CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – With no residents left to approach the microphone at the end of a Special Meeting on Monday afternoon, the New Castle Town Board adjourned the public hearing for Summit/Greenfield’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for a 120,000-square-foot grocery-retail development plan on the Chappaqua Crossing property.
Although Town Hall was packed at the beginning of the 1:30 p.m. meeting, nearly no residents remained at its close at 4:30 p.m. With the public hearing now closed, public comment will remain open until May 10 at 4:30 p.m.
New Castle residents have until that time to submit written statements to the Town Board through email or tradition mail. The tentative third public hearing slated for Tuesday, April 30, from 7 to 9 p.m. is canceled.
Unlike the first public hearing in which every comment from the public opposed the Chappaqua Crossing site plan, two of the 22 residents who spoke Monday offered support. When a full Town Hall was asked who was in favor of the site, only one hand was raised.
That hand belonged to Chappaqua resident Janet Levy.
“The reason I’m here is because I heard no one spoke in favor of it in the last meeting,” she said. “And I believe I represent the silent majority out there.”
Levy said that she and “all of her friends” see “an idea that makes sense” when discussing the concept of putting a grocery store at Chappaqua Crossing. Although she can drive to a grocery store in 10 to 15 minutes, “Not a day goes by that I don’t rue the fact that D’Agostino isn’t there,” she said.
When asked why she was the first—and one of only two—to speak in favor of the development plan, Levy said that "is the nature of protesters."
“It’s very rare for people to come out and support something,” she said. “People tend to get lackadaisical when you’re not opposed to something happening.”
Chappaqua resident Audrey Rogers was the second resident to speak in favor of the grocery-retail site plan, saying she sees a need to do “something with that space.” And though she understands the concerns of others, she hopes “some sort of middle ground” between the two sides will be found.
The 20 other residents who spoke reinforced the concerns brought up in the first meeting, this time placing more emphasis on the traffic it would bring across from Horace Greeley High School and the delivery truck-traffic it would bring to Route 117 because trucks are not permitted on the Saw Mill River Parkway.
For those wondering where the majority truly lies, New Castle Town Counsel Clinton Smith said using a townwide referendum to gauge opinion was not an option.
“The law is really very clear that a municipality may not present a proposition to referendum without expressed statute authority,” he said.
New Castle has a “representative form of government, and it is for the elected officials to exercise their judgment in the best interest of the community,” Smith said.
But Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce co-founder Rob Greenstein offered an alternative route, which he said could appease both parties.
“All around us, towns are moving forward with creative, smart and sustainable development. Summit/Greenfield has been involved in many of these successful projects,” he said, alluding to developments in Connecticut, Armonk, Scarsdale and Harrison as examples of “sustainable growth in downtown business districts.”
Greenstein suggested Summit/Greenfield and New Castle could essentially swap properties, letting Summit/Greenfield develop areas around and including downtown Chappaqua’s 10-acre parking lot, the Town Hall and police station, and the public library. Consequently, such entities would move to Chappaqua Crossing.
“Lets be smart like other communities. Let’s develop our downtown,” said Greenstein. “This is something residents can rally around. Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?”