Board of Review denies seven of eight variances needed for Conifer’s Hunts Place project

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
by Christine Yeres

In a 4-0 vote today, the state’s Regional Board of Review denied seven of the eight building and fire code variances requested by Conifer for its affordable housing proposal of 28 units in four stories built from edge to edge of the one-third of an acre at Hunts Place.  [See a statement from Supervisor Rob Greenstein in “Read more”.]

Since the Town Board approved the special permit for the project last September, Building Inspector Bill Maskiell has maintained that the building, as designed, would need variances from the state’s fire safety code to go forward. Conifer contended that its design met safety codes and appealed Maskiell’s determination to the Board of Review.  Today that board both upheld New Castle Building Inspector Bill Maskiell’s determination that variances were indeed required and also denied seven of the eight variances Conifer needed.

During the controversy over the variances last fall, Norma Drummond, Deputy Commissioner of Planning for the Westchester County stated that should the variances be denied, Conifer had indicated that it would present an acceptable alternative proposal.

Supervisor Greenstein commented by email:  “The Board of Review’s decision today simply confirms that Conifer has not adequately addressed the fire safety issues associated with this project site.  Today’s decision had nothing to do with building affordable housing, which remains a priority for the Town.  The Town has approved the construction of 20 affordable housing units at Chappaqua Crossing.  We welcome the development of affordable housing in our community.

“It’s important to remember that last year, the Town Board granted Conifer’s application for a Special Use Permit for this project.  However, that Special Use Permit contained a number of conditions, including the need to obtain fire and building code variances.  Conifer accepted those conditions and proceeded to apply for the variances it needed.  The Board of Review is now telling Conifer that it has more work to do.”

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

If it’s halved to 14, does the boondoggle aspect of it go away? Will the uber, bleeding hearts be good with it?

By Great on 07/03/2014 at 5:55 am

Congratulations Rob Greenstein. You helped fight the fight. Now go get us Whole Foods and retail at CC. This town needs and wants it.

By Well done on 07/03/2014 at 9:10 am

Great news! Take notice- we did not need a survey a referendum or master plan to know the majority if residents objected to the Conifer plan. There was a small group that did support this Affirdable housing plan on the grounds it would still help the less fortunate.
So too we do not need a survey or vote to understand that most people support retail at CC. One down one to go. Let’s build it and stop paying attention to the few dozen nimby loud mouths.

By Resident on 07/03/2014 at 9:15 am

Thank goodness for professionalism over politics !

By anonymous on 07/03/2014 at 11:39 am

Thank goodness for safety over politics.

By Just the facts on 07/03/2014 at 12:09 pm

This is government in action – bravo! Greenstein & Co took control and continued the pushback against Conifer. This was a bad location from the start. The liberal left continued to support this and rationilized their position by saying that this affordable housing project would improve the quality of life for its future inhabitants while obeying a state mandate. Conifer/ Hunts was a bad idea and the large majority of residents agree. We did not need a master plan or a town wide survey to understand this project and the attached sentiment.
NOw that Greenstein has won this battle I implore him to use the same common sense and good judgement in approving retail and Whole Foods at CC. Like Conifer, resident sentiment is very obvious. We are in favor. The people in proximity to CC (i respectfully dont call them NIMBY) will remain oppossed to everything and will shout and scream the loudest but they do not represent the majority. We are sympathetic and expect Town Goverment to bring a well planned and properly designed layout with care and concern for traffic and safety. We are shopping in Armonk and Mt Kisco when we should be shopping at Whole Foods in Chappaqua.No survey and no updated master plan is needed to understand that!

By Long time resident on 07/03/2014 at 12:32 pm

This is very good news.  Susan Carpenter, Minister Robin Stout and Elise K. Mottel
did much harm to this community.

By resident on 07/03/2014 at 2:06 pm

If the town boards had listened to their own staff and advisory boards from the beginning, we would not have wasted so much time and energy on such a poor and dismal project.


By Jane P. on 07/03/2014 at 5:18 pm

Conifer Realty should call it a day to prevent their reputation from becoming further bruised. Conifer Realty needs to understand that there comes a time to know when to walk off the stage.

Conifer may want to enroll in a course that teaches safety; they came to our town and proposed to place the school bus stop for their building at the foot of the SMRP off-ramp.

