Town board invites residents to consider partial rezoning of Chappaqua Crossing

March 9, 2012
by Christine Yeres

In a carefully worded press release yesterday, town board members floated the idea that it might be in the interest of both the town and Summit Greenfield, the owner-developer of the former Reader’s Digest property, to explore zoning changes to part of the property that would permit some “very targeted retail, including space for a grocery store and incidental retail businesses.”  Board members invite the community to comment publicly on the idea at their Tuesday, March 27 board meeting at 7:45 p.m. The text of the press release follows.

From Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter, Deputy Supervisor Elise Kessler Mottel and Council Members John Buckley, Robin Stout and Jason Chapin:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The New Castle Town Board always wants to respond to the needs and desires of our local community. Planning for the economic and social health of our Town is a vital priority.

For many years the Board has identified protection and enhancement of the Town’s commercial real estate tax base as a primary goal in order ease the burden on our residential tax base. This goal of a stable and productive commercial tax base has become ever more critical with the recent legislation that caps towns’ and school districts’ abilities to raise taxes to meet financial needs.

The loss to the Town and the Chappaqua Central School District of the largest single private taxpayer when Reader’s Digest moved and left Chappaqua Crossing largely vacant threatens the Town and School District with a serious loss in revenue and further shift of more of the tax burden to residential taxpayers. The Chappaqua hamlet also lost a full service grocery store this past year, and that cost the Town an important community resource and further threatens the Town and the School District’s commercial tax base.

Chappaqua Crossing is an immediately available commercial opportunity for the Town. It holds the potential for both a healthier commercial tax base and provision of goods and services that our residents want and need. With the twin goals of enhancing the commercial tax base and bringing a grocery store to the east side of Town, the Town Board is considering a partial rezoning of the Chappaqua Crossing commercial property to allow for very targeted retail, including a space for a grocery store and incidental retail businesses that would service customers of the grocery store and the existing and future commercial tenants at the site.

Any such change needs vigorous community input and of course would be subject to all applicable laws, including any further necessary environmental review. Further, any such changes would need to be carefully crafted in order to promote the desired commercial usage but minimize competition with our hamlet centers. We believe that we can maximize the likelihood of success and avoid the risk of unintended consequences by careful zoning, using techniques like floor plate and floor area ratio requirements, accessory use standards, and concept plan approval.

The Town Board is setting aside time for public comment on this idea at our regularly scheduled meeting at 7:45 PM on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. No petition or legislation is before the Town Board, and this is not a hearing required under any applicable law; it is a way to open a community dialogue on finding the appropriate way to move our community forward, together. We look forward to your thoughts.

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

While I support the idea of Chappaqua regaining a grocery store, I am not sure that enabling Chappaqua Crossing to gain more retail space will accomplish that goal.  If things proceed similar to the former D’Agostino space, we could end up with another Walgreens, bank or nail salon.  There would need to be some signifiant assurances that the space could ONLY be used for grocery store space to ensure that we do not end up with another duplicative service establishment.  Also, I am concerned about the impact that this would have on traffic flow.  The traffic issues are already HUGE for this area due to proximity to the high school, and narrow nature of streets.  There should be an impact study conducted on this idea BEFORE it goes for a vote.

By A.W. on 03/09/2012 at 7:46 am

I was very happy to hear that the Town Board is considering rezoning Chappaqua Crossing for a grocery store.  As I mentioned @ Tuesday night’s Town Board work session, I believe a high end grocery store, like Whole Foods, for example, would do very well at that location considering the demographics of New Castle & proximity to the Saw Mill.

I also think that such a move could help foster a working relationhip with Summit Greenfield as we take into consideration—and look out for—each others’ interests.

By Rob Greenstein on 03/09/2012 at 8:08 am

Kudos to the Town Board for the fresh thinking here!

This is exactly the type of idea that should be on the table. Are there issues such as traffic that merit serious study? Of course! But at least we’re seeing people tee up creative ideas for discussion.

Thank you Town Board!

By Applaud Fresh Thinking on 03/09/2012 at 8:10 am

I think Chaiperson Carpenter has it correct.  We need to enhance the commercial base of the Town in a reasonable and appropriate fashion.  Doing so would not only increase our tax revenue but in my opinion would also make the Town an even better place to live.

By Gerry Ritterman on 03/09/2012 at 8:54 am

No way. No commercial structures should be considered. The existing buildings and property should be used as it is seen today. The Town of New Castle should spend $100,000 a year putting forth an effort to attract a “Single Occupant User.” If we stand on the Moon and look at Planet Chappaqua; are you telling me that we can’t, as a Community attract a single occupant USER. Why can’t we attract a Bio-tech firm, or even a foriegn Country to make it remain on the Tax Rolls, but make it their Embassy Grounds. How about moving some of the United Nation functions to occupy this complex, or moving a chunk of Wall Street into the space. What about making the entire site the home of a Banking Center; lets relocate Freddie Mac or Freddy May out of Virginia. How about a Solar Farm?

