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New Castle Complying With Housing Settlement

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter said New Castle will continue to comply with Westchester County's affordable housing plan following its dispute with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development .

As part of a settlement with the Anti-Discrimination Center , the county is required to build 750 affordable housing units in 31 predominantly white municipalities by 2016, which could include New Castle.

"Certainly, if you look at our town, it is 95 percent white and 1 percent black or African American, so we do have a very non-diverse town," said Carpenter. "But there has never been a shop that people in town have refused to rent or to sell or lease in recent memory to anybody because of their race, or ethnic background, or religious background."

The town was not a defendant in the suit and Carpenter said there would be no reason for the town to be sued for any discriminatory practices.

"There’s been no showing that we’ve ever discriminated," she said.

According to Carpenter, the town has a responsibility to approve any "appropriate affordable housing" plan proposed for the area, but said it is not required to reach any specific number of units.

"A lot of times people say ‘well how many units do we have to build in New Castle?’" said Carpenter. "New Castle is not held to a certain requirement of units. The county settlement does not allocate specific units to any town."

The information may be welcome to a number of New Castle residents who do not believe the current proposal for affordable housing in the town is "appropriate."  Groups of residents have gathered at recent town and planning board meetings to voice their opposition to the plan proposed by Conifer Realty . Despite believing affordable housing would be beneficial to Chappaqua, many residents said they have taken issue with the location of Conifer's proposed "Chappaqua Station" from safety, traffic and aesthetic standpoints.

“The reason for this project is there’s a great deal of pressure from the federal government,” said resident Ted Anderson at a March 13 town board meeting. “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 at the meeting. "There not a Sword of Damocles hanging over the town that’s forcing a rushed review of things.”

The proposal calls for a five-story residential building with 36 apartment units - 24 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units - ranging from 669 to 975 square feet. The first floor would be reserved for 40 spaces of parking.

In compliance with Westchester County regulations, 20 percent of the apartment units will serve individuals or households at 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), which was $106,500 in 2011. The remaining units will serve 60 percent of the area median income.

According to Carpenter, 60 percent of the AMI is $45,360 for a one-person household and $64,740 for a four-person household.

"Not a terribly low income," Carpenter said.

Conifer's proposal is currently in the hands of the New Castle Planning Board, which has 45 days to offer comments to the town board. Conifer met with the planning board on March 6 and is scheduled to return to Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Tuesday with comprehensive traffic and fire studies.

Regardless of the units currently proposed for Chappaqua, County Executive Rob Astorino said his administration is ahead of schedule on building the 750 units in the county.

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