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New Castle Prepared to Issue Neg Dec for North Greeley Proposal

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The New Castle Town Board is prepared to approve a negative declaration related to the proposed net-zero carbon mixed-use building for North Greeley Avenue because the project would cause no significant adverse environmental impact.

Last week, Sabrina Charney Hull, the town’s director of planning, reviewed a draft negative declaration with the board and went over the 17 categories listed under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) criteria, which helps a municipality determine the potential impacts and whether an Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared.

Categories ranged from impacts on the land, to stormwater, drinking water and wastewater, to traffic and parking, community character and light and noise.

“Ultimately, because of the condition of the land today, as urban substrata overlaid with asphalt and concrete, that is not going to be any different in the future under the concept plan,” Hull told the board regarding one factor why there would be no adverse environmental impact.

The Town Board, which is lead agency for the project, is considering whether to amend the zoning to allow for a special use permit that would allow the building. There would be as many as 50 one- and two-bedroom apartments and studios and about 6,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space for the nearly one-acre parcel at 50 N. Greeley Ave. The site hasn’t been occupied since the Rite Aid closed nearly six years ago.

The public hearing is expected to be reconvened at Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting for what is likely a final session as officials wanted to allow residents to comment on aspects of the draft negative declaration. As of last week, it was unclear when the board would vote on the negative declaration and when a vote could occur on the legislation.

A majority of the public comments during the hearing over the past several months criticized the project for being too large and out of character with the downtown Chappaqua business hamlet.

At the board’s work session last Tuesday evening, Hull highlighted some of the key categories and why the project as proposed would not create adverse environmental impacts.

A projected 8,300 gallons of wastewater a day that is expected to be generated, which can be accommodated by the town’s North Greeley Sewer District, Hull said. Furthermore, there would be a 4,000-square-foot reduction of impervious surface, as well as landscaping and incorporation of green building practices to limit stormwater runoff.

Estimates peg water use at 8,300 gallons per day, which could also be handled by the town, helped by water infrastructure improvements that were completed by 2020.

“There’s ample water supply for that site,” Hull said.

Current downtown infrastructure should also be able to handle increases in downtown traffic and parking. Projections call for an additional 31 trips in the weekday morning peak, 18 in the weekday afternoon peak and 24 for the Saturday peak, well below the 100-trip threshold that would be needed to impact the King Street and North Greeley Avenue intersection, Hull said.

However, she cautioned that if there is further downtown development, it could require traffic circulation improvements in the future.

The applicant has proposed supplying 52 on-site parking spaces – one for each tenant and two for a car-sharing service.

With the currently proposed commercial square footage, 41 additional spaces are needed but these have been proposed to be located off-site by the applicant.

“There is the ability to allow these 41 spaces to be absorbed into the parking district during the peak a.m., peak p.m. and Saturday morning when the demand for commercial uses is at its highest,” Hull said.

One of the key points raised by project critics has been how the four-story building would not fit into the character of the downtown. Hull agreed that the project would be different but that would not be considered an impactful factor.

“The project will definitely change the appearance of the North Greeley corridor but the change does not constitute a significant adverse environmental impact,” she said.

Supervisor Lisa Katz said the public should have the opportunity to comment on the SEQRA findings related to the recommendation for a negative declaration. The board may determine on Tuesday whether to close the hearing, she said.


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