By Zarah Kavarana
Conifer’s current plans were initially presented to board members in April, when they put forth a much more suitable proposal that addressed the concerns of visual impact, pedestrian and traffic circulation, and parking. To appease the concerns of both the public and board members, Conifer decreased the number of affordable apartment homes from 36 to 28, about a 22 percent reduction.
Architect Stephen Schoch spoke about two of the potential concepts up for discussion. The first has a height of three to four stories, with three stories on the sides of the building, and four in the middle. The second is only three stories, keeping the building to a more preferred height. Schoch noted, however, that this design would have a larger mass and would go out to the property line. The first plan would therefore have much more recreational space than the second. He suggested going with the first plan because it would be more visually appealing.
Board members did not state how they intend to vote on the rezoning legislation and special permit currently in consideration for the project. They did, however, have much to say on the proposal.
Supervisor Susan Carpenter said that she supports the project, but 54 Hunts Place is not the right location. She encouraged members of the public to welcome the residents of this site by saying, “Our community can support them.”
Robin Stout, councilman, thanked Conifer for being so responsive to the requests of the Chappaqua community and its board members. He felt that any apparent issues could now be overcome.
Board members Jason Chapin and John Buckley both had strong reservations on the project.
Buckley felt that despite the changes that have been made, the project was still much too big.
Chapin agreed that it’s oversized and would not blend in. He did acknowledge the growth of the project, but ultimately gave it a thumbs down.
He said, “While this amounts to several steps in the right direction, it is not enough for me. I have too many reservations about this project. I also don’t think all the conditions and standards required for a special permit have been met, and therefore, the project should not move forward.”
The audience was packed with Chappaqua residents who were ready to speak about the new proposal.
One of which was Steve Goldenberg. He made a point that there will never be a perfect project on the table. Residents and board members will have to make compromises, otherwise the project will never be completed.
Another resident Bill Spade, proposed that the project is too big to be squeezed onto a small parcel of land, and that this was the fault of the developer. Because the county pays for the land per-unit, there is a financial incentive for the developer to add on as many units as possible.
In response to the many who claimed that the location will stigmatize the residents of the apartments, Chappaqua resident, Nancy King suggested otherwise.
She said, “Are we the kind of people who think less of others because of where they live? If so, what does that say about us?”
After listening to each of the Chappaqua residents, the board voted to adjourn both public hearings connected to the affordable housing project until the next meeting on July 23. Members believed that this would be an appropriate amount of time for Conifer to produce documents containing environmental and financial information that would be vital in the entirety of the process.