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Town Board OK's Affordable Housing, Roundabout For Chappaqua Crossing

Left to right: William Balter, of Wilder Balter Partners, and Felix Charney, president of Summit Development, which is a parent company of Summit/Greenfield. The two were on hand for Tuesday's New Castle Town Board meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Chappaqua Crossing's cupola building Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The New Castle Town Board approved two major changes to development at Chappaqua Crossing at its Tuesday meeting.

The changes, which were each introduced earlier this year and tweaked in recent months, include rezoning to allow for 28 affordable-housing units in the site's historic Reader's Digest cupola building, along with construction of a 2-lane roundabout at the intersection of Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road.

The former proposal, which received unanimous approval from the 5-member board, changed the text of the building's commercial zoning to allow for housing as an additional use.

Summit/Greenfield, which is Chappaqua Crossing's owner, is bringing developer Wilder Balter Partners on board to build the affordable units. Wilder Balter would ultimately assume ownership of the affordable units, which would be rentals and count towards Westchester County's 2009 settlement with the federal government. The settlement calls for adding 750 affordable-housing units over a 7-year period in the county's predominantly white municipalities.

The rezoning allows for additional units to be "workforce housing" - the percentage would be from 15 to 20 percent of the structure's total residential stock - and would be means tested for people who work in the community, such as volunteer fire responders. An additional, unspecified quantity would be set aside for market-rate housing.

The affordable units have been proposed for the upper-two floors of the cupola building's four stories, while the bottom-two floors would hold other types of housing units.

Summit/Greenfield previously had Town Board approval to construct 111 condos and townhouses on the eastern portion of the site, including 20 affordable units. The approval, which was granted in 2011, was technically for a draft layout of the buildings. The board voted Tuesday to modify the draft layout so that there will be 91 market-rate townhouses in the eastern area instead. The townhouses will be subject to Planning Board approval.

Meanwhile, the board approved constructing the roundabout by amending the existing draft layout for the southeastern portion of the site that is slated for retail usage.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT), asked that Summit/Greenfield study a roundabout configuration for the intersection as an alternative to its proposal, which was to keep the existing T-shaped intersection that has traffic lights while adding turning lanes.

The roundabout plan calls for taking a portion of Summit/Greenfield's land along Roaring Brook Road and dedicating it to the roundabout. The Route 111 entrance to Chappaqua Crossing, along with a portion of Roaring Brook, would be rerouted to merge into the roundabout. Additionally, a network of pedestrian walkways would be constructed to link Chappaqua Crossing with Annandale Drive, Cowdin Lane, the northern side of Roaring Brook and Horace Greeley High School. There would also be a northbound bypass lane for traffic to avoid the roundabout.

The decision to approve two lanes for the roundabout came after the town's traffic-consulting firm recommended the iteration, arguing that traffic flow would be better than starting off with a 1-lane version. The DOT suggested, it was noted, beginning with a 1-lane roundabout before increasing capacity to two lanes as vehicular volume rises.

The approval was made by 3 votes in favor, one against and one absentention.

Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz voted against the roundabout, while Councilman Adam Brodsky abstained. The pair justified their decisions because Planning Board Chairman Robert Kirkwood told the Town Board and his board would issue a memo asking for a review of whether the bypass is necessary given that the 2-lane roundabout version was now preferred.

“I think it's still premature,” Katz said.

Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis noted that the status of the bypass could still be changed should the DOT request it. A work permit from the DOT, which controls Route 117, is required for the roundabout to be built.

The draft layout change also included clarification about the architecture for the retail buildings.

A total of 120,000 square feet of retail space is proposed, with proposed tenants including Whole Foods, Life Time Fitness, Starbucks and Chase. The Town Board voted last December by a 4-1 margin to rezone the property for retail and it approved a draft layout by the same margin last May. The Planning Board was slated to vote on the project's site plan at a special vote on Wednesday evening.

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