Letter to the Editor:  Some Master Plan Thinking for Our Real-Life Town

February 28, 2014
by Chris Roberta

Here are my seven reasons why the Spa at New Castle is a better fit for the Chappaqua Crossing property.  Yes, it’s been thought of before.  But our thinking—all around and under it—has come a long way in the last couple of years.  And in the Master Plan review, we’re about to think big-time about the whole town.

1.  The Parcels. The C.C. parcel is nearly 20 acres larger than the legionaries and with its already cleared (and underutilized) vast flat expanses, it is better suited for a dense commercial development than the steep rocky slopes and moist basins of the Legionaries parcel. 

2.  Transportation.  The C.C. parcel is far closer to existing transportation arteries and hubs.  The C.C. property is on the doorstep of the Saw Mill and is in closer proximity to a train station (Chappaqua) than the Legionaries (Mt. Kisco station). 

3.  Master Plan.  Our Town Development Plan (Master Plan) articulates that higher density uses should be closer to the existing downtown with decreasing density as you extend away from the center.  Our Master Plan supports a higher density use at C.C. versus the Legionaries. 

4. Zoning. Compare the current uses and zoning of the Legionaries site with those of C.C. , those at C.C. are more closely related to the proposed Spa uses—which include a hotel and conference facilities, spa with pool and recreation facilities, condominiums, chapel, 150-seat restaurant, and related retail and office space. 

5.  Downtown.  If the Spa were at the Legionaries site the guests of the hotel/spa/restaurant and residents of the condominiums would have Armonk at one end of 128 and Mt. Kisco at the other – it is unlikely they would contribute economically to our downtown merchants.  But if the Spa was at C.C., all the guests and residents would have our downtown merchants providing the nearest options. 

6.  Tax Revenue.  If the Spa were at C.C. all the tax revenues would go to New Castle versus a vast majority going to the Bedford School Distrct if at the Legionaries.  Also, moving Town offices to the cupola building would put a non-tax paying occupant in a place where there could be a tax-paying occupant. 

7.  Environmental Impacts. While the Spa application is only at the scoping stage, the history of the applications for both sites show far less potential for significant environmental impacts at C.C. than at the Legionaries. 

On these seven counts, it seems that a higher density, more commercial use is better suited on the Chappaqua Crossing property than on the Legionaries.

But let’s face it:

• Mr. Oder might want to stick with his spa-hotel-restaurant-condo plan.

• Summit Greenfield might want to stick with its grocery-retail proposal. 

• The town Supervisor might want to stick with his town-hall-at-the-cupola-proposal. 

• And Mr. Napoli might want to stick with his Bell field-centered hamlet development.

But here’s where Master Planning comes in:  When we put everything on the table for residents to think about, it might be that the kinds of things we – collectively—think should be permitted on sites like Legionaries, C.C. and the town hall property might not be what Mr. Oder, Summit Greenfield, Mr. Greenstein or Mr. Oder want for them—or even what you and I want for them.

The Master Plan process should go forward without pressure to take what’s on offer from developers, and give us confidence to make our own offers to developers—or just say “Bye!” to them— based on what makes sense for our town. 

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

To Chris Roberta – some nice ideas in here but totaly unrealistic. Two different land owner developers at Chapp Crossing and The Spa. It would be as if you wanted to seek a variance to build a pool at your house and your neighbor wanted a zoning change to build a guest cottage on his/ her house. Then somebody comes along and suggests that you should build the cottage and your neighbor should build the pool because your properties are better suited for each. It may be true and may be a good suggestion but you don’t want the cottage and your neighbor doesn’t want the pool.
These are private land owners and we can’t expect or require they execute a plan because a resident decides what they think is best.

By Resident on 03/01/2014 at 10:13 am

Our master plan does NOT support higher density at CC.

By nope on 03/01/2014 at 12:50 pm

Hey, Resident!  It’s you who are “totally unrealistic”.  Those houses are owned completely by two residents, each within his or her residential zoning.  Only the two of them can decide that one should build the pool, and the other the guest cottage, then maybe share them.  Nobody can come in from outside and tell them what to do (except to stay within their residential zoning). 

We as a town can’t tell private developers what to do with their land (or the land they want to buy).  You got that right.  HOWEVER: We can absolutely require them to remain within their existing zoning. We do require it. The zoning requires it.

The way we get what we want for this parcel or that parcel is (you’re right: we can’t dictate to the developer) to decide as a community how to zone those parcels (master plan comes in here). 

Then we might lose the developer we do have that’s interested in the spa or the shopping center, but we later might attract a developer who does want to do what we’ve decided to allow in our zoning of the parcel.  Less tsouris for the developer, less touris for residents, less tsouris for elected officials. Everything becomes clear!  Or, let’s say, transparent.

By Less Tsouris through Master Planning on 03/01/2014 at 3:07 pm

Mr. Roberta, we don’t own Chappaqua Crossing and no one wants to build a spa next to a railroad track.

By 2 problems on 03/02/2014 at 9:25 am

Naïve pontificators are driving me crazy LOL

By OMG on 03/03/2014 at 7:39 am

“2 Problems”, or is it Mr Oder? We the residents of New Castle can appreciate why you would not want to build your spa next to a train track. It kind of spoils the relaxing atmosphere.

So then you should appreciate why residents in areas that are zoned for 2 acre residential do not want a hotel/retail/bar/reataurant/spa/condos popping up in their back yards or an overflow of commercial traffic along their quiet residential streets. It kind of spoils the atmosphere (e.g. changes the characterisitics of our town, destroys the environment and watershed, lowers our quality of life at home, lowers roperty values, lowers the property tax base, etc.).




By Plan First, Build Later on 03/03/2014 at 10:12 am

What is realistic is largely limited by the shackles on our thinking

Our master plan does NOT support higher density at C.C…because…(insert text/citation from the plan)

You say tsouris, I say agita, but were talking about the same thing

Ya don’t own the legionaries neither

from the talk round town, looks like there’s more than two problems.  Perhaps 99 problems, but…

By Chris Roberta on 03/03/2014 at 8:16 pm

Sorry, forgot to ask if the pope wears a funny hat.

By C.R. on 03/03/2014 at 8:17 pm

Mr. Roberta,

I learned that our master plan does not support more density or retail at CC by listening to the planning board when this issue was under discussion. 

Read the document for yourself and then get back to us and show us why you think that it does.

By read it yourself on 03/04/2014 at 9:37 am

Read it for yourself
1. My statement was that the master plan supports higher density at CC versus the legionaries (the statement is above if you need a refresher).

2. I have already shown you why, but from your post is appears that you are not familiar with the document so I will aid in your learning – the articulations I referred to are on page 111 of the master plan.

3. Where’s your cite, a page #, meeting date, minutes, anything? 

We need honest fact based discussions during the master plan review process

By C.R. on 03/04/2014 at 8:19 pm

Gee Chris, and I thought that you kept up with the planning board meetings.  I know what I heard.  Somehow I trust Sheila Crespi and the rest of the planning board’s understanding of the master plan before I would trust yours.

By read it for yourself on 03/06/2014 at 1:22 pm

You heard the planning board say that C.C. does not support higher density versus the legionaries? 
I don’t recall them ever discussing the two projects together and comparing the two; please aid in my learning and tell me when this happened. 

The master plan (pg 111) says more density closer to downtown, less as you get farther away – C.C. is closer to downtown then the legionariees – hence more density at C.C. then legionaries because of the closer proximity to downtown. Am I wrong, is C.C. farther away from downtown then legionaries? 


By C.R. on 03/06/2014 at 3:52 pm

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