He made a presentation at a publicly held meeting broadcast on TV. If he had details about who did the study and who paid for the study it should have been made public then. The study itself should gave been made available then as well.
If and when details are made public I would seriously doubt they should be taken seriously. Given the motives and past behavior of this group of neighbors they should not be trusted. These were the folks that rigged the survey and fear mongored at every turn. They exaggerated and made up numerous claims. Now we should believe and trust their study. I don’t think so!!!
The fact that they would not let Mr Devaney expose who is behind their study says it all.

Editor’s Note: Bill Devaney explains:  “The traffic analysis and findings of our engineering consultant will be used on behalf of any and all interested parties in the community to assure that all project intersections and their improvements meet New York State Department of Transportation requirements.”

By Another chappdad on 12/13/2014 at 3:31 pm

Here we go with the NIMBY name calling. This guy never said he didn’t want retail @ CC. Sounds like the concern is having a development that enhances a community not hurts it. These are simple facts- that’s all!  Relax 10514 ( rob) maybe it’s good a third party keeps both the town and SG honest . When the DOT weighs in- and confirms these facts- are they going to be NIMBY’s too?

By Pro CC on 12/13/2014 at 4:06 pm

‘They’ll try to build an additional lane on the east side, northbound, possibly taking land on adjoining properties or require construction easements.  Now the power those people have through the court system before construction starts will be extensive in causing delays in approvals. Time equals money, and that’s really not what we want.  We’d like to get our project built—but we see a big slowdown in approvals—that will take years, not months. For people who think that Whole Foods is going to be here next year to do their holiday shopping—probably not.  On that road, all the drainage, utility and signal poles, relocation of overhead lines by the utility companies, retaining walls, slope stabilization, drainage—it just goes on and on.’  Not a NIMBY he’s realistic! It’s going to cost SG millions and it sounds like Bill says he will be glad to see them spend their money on improving the area! Kind of sad to hear it’s at the cost of people losing land though! Wish Whole Foods would be here next year….

By Where has Bill been all this time!? on 12/13/2014 at 4:48 pm

While I personally think this project will harm the future of our town and community for various reasons, I would love to know how many ‘residents’ would support this if SG hadn’t attached Whole Foods to the development? This project has years of hurdles to overcome and WF is going to walk. Then we will be stuck with a Stop and Shop or other generic grocery store and other big box chains. Will everyone be still be excited to have ruined our beautiful town for a Stop and Shop?!

By Whole Foods isn't coming on 12/13/2014 at 6:10 pm

It’s evident now why summit greenfield is being so stingy with the town - it has to spend many millions of dollars on roadway changes.  This should tell the town board something - that this project does not fit.  Make it residential and finish this off.

By residential and be done on 12/13/2014 at 11:46 pm

So Summit Greenfield’s printed materials for its real estate firm is not so accurate when it tells potential tenants it expects to open Chappaqua Crossing in the fourth quarter of 2015?????

By Still 2015 opening? on 12/13/2014 at 11:48 pm

The original traffic studies Collins looked at were for residential and office. Not retail.  DOT should be very interested in getting a handle on the numbers that retail will bring, and demand changes accordingly. This should take quite a bit of time.  I suppose you nut cases will call DOT “NIMBY” when this happens.

By Is DOT "NIMBY" too? on 12/13/2014 at 11:54 pm

In all of the World, there is not just one big tenant that would lease the entire site for the next 25 years. Really! You mean to tell me that we can’t find one huge investment firm to take over the entire site? Really? 1500 hundred people use Metro North to go to the same employer if they do not use their own cars; did anyone bother to study this? Really? Are we not able to get a major firm to move out of Wall Street and into beautiful New Castle? Really? Such a prize of a property, did we all forget this? Really, did we ? Since we have so many stars moving into the area, could we turn CC into a sound stage and set studio, and start producing films? Can we relocate a little bit of Hollywood to CC? Would we ever allow a really high end Casino and Spa? Have we ever asked Steve Wynn for his vision of CC if we told him approvals in 10 months; show us something really high end where every night is a 007 Black Tie event. Shaken not stirred.

By One big tenant on 12/14/2014 at 1:00 am

It sounds as though the expert report will be used in potential litigation, and that is why it has not been publicly released. The report also appears to accurately describe traffic situation as it really is – in other words the traffic patterns and congestion that those of us who actually live here, and use 117 each morning, have experienced.  It also sounds as though there is going to be a big fight at DOT and between Con Ed and those whose property may be affected by the relocation of utilities.

In other words, Rob, this is not going to be over when you and everyone else on the board but for Lisa votes to give SG what it wants. I don’t think that Bill should disclose the report just because the developer and his supporters are demanding to see it. I’m sure that Rob knows that Bill has a report – Rob is a litigator. So forget it if you think SG will complete a project in the allocated time. 

