CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The threat of renewed litigation from an attorney representing Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield did not sit well with New Castle Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz at the Town Board's Oct. 28 meeting.
Shortly after the attorney, Howard Stahl, raised the prospect of a return to court, Katz repeatedly questioned him. Video of the exchange, which is embedded in this article, shows that it was testy.
“You just said stop the litigation, you don't want to spend all this money. So we're not stupid, we're – most of us are lawyers here, too," Katz said.
Katz then asked: “What I want to know is, if you're asking us to negotiate and to settle this, OK – I've been a corporate attorney for years and years and years, too – what is, what is that point where your client is going to be unhappy enough to settle?”
"You're at it," Stahl replied.
Moments later, Katz asked what parameters of the project can be done but still will leave Stahl's client and the town unhappy and there will not be litigation.
"You don't have the time to start over again," he replied.
Katz then clarified that she was talking about the project before the Town Board.
“Are you telling me that you will not negotiate on behalf of your client to change the size at all?" Katz asked. "That if it's not approved exactly as written, you're suing us? Is that what you're threatening?”
Stahl replied by noting the litigation that already had occurred.
“And you lost, so let's not go there," Katz said.
Summit/Greenfield sued New Castle in 2011 in federal and state courts over how the town handled the review for the developer's rezoning request for housing on the Chappaqua Crossing site. The owner revised the proposal several times, ending up at 199 units. However, the town only gave its approval for 111 units, a figure the owner argued in his litigation was not practical.
The developer and the town reached a settlement in late 2012. It calls for review and action on the retail proposal, which has since been modified multiple times, most recently to include a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods. Summit/Greenfield, in the settlement, agreed to suspend the lawsuits and will drop them permanently if the project gets approvals from the Town Board and Planning Board.
Summit/Greenfield is seeking rezoning for a total of 120,000 square feet of retail, a request that has met vocal opposition from residents who live near Chappaqua Crossing.
Katz, who referenced her previous remarks about Chappaqua Crossing before she joined the Town Board, has been among the board's more skeptical members.
Both Katz and Stahl also argued over the history of Summit/Greenfield's negotiations, focusing on how long they have been going on. Katz focus on the two years the current project has been subject to review, while Stahl's 10-year timeline includes reviews for earlier proposals.
Councilman Adam Brodsky made brief remarks before Supervisor Rob Greenstein interjected.
“We all know the timeline, we all know the history, we all know the issues," Greenstein said. "And I agree with you 100 percent. It's time to make a decision and we'll let the chips fall where they may, but it's time to make a decision.”
Stahl responded with satisfaction from Greenstein's answer, which led to the exchange ending.
Stahl has called for the Town Board to take action on the retail proposal by the end of the year or else the litigation will resume.
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