Tuesday, November 18, 2014
by Christine Yeres
Town Board members have said they intend to make a decision on the Chappaqua Crossing application for retail rezoning before year’s end, and they will likely close the public hearing at the end of the November 18 public hearing. Despite the advice of the Planning Board, Town Board members showed in their meeting on Monday that they intend to keep approval authority for the preliminary development concept plan for themselves. “We’ve consulted them already,” explained Greenstein, “and we’ll continue to listen to them.” The plan has been made better by the Planning Board, he said. But formal power-sharing is too complicated.
According to the Town Board’s counsel, Nick Ward-Willis, if and when the Town Board votes to adopt the retail zoning, it could also approve a preliminary development concept plan (PDCP), possibly with a formal referral to the Planning Board before the PDCP “goes final.” After PDCP stage, Summit Greenfield would return to the Planning Board for site plan approval.
Traditional Neighborhood Development
Although the Planning Board felt that implementation of the “Traditional Neighborhood Development” principles for which it advocated fell short of the mark, and the County Planning Board expressed disappointment that the proposed plan for Chappaqua Crossing was not more genuinely “mixed use,” Greenstein has called it “a hybrid,” and “a compromise.”
“The current proposal,” Greenstein has said, “while not perfect, has been significantly improved.”
Size of the retail and traffic
“We’re considering [approving] 120,000 square feet,” said Town Board member Jason Chapin, “but I still have significant concerns about traffic and about the proposed changes to the intersections at Roaring Brook Road at 117.”
“The two case studies,” continued Chapin, “with two developments with a Whole Foods—Kings Crossing and Milford Marketplace, and those are both considered successful developments—are both less than 120,000 square feet.”
“The plan originally put forth was 120,000 square feet,” Greenstein pointed out, “but that includes a 25,000-square-foot gym, so really we’re talking about 95,000 square feet of retail.”
“If we can minimize the traffic impacts,” said Greenstein, “we will certainly try to do that. But the gym is not retail, and there’s no pharmacy [proposed] any longer.”
“With a Whole Foods of 40,000 square feet and a gym of 25,000,” said Chapin, “you have to consider traffic for each and what other types of retail would create greater traffic. Consider if you have a gym you want to know when most of that traffic is generated so you would want to look at types of retail that generate traffic in the middle of the day or toward evening—so a restaurant or two restaurants.”
“Having less office space would mitigate traffic as well,” said Greenstein.
“People are talking about tax revenues that are so important,” said Greenstein. “Well, retail generates more taxes than office space. And the Planning Board’s AKRF study says that if you’re going to do it [approve retail], you want it to be successful.” [AKRF posited that granting the full 120,000 square feet of retail could help ensure the success of the shopping center.]
“The more stores, the more rent,” explained Town Board member Adam Brodsky, “—the more valuable the property, the more tax revenue.”
Citing a Whole Foods quarterly report, Chapin said, “The average Whole Foods is 36,000 square feet and generates $30 million a year [in sales]—which is $10 million more than a normal supermarket [such as A&P]. So this tells me this would generate significantly more property taxes than an A&P. We know from our town assessor that he can’t put a value on the property until we know who the tenants are. The community wants us to say what the exact number is, but we can’t provide that.”
The assessor, explained Brodsky, “looks at the rental income from the property, puts a factor on that and that’s the tax bill. The retail market rents at three times what office space does, so the space would be leased for very high rent.”
The public hearing continues on the evening of Tuesday, November 18. According to Supervisor Greenstein, the Town Board will continue its discussion of the draft legislation in the work session preceding the hearing. Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz has invited residents to speak with her about Chappaqua Crossing on Monday, November 17, at Lange’s, between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
To see the draft rezoning legislation, click HERE
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