Letter to the Editor:  Some Master Plan Thinking for Our Real-Life Town

February 28, 2014
by Chris Roberta

Here are my seven reasons why the Spa at New Castle is a better fit for the Chappaqua Crossing property.  Yes, it’s been thought of before.  But our thinking—all around and under it—has come a long way in the last couple of years.  And in the Master Plan review, we’re about to think big-time about the whole town.

1.  The Parcels. The C.C. parcel is nearly 20 acres larger than the legionaries and with its already cleared (and underutilized) vast flat expanses, it is better suited for a dense commercial development than the steep rocky slopes and moist basins of the Legionaries parcel. 

2.  Transportation.  The C.C. parcel is far closer to existing transportation arteries and hubs.  The C.C. property is on the doorstep of the Saw Mill and is in closer proximity to a train station (Chappaqua) than the Legionaries (Mt. Kisco station). 

3.  Master Plan.  Our Town Development Plan (Master Plan) articulates that higher density uses should be closer to the existing downtown with decreasing density as you extend away from the center.  Our Master Plan supports a higher density use at C.C. versus the Legionaries. 

4. Zoning. Compare the current uses and zoning of the Legionaries site with those of C.C. , those at C.C. are more closely related to the proposed Spa uses—which include a hotel and conference facilities, spa with pool and recreation facilities, condominiums, chapel, 150-seat restaurant, and related retail and office space. 

5.  Downtown.  If the Spa were at the Legionaries site the guests of the hotel/spa/restaurant and residents of the condominiums would have Armonk at one end of 128 and Mt. Kisco at the other – it is unlikely they would contribute economically to our downtown merchants.  But if the Spa was at C.C., all the guests and residents would have our downtown merchants providing the nearest options. 

6.  Tax Revenue.  If the Spa were at C.C. all the tax revenues would go to New Castle versus a vast majority going to the Bedford School Distrct if at the Legionaries.  Also, moving Town offices to the cupola building would put a non-tax paying occupant in a place where there could be a tax-paying occupant. 

7.  Environmental Impacts. While the Spa application is only at the scoping stage, the history of the applications for both sites show far less potential for significant environmental impacts at C.C. than at the Legionaries. 

On these seven counts, it seems that a higher density, more commercial use is better suited on the Chappaqua Crossing property than on the Legionaries.

But let’s face it:

• Mr. Oder might want to stick with his spa-hotel-restaurant-condo plan.

• Summit Greenfield might want to stick with its grocery-retail proposal. 

• The town Supervisor might want to stick with his town-hall-at-the-cupola-proposal. 

• And Mr. Napoli might want to stick with his Bell field-centered hamlet development.

But here’s where Master Planning comes in:  When we put everything on the table for residents to think about, it might be that the kinds of things we – collectively—think should be permitted on sites like Legionaries, C.C. and the town hall property might not be what Mr. Oder, Summit Greenfield, Mr. Greenstein or Mr. Oder want for them—or even what you and I want for them.

The Master Plan process should go forward without pressure to take what’s on offer from developers, and give us confidence to make our own offers to developers—or just say “Bye!” to them— based on what makes sense for our town. 

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