By No way! on 03/09/2012 at 9:27 am

Please do not turn Chappaqua into Long Island. There is/was prime space for a grocery store and Mt.Kisco, Thornwood, Pleasantville are only a mile or two away. How many places to shop do we need? We can’t even keep stores in our downtown area. What was once quaint is now nail salon nirvana and a revolving door of restaurants that can’t survive. Why take more green space,…how about feilds for the kids, a park, a town pool, a larger senior center. I would rather pay higher taxes for that and increase the community benefit, while maintaining it’s charm and beauty~ at least what is left of it. It is really disappointing that because of short sightedness up front, that what so many of us moved here for has to be comprimised now. It’s a huge decision, once it is done, you can’t really go ‘back to the way it was’ so easily, if at all.

Also, there is too much seperation between the town and the school district. They should be more aware and involved with how they affect each other, beside just $$$. For a community so rich in amazing people that can and have accomplished so much, it is disappointing we are losing the quality of of schools and our town. We are a collective pool of amazing resources~it would be wonderful if we could all come together and save what we have.

By M.C.~ Paved Paradise to put up a Parking Lot on 03/09/2012 at 9:32 am

Why not just bring another grocery store into D’Agostino space?  There are already existing retail businesses there to service the customers, and they are suffering now without them.  This seems to be a far less drastic solution to absence of grocery store on east side of town, where traffic will not be further impacted at all.

By WHY? on 03/09/2012 at 9:58 am

How will this proposal affect our retailers in the hamlets? Perhaps, they should be invited to weigh in on this decision.

How will the increased traffic flow affect neighboring residents?

But applaud our town board for coming up with a fresh approach.

By Some questions on 03/09/2012 at 12:16 pm

Amazing the naysayers in this town and on this site.  Simply amazing.  Rob Greenstein, who brought us the Chamber of Commerce idea (a great one by the way!) says something forbidden in this town (“foster a positive relationship with Summit Greenfield”…God forbid Rob!  They are evil!).

All we know how to do is say “no, no, and no”.  We are full of demolition experts, and short on architects. 

By the way “No Way”, how about running for Town Board.  Then you can “bring” the United Nations, “part of Wall Street”, or your best idea yet…a solar farm…to Chappaqua Crossing.  OMG.

By clittle on 03/10/2012 at 8:17 am

Innovative thinking: applause

Terrible idea: boo

By Aargh on 03/10/2012 at 9:10 am

When I buy two of those condos and put them together to have a larger space than I have now and pay less in school taxes, why would I want a grocery store as part of my gated community?  I want office stuff that won’t be busy on the weekends when I am home and not on Wall Street.

By Vaughn Mulcahy on 03/11/2012 at 3:17 am

I can’t wait for Wholefoods coming to this property so that everyone in a 20 mile radius can clog our streets, throw trash out their windows while waiting to get into an already tough traffic area. I also can’t wait for the the delivery trunks in the middle of the night to break that awful silence of the residential areas!

This is nothing other than the Town board trying to deflect criticize of their policies which basically have driven out the groceries stores in town. 

Why would the town object to ( partially on traffic concerns) the developers plan for senior housing, and then bless something that would have 2x the traffic, must of which is even sourced from New Castle.

Dont think cute little Trader Joes, think massive Wholefoods like in Yonkers. That’s what the stores will be thinking.


By Bad idea, very bad idea on 03/11/2012 at 7:58 am

I totally agree with WHY?. We already have a vacant space begging for a grocery store at the old D’Agostino site-why would we need to create more space for a grocery store when we can’t fill the space we have? The D’Agostino site is a perfect spot for a grocery store we do not need to create any more retail areas in town. Let’s fill the vacant stores we have first.

Editor’s Note:  The D’Agostino space is no longer an option; it’s leased to Walgreens.

By Agree With Why? on 03/12/2012 at 5:52 am

The tax base of the town will only grow if there are more buildings erected for commercial use.  The tax base can go down if current owners of commercial property can argue that the assessment of their property is too high and should be lowered. Other than sales taxes which I do not claim to understand how they flow back to the town, no commercial tenant has ever paid real estate taxes to the town unless they own the building in which they operate their business. 

So a new grocery store in town does nothing for the tax base unless you build a new building to put it in.  If I am mistaken, please correct me (that includes Mr. greenstein).

By Tax calc on 03/12/2012 at 10:28 am

Tax calc,

You are corrrect that one way to increase the commerical tax base is to erect more buildings for commercial use.  I will address that approach in a letter to the editor on Friday. 

But, another way,  is to generate more property tax from existing commercial property.  So, a grocery store @ Chappaqua Crossing should at the very least slow down Summit Greenfield’s use of the grievance process to lower their commerical tax burden. 

Bottom line, a high end grocery store at that location could be a good thing for our community, and a good thing for Summit Greenfield.

And that’s the type of win-win situation we should strive for.

By Rob Greenstein on 03/12/2012 at 3:57 pm

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