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Chappaqua Resident Looks for Positive in Housing

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - Negativity is all Wally Tosacano has been hearing about affordable housing in Chappaqua since Conifer Realty proposed it's five-story project more than two months ago. Now, he said, it's time to look for the positives.

"I’ve been struggling with this for quite some time in terms of how to take all of the negatives that have been coming along," Toscano told the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday. "It seems to be nothing but ongoing negatives; nobody’s happy about any of it. The thought is, 'is there any positive thing that can be done here?'"

Despite believing affordable housing would be beneficial to Chappaqua, many residents, including Toscano himself, have taken issue with the location of Conifer's proposal from safety, traffic and aesthetic standpoints.

With the negative response to Conifer's proposal, Toscano suggested that the town board look for alternative sites, which he believes residents would react to more positively.

Toscano said two plots of land adjacent to New Castle Town Hall would be more viable sites for affordable housing in Chappaqua, compared to the current Hunts Lane site that is sandwiched between a train station and the Saw Mill River Parkway.

"This is a much more humane site," Toscano said. "Kids are looking out at trees, rather than roadways. It’s just to me so incredibly self-evident that I’m awed that we’re not talking about it."

Deputy Supervisor Elise Kessler Motel said she does not believe the area is viable as it is currently being used for overflow parking at the train station.

Also appearing before the board on Tuesday night was resident Ed Frank, who was representing Chappaqua for Responsible Affordable Housing . Echoing Toscano's sentiments, Frank said the board should at least look at a smaller building, if not a larger site.

"We oppose the proposed Hunts Place five-story, 36 unit building because it is inappropriate for this location, excessively out-of-scale for its surroundings, and does not comply with the objects of our town comprehensive plan," Frank said, reading a joint statement from members of the group.

As an alternative, Frank referred to a recently approved affordable housing project in Briarcliff Manor at 445 North State Road . The two-story building, which will sit on .75 acres of land, will house 14 two-bedroom units. In comparison, the five-story Chappaqua Station proposal would sit on .38 acres of land and house 36 units - 24 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units.

The Briarcliff Manor site was privately owned, but Westchester agreed to purchase the property for $1.5 million. Frank suggested New Castle look into a similar bond from the county, and should not limit themselves to looking at town-owned property for the housing.

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