CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – In last week’s work session, the New Castle Town Board discussed its current stance on Conifer’s Chappaqua Station. The verdict was anything but clear.
“We need to clarify what we would consider,” said Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter.
It is well-documented at this point that most New Castle residents are adamantly against Conifer’s affordable- housing proposal for a five-story, 36-unit building at 54 Hunts Place. The Town Board also seems against such a proposal.
“I’m not opposed to affordable-housing on that site,” said New Castle Town Board member Robin Stout. “But I am against the current proposal.”
During its work session, the Town Board asked, “If not this proposal, what kind of proposal would be acceptable to us?” Not only is it not known at this time if such a proposal exists, but more importantly, it is not known if Conifer would even be willing to switch to such a proposal.
Much of the confusion stems from a zoning conundrum as to whether or not the special-permit process in connection with the property at hand is consistent. The location of the property — between the train station and Saw Mill River Parkway exit ramp — is zoned as General Industrial (I-G).
Carpenter pointed out that this significantly limits what can be developed at the location, even with the special permit Confier is seeking.
“One of things that we have consistently said in our meetings, publicly, is that it's our position that the underlying zoning on that site limits the building that can be there, and the underlying zoning is I-G,” she said.
“The size of a building that can be there under the I-G zoning is very, very limited and probably not even remotely possible for affordable housing,” she said.
This reasoning led to a discussion of the option of changing the property's I-G zoning to Retail Business (B-R), which would allow Conifer to propose a smaller building than its current proposal, but a bigger one than what the current I-G would allow.
However, it is unclear if such a change would appease Conifer enough to serve as a solution.
“That's the issue. Is there any point in Conifer spending money on a proposal for something that doesn't meet the I-G zoning?” asked Carpenter. “Because if that's our position then they may as well just go ahead with their proposal and spend their money on suing us.”
The saga continues Tuesday night in New Castle Town hall at 8:15, where the Town Board will host Conifer yet again for a fourth public hearing.