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Chappaqua Crossing Attorney: Vote Or We'll Return To Court

Howard Stahl, an attorney for Summit/Greenfield, speaks at a New Castle Town Board meeting.
Howard Stahl, an attorney for Summit/Greenfield, speaks at a New Castle Town Board meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Whole Foods representative Mark Mobley at the New Castle Town Board's meeting.
Whole Foods representative Mark Mobley at the New Castle Town Board's meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- A lawyer for Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield warned the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday night, Oct. 28, that it must take action on the retail proposal for the site or face a return to litigation.

“It’s got to be done by the end of the year," said Howard Stahl, who was involved with the owner's 2011 lawsuits against the town. "That’s the end of the tolling agreement."

Summit/Greenfield sued New Castle in federal and state courts. The litigation was over how the town handled the review of its proposed multifamily housing for the site. The developer, from the mid-2000s to early 2010s, proposed several variations, records show, with the last being a 199-unit iteration. However, the town board only gave rezoning approval for 111 units. Recalling the history of the site, Stahl dismissed the reduced housing approved, arguing that the smaller amount wasn't economical.

Both sides reached a settlement in late 2012 , in which Summit/Greenfield agreed to suspend the lawsuits. The settlement called for termination of the litigation if the Town Board and Planning Board conduct reviews and take action pertaining to the retail proposal, which has since been modified.

Summit/Greenfield is seeking rezoning and a change to the town's master plan to accommodate 120,000 square feet of retail space, which would be anchored by a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery store.

Stahl also recalled the project's history, referencing how the initial concept for retail was supported by then-Supervisor Susan Carpenter. He also alluded to Summit/Greenfield's years of site ownership of the former Reader's Digest campus.

“I want to talk to you about another property owner who pays more taxes than any other property owner in the area, in Chappaqua, who is the applicant in this proceeding, who now is in the 10th year of trying to obtain some zoning for this site," Stahl said.

Renewed litigation is not the only item tied to a deadline. Whole Foods could terminate its Chappaqua Crossing lease if approvals are not granted by the end of a year, a representative with the company disclosed to the board.

“The company’s very concerned with all the delays because we’re anxious to start construction on this store,” said Whole Foods official Mark Mobley, adding that “we’d like to get it done as soon as possible.”

In an interview, Supervisor Rob Greenstein replied that he planned a vote by the end of the year.

“In my opinion, we need to make a decision before December 31st, whatever that decision is,” he said.

The Town Board's meeting on Tuesday was for five concurrent public hearings on legislative items for the project. The board closed two public hearings that cover adjusting the residential zone while keeping open three pertaining to the retail.

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