CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The potential traffic impact from the proposed retail development at Chappaqua Crossing was a major topic at a May 20 New Castle Town Board and Planning Board joint meeting, which included a presentation by the town’s traffic consultant.
Michael Galante, the consultant, discussed projected traffic data for nearby roadways that would occur during what are called peak hours for commuting and activity from nearby Horace Greeley High School. There would be a drop in volume, according to the data, from an earlier iteration of the retail plan that was studied as part of the project’s environmental review. The current version, which was disclosed to the town in early April, calls for a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods and 80,000 square feet worth of other retail space. When the earlier study was done, there was no finalized grocery tenant and no specific square footage.
Galante, who has worked on development matters pertaining to Chappaqua Crossing since 2007, also mentioned traffic data supplied by developer Summit/Greenfield, which was originally done in 2008. He feels that the data is not outdated, citing the economic recession that followed. The recession, in turn, called a depression in traffic. The recovery of traffic volume has taken longer than in a typical recession, according to Galante.
The consultant also gave an overview of proposed mitigation measures near Chappaqua Crossing, including an addition of turning lanes for the intersection of Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road and the installation of a traffic signal at a intersection between the complex and the high school, which are separated by Roaring Brook. Galante also discussed potential mitigation measures for the Greeley campus itself, including moving sidewalks and removal of crosswalks. He feels that the Greeley campus mitigation would be a benefit to what happens on Roaring Brook.
Some Town Board members raised skepticism because they feel that the usage of Whole Foods would be different than another grocery store. Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz felt that the difference between Whole Foods there and, as an example, an A&P is “significant,” citing the longer travel distance. Katz believes that people from all around Northern Westchester could travel to it.
Galante, speaking about what the data is based off of, described it as being from a “typical supermarket,” and that it’s applied to square footage.
The deputy supervisor, replying to Galante, felt that people will make a “special trip” to go to Whole Foods. Councilman Adam Brodsky called the proposal a “regional center that has bigger box stores.” He expressed his preference for more direct access to the retail center from the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Several residents who live near Chappaqua Crossing spoke with concerns about traffic impact, while a lawyer who is representing neighbors called for the creation of another Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) due to the changed nature of the proposal. There was also some skepticism from the audience expressed during the meeting when traffic impact came up.
Some board members requested that Summit/Greenfield’s traffic engineer be present. Andrew Tung, a land-use professional whose firm is representing the developer, agreed to the request.
At the meeting, the Town Board also turned down a request from the developer to relax a square footage restriction on the number of small stores that would be allowed under the retail rezoning.
Another notable part of the meeting came when Councilwoman Elise Kessler Mottel announced the end of her recusal from the project , citing the fact that her employer, a law firm, no longer represents an affiliate of Greenfield Partners. Summit/Greenfield is a joint venture between Greenfield Partners and Summit Development.
A public hearing pertaining to the rezoning is tentatively scheduled for June 10.
Video of the full joint meeting, which is from NCCMC, is available here.