“You spoke, we listened”—Master Plan public workshop set for Thursday, March 12 at Library

Master Plan review process picks up from last sping’s public outreach sessions
Monday, March 9, 2015
by Christine Yeres

On Thursday, March 12, a meeting is scheduled for 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Chappaqua Library to recap for residents where the Master Plan review stands and to chart its next steps.  Below is Town Planner Sabrina Charney’s memo apprising Town Board members of her meeting—closed to outsiders—with Pace representatives and the Master Plan Steering Committee members on February 12, 2015. Later, by email, NCNOW submitted some questions about the report, to which Charney supplied some responses.

Charney noted in her email of February 26, “I have answered the questions that are appropriate to be answered at this stage of the Comprehensive Plan Update. Please note that some of the information you are requesting has not yet been developed.”

February 17, 2015 Memo from Town Planner Sabrina Charney to Town Board

MEMO:  The Master Plan Steering Committee met on February 12, 2015 from 5 to 7pm. Re-introductions between Master Plan Steering Committee (MPSC) members and Tiffany Zezula and Kevin Dwarka, Pace Land Use Law Center staff, were made. Sabrina explained Tiffany and Kevin’s role in the master planning process – they were brought on to help facilitate MPSC meetings and public outreach, as well as conduct both Millwood and Chappaqua revitalization studies.

NCNOW:  Are “Millwood and Chappaqua revitalization studies” (Pace is doing this) the same as “market survey” (below, highlighted in yellow)—for which, you say below, a consultant has been selected and which was begun “immediately” following the February 12 meeting? If the two terms have different meanings, can you please define each?

Charney Response:  The revitalization studies are explained in a power point presentation available under the “about the project” tab on the Master Plan page of the Town Website. They are also further detailed in Pace’s proposal. See the website.

MEMO: Pace began their discussion on their workplan by summarizing what the Town has already done: a Community Engagement Report was written following the outreach that was conducted throughout the later part of the year in 2014; the County completed the Town’s Base Studies which inventory the Town’s existing conditions;

NCNOW: —as we heard Tuesday night from the County, they are “existing conditions” with the exception of Chappaqua Crossing as a third commercial district, a retail shopping center of 120,000 SF.  [The public hearing on Chappaqua Crossing’s preliminary development concept plan begins in the Town Board’s meeting of Tuesday, March 10.]

MEMO: —a consultant for the market survey was selected;

NCNOW: Who is the consultant? What is the cost?

Charney Response: In 2014 the Town Board hired PSB [Penn, Schoen & Berland] to conduct a market survey. The Master Plan Steering Committee requested that the survey not take place as planned in 2014, but that we utilize the contract with PSB to create a survey to obtain public input regarding the Comprehensive Plan Update. The consultant is still under contract with the Town and according to the Comprehensive Plan Update Schedule, we will most likely be conducting the survey in early Spring (although this may change as the update process will remain to be fluid to meet the needs of the Town).

MEMO: —and each Master Plan Committee [member] completed research on particular topics, some of which resulted in written SWOT reports.

NCNOW:  Which topics have written reports? Where are these written reports made available?

Charney Response: The SWOT analyses that have been put into written form are drafts. They are not in a form for public dissemination at this time.

MEMO:  Pace then discussed their three-pronged approach to sustainability in master planning. This approach has three components: social, environmental and economic sustainability.

While previous studies and outreach efforts have provided insight on the social and environmental aspects of our Town, the Chappaqua and Millwood revitalization studies will shed light on market realities and existing economic conditions that have not been explored previously.

NCNOW:  So the AKRF reports [commissioned during the Chappaqua Crossing SEQR review] are not sufficient? What will Pace’s “revitalization studies” provide that AKRF did not? How does the town’s previous HR&A market study report fit in?

Charney Response:  The AKRF reports were focused on one commercial area of the the Town. As you are aware there are three areas in accordance with the Town’s Zoning. AKRF’s work will be incorporated into Pace’s work. See my comment above regarding the scope of the revitalization studies.

MEMO:  These analyses, paired with the environmental and social aspects of sustainability, will be vital to our Master Plan Update.

NCNOW: This is unclear. Can you, as an example, choose any topic and show how you would apply all three—1. environmental, 2. social and 3. “market realities and existing economic conditions”?

Say the topics of “sidewalks”—1. Sidewalks would be beneficial to the environment, 2. people like them and would walk (get exercise) and talk on them, 3. we must consider that they’re very costly. Is this what you mean by the three-pronged approach?

Charney Response: Since the market realities have not been produced yet, it would be difficult to apply all three. We need time to conduct the analysis.

MEMO: Pace reviewed the project’s tentative timeline; both hamlet revitalization studies will commence immediately so that the results are available and can be incorporated with all other planning considerations as soon as possible.

Existing Conditions and Goals and Objectives will be defined and elaborated upon through the end of the winter and into the spring.

NCNOW: What “goals and objectives”? When do the public outreach sessions come into play in developing these goals and objectives? Or are the MPSC members expected to develop them on their own? Or have they developed them already?

Charney Response: The MPSC [Master Plan Steering Committee] working with Town Staff and Pace will develop the draft goals and objectives. At the time that the MPSC is comfortable releasing the goals and objectives will be when the public workshops will be held.

