Winning New Castle Slate Calls on Board to Table Form-Based Code

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The hard-fought New Castle town election may be over but it remains to be seen what will become of the Form-Based Code.

Last weekend, Supervisor-elect Lisa Katz called on the current board majority to suspend any anticipated action on the code for the remainder of the year given the outcome of last week’s election.

Unite New Castle, the ticket that Katz led, swept the four Town Board seats that were contested as they campaigned vigorously against the Form-Based Code. They contended it would allow developers to construct four-story buildings throughout downtown Chappaqua with well over 900 residential units that would crowd the Chappaqua School District.

But the first item on the board’s Wednesday evening work session agenda is a discussion item on the proposed findings statement for the Form-Based Code and its status. The board approved the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement last month.

“I’m not sure what will happen, but I would hope my colleagues see what voters were saying and table that decision,” Katz said.

The three remaining board members, Acting Supervisor Jeremy Saland and councilwomen Lori Morton and Lauren Levin, have supported the code but only Saland will remain on the board after the end of the year.

In a statement released late last week, the Unite New Castle slate, which also included Tara Kassal and Victoria Tipp urged Saland, Morton and Levin to refrain from taking any action on the Form-Based in the remaining weeks of 2021.

They called the election a referendum on the Form-Based Code.

“What has often been mischaracterized as the few voices of a loud minority is clearly much more than that, and the outcome of this race is an unambiguous, undeniable statement from our residents that they are looking for a different solution than the one that has been proposed,” their statement read in part.

A fourth member of the ticket, Andrea Sanseverino Galan won a seat but has already announced via social media she will not serve because she is moving out of town. Her running mates have announced they intend to appoint Chris Hildenbrand to the vacant seat.

Reached last week, Morton gave little indication about what the board might do.

“I think that as a board we will be talking out our individual perspectives on the path forward and arriving at an action or a no-action that’s in the best interests of the town as we see it,” she said.

Messages left for Saland and Levin last weekend were not returned.

However, if the board were to move forward with adoption of the findings statement or any action to advance the Form-Based Code, the new board in January “will use every legal means at its disposal to have this action reversed,” Unite New Castle’s statement read.

The winning slate also warned downtown property owners not to rely on any new zoning based that would be moved forward between now and the end of the year.

“We are hereby putting every party on notice that they should not have any reasonable expectation that they can rely upon any resolution passed relating to the proposed Findings Statement or Form-Based Code unless it is ratified or established by the newly elected board after it has been sworn in,” they stated.

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