NEW CASTLE, N.Y. – A New York City assistant fire chief plans to testify that the controversial Chappaqua Station affordable housing development is the safest building in Chappaqua.
The New Castle Town Board approved a special permit for the 28-unit project at 54 Hunts Place in September, but the project stalled in December when the county Board of Legislators voted against funding it.
The nine of 17 legislators who voted no cited safety concerns, including fire access. A local fireman previously testified that there is limited access to the dead-end street, which could prove a problem in an emergency situation. It is tucked in between the Saw Mill River Parkway off-ramp and the Chappaqua Metro-North train station.
“My opinion is it doesn’t meet code,” Bill Maskiell, building inspector for the Town of New Castle, said of Chappaqua Station. “That’s why I directed them to get variances from the state. If it met code then I would be obligated to issue the permits.”
He said all access roads need to have at least 13 feet 6 inches of clearance. He said a bridge near the property doesn’t meet that standard.
Randolph McLaughlin, a lawyer for Conifer Realty, disagrees. He said that they presented a photo of a Chappaqua fire truck going under that bridge with about three-to-four feet of clearance at the New York State Review Board’s Feb. 11 meeting.
The state board was scheduled to vote at that meeting on eight variances Conifer needs to build. They didn’t vote because only three of five board members were present. A vote is expected to take place in April, when McLaughlin said the New York City assistant fire chief will testify.
“The testimony we’re prepared to offer will show that there are no fire safety issues that need to be addressed by this [state] board; that we exceed the code or meet the code in every regard; that this effort to delay the project is just another action being taken to stop an affordable housing project that certain forces in town, they just don’t like it,” McLaughlin said.
Maskiell told the Daily Voice, “I don’t think that the state should issue the variances.”
The 28 units at Chappaqua Station would count toward the 750 units Westchester County is required to build under the 2009 fair and affordable-housing settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.