Study Sought on Impact of a Chap Crossing Supermarket

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Replacing D’Agostino, which left Chappaqua more than a year ago, with a supermarket at the former Reader’s Digest site is being considered but a zoning change is needed.

A General Environmental Impact Statement should be generated by New Castle officials to help determine whether a supermarket and five large retail spaces can be sustained at the former Reader’s Digest site.

That was the consensus from the town’s planning board Tuesday night as its members grappled with the potential impacts of a proposed rezoning to amend the town code that would allow retail uses under certain conditions at the Chappaqua Crossing property. If the rezone is approved as currently proposed for the portion of the parcel zoned as a research and office business district, it would require a supermarket of between 50,000 and 60,000 square feet to serve as an anchor and five other retail stores of at least 5,000 square feet each.

Planning Board members, who had the issue referred to them by the town board on Sept. 24, were skeptical about whether the size of the supermarket could be sustained with other food stores close by, including the 50,000-square-foot A&P in Mount Kisco and the Millwood A&P.

“The question is if you have that large a store how much more can you support?” said Board Chairman Richard Brownell during a special Oct. 2 work session devoted to the topic after the board’s regular meeting.

Board members agreed that a GEIS should be completed to help officials study traffic and impact on the environment and the downtown business districts in Chappaqua and Millwood.

Brownell and his colleagues questioned why the proposed minimum square footage for the supermarket was so large. He suggested that there should be a much wider range for a permissible store size. The D’Agostino supermarket at the Horace Greeley Shopping Center on King Street that closed a little over a year ago was less than 15,000 square feet, Brownell said.

In order to support a store of at least 50,000 square feet, it is likely that it would need to draw shoppers from outside New Castle, impacting traffic in an area that is already overburdened by volume from the nearby Saw Mill Parkway and Horace Greeley High School, said board member Sheila Crespi.

Joanne Meder, vice president of planning for Frederick P. Clark Associates, Inc., said the proposed size is what many new full-service supermarkets now measure.

Crespi said in addition to the concerns over traffic and whether a 50,000-square-foot market could be supported by the community, she feared a supermarket in that location would siphon customers from the two existing business districts.

“I feel this is introducing a third business center into New Castle,” she said.

Crespi said the matter is serious enough that if the town wants to pursue the supermarket and retail option for Chappaqua Crossing then public should be scheduled to gauge whether there is community interest to have stores outside of the hamlets.

Town officials have been exploring whether it’s feasible to rezone a portion of the property to accommodate a supermarket since shortly after the loss of D’Agostino. Previously, sentiment has leaned toward trying to put a supermarket in downtown Chappaqua but the lack of available space poses a major obstacle.


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