CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – A personal presentation from Chappaqua Crossing’s owners did little to sway public opinion Tuesday night as locals continued to speak out in near-unanimous opposition to a proposed grocery store and retail center at the site.
“It’s a joke,” said Rob Greenstein, speaking on behalf of the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce. “These guys over there have never asked what the residents want.”
Greenstein said Summit/Greenfield should find a way to meet with residents to explore alternative uses and reach a compromise. A hotel or spa, Greenstein said, would be perfect to maintain the small-town feel of Chappaqua while still increasing the commercial tax base.
Summit/Greenfield’s current petition calls for 120,000 square feet of retail space that is anchored by a full-service grocery store between 36,000 and 66,000 square feet. The grocery store would be supported by other smaller retail stores.
John Marwell, an attorney for Summit/Greenfield, said the proposal specifically excludes “big box” stores and fast food restaurants and would not detract from the character of Chappaqua. Marwell also insisted the proposal was not a “strip mall,” though opponents continued to derisively use the term throughout the night.
Supporting stores, Marwell said, could include a drive thru pharmacy or bank, a mid-size retail store, and restaurants. Responding to concerns that the new retail center would detract from the town’s current businesses, Marwell said Chappaqua Crossing stores would attract more “national” retailers and not the local stores that are found in the Millwood or Chappaqua hamlets.
A near hour-long presentation by Summit/Greenfield’s representatives was not enough to convince residents to see the positives in the project. Many even accused the town board of not acting in the residents’ best interests, including Michael Silverstein, who wondered about a possible recall of the town supervisor position.
“I would like to know the people who want this situation, because I don’t know of any,” Silverstein said. “Last time I checked, you work for us. You don’t work for them. So start doing what we want.”
Supervisor Susan Carpenter and other board members did not directly respond to concerns about the project, but said every comment will be considered in the decision-making process.
The hearing was adjourned and will reopen for public comment at a later date.