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Conifer Presents Chappaqua Affordable Housing Plan

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - Conifer Realty's five-story affordable housing project was referred to the architectural review board and the planning board after receiving support from the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday night.

"We'll be happy to have a project that complies with the county's requirements and provides affordable housing," said Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter.

The proposed building, called Chappaqua Station, would be located west of the Metro-North train station and east of the Saw Mill River Parkway near the exit 32 northbound off-ramp.

The area was previously home to the Chappaqua Drama Club and most recently used for staging during the construction on the Route 120 bridge.

After what Conifer representative Andrew Bodewes called a "very competitive process," the company received funding for its proposal from the state five months ago. With construction on the Route 120 bridge over, Conifer is now able to move forward with its project.

"We really applaud the support that the town gave for this development," said Bodewes. "It’s a very unique opportunity to provide high quality affordable housing in a fantastic town and location."

Not everyone at Tuesday's board meeting thought the location was quite as fantastic, however. Architect and Chappaqua resident Bill Spade believes the town can find a better area for affordable housing.

"Not one of us, I don’t believe, would choose to live in a location, in a building, sandwiched between a railroad and a highway," said Spade. "Would you put your mother there? Would you ask you sister to live there?"

Conifer's attorney, Alfred DelBello, agreed it is a tight space and said the project would be built from "boundary to boundary." He said town officials have already requested easements from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) for fire and traffic access.

The current plan calls for a five-story residential building with 36 apartment units -24 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units - ranging from 669 to 975 square feet. The first floor would be reserved for 40 spaces of parking.

In compliance with Westchester County regulations, 20 percent of the apartment units will serve individuals or households at 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), which was $106,500 in 2011. The remaining units will serve 60 percent of the area median income.

60 percent of the AMI is $44,760 for a one-person household; $51,120 for a two-person household; $57,540 for a three-person household; and $63,900 for a four-person household.

Bodewes recognized that Westchester might have a different definition of affordable than other areas where Conifer builds its units. "It’s a lot a higher than upstate, that’s for sure," he said.

According to DelBello, the proposed units would help Westchester meet the requirement of the county’s settlement order with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires that 750 units of affordable housing be created in Westchester by 2016.

After Tuesday's meeting with the town board, Conifer will move forward with its project by working with New Castle's planning and architectural review boards. It will also be meeting with the Chappaqua Fire Department.

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