Joint Planning Board and Town Board work session

October 10, 2008
by Christine Yeres

The town board and planning board met in joint session last Tuesday, October 7 to discuss matters in which they have special interest, two of which are high-profile:  draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) for the Reader’s Digest and for the Millwood Firehouse proposal.


DEIS from Reader’s Digest Developer

Developer Summit Greenfield’s DEIS was due the first two weeks of October.  It had not been received at the time of the work session on October 7th.  The document will be a “huge task,” said Supervisor Barbara Gerrard, for both boards to review.  Gerrard told board members that the town would make the document available online, through the town’s new website, 

Once Summit Greenfield submits the DEIS to the town board, a 45-calendar-day clock starts ticking – during which time the town board, as lead agency, decides whether the DEIS adequately addresses all issues raised during the scoping.  If the board judges it inadequate, the clock stops running while the developer addresses any inadequacies, the resubmits.  Once Summit re-submits the DEIS, a 30-calendar-day clock starts ticking in which town board decides whether the re-submitted DEIS is adequate.  Public comment or public hearings would follow.

RFP’s yield only one response

The “request-for-proposals” (these are invitations to submit proposals and bids) for a consultant to produce an environmental impact statement for the town which explores possible town uses of the Reader’s Digest property netted only one response, for over $250,000.  The supervisor has asked new town planner Lincoln Daley to scale down the proposal and resend it to a larger pool of candidates.

Downtown Steering Committee, Hamlet Plan

Board member Elise Mottel reported good reaction from the community to the hamlet plan on display at Community Day, September 27, and estimated that several of the simpler projects – crosswalks and bump outs— will be quick work; others will be longer range and some will depend on outside developer interest.

The town board renewed its invitation to the planning board to help plan for infill (added shop frontage)in the parking lot along North Greeley, across from Susan Lawrence.  The planning board is still interested, but requested that some advance work be done by the town to determine what proportion of the lot belongs to New Castle.

Millwood Firehouse

The Millwood board of fire commissioners appear before the planning board on Tuesday, October 21st, to present their DEIS.  Now that New Castle employs a full time town planner, Lincoln Daley, he will coordinate the examination of the DEIS by various in-house department experts as well as the town’s consultant, F. P. Clark.  See Millwood Matters for a list of experts and their assigned areas.

Residents of Millwood have pressed for the commissioners to include a third alternative in the DEIS for the Realis site, in addition to the two alternative programs the DEIS now contains.  If the planning board feels that the DEIS is inadequate in environomental matters over which they have authority to approve permits, they have standing to ask the commissioners to reconsider elements of the plan that are of too great adverse impact to the environment.

First time use of in-house expertise

The Town of New Castle now employs a full time town planner, Lincoln Daley, who will coordinate the examination of the Millwood Firehouse DEIS by various in-house department experts as well as the town’s consultant, F. P. Clark. 

Bob Cioli, Acting Town Engineer: storm water management analysis, engineering report, slope analysis, slope stabilization, geotechnical survey, storm water retention
James Baynes, Chief of Police:  traffic analysis, site access and egress, road alignment issues
Michael Preziosi, Junior Civil Engineer: engineering, support to Police Department on traffic, site access and egress and road alignment
Michael Landler, F.P. Clark planning consultant: traffic analysis
Steve Coleman, Environmental Coordinator: environmental impacts, wetlands, wetlands mitigation, steep slope and steep slope stabilization, tree removal
Anthony Vaccaro, Commissioner of Public Works: water resources and utilities, use and conservation of energy
Gerry Moerschell, Deputy Commissioner of Public Works: assist Vaccaro in water resources and utilities, use and conservation of energy
Lincoln Daley, Town Planner: general site, environmental impact, noise, visual and historical impacts

Millwood Area Design Plan

The planning board’s F. P. Clark consultant, Joanne Meder, has been out of town, so the design plan is on hold until her return.


The board is waiting for Meder’s return to get the moratorium – the freeze on first floor uses in downtown Chappaqua—on a fast track.

Environmental Review Board and Planning Board, “mixed signals”

The town board signaled its wish to have the environmental review board (“ERB”) and planning board improve the level of communication between them.  In a recent case, after a required visit to the ERB, an applicant left thinking he had approval from the ERB and was later surprised at what seemed a reversal by the planning board.  A mixed message can delay the process, the supervisor told members of the two boards.  Planning board member Richard Brownell urged the ERB to leave the planning board free to use its judgment when balancing fairness to the developer, the owner, and the town.

The town board moved to West Orchard elementary school to continue its work session there.  See Millwood Matters for an update on that meeting.