And More Updates from Town Hall’s 10/28 Meeting
By Eileen Gallagher
Mark Mobley, executive construction coordinator for Whole Foods northeast region, was asked several questions by the town board and the public about the proposed store at Chappaqua Crossing. He explained that he is involved with the planning of the store itself–and not the traffic and zoning issues.
“We are excited to be part of this development at Chappaqua Crossing,” began Mobley, describing how Felix Charney approached them four years ago to consider the location for a new Whole Foods store. Mobley went on, “We want to be part of the community and work with the schools and hospital for healthy lifestyles.”
Supervisor Rob Greenstein asked how the store would be involved in the community. Per Mobley: tours, healthy eating presentations, community givebacks such as landscaping, are all planned. He did express concern with delays as the company is anxious to begin construction.
Board members weighed in as the four-hour meeting went on.
–Elise Mottel asked about traffic management during times such as Thanksgiving and Christmas when traffic tends to be heavier.
–Lisa Katz questioned the need for 120,000 square feet of retail, as well as delivery times for trucks. –Adam Brodsky wanted to know how that square footage was derived, and how they could revisit that number for something smaller.
Mobley had some answers, saying that Whole Foods would not come to the area without “a critical mass,” and that they would plan for traffic management for high volume times, but deferred explanations for the retail size and delivery times to “the people in Austin” who make up the real estate committee for Whole Foods.
Several members of the audience spoke their minds about the proposed retail space and the effects they felt it would have on traffic in the area. There were a couple of comments in favor of Whole Foods coming to Chappaqua. At one point, board member Jason Chapin told a resident that though the board welcomed his ideas for the median and island on Old Roaring Book Road, the discussion that evening was focused on zoning.
As the meeting drew to a close, the Fried Frank trial lawyer who had brought the suit on behalf of Summit Greenfield against the town board in 2011 came to the microphone.
Katz sparred with Howard Stahl as he referred to the case of Sherman vs the Town of Chester, which he compared to the situation in New Castle with his client. Speaking about millions of dollars spent by a developer while the town of Chester “kept moving the goalposts,” he indicated that the outcome of that case [Chester losing the case] could occur with New Castle as well.
Complaining that Summit Greenfield has been through several years and “four boards” in their quest for developing their property, and saying that the current board’s predecessors had already decided what the use of the property would be, he indicated that they were at the end of the “tolling period.” “All I can implore you to do is to do your jobs of course… do your deliberations, analyze the data… and settle this.”
Katz spoke to Stahl. “I for one am not going to make a decision that’s going to affect this town forever based on a threat of litigation, which… you were losing.” Referring to his comment that compromise results in all parties being left at least a little unhappy, Katz asked at what parameters the project could get done where his client would settle, so that it would be “acceptable and unacceptable for all parties.” She continued, saying that what she can do is either approve or disapprove this project.
Brodsky addressed Stahl, saying that they could either have a back and forth discussion and work as partners, or make the decision on his behalf as part of their duty.
Greenstein interjected, “We’re going to ultimately make a decision, and whatever happens happens with the litigation, and hopefully it’s a win for everybody, for the community, for the developer… It’s time to make a decision, and we’ll let the chips fall where they may, but it’s time to make a decision.”
Next hearing on Chappaqua Crossing regarding retail usage and proposed retail overlay district will be November 18.