We have had to miss the last couple of board meetings due to personal and work commitments.  As it so happens, that schedule has required me to take taxis to the station each morning at the end of rush-hour.  The taxis can’t make the turn onto 117 from Annandale in less than two or three minutes. I have to leave early to make a train, and all of the taxi drivers, none of whom lives in Chappaqua, have commented on how insane an idea it is to put a major shopping center into Chappaqua crossing, given that the traffic is already impossible.

This is not over yet, thank God. And don’t bother calling me names, because I don’t give a hoot what names I am called – it’s safety for all, quality of life for all, and the rights of those of us who actually live in the area - we pay taxes, too -  that I care about.  This project is an amazingly stupid plan. It must be stopped.

 

By Lawrence Farms East Resident on 12/14/2014 at 7:31 am

To Lawrnece Farms East - so the NIMBY propaganda machine keeps turning. The decisive selfish behavior will continue when you use this secret study to sue your fellow residents and sue the board. You cowards won’t even print your names and tell us who funds this study.  You all are destroying the town, dividing us because you don’t want a little extra traffic in you backyard. 
Maybe if you all shopped in downtown instead of Armonk we would be in better shape. You all are worried about traffic but you drive all your kids to school and the buses roll mostly empty. 
Maybe you should circulate another petition with lies or rig a town survey.
The bottom line is the rest of our community, the very large majority of our community are fed up with your selfish antics. One need only to watch one town board meeting and watch the subversive behavior comments and questions of your ringleader Katz to understand this. Watch and see Editor Yeres ask mundane repetitive questions intended to detract from the project. Almost this entire issue of NewCastleNow is devoted to commentary critical of CC.  It’s the NIMBY bible. Shame on all of you.
When the lawsuit is filed I hope you cowards come out and identify yourselves and tell us which residents are suing their fellow residents and community. Shameful.

Editor’s Note: Where does it say Devaney is suing anyone?  And as for my questions:  If they seem repetitive, it’s because they are questions that the TB has still not answered.

By Disgraceful on 12/14/2014 at 8:50 am

Why does the report have to be shared? It’s about Dr. Collins work! We’ve heard it over and over! unless it’s not really a valid study. Maybe that’s why ‘some’ are feeling a little nervous.

By Felix and Rob aren't the only ones making deals on 12/14/2014 at 9:03 am

Disgraceful- what makes you so angry!? Sounds like you have a lot to lose and you’re very disappointed that it’s going to be years before large retail can be built. It’s going to be okay. The NIMBY’s are actually right here.- they need the protection and advice. Nothing horrible was said- unless you know something we all don’t.

By What's the big deal? on 12/14/2014 at 9:49 am

Disgraceful

You should talk about propaganda!!

By Amazing chutzpah on 12/14/2014 at 1:18 pm

Editor:

Has the town or SG stated what the tax status of Chappaqua Crossing will be during the period between approval and the completion of construction and the occupancy and use of the property (a) for the retail (b) the residential and (c) the reduced rentable office space?

Has Summit Greenfield been asked or stated whether they are going to keep pursuing reduced taxes by certiorari or otherwise for the time until the property is fully occupied?  what there position on tax will be while the processes and work described in the road and utility work take place? 

any updates on the very useful summary of the tax consequences from 2012 that you republished last week?

By Timing and Taxes on 12/14/2014 at 2:01 pm

Lawsuit is a good idea and obviously being considered. And move to get an injunction against roadwork or building until case is decided.

By Lawsuit is way to go on 12/14/2014 at 2:10 pm

Dear Disgraceful.

Ah, humanity!  My kid is now almost 26 but, when he attended Greeley, walked to and from school, weather permitting. Per the article,  Bill Devaney is not representing the group that hired an attorney some months ago; he commissioned an independent traffic study, and can use it at DOT or in a law suit if he decides to do so. He hasn’t said how he will use it, but it’s an expert report prepared, one assumes, for an adversarial or administrative setting.  It will be publicly disclosed, one also assumes, when doing so is legally and strategically appropriate. 

I like the reference to ringleaders; it’s so Jimmy Cagney!  The truth is that many of us in the area speak in the same voice because we know the same things - we live here and have experienced the pluses and minuses (traffic, for example) in the area.  It’s not a “little” extra traffic; it’s turning Roaring Brook Road into a major roadway and exponentially increasing both car and truck traffic on 117.  The SG report was inaccurate and outdated.  We who live here know the truth. 

The people whom you are railing against are your neighbors, too.  We count. As it so happens, though, what Rob and the Board are planning to do will adversely affect everyone. 

We need to take the fight to DOT - and to do so before SG’s money, lawyers and political influence arrives.

By Lawrence Farms East Resident on 12/15/2014 at 3:35 am


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