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.”
[See Stores big or small—or none at all? Planning Board balks at retail zoning for Chappaqua Xing; advises the matter be run through a master planning process, NCNOW.org, 7/17/14.]
“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.
Town of New Caslte Board Meeting 7/22/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.
Supervisor is not sharing with TB. Where is the transparency he and his team promised?
It would be most pleasant, and helpful, if Chapin and Mottel would stop grandstanding.
Isn’t it ironic and maddening that Mr Buckley is suggesting a return to residential development at CC. Has everyone forgotten that the NIMBYs were dead set opposed to a large scale residential development. Subdivisions for large homes, age restricted housing and condos were all proposed years ago. Only after years of protest and obstruction did the developer get approval for 110 condos. That was a third of the original request and void of houses. Now we want to revisit more residential?..
Lisa Katz announce she intends to enact a moratorium. She is a big part of the problem. She is certainly not part of the solution. She and her neighbors have opposed and obstructed every proposal made. All she wants is an empty CC. We get sued we can thank her. Home buyers are choosing other town with supermarkets and lower taxes. We can thank her and the NIMBYs.
At the end of the meeting, John Marwell mentions that Susan Carpenter had met with CC’s Felix Charney about retail. Had Jason Chapin heard of that discussion? Or is it just Greenstein’s discussions he’s critical of.
What you call grandstanding we call governing. You may not agree with what they say and that is your right but they are not grandstanding. Greenie could learn a thing or two from them on decorum . The citizens of this town are grateful that Mottel and Chapin are finally speaking up.
In case you missed it, Greenie was elected mainly because the majority of this town was disgusted with Carpenter’s lousy governance. Greenie is even worse, something no one thought possible.
Yes, in your world grandstanding IS governing.
Age restricted communities are enforceable so long as federally established criteria are satisfied. I believe it has to be 80 percent owned/occupied by at least one adult over 55. I have not gone back to verify those criteria right now but that is my recollection. The problem is that over time younger adults weave their way into the community. This is particularly true where you have an attractive school system. In New Castle, parents want to get their kids in our schools. Perhaps there is a 55 year old involved when the condo is first occupied but as time passes, events like death and divorce result in the age qualifying adult not residing there anymore. Once a development falls below the minimum 80 percent requirement, there can no longer be an enforceable age restriction. Over time not only are there more younger adults but more children. As I recall, from the town’s perspective, the development would be a net fiscal loss at a certain number of kids becoming resident. That means once you calculate the taxes paid by the condo owners versus what the town pays to educate each student, there was a relatively low number of kids needed to make that a reality. Given the number of bedrooms being built, it seemed very likely the number of kids needed to make this a money loser would be surpassed. Maybe it would take a few years but it would happen. This is all from memory. Could be wrong on some of the details but I think this was a key concern.
One more thought: CC is supposed to have a certain number of affordable hpusing units. It is possible that requiring an adult owner of one of those condos to be over 55 would not be permitted. If so, do the affordable housing condos count for purposes of the 80/20 analysis? Right now, slightly more than 15 percent of the condos are to be affordable housing. If CC goes to 200 condos and if the affordable housing ones “count” for the age analysis but cannot be restricted to adults over 55, that would leave a cushion of just 5 percent before the development would fall below the minimum. If at the beginning, every single one of the non affordable housing units—180 condos—was sold to age qualifying adults, it would take only 10 units to become non qualifying througj death, divorce, etc before the entire development would become non age restricted. That means every unit could legally be sold to anyone regatdless of age.
Adding additional houses enlarges the 800 gorilla to a 1200 pound gorilla. The housing is the ‘lifestyle’ detractor that is being overlooked.
Although I am not particularly in favor of retail there and wouldn’t be opposed to more residential units why is Buckley’s Opinion of any particular relevance? Doesn’t he know that the town proposed retail/supermarket to mitigate the potential effect of litigation initiated by ownership even though their purchase was non-conditional and to capitalize on the groundswell of hysterical concern about the town not having a supermarket except for A&P Millwood?
Why is Buckley chiming in now? He was ineffective while on the town board, was defeated for re election etc. He appears to not know the history of the process here and is probably ignorant as to the capital structure of the property ownership. Summit Greenfield is not financially capable of completing the development
Mr. Buckley is a local, residential real estate agent. Of course he wants residential. His company would get the majority of the listings. The flip side, is that our town and school will be greatly harmed by the sale of 200 condominiums that pay very low taxes (condos pay about 40% of the taxes single-family homes pay), which is why the DEVELOPERs love condos. Of course, our schools will be destroyed as each student costs over $30,000 to educate and each condo will pay $4,000 per unit in school taxes (whether they enroll 1,2,3, or 4 kids). I suspect Mr. Buckley either is acting in his real estate agency’s interest or still does not understand the tax impact of condos – he and his former colleagues on the Town Board never did understand that issue when they were serving on the Town Board.