New Castle is in the process of planning Chappaqua’s future, through a major rezoning effort that will allow buildings up to five stories tall in the hamlet, forever changing life in the community.
This is being done despite the town’s award-winning 2017 Comprehensive Plan stressing the importance of maintaining the community’s “bucolic” character.
Many problematic issues have been raised about the rezoning, including the Chappaqua Board of Education raising serious concerns about the credibility of the town’s projection that roughly 1,000 new apartments would generate only about 100 schoolchildren, and the potential for large tax hikes for the district’s single-family homeowners, who are taxed at much higher rates than the new condos and apartments of the same market value will be taxed. There is also no clarity of how the loss of commuter parking at the train station would be handled.
A grave concern is that the town is selectively amplifying the views of a subset of property owners – those who stand to gain the most financially from the rezoning and are understandably strongly supportive.
The town has sponsored professional production of social media videos promoting the views of landowners such as Don Feinberg, the owner of a large commercial property. It also prominently promoted his opinions in the town’s Oct. 16 e-newsletter.
But for other property owners who call the hamlet home, and have expressed principled concerns about negative quality-of-life impacts, New Castle Supervisor Ivy Pool and the rest of the Town Board have been silent in response to requests for equal access to share our views, thoughtfully and respectfully, in the town’s e-newsletter.
We are all entitled to equal protection from our government. It is outrageous for the town to use the public’s communications platforms to promote only one-sided perspectives and decline to offer others the same access.
All residents have an equal stake in the future of Chappaqua. The Town Board can live up to the community’s ideals of transparency, fair and open debate and good government, by allowing the residents of Chappaqua to have a voice equal to that of the major downtown landlords.
Our hand is outstretched to town leadership – let us work together collaboratively and in partnership to deliver the brighter future that Chappaqua needs and deserves.
Scott Le Vine