The New Castle Town Board could accept a revised environmental impact statement for review on the Chappaqua Crossing plan Tuesday night, paving the way for public hearings to be scheduled by later this month.
Town officials have scheduled a vote to approve the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for completeness regarding the retail portion of the plan. Developer Summit/Greenfield has proposed adding 120,000 square feet of retail in the ground floor of the main building, including a supermarket between 36,000 and 66,000 square feet, which would be the anchor store for the project.
The board didn’t have enough votes to accept the DSEIS at its March 27 meeting, since two members were absent and a third, Councilwoman Elise Kessler Mottel, has recused herself from all discussion and votes on the application.
“This reminds people,” Councilman Robin Stout said at the board’s meeting last week. “It’s been out of the public (eye) for a long time. The bulk of the SEIS has been out of the public for a long time.”
Last fall, the town asked the developer to answer a long list of questions regarding the project before it would consider wrapping up the environmental review, Stout said.
Officials indicated that a series of three sessions could begin before the end of this month should the board accept the document. Town Attorney Clinton Smith said the board could find a Tuesday night for one portion of the hearing, schedule an afternoon session and hold a third forum within a week of each other. If questions surrounding the retail plan are resolved quickly, the board could accept the DEIS as final in June, Smith said.
Chappaqua Crossing’s retail plan has attracted its share of heated debate among portions of the population. Critics of the retail plan have argued that it would worsen traffic congestion on nearby Route 117 and the Saw Mill Parkway. The proposed access to the retail site would also be across the street from Horace Greeley High School’s entrance.
Other critics contend that it would create a second business center for the hamlet, potentially jeopardizing the health of existing businesses in downtown Chappaqua. Other stores that could be courted for Chappaqua Crossing include a drive-through pharmacy, bank, restaurants or various national retailers, the developer’s representatives have previously stated.
However, both town officials and the applicant are also keeping track of the calendar. As part of a settlement reached in December between New Castle and Summit/Greenfield, the developer agreed to suspend its state and federal lawsuits against the town if certain milestones for moving the application along are met. A vote for final approval would need to take place no later than the middle of next year, although the town is under no obligation to approve the project.
Summit/Greenfield sued the town and three board members in early 2011 in state Supreme Court and U.S. District Court in White Plains, claiming that officials caved to pressure from critics of the project. Less than two months later, the town board approved 111 condominium units, although the developer had already scaled down its last proposal to 199 units.
Summit/Greenfield also needs to have its application for a rezone approved to move ahead with the retail plan.