NCNOW:  When do the MPSC and Pace ask residents, “Did we understand you correctly? Is this what you told us in last Spring’s outreach sessions?” Is this what the March 12 meeting will be about?

Charney Response:  Yes, you are correct.

NCNOW: And now that a shopping center is approved for Chappaqua Crossing, how will this rather large change in circumstance be factored into the Master Plan review?

Charney Response:  Chappaqua Crossing has historically been a commercial area. The change is to allow retail uses and housing on the property. These changes will be considered as noted above into the facets of the plan that are affected by them.

NCNOW: When are various options and scenarios generated by residents and when are they presented to residents? Does Kevin Dwarka [working with Pace] have the software to model these dynamically (so that for each alteration/change, the effects are shown)?

Charney Response: I am not sure what you are referring to. It seems as if you are talking about technical analysis or response to technical analysis that has yet to be performed.

MEMO: By the end of the summer, Goals and Objectives will be finalized and Draft Planning Strategies and Implementation Tools will be developed.

NCNOW: Summer is quiet. Many people are gone. Who, exactly, is going to take the “elaborated” goals and objectives from spring and finalize them over the summer to develop “strategy and implementation tools” by September?

Charney Response: The goals, objectives and impelmentation strategies are going to be further developed by Pace and theTown’s technical professional staff . We are very aware of the seasonal time frame and the structure of the timeline considers this in scheduling opportunities for public feedback. While summer is a time for the public to be on vacation, professional staff are working.

NCNOW: It sounds to me so far as though “transit-oriented development” is—itself—a goal-and-objective for which Pace has been tasked to develop “strategy and implementation tools.” But shouldn’t TOD be, at this point, one of several—or even many—options residents are shown? Or at least several TOD options? Will other options be elicited from residents in outreach sessions?

Charney Response:  By definition we already have TOD due to the fact that we have a train station in Chappaqua. Part of the Comprehensive Plan Update process is to explore options to improve what we have.

MEMO: A Draft Master Plan will be written up and available for public comment by September, and revision of the Draft Master Plan and Guidance on Environmental Review will take place through the fall.

The MPSC will continue to meet monthly for the duration of the planning process, and four public workshops will be held.

NCNOW: More important than how many there are: at what point in the process do they occur and what is the purpose of each?

Charney Response: As mentioned earlier the process is fluid. Timing of the public sessions will coincide with the deliverables and approval of those deliverables by the Master Plan Steering Committee.

MEMO:  Pace answered Board member’s questions about the exact structure of a master plan,

NCNOW:  What did Pace answer? Refer to the information on the website [the Master Plan page of the Town’s website, http://www.mynewcastle.org/index.php/home-2].

MEMO: the kind of information the plan will include,

NCNOW: What kind? What’s the answer?

Charney Response: Refer to the information on the website.

MEMO: the purpose the market survey will serve,

NCNOW:  What purpose will it serve? (And how will it differ from two by AKRF and one by HR&A?)

Charney Response: You are confusing what was a Market survey with what will be a Comprehensive Plan Survey

MEMO: public engagement,

NCNOW:  What are the purposes of each of the four public engagement sessions? And at what point in the process do they occur?

Charney Response: To report on the progress being made and obtain public input regarding that information. They will occur when we have the information to share in a form accessible to the public.

MEMO: and the emphasis of both hamlet revitalization studies.

NCNOW: What is this “emphasis”? Something like “transit-oriented development”? For Millwood and Chappaqua? Or a different emphasis for each?

Charney Response: Refer to the website as mentioned above

MEMO:  Prior to closing the meeting, the Committee agreed that the first 15 minutes of each meeting would be “closed” to the public so that the committee could discuss things without being under the public eye. If there are future instances where meetings should be closed to the public due to the sensitive nature of the discussion, staff and consultants would inform the committee in advance.

NCNOW:  “Staff and consultants would


the committee”—or “consult” the committee? Who is in charge of the Master Plan review?

Charney Response: Staff and consultants are performing the technical analsyis which supports the plan update. Depending on the analysis to be discussed, the Town and Pace may determine that the meeting (or a portion thereof) should not be open to the public. If a MPSC member would like to discuss something “closed” to the public, they would inform me and I would inform the rest of the commitee.

MEMO:  The next MPSC meeting was set for March 12th from 5-7PM with a focus on existing conditions. Immediately after the MPSC meeting, a public workshop will be scheduled to be held at the Chappaqua Library from 7-9PM. A staff level meeting will be held prior to the next meeting to map out forward progress of the Master Plan Update and to further define the public workshop.

NCNOW: “Further define” that night’s public workshop? What do you believe right now is the purpose of the March 12 outreach at the Library? Is it getting reacquainted with the process and familiarizing people with “existing conditions”? As defined by whom? The MPSC and its SWOT analyses or the County baseline data presented last night?

Charney Response:  The MPSC meeting on March 12th is from 5-6:40 and the public workshop is from 7-8. Please see the workshop flyer under latest news [on the Town website: http://www.mynewcastle.org/index.php/chappaqua-news/latest-news/1252-master-plan-update-meeting-3-12-15]

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