Councilman Adam Brodsky’s statement on Chappaqua Xing retail zoning approval

I have been wrestling with this decision for my entire year in office.  I clearly understand the arguments on both sides and have truly taken them to heart.  It is completely understandable for the residents in proximately to this development to be concerned about their home values and quality of life.  I understand the gravity of this decision and the impact it will have on my friends and neighbors.

As a Town Board Member, it’s my responsibility to balance the interests of residents on places like Cowdin Lane, Roaring Brook Road and Annandale Drive, with the interests of our entire community.  As a Town Board Member, I have to take into account that Reader’s Digest filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the property years ago.  I have to take into account that most of the office space on the property is vacant and functionally obsolete. 

I know that in New Castle, residents have high expectations.  We count on having world-class schools and first class services.  But if we want to maintain those things, our elected leaders need to make smart financial decisions.  The State is passing down unfunded mandates to local governments while at the same time capping the revenues we can derive from real estate taxes.  In the long term, the only way to preserve the things we enjoy in New Castle is to adapt to changes and ensure that our relatively small stock of commercial properties is kept in productive use. 

I think it’s important to remember that Reader’s Digest was a corporate citizen in our community for many decades, going back to the 1930s.  For a long time, we enjoyed the benefits of the tax revenue that the company provided to our community, while accepting the inconveniences of having 7,000 employees working at the site on a 24-hour basis.  Looking ahead, I believe the property will be able to support retail uses, and that our community will benefit not only from increased tax revenues, but from having a Whole Foods, gym, good restaurants and other uses at the site.  The status quo – vacant, obsolete office space and a hole in our commercial tax base – is not the best choice for the Town in my opinion.

The vast majority of speakers who spoke at our public hearings expressed concern regarding traffic.  I will be the first to admit that this project will add traffic to our local roads.  But I also am persuaded that the road improvements and other mitigation work that Summit Greenfield will be required to perform will alleviate most traffic impacts and provide other benefits to our community.

I am humbled that I am one of the five decision makers casting a vote tonight, and I assure you I have had many hours of introspection on what is the answer to this conundrum.  This has not been an easy decision to reach.  I know there will be residents who are affected by this project more directly than others. 

But the Town has spent 10 years working on solutions for this property, and it is time to decide and bring this process to a conclusion.  For the sake of progress and moving our community forward, I think it is in the best interest of the community to allow retail development at Reader’s Digest.  I will be voting in favor of the resolutions that are before us tonight. 

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