Steering Committee goes to town on Master Plan review, reactivates volunteer groups
L to R: Standing are Town Planner Sabrina Charney, Maud Bailey, Rob Greenstein; sitting are Hala Makowska, Dick Brownell and Bob Kirkwood.
March 7, 2014
by Christine Yeres
On Tuesday, members of the Master Plan Steering Committee met with Town Planner Sabrina Charney to talk logistics on the roll-out of the Master Plan review. Each of the them will re-activate the groups of volunteers who were put on hold during the committee’s sluggish start up period, comb through the 1989 “Town Development Plan” to see where it now falls short and needs updating, and meet with the Town Board and Pace Land Use Center consultants to discuss their results.
“My concern,” said Bob Kirkwood, “is that we’ve really been slow on getting this off the mark and the Town Board has a lot of time pressure on it. We need to really jump start this process. The Town Board is under this gun, and is trying at the same time to do this outreach, asking ‘If we do what this or that applicant is proposing, what does it mean in the hamlet, or here, or there, or everywhere?’ What about changing institutional lands to commercial uses? What about changing residential lands to commercial uses?”
Because the fate of the Chappaqua Crossing, town hall and the Legionaries properties are not only hot topics but ones viewed as having time constraints, the committee will front-load the review process to consider them fully. They estimate that to finish the complete Master Plan review will take a total of 18 months’ time. “This is an update of the TDP,” said Kirkwood. “The rocks haven’t changed, streams flow the same way. A lot of the data remains good and accurate. As far as ‘parks and recreation,’ for example, we know we have an issue with the capacity of fields. OK. What do we do about that? This is the kind of question we’ll ask ourselves.”
Starting with the existing 1989 Town Development Plan, Bob Kirkwood, Dick Brownell, both Planning Board members; Hala Makowska, Chair of the Millwood Board of Fire Commissioners; Maud Bailey, a past president of the League of Women Voters who participated in the creation of the 1989 Plan; and Supervisor Rob Greenstein, replacing Adam Brodsky, will each take a subject area and—with those residents who volunteered to assist—will compare the 1989 version against their current experience, common sense and knowledge of the town, noting what areas need updating.
“And let’s not be worried about consensus in our groups,” said Kirkwood. “Put all ideas up, with nothing considered outlandish. Then narrow these down to five for each of us.”
• Maud Bailey: Public Services and Recreation
• Dick Brownell: Environment, Habitat and Scenic Resources
• Rob Greenstein: Commercial Development and Hamlets
• Bob Kirkwood: Housing
• Hala Makowska: Public Works Infrastructure
Town Planner Sabrina Charney noted that since all their subjects are interconnected they will naturally find themselves crossing over into their colleagues’ areas of study.
With the results of their preliminary review of the 1989 TDP under their belts, on March 18 the Steering Committee will meet with the Town Board and Pace consultants to discuss details of the community outreach. “We will have framed the issues by then, so that the public outreach is intelligent and directed—not a mush,” said Kirkwood. “We’ll chase it down, identify areas that need changing, frame them, and then have a good meeting with Pace.” Outreach to the broader community will begin soon after.
Although the contract the town is negotiating with Pace is expected to last through the end of June, Charney assured committee members that “if all this is not realistic within the time frame of that contract, then Pace will come back and do another outreach session. Pace is coming on the 18th to discuss their program to see what the Town Board wants and what your committee wants.”
“If you don’t inform the public about what you’re doing at the beginning,” Brownell cautioned, “it’s very hard to get buy-in. We should take what facts are available, our impressions, and identify core issues.”
“In the end, though, the Master Plan is not just ‘issues,’” said Kirkwood. “It about the community’s vision. It produces a lot of noise, but from all the noise comes a vision, and then some specifics.”
• 2003 Vollmer Report:
• From NCNOW’s archives: An outline of the PPS report, “PPS Report on Downtown Chappaqua from Fall 2006”
• To view the full PPS report in PDF form, click here .
• August 2008 Comprehensive Landscape Design Project
In August 2008, The Town of New Castle retained a team of design consultants, Pouder Design Group, to advance a vision for the revitalization of the streetscape within the Hamlet of Chappaqua.
• In this article from NCNOW’s archives is a very useful critique of the 1989 Master Plan by the Planning Board of two years ago: Planning board tucks into 1989 town development plan with an eye to revision and participation; members choose their five-ish top priorities for the future, NCNOW.org, 3/16/2012
• For NCNOW’s collected articles on Master Plan, click HERE.
Please keep in mind that the merchants in Chappaqua need to generate at a minimum $80 dollars four times an hour just to survive. So while you walk around downtown Chappaqua please try and relate this statistic to the layout and access that the current parking provides all our merchants and professional businesses. Also, take into consideration that the majority of business activity in downtown Chappaqua does not charge bythe hour like a lawyer or CPA does. On that note we just can’t be a total town filled with lawyers and CPA’s, we need our various shops and services that the downtown area provides.
