The Town Board recently sent a letter to the Federal Housing Monitor & County Executive Robert Astorino. In the letter, we expressed support for our Building Inspector, who has raised fire safety concerns with Conifer’s project site and building plans. These concerns stem from the fact that the project site is only 1/3 of an acre in size, and is wedged alongside Metro-North Railroad tracks, an exit ramp from the Saw Mill River Parkway, and a bridge overpass. Conifer’s plans call for developing a 4-story residential building, from lot-line-to-lot-line, on that site.
Our letter to the Monitor and County Executive also expressed concerns that the project site poses “the risk of significant stigmatization and isolation of residents.” Those are not my words–that is what the Housing Monitor initially said about the project site back in July 2012.
Our letter also explained that the Town owns vacant property directly behind its Town Hall that appears well-suited for the construction of workforce or affordable housing. The property fronts on Washington Avenue — a tree-lined, residential street in the heart of downtown Chappaqua. We’ve asked the County and Conifer to seriously consider working collaboratively with the Town in an effort to relocate Conifer’s project to the Washington Avenue Property and build residential housing that all parties can be proud of.
The Town Board also sent a separate letter to the New York State Board of Review. In that letter, we’ve expressed our disappointment with their decision on January 22, 2015 to grant Conifer’s variance petition. We also reiterated our support for our Building Inspector and our first responders, and questioned whether the latest iteration of Conifer’s site plan adequately addresses the risks associated with this project site. The tragic accident that occurred on February 3, 2015 on the MTA’s Harlem Line in Valhalla, which claimed the lives of two Town of New Castle residents and four others, has only heightened the Town Board’s safety concerns. Conifer’s proposed residential building would be erected only 15-feet from the MTA’s Harlem Line, which is among the busiest railway corridors in the United States. Our letter asks the Board of Review to reconsider its variance decision.
Finally, this past Friday, Conifer commenced a new litigation against the Town concerning the time in which it has to complete construction of the project. Under the Town Code § 60-430(M), the Town believes that Conifer has 18 months from the issuance of its special permit to complete construction. Conifer, citing a different section of the Town Code, contends that it can wait as long as 25 years before completing the improvements required by the special permit. On multiple occasions, the Town Attorney has advised Conifer that it can request an extension of the 18-month period by submitting a letter request. Unfortunately, rather than simply asking for an extension of time, Conifer has filed a lawsuit.
Railroad grade crossing at Roaring Brook Road/Saw Mill River Parkway Last week we were informed that the project to build a bridge and eliminate the grade railroad crossing on Roaring Brook Road was removed from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) TIP list in 2006. We wrote a letter to the Commissioner New York State Department of Transportation requesting that the NYSDOT restore this critical project to the TIP list. Because of the proximity of Horace Greeley High School with a large percentage of young and relatively inexperienced drivers, we emphasized that these much-needed improvements to the Roaring Brook Road grade crossing and Saw Mill River parkway interchange are long overdue and urgently needed to prevent another tragedy from occurring. Now more than ever, the Town believes this project should remain a high priority for NYSDOT.
Meeting with Senator Terrence Murphy
This week I met with Senator Terrence Murphy. I requested that we be reinstated to the NYSDOT TIP list. He also provided me with a copy of a letter he wrote – at my request – to the Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos requesting $10M needed for the sewage Diversion Project to prevent sewage dicharged into the Croton and Kensico watershed basins. A copy of his letter can be seen here. http://www.mynewcastle.org/index.php/chappaqua-news/latest-news/1262-senator-terrence-murphy-sewage-diversion-project-request
We received the updated Preliminary Development Concept Plan, and we are having a joint meeting with the Planning Board & Architectural Review Board on March 3. Public hearing on 2015 Retail PDCP and retail remapping Local Law set for March 10th.
Downtown Infrastructure/ Streetscape improvements WSP Sells, the company working on our $6.5M infrastructure & streetscape project, will be making their 30% Design Presentation on March 10. The Master Plan Steering Committee will be attending. Also, we will asking the Architecural Review Board (