John Buckley suggests a return to housing at CC, Marwell urges TB toward closure
Monday, July 28, 2014
by Christine Yeres
In last Tuesday’s public hearing on a zoning change for Chappaqua Crossing to permit retail on the site, former Town Board member John Buckley suggested that the Board revisit the residential option for Chappaqua Crossing, telling Board members that he believed that around 200 residential units might have worked for all parties. (The original application proposed 348 units, then 278, then 199, before a previous Town Board settled in April 2011 on 111 units). Two interesting responses to Buckley followed:
First, Supervisor Greenstein said, “It was asked.” Residents from the audience responded with a collective “And….?”
“I reached out to Felix [Charney, head of SG],” said Greenstein. “We both had a conversation and said we should work together to come up with a win-win solution. I certainly mentioned this. I can’t speak for him, but maybe his opinion would have been different before the SEQR review was completed. Maybe. Maybe not. I asked after the Findings were adopted and they were not receptive.” TB member Jason Chapin said that he had not heard of any such discussion.
Second, SG attorney John Marwell reminded Town Board members that in its April 2011 decision the then-Town Board had pared down the number of residential units from 199 to 111 expressly stating that in doing so it intended to preserve the commercial potential of the property.
[Marwell did not point out that “commercial” did not include “retail” activity. Although the words “commercial” and “office” have been used interchangeably, the site is zoned for “business, office and research”—not for “commercial” or “retail.” Board members have come to use the terms “commercial” and “office” interchangeably.]
Marwell also reminded Town Board members that it was the town that suggested that Summit Greenfield explore grocery-retail, through a settlement that suspended all lawsuits for the duration of the supplemental environmental review. “You’ve been conducting public hearings on the retail application since September 2012,” he said, “and referrals to the Planning Board and memos back [from the Planning Board].”
“We’re disappointed that the Planning Board was not able to get a report back to you,” Marwell continued. “I think you really need to be able to bring this process to closure.”
“I just want to add,” said TB member Jason Chapin to Marwell, “that the initial proposal for retail at Chappaqua Crossing involved a supermarket in the 200 [cupola] building and we were looking at adaptive reuse of the 200 and 100 buildings. So I think it’s accurate to say that the initial proposal has gone through many changes.”
[As NCNOW has published in a “primer” on the application for retail, Summit Greenfield had returned, one year after the April 2011 decision, to tell then-Supervisor Susan Carpenter that the 111 units wasn’t viable, and to propose more residential. D’Agostino’s had recently been replaced by a Walgreen’s, so she suggested that Summit Greenfield instead explore a grocery with some accompanying retail that would “adaptively reuse” existing building space. In the settlement that followed, both parties agreed to explore the use; approval was not guaranteed.]
“That’s absolutely correct,” said Marwell, “and we were certainly encouraged strongly that the town would be receptive to Whole Foods and would not be encouraging of other types of supermarkets. We’ve been working with Whole Foods a number of years, and once Whole Foods became sufficiently committed and engaged here, it goes through a whole internal site planning process of its own and they came back to us and said ‘We can’t live with the adaptive reuse of the 100 and 200 buildings. It has to be free-standing.’ That’s what precipitated that change in our proposal.”
Greenstein stated that the public hearing would remain open so that residents would have a chance to review the Planning Board’s memo to the Town Board on the zoning amendments and comment on it. August 12 the public hearing will continue.
Lisa Katz announced that she intended to ask fellow Board members to enact a moratorium.