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New Castle Mosque Plan Altered; Wednesday Hearings Scheduled

A screen shot of the site plan for the Upper Westchester Muslim Society's proposed mosque, which is part of the applicant's submission to the town.
A screen shot of the site plan for the Upper Westchester Muslim Society's proposed mosque, which is part of the applicant's submission to the town. Photo Credit: Screen shot/John Meyer Consulting and KG&D

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The proposal for the Upper Westchester Muslim Society's (UWMS) mosque in New Castle has been revised to include fewer on-site parking spaces and a larger landscaped setback, a document submission to the town shows.

The latest revision, detailed in the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), shows that the number of on-site parking spaces has been cut from 217 spaces, which includes tandem, to 120. Additionally, room for 15 additional spaces will be set aside, which means they will be “landbanked.” UWMS projects that up to 650 people will be at the site on two religious holidays per year, which are Eid ul-fitr and Eid ul-adha.

To compensate for the cut in on-site parking, UWMS plans to use spaces from several nearby sites, the FEIS shows. Several of them are also religious sites in or near town, including the First Congregational Church of Chappaqua, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco and Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Non-religious sites could potentially be added, including Brookside Elementary School in Ossining and the Edith Macy Conference Center, which is west of downtown Chappaqua. According to the FEIS, there is an agreement in principle for use of the school while there is not yet a written agreement for the center.

UWMS also proposes giving tickets to people coming to the site for days where turnout comes toward the maximum. Valet parking, a feature of the earlier proposal version, has been dropped.

According to the FEIS, the landscaped setback change involves adding more room, extending the size from 20 feet to 40 feet, which faces northern neighboring properties.

The newest plan, the FEIS data show, also means that there will be a net of 18 trees added due to the project, versus a net of 164 removed in the earlier plan. In the case of the former, 121 trees would be removed but 139 would be added, although it would include trees with a smaller caliper.

The proposed mosque is for a site of roughly eight acres. The site is at 130 Pinesbridge Road, which is in western New Castle. It is in the Ossining postal area and school district. Some residents in the area have expressed concern about the proposal, with traffic impact, lighting and noise cited, according to records submitted as part of the FEIS.

UWMS is seeking a special permit for the project from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which is serving as lead agency for the environmental review. The FEIS was preceded by a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which was the subject of a public hearing in 2012, according to records.

The ZBA is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the special permit, along with one on the FEIS, at its July 30 meeting. The meeting, which will be held at Town Hall in Chappaqua, starts at 7:15 p.m. but the hearings will not begin until 8:30 p.m. The ZBA voted to accept the FEIS earlier this month, according to video of its meeting.

Records of the proposal are available on the town's website.

Correction: The original version of this story listed Brookside Elementary School and the Edith Macy Conference Center as off-site parking locations. While both sites could potentially be used, there are no written agreements yet. The story has been updated to reflect this.

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