New Castle Keeps Public Hearing For Conifer Plan Open

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New Castle resident Ed Frank, right, called Conifer Realty's Chappaqua Station project an "isolated, stigmatized ghetto."
New Castle resident Ed Frank, right, called Conifer Realty's Chappaqua Station project an "isolated, stigmatized ghetto." Photo Credit: Michael Nocella

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Conifer Realty was yet again denied in its attempt to close the public hearing segment of its Chappaqua Station proposal, as both the New Castle Town Board and residents voiced concerns Tuesday night in New Castle Town Hall. The public hearing will continue on Feb. 12.

The hearing, which is for a special permit that Conifer needs from the Town Board, picked things up from the previously adjourned meetings of Sept. 20 and Dec. 11. The third installment continued to build on growing themes of the project’s size and location, and the parking implications of a five-story, 36-unit building at 54 Hunts Place.

“There are still a number of items that we feel need to be addressed,” said New Castle Town Board member Robin Stout. “From my point of view, I am very concerned about parking and traffic flow.”

Conifer attorney Alfred DelBello was joined by Conifer’s development team, including traffic engineer Rich Pierson. Pierson suggested such issues have been analyzed and approved by experts. However, the Town Board remained skeptical.

“I’m concerned about pedestrian access, particularly on the bridge,” said New Castle Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter. “Having signs that prohibit pedestrian bridge drop-offs is not enough. We need to pursue the possibility of making the building inaccessible from the bridge.”

That possibility did not sit well with Conifer.

“The connection between the train station and bridge is part of our initial design, and getting rid of that aspect would make it a nontransitive location,” DelBello said.

In addition to receiving concern from the Town Board, Conifer heard an orchestra of complaints from New Castle residents.

“If the town approves this project, it’s totally insane,” said New Castle resident Steven Lavine. “Experts speaking on behalf of the applicant should be required to live there for three years to experience what they’re supporting.”

New Castle resident Ed Frank echoed Lavine’s disdain.

“This project is an isolated, stigmatized ghetto,” Frank said. “I am for affordable housing, but this project needs to be scaled down and moved to a different location."

The Town Board outlined a series of concerns in a memo put together by Town Planner Sabrina Charney Hull on Jan. 18, highlighting the biggest issues surrounding Conifer’s latest proposal.

It is believed the next crucial procedural step would be an environmental significance determination. A “negative” declaration would give Conifer an easy road to the town’s environmental review, while a “positive” declaration would require an environmental impact statement, making Conifer’s process significantly longer.

As things stand now, it appears Conifer is headed for the longer path.

“The pieces of the special permit that haven’t been met currently lead to a positive declaration,” Carpenter said.

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