Conifer may want to enroll in a course that teaches correct grounds for a HUD complaint; their attorney owes an apology to the Town of New Castle, the Town Building Inspector, and the Wchr County Board of Legislators for filing a baseless HUD complaint. When Conifer does not get their way, they may find the path to victory is via name calling; is that not the way of bullies?

Is Conifer the type of company that any municipality should invite to construct affordable housing which is a highly lucrative business that all taxpayers are financing. Based upon Conifer’s actions in this Hunts Place matter, the answer may be a resounding no.

It is not feasible to make Conifer’s proposal safe for fire fighting; not surprising that the DOS Board of Review denied 7 of the requested NYS building and fire code variances for their proposed wood framed building that has a ZERO HOUR fire rated exterior (Conifer attempted to compare their building to a storage building that has a FOUR HOUR fire rated exterior that is located three times distant from the Metro-North tracks – DUH!!!).

Conifer should be exceeding codes for this site that was previously turned down by the town for market rate housing. The failings of Conifer’s proposal are too numerous to list; their proposal should never have been approved by three TB members who at this point have lost any credibility that they may have had. Do not forget the flip-flop of Wchr County Housing Monitor James Johnson who was against the Hunts Place site before he was for it (did someone whisper something in Jim’s ear?).

Justice has been served, sensibility has trumped greed.

By Ed Frank on 07/03/2014 at 11:20 pm

Two years have elapsed and not one word about Conifer’s segregated affordable housing at the railroad tracks for Hispanics and African Americans from Chappaqua’s elite including former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State and possible 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Not one word from other Chappaqua elite including renowned attorney Larry Graham (an African American) who specializes in real estate, land use, and governmental affairs. It has been a grass roots struggle by the ordinary Joes and Janes that have taken up the fight against the beast; isn’t that the way it always is, the elite sends the ordinary off to war while the elite parties on tending to their own chauvinistic needs.

By The elite parties on on 07/04/2014 at 2:13 pm

Who do I ask to find out if I am still a racist?  Conifer, go away. I thought this was a good idea and voted against TNC.  You made me feel stupid.  Go sue some other town.

By Big Mac on 07/05/2014 at 8:51 pm

Thank you Bill Maskiell !  A true professional.

Did Susan, Robin and Elise not believe him, or just not bother to learn what he thought ?

By ?????? on 07/06/2014 at 7:00 pm

There is nothing racist about being in favor of the color green

By Dear Big Mac on 07/07/2014 at 12:32 am

I too found it amazing at the contention that those opposed to this site are racists given its many dangers. Please Conifer find another site in New Castle. Or is the current owner of that miserable slice of land too politically connected?  When he bought a few years ago not long before Conifer’s plan became public (a pure coincidence), the idea no doubt was he would make a killing. He and the other profiteers may well be disappointed but better that than someone dies in a fire or a child is hit by a car. Thank you to our hpusing inspector for looking out for the safety of residents.

By Resident on 07/07/2014 at 9:43 am

Once again, shows the wasted political-only efforts of the previous administrations.  This is a great example of what happens when people are motivated by their own political feelings and not pragmatic, commercial substance.  Does that make me an elitist?

By So Much for the Gerard/Carpenter Agenda on 07/07/2014 at 1:41 pm

We should remember who voted for this: Carpenter, Stout and Mottel.

By bob on 07/08/2014 at 7:56 am

Greenstein says affordable housing “remains a priority for the town”.

When has it ever been a “priority”?  The only reason it’s even been discussed is that it was mandated.

By face the facts on 07/08/2014 at 9:35 am

Thank you to all that were involved. From the start this was like trying to put 10 pounds of potato’s in a 5 pound bag.

By Frank N. 48 yr Resident on 07/08/2014 at 12:28 pm

Hunts Lane is the perfect place for 10 units.

By 35 year resident on 07/08/2014 at 12:40 pm

I recently looked up the definition of “waste of time”; it was defined as the Conifer’s Hunts Place project.  So many resources (people”s time, money – legal/expert fees, and lost focus on the town) have been spent on this ill conceived project.  Hunt’s place is the WRONG place to build ANYTHING residential.  A bad idea won’t suddenly become good just because you keep trying to get it done.  Remember everyone, Conifer is in it for the MONEY.  If their profit on this project was not $2 million but $50,000 they would have walk away along time ago.  Money causes people to do bad things and forces bad projects to be done.

