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New Castle Attorney Disputes Chappaqua Crossing Lawyer’s Claims

New Castle Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis, responds to claims from Summit/Greenfield attorney Howard Stahl.
New Castle Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis, responds to claims from Summit/Greenfield attorney Howard Stahl. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Weeks after an attorney for Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield warned that New Castle faces renewed litigation if the Town Board fails to act on his client’s retail proposal by year’s end, the town’s own counsel offered rebuttals.

At the Town Board’s Nov. 18 meeting, Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis disputed an assertion from Howard Stahl, Summit/Greenfield’s litigation counsel, that a legal settlement agreed to by both sides included approval of retail development.

“In my view that’s not the case,” he said

In contrast Ward-Willis contended that the settlement , agreed to in December 2012, requires the town to process Summit/Greenfield’s rezoning petition in a “timely fashion.”

“No particular outcome or result was promised to Summit/Greenfield,” Ward-Willis added.

The settlement was agreed to as a way to resolve federal and state lawsuits that Summit/Greenfield filed against New Castle in 2011 over the town’s rezoning review for proposed condominiums and townhouses on the site. Summit/Greenfield sought 199 units but the town only approved 111, a number that the developer contended was uneconomical.

Ward-Willis also took issue with Stahl using a 10-year timeline in reference to rezoning sought for Chappaqua Crossing, noting the Town Board’s 2011 residential approval and Summit/Greenfield’s retail application having come in 2012.

Summit/Greenfield is seeking rezoning for the site’s southern portion to allow 120,000 square feet of retail space, including a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods. In conjunction, the developer would accept having 111 units on the site’s residential side.

In his remarks in late October, Stahl called for the Town Board to take action on retail or face renewed litigation.

Other legislative items sought for the retail proposal include amending the town’s master plan and approval of a preliminary development concept plan (PDCP) for the property.

The Town Board voted to adjourn a trio of public hearings on the legislative items to Dec. 2. Ward-Willis, in his remarks, anticipated that the rezoning legislation would be revised further.

Supervisor Rob Greenstein, meanwhile, predicted the Town Board taking action, saying they will make a decision “by year’s end.”

The board’s meeting included a continuation of the three hearings. Residents who attended reiterated concerns about the project, such as traffic.

Resident William Devaney, who was among those voicing skepticism about the proposal, called for having the legislation include a requirement for the developer to post a performance bond, which would be used for completing infrastructure work and to prevent the project was being unfinished.

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