Mr. Greenstein, do you have any idea that the team you are surrounding yourself with is 50% percent ANTI BUSINESS, ANTI LANDLORD, ANTI DEVELOPMENT, ANTI GROWTH, ANTI ALMOST EVERYTHING? What are you being told inside your office and by who, that would give you the comfort level to proceed so far as to how you have been proceeding? What the heck are you being sold to believe or accept? Be very careful of the powerbrokers, because when you look back at your term of holding office, you just may be another Supervisor that wakes up too late and can’t recognize how you were skillfully being steered away from what you set out to do. I think I am starting to see the signs that you are getting lost; you’re losing who you are to yourself ! I see it taking hold. Maybe Mr. Brodsky and Katz can keep you or pull you back on track; if they are strong enough! I would re-explore and re-think what you are doing in this matter, unless your ideology and agenda is in complete agreement with those that are making up this team. As the saying goes “Don’t listen to what you are being told, look at the history of their actions.” This is why we study history in School! The history of actions in this case is almost ANTI EVERYTHING. Maybe you’re clever to be doing this on purpose, when I believe that your ideology is completely the other way. Maybe you like dealing within an environment of confusion, perhaps this gives you the ultimate control, or the ultimate reason to escape your own agenda. I think we call this Politics, and you maybe the master of this craft, or you may be falling under the control of the outside powerbrokers. So sad, many business owners, merchants, and property owners thought that you were untouchable. Maybe not, or maybe you are just new to your position as being the Supervisor. Town Hall is not a place to make friends, it is a place to show leadership; you my friend are showing signs of fizzling out and I hope that I am wrong.
You write with knowledge of merchant financials. What are the rents the merchants are paying now? How does your formula change if rents are lowered?
Be wary of any real estate tax reductions that do not 100% benefit tenants. If tax reductions are considered, make them temporary such that the town retains control over them. Otherwise, reductions will permanently benefit landlords who are able to raise rents in the future to THEIR benefit as opposed to the tenant-merchant-customer interests we presumably wish to help.
Whole foods will not wait. Delayed approval=denial=no development, to the delight of the NIMBYs and obstructionists.
You sound like a socialist. I don’t think you embrace either free markets or capitalism. I think capitalism may be held by you to be a dirtty little word. I trust all downtown merchants to manage their agreements held with their own landlords then believing that Governemnt can help us. Just let us merchants know that our landlords have received a property tax break and we will handle the rest of the matter without Government thinking that they can help us; I’d rather close my business if that had to be the case as you advocate.
The merchants have their hats in their hands asking for help. We, as the residents who are being asked for help, are in a position of a lender or sorts. Therefore, we are entitled to know the financials of the beggar, excuse me, borrower. So, WHAT ARE THE RENTS!!??”!
The point here is that it is a sensitive point. Board Member Brodsky’s family charges the rents. The tenants do not want to offend his father in law Hakim.
This is pure capitalism. To call it any thing else is a fraudulent statement at worst, and obfuscation at a minimum.
Is it a state secret what the rents are? Is it of interest why the downtown merchants can’t make a living, or so they say?
We want spotlight on bottom lines. If not, forget them
All comers who want help, must bare all. If not, they are hiding something which disqualifies them from help
now you want merchant welfare?
We paid for our own children to go to college, now the merchants expect us to underwrite the cost of their children’ college tuition?
Dear Mr. Brodsky, how can you respond to the sickening comments that are posted here! We actually have a person calling the downtown merchants of Chappaqua beggars! I find this to be very upsetting, because should this person be affiliated with town hall, this represents the problems that past administrations created and supported. So how would you go about correcting such an awful and uninformed individual who just does not understand local economics? I got news for you, the person making the comment just may be on the master plan committee.
One person (merchant) asking another person (commuting and working resident) to help the former make a living is “asking for money”.
The askers are not giving full disclosure. THAT is sickening.
For the sixth time, what are the rents for each store in town?
The Town of New Castle should assign a base overlay lease number to all commercial areas in downtown Chappaqua. For example, when the residents of the area drive by Citi Bank, Dunkin Donuts, and Pizza Station, and they see all those businesses in that building. The Town of New Castle should have their own idea, based on their own research, and formulate a reasonable figure that the Town believes, or would like to believe, is the lease income that the building produces in total. This should be totally calculated out without the input of the owner, or asking for their records. The Town should do this for the entire town, and if owner occupied – a value should still be placed on such space. This study should be available to all residents or interested parties, and of course given to the property owner. It should be an independent function that Town Hall conducts on an annual basis and is done without the help of or in the offices of the tax assessor’s office. Town Hall should work on understanding both sides of the issue, so that when complaints come in from either the residential base, or the commercial base, their can be a running history as to why various sides to an issue have the position that they have. As a Community what should we believe should be the lease income of the entire building that Citi Bank is located in? How would we expect Town Hall to use this information either in favor or against the landlord? How would this kind of information influence the PB or ZB? In what circumstances would such information be used to speed up or bring to a crawl the functions of Town Hall. I suggest creating an overlay rental / lease income map. What say Team Green?