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New Castle Boards Focus on Parking Issues for North Greeley Project

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The New Castle town and planning boards debated last week what might be the most effective zoning strategy to allow construction of a proposed net-zero carbon emissions mixed-used project for North Greeley Avenue to help revitalize the block.

Discussion at the Jan. 10 joint board meeting on the North Greeley Net Zero Carbon legislation included whether there would be enough room for parking if the project at 50 N. Greeley Ave. included a roughly 3,000-square-foot diner or other restaurant on the ground floor and another 1,200 square feet of retail. The project would be on the site of the old Rite Aid pharmacy, but concern was voiced about whether that would limit other property owners on the east side of the street from redeveloping their parcels.

Under current zoning, a far great number of parking spaces are needed for commercial uses, particularly a restaurant, rather than residential uses.

The development team for property owner Don Feinberg has submitted a proposal for a specialized district that would require certain green building standards in exchange for a fourth story. The project’s residential component calls for 45 apartments with one parking space for each unit that would be contained on site, down from the current requirement of 1.3 spaces per apartment.

They have also proposed that the Town Board issue a special permit to allow it to maintain some development control.

Supervisor Lisa Katz said the proposal is the kind of project New Castle should embrace to not only help North Greeley Avenue but stamp the town as a leader in green construction.

“We think it’s very exciting to build a zero-carbon building using sustainable materials,” Katz said. “We would be the first town in Westchester, I believe, and maybe in the state to have a building like this and it certainly fits within our branding where we try to be a sustainable, environmentally-friendly community.”

Katz proposed that the town could look at about 100 spaces at the Chappaqua train station that are closest to the center of downtown as one way to bolster the business district’s parking. Hundreds of spaces at the train station are not being used on weekdays since the start of the pandemic.

Questions were raised whether the town should consider an overlay district that could apply most of the standards to North Greeley Avenue rather than looking at the former Rite Aide property and the parcel directly to its north separately.

Planning Board member Thomas Curley said he was worried that by moving forward as proposed, it would do nothing to help the east side of North Greeley Avenue.

“It seems unfair to me that this would be done without understanding what those consequences may be,” said Curley, who was open to considering Katz’s suggestion to use some of the train station parking, although it’s unlikely many people would walk to a diner at 50 N. Greeley from that parking area.

There was general agreement that a parking study to fully understand the parking situation on North Greeley should be undertaken.

But Councilman Jeremy Saland asked whether it might be more realistic to not consider having ground-floor retail to make sure there is redevelopment of the Rite Aid parcel. Councilwoman Victoria Tipp also said she might be willing to forgo retail if it jeopardized the project.

Jeffrey Davis, a principal for the development team, said about 50 parking spaces would be needed to accommodate the 3,000-square-foot diner, only about half of which would be for dining purposes, and the extra 1,200 square feet of retail.

But Councilwoman Ally Chemtob said having a new diner or restaurant to help drive people to the street was one of the attractions of the proposal.

“I think a lot of residents would be disappointed with a residential-only building,” Chemtob said. “I do think there’s a need for a little bit more. I do think a lot of people would like a nice little lunch café or something like that and we really don’t have that other than Bobo’s.”

Planning Board Chair Robert Kirkwood said that an argument can be made that the town’s parking requirements may be too onerous, but the applicant needs to find more parking somewhere.

“The difference between what they would need in terms of off-site (parking) to make it work is maybe a stretch,” he said. “We don’t know.”

The Planning Board will discuss the matter at its meeting this week and will submit its recommendations

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