Letter to the Editor: Reader’s Digest Proposed Development

Don’t let Summit Greenfield treat our town as merely an investment opportunity
January 25, 2008
by Betty and Leonard Weitz



Plaudits to you all, the founders and editors of our first community newspaper!  Thank you for a forum that encourages participation and community spirit. Your achievement is phenomenal.

Here are some comments that we have sent to the town board regarding Summit Greenfield’s application for rezoning the Reader’s Digest property.

To Town Board Members:

We vigorously oppose Summit Greenfield’s (S/G) application for the rezoning of the former Reader’s Digest property. S/G bought the property with full disclosure of the zoning requirements. Their treatment of our community purely as an investment opportunity, with the chief aim to maximize profits regardless of the cost to the community, means that they have no concern for the quality of life for the residents of this town that so many call home.

We are not the NYSE. The vast increase of traffic density, which they admit will occur but for which they have no solution, disqualifies this development from being viable.  The demands on an infrastructure unsuited to meet the needs of additional fire protection, police, schools, etc., reveal the reckless nature of S/G’s development proposal. Their aims are at cross-purposes with those of the community. Those who reside here bought their homes with the reasonable expectation of living in an environment hospitable to family life. The town board has an obligation to protect the residents of this community against opportunists who come to town for the sole purpose of realizing a financial bonanza. In addition, just because “conditions change,” the town has no obligation to protect investors against the vagaries of the marketplace.

Summit Greenfield has no regard for the well-being of our town

The firm, S/G, has the singular intention to use Chappaqua solely as an investment opportunity, strictly for profit, with no regard for the well-being of our town. If profit is the sole motive, then any homeowner should be able to petition for the equal opportunity to rezone their property to build additional houses on single-family zoned properties, but that is not the purpose for which people moved here. Their reason for moving here is to educate their children in an environment conducive to family life.  They move to Chappaqua to be residents and citizens of a community, not part of a business venture.  Chappaqua cannot be treated simply as an investment opportunity for any aggressive and greedy corporate entity that is out to make a substantial profit with no concern for the havoc they wreak on the lives of the residents who call this town their home. Every presentation they have made reveals Summit Greenfield’s callous disregard for this community. 

Do not change the Master Plan

It is imperative that we do not change the Master Plan. To do so would be to lower the legal threshold and to leave us far more vulnerable. One of S/G’s objectives is to pare away our legal protections until they achieve their purpose. The Master Plan, as it is presently crafted, is a crucial instrument effectively fashioned to maintain the essential character of the town. 

Most residents of this town believe that there should be a limit to the number of applications that S/G is allowed since these last two applications are essentially the same. Under the guise of changes of, for example, supposedly fewer residential units, which they have no intention of honoring (they claim the right to double the number to 556), they present a bogus “new” application. It is obvious that their disregard for the expense to the town and the misuse of the time of the town board members must call for a limit to the number of times they can apply for the rezoning of the same development property. 

The town board should not be intimidated by any implied threat of legal action by S/G.  If S/G were to institute a lawsuit when their application is denied, the town board will find that it has the full support of the community in meeting its legal obligation to protect the community.

We thank the town board members for their dedicated service to the community.

Betty and Leonard Weitz