By Carpenterville on 07/09/2014 at 10:04 am

How can the federal monitor in good faith remain in support of this inherently dangerous site (which he once said did not satisfy his own best practices before he inexplicably changed his position)?

By Q on 07/09/2014 at 10:40 am

From an outsiders perspective, Hunts Lane is good for a commercial location only.  Auto body shop, storage, parking lot maybe.  Nothing more.  If any residential units are ever approved off that location, the approving board should be held liable for any incident that will no doubt occur.

By Non resident on 07/12/2014 at 7:41 am

To long time resident.  Greenstein and Co had zero to do with this. When the previous Town Board voted to approve this location it was with the provision that the state gave their approvals.  Greenstein and Co as you put them did absolutely Zero but be in office. They filed not paperwork nor was therevanythingbfor them to do but sit and wait. I’m sure Czar Greenstein will say it was all him just like he created the Internet.  But the facts are it was the previous boards thoughtfulness that made this happen.

By Know your facts on 07/13/2014 at 12:17 am

For us racists that early on could clearly see the substandard housing location, fire hazard, lack of green space, lack of sufficient parking, it is interesting to watch those who set up this plan and who tried to promote this sad scenario as a urgent issue. Years later, nothing has happened, no one went to jail for failing to provide housing on a tiny lot with poor living space and noisy and hazardous surroundings.
Those who are in need of more affordable housing must feel grateful to those wonderful souls who worked so hard to see that families would have that American dream where low wage earners could live over the railroad track, sandwiched by a highway on the other side, not a blade of grass for the children and a sidewalk on a bridge to enjoy a breath of outdoor space.
I do think the folks are wise to that old useless political pressure of calling one a racist just because they differ in opinion.
That is why I will not be voting in the near future for the old political spin masters residing in our community.
It is time people used there own common sense and stop being afraid someone will label you a “racist”!

By Common sense= racist??? on 07/13/2014 at 6:54 am

@Know your facts,

Practice what you preach. Incoming Supervisor Greenstein appeared before the county board committee to counter Carpenter & Co. And the county committee voted against funding the project. You could look it up.

By bob on 07/13/2014 at 3:49 pm

Dear common sense,
Don’t impose your uber liberal housing values and standards on others.  The “affordable” people are the only ones entitled to meaningful opinions that have any weight at all.  If they want to eat the hunts lane-saw mill- metro north sandwich everyday , who are you to deny them that choice?

Oops I forgot. Bleeding heart- spenders of other people’s money think they know what’s best for everyone. 

The best solution for each of the “common sense racists” is to adopt one affordable family . Such an act of selflessness will, in one fell swoop,  erase their arrogant hypocrisy .

By Yes to hunts lane sandwich on 07/13/2014 at 8:06 pm

I am far from an elite person .  I went to state schools and work 6 days a week to be able to afford to live here. So why, in the name of sanity, would I even consider working a 7th day to pay for or subsidize another family that cannot afford to pay its share if real estate taxes.  Either directly through home or condo ownership or derivitavely through market rate rentsl.  Not to mention the cost if living here in general.

By It is not elitism on 07/13/2014 at 8:43 pm

Rob going to the county had nothing tondo with the states decision. We will not be fooled by you.  Everything you do is on the record now   The county said it would wait to see what the state said then make a final decision. Point being it passed by previous board with provision that the state would approve it which it didn’t. I’m not for the project but I’m not going to let you take credit for something you had nothing to do sith

By We all know bob is rob on 07/13/2014 at 10:08 pm

@ know your facts,

Do you think Bill Maskiel would have been given the green light to tell the truth if the status quo Democrats had won.

It was also our new town attorneys – chosen by Greenie – that provided all written submissions to the variance board.

You, my friend, need to learn the fscts.

By K&B; on 07/13/2014 at 10:31 pm

Greenstein did testify in front of the Board of Review on Dec 10th.  Susan Carpenter also testified.

