MILLWOOD, N.Y. – Affordable housing was not on Tuesday night’s New Castle Town Board agenda, but a group of local residents opposing the proposed Chappaqua Station project made sure their voice was heard.
What is your stance on affordable housing in Chappaqua?View Results
What is your stance on affordable housing in Chappaqua?
I support Conifer Realty's current proposal.8%
I am in favor of affordable housing, but in a different location.55%
I am completely against affordable housing in Chappaqua.38%
Despite believing affordable housing would be beneficial to Chappaqua, many residents took issue with the location of Conifer Realty's proposal from safety, traffic and aesthetic standpoints.
"You see a proposal that blows away the zoning," said resident and architect Bill Spade about the proposed Chappaqua Station.
Since the building does not comply with several of the town’s zoning laws, Conifer would need to be granted several special use permits to begin construction. The proposed building uses more floor space, more building coverage, more stories and fewer parking spaces than the current town code allows.
“The zoning code is there for a reason," said resident and junior architect Shaun Gotterbarn. "It’s there for safety, size, character. It’s there obviously for a purpose and what this developer’s asking is a little crazy.”
Resident Wally Toscano said he was concerned with safety issues, especially difficulties the Chappaqua Fire District might have in reaching the building. With the developer planning to use nearly all of the available .38 acres of land, fire trucks and engines would have little to no space to operate on the perimeter, he said.
Toscano also believes constructing a five-story apartment building in the middle of Chappaqua sets a bad precedent and opens the door for similar buildings to be built.
“It just goes on and on and on,” said Toscano. “You can’t even stop thinking about the reasons why it doesn’t work.”
The proposed units would help Westchester meet the requirement of the county’s settlement order with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires that 750 units of affordable housing be created in Westchester by 2016.
“The reason for this project is there’s a great deal of pressure from the federal government,” said resident Ted Anderson. “But I don’t think we should act in desperation and pick an uncivilized and completely ugly site.”
Town Attorney Clinton Smith told residents not to worry about the project being fast-tracked. He said the town will do its homework on the plan before making any decision.
“I don’t believe that there’s any sort of short fuse or shot clock, if you will, that’s regulating the town board’s review of the issue," Smith said. "There not a Sword of Damocles hanging over the town that’s forcing a rushed review of things.”
While the decision ultimately lies with the town board, Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter said no decision will be made until it has all possible information and has seen every possible study.
Carpenter acknowledged there may be more desirable places in Chappaqua for an affordable housing building and asked for residents to help find exactly where those places are.
"Before we say this is the worst place in town, let’s see if there’s a better place in town," Carpenter said. "We can say we’re all for affordable housing, but if we’re not willing to do anything about it, what does that mean?”
Spade accepted Carpenter's invitation to volunteer his services and work with the town on integrating multi-family housing into its updated master plan.
The proposal is currently in the hands of the planning board, which has 45 days to offer comments to the town board. Conifer met with the planning board on March 6 and was told to return on March 20 with comprehensive traffic and fire studies.