Hearings on Reader’s Digest development proposal begin June 23, 2009

May 22, 2009
by Christine Yeres

More than a year has passed since public scoping sessions ended regarding developer Summit Greenfield’s plans for the Reader’s Digest property. In that year, Summit Greenfield has prepared and submitted, in accordance with state environmental regulations, a draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS as it is commonly called, addressing the potential environmental impact of its Chappaqua Crossing development and responding to questions raised by the public during the scoping sessions.

The town board and its consultants reviewed the developers’ voluminous submission earlier this year and identified areas in which they found the DEIS insufficient. Summit Greenfield has responded to those identified inadequacies in its most recent version of the DEIS. Finally, at a work session on Tuesday, May 19, the New Castle Town Board declared the DEIS complete.

Now the town and the developer advance to the next stage in New York State’s environmental quality review process, or SEQR as it is commonly called, when the board begins public hearings on the completed DEIS for the Chappaqua Crossings project on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall.

The scope of discussion at the public hearings will be broad, stated Town Supervisor Barbara Gerrard, for which she received assent from all other board members. The public will be permitted to comment on and pose questions regarding the DEIS and the developer’s application for a zoning variance to allow for the construction of its mixed-use project and possible municipal uses of some of the Reader’s Digest property.

Board member Robin Stout agreed that a June 23 hearing date would allow a reasonable amount of time in which to give town, staff and residents time to digest the DEIS information. By keeping the hearings broad, as suggested by Gerrard, “we won’t be in the position of saying ‘No, we can’t take that comment,’” said Stout.  Gerrard recapped, “So it will be a combined hearing on elements of the application and the DEIS.” At some point, she added, the board may close discussion on the DEIS but keep it open regarding other elements of the application.

The board anticipates that public hearings will continue into summer, with future dates and times to be announced. The DEIS will be available in its entirety for review on line early next week. The town will set up a dedicated web page to receive public comment on the DEIS beginning Tuesday, May 26. Written comments on the DEIS may be sent to Town Clerk Jill Simon Shapiro at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For a complete listing of NewCastleNOW.org’s previous articles and letters to the editor on Reader’s Digest, click here.