By 10514 on 07/13/2014 at 10:45 pm

Bottom line: Team Green deserves much credit foiling Carpenter and Conifer.

By bob on 07/14/2014 at 8:23 am

Ten units at Hunts Lane does the trick. So why oppose that possibility? If the developer abandons the project, that is the developer’s call, fine. Otherwise, support that sandwich that the would be residents are already on the waiting list for.  That they consider it livable is the point. “Lib-tard” views as to how others should live, is another point.

By Build it they will come on 07/14/2014 at 8:26 am


You have no call to insult the integrity of Bill Maskiel as you have by saying that he needed a green light to tell the truth of this project.  He is an honorable man.

By that is a fact on 07/14/2014 at 9:15 am

Good, bad or indifferent, Rob walked the walk and talked the talk at the County. He made the case against it. He deserves quite a bit of credit for doing so. Yes he did his job, but since when do our elected officials stand up and do their jobs?…not always

By bob is Rob? on 07/14/2014 at 10:30 am

Maskiel may very well be an honorable man, but it would have been much more difficult for him to deny the variances had the New Castle Democrats won the election.

By bob on 07/14/2014 at 11:13 am

“since when do our elected officials stand up and do their jobs? …not always”

And that was exactly the problem with years and years of one-party rule.

By bob on 07/14/2014 at 1:05 pm

bob, There is nothing to support what you say about Bill Maskiel.  Nothing.  And that is what you write is worth, nothing.

By that is a fact on 07/14/2014 at 4:25 pm

I did not say anything about Bill Maskiel, except that he’s honorable. My point is that political pressure by Conifer and its allies can be intense.

By bob on 07/15/2014 at 7:41 am

I don’t know whether people want retail or not, but Dem slate’s refusal to take a hard line on Conifer was a big issue in this election. I saw the tapes of the county hearings where Rob and members of CFRAH spoke out against this project that was being railroaded through the system.  Thank you to everyone in the town and that group who made Kaplowitz and the rest of the BOL take accountability.  Keep holding there feet to the fire until this project is dead and we can focus on better sites.  If people don’t think this project and Conifer calling us a bunch of racists has made people more careful about these projects, I have bridge in Brooklyn for you.

By Thank you TNC and CFRAH on 07/16/2014 at 5:24 pm

To -Yes to Hunts Lane Sandwich- It is interesting you did not grasp the position I was taking- As a conservative republican in the midst of tight Dem territory, I am not surprised to see the real liberals push so hard for an affordable housing project for low income families, and yet fail to expect some reasonable living conditions, surroundings and costs associated with such a project.. As a conservative, it is against my better judgement to waste money on these political hot topics without a cost/benefit consideration. Why on earth would anyone be willing to spend this kind of money and end up with this silly project in town??  A project most of us would not wish to live in at that location.As a conservative, and a supporter of affordable housing, I would like to see good money spent on a sensible project that actually benefits those residents and creates a decent project that fits with the town. Speaking out against this project and wanting to see a better plan does not make one a racist- it makes one a realist and a decent human being!

By Realist- Not Racist! on 07/18/2014 at 6:10 pm

Making it a smaller , much lesser expensive project “sandwiches” in 10 units .  No “blah blah” is needed. Build it smaller and cheaper and we are done. No one has stated that the affordable people will not come .

By Yes to sandwich on 07/19/2014 at 9:08 am

Have 4 units at FCC plus CC 20, and we are done

By Economic, conservative realist on 07/19/2014 at 9:20 am


What you said was “Maskiel may very well be an honorable man, but it would have been much more difficult for him to deny the variances had the New Castle Democrats won the election.
You are saying that he would be influenced by his superiors to do what they wanted him to do and not do what he knew to be right.

You are as slippery with your smears as is your hero, the robster.

By that is a fact on 07/19/2014 at 1:24 pm

I stand by my statement.

By bob on 07/19/2014 at 6:36 pm

The proposed housing project at Hunt Place failed to meet the New York State Construction Code.
Our building officials protected the threats to the public health, safety and welfare; it’s the law.

There is no code to protect the public from bad taste and no class morons both on this forum and in our town; the home of the course and uncouth. Unfortunate that in the end law rather than a civic aesthetic prevailed.

By Time to move on 07/25/2014 at 7:31 am

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