GovernmentThe Examiner

New Castle Explores How to Address North Greeley Avenue Concerns

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New Castle officials are grappling with the best strategies to employ in hopes of revitalizing the North Greeley Avenue corridor in downtown Chappaqua.

Last week during the Town Board’s work session, discussions included potential zoning tools to use to get the best outcomes for that stretch of the hamlet as well as how to reach the widest cross section of the town’s residents to accurately reflect public sentiment.

“I think that North Greeley presents an optimal opportunity to have that diversity of housing options, which we all think is very important and begin to create the retail opportunities there so that we can begin to start crafting the groundwork for a thriving hamlet for diversity and more vibrancy,” said Councilwoman Victoria Tipp.

North Greeley Avenue became a key focus of town discussions last year after the previous Town Board limited the scope of the Form Based Code to only that corridor. However, there was strong disapproval that the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) included the entire 72-acre downtown as well as a lack of involvement of the Planning Board in the decision-making process on many future applications in that area.

Critics of the Form Based Code were also disturbed that there had been a lack of public engagement during the process.

Zoning tools at the town’s disposal could include an overlay district, perhaps only on the west side of North Greeley, which could use the most help in large part because of the empty Rite Aid space, said Supervisor Lisa Katz. Katz said that officials she has spoken to in Yorktown have been pleased with the effectiveness of that approach there.

Town Attorney Ed Phillips said the overlay district is one tool while another would be to change the zoning to another existing zone. The town could also look at other districts throughout the town that include multifamily housing, for example.

Public outreach could include surveys and focus groups, are among to help the board fully understand what the community wants and figure out the best way to achieve that. Zoom meetings also proved to be well-attended for many of the Form Based Code hearings during outbreaks of the pandemic.

“The big questions, though, are height and retail and that’s what the prior Town Board spent a lot of time wrestling with, and whether we’re talking about a survey or charettes or some other public engagement, I thing that these are the key questions that have to be answered,” Phillips said.

Councilman Jeremy Saland said he was puzzled by the direction that the board was discussing, floating the possibilities of an overlay zone, and 10 percent affordable housing, retail on the ground floor and possibly limiting height to three stories.

But Councilman Chris Hildenbrand said the process that the board is embarking on is an exploration, whether that includes the affordable housing component, to include ground-floor retail or height. He said he isn’t wedded to any one approach.

“The idea here is this is an area of town that there clearly is consensus that it needs to be addressed and we want to make sure we have community engagement,” Hildenbrand said. “We’re exploring what that could look like. So that’s where we are.”

On Tuesday evening, the Town Board is opening a public hearing on possibly expanding the 10 percent affordable housing requirement to the two downtown zones, Retail Business and Retail Business and Parking.

The board is expected to discuss the North Greeley Avenue zoning options again at its Mar. 1 meeting.

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