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Tuesday, June 24, 2014
by Chuck Napoli
How a “Main Street,” the grand formal approach to the cupola building—the inspiration of the “neighborhood design” theme—was never a fit with the retail overlay zoning intention and wound up a truck route instead.
You might imagine that the redesigned “Main Street” at Chappaqua Crossing will be a place to find window-shoppers, strollers, merchants, and a healthy mix of public, cultural and private endeavors, right?
Not so. The zoning change that has been suggested for our town board to approve varies widely from the Planning Board’s ”Traditional Neighborhood Design” intentions, which were to form a civic way, a street as a place-in-itself, lined on either side by the components—the stores—of a Retail Overlay District. But here’s what happened:
• First, the 80,000 sq.ft. of retail space accompanying the 40,000 sq. ft. grocery anchor was re-arranged with the same big boxes of retail—“junior anchors”—we saw in the strip retail center. The placement of the buildings raised concerns from the Westchester County Planning Commission, which questioned why “...no pedestrian access to the buildings from Main Street has been provided.”
• Second, Summit Greenfield then told us that these “junior anchor” big boxes weren’t so interested in being lined up along a “Main Street” instead of being visible across a big parking lot, so the concept moved toward allowing many smaller stores to line the “Main Street.”
• And third, once the Town Board heard the “smaller stores” plan, right away Supervisor Greenstein called it a “non-starter”—and we’re back to unacceptable (according to the County’s ideas of “mixed use”) bigger stores for the “junior anchors” along a “Main Street.”
But neither plan for the “Main Street” layout —big stores or small ones—offers a match that reflects the formal and impressive Reader’s Digest main approach from Rt. 117 or the village-style activity of our existing hamlets.
The “Main Street”-type neighborhood design for the latest concept plan before our town and planning boards no longer functions as a neighborhood street; instead, it has become more of a service road for trucks to and from the uncontrolled (= no traffic lights) intersection at Rt 117, a truck route through the heart of the wished-for Traditional Neighborhood—while the primary entry to the shopping center is navigated via the six-lane, signal-controlled intersection shared with the Horace Greeley High School main entrance at Roaring Brook Road.
Clearly the proposed concept plan will not function as intended. It’s not a mixed-use neighborhood and there is no longer a village-type “Main Street.” The original Traditional Neighborhood Design idea has further degraded, in response to Summit Greenfield’s market pressures and tenant interests. On “Main Street” you will now see what the County noticed: a total of only two doors for the “junior anchor” retail stores with parking behind them, and a vast parking lot with Whole Foods sitting at the back of it.
It’s time for those in the driver’s seat to stop and ask for directions, time to ask the locals how to get to “Main Street.” They would direct you to the main streets of the Chappaqua town center and the Millwood hamlet – both places where we want the lights to stay on longer.