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New Castle Zoning Board Moves Closer To Mosque Vote

A screen shot of the site plan for the Upper Westchester Muslim Society's proposed New Castle mosque.
A screen shot of the site plan for the Upper Westchester Muslim Society's proposed New Castle mosque. Photo Credit: Screen shot/John Meyer Consulting and KG&D

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals voted to adopt a findings statement for the Upper Westchester Muslim Society’s proposed mosque, a step that effectively ends its environmental review of the project.

The ZBA made the unanimous vote at its Oct. 29 meeting following overviews of several environmental topics by Town Planner Sabrina Charney Hull.

The proposed mosque would be nearly 25,000 square feet and located at 130 Pinesbridge Road, which is in the West End of town. The project includes 120 onsite parking spaces and 15 allotted for landbanking, which means potential future use. The society, which is also called UWMS, has proposed having offsite parking at several nearby locations, which would be used for two major holidays. Busing would then be used to bring people to the site. If UWMS is not unable to secure enough offsite parking, then it proposes to cap attendance.

The proposed mosque has been met with concern from several neighboring residents who worry about traffic , potential septic failure and impact on a nearby lake. During her overview discussion, Hull noted that the applicant has committed to pumping out the septic tank and overflow tank prior to holidays. Hull, discussing hydraulic connectivity, explained that the lake is not connected to the site.

The next step for the ZBA is to vote on whether to grant UWMS a special permit for the mosque. ZBA Chairman Kenneth Cooper does not expect a vote at the board’s November meeting because they have not seen a draft of the permit’s language.

“So it would be, I think too quick a turnaround to expect it that soon,” he said.

A vote on the permit, according to Cooper, depends on how quickly it is drafted and on how quickly they are able to give input.

Adoption of the findings statement followed acceptance of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project. The FEIS, in turn, was the successor document to the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). the Muslim Society revised its project earlier this year to expand a setback near an neighboring property and to include its current parking proposal.

Hussein Elzoghby, a Muslim Society board member, expressed satisfaction with the findings statement being consistent with what they worked on previously in the DEIS and FEIS.

The atmosphere at the Zoning Bosrd meeting was markedly different from earlier ones, with turnout being considerably lower. The previous meetings were for public hearings pertaining to the project.

If the ZBA approves the special permit, the Muslim Society would still need several approvals from the New Castle Planning Board, which would be for several other permits and a merger of the property's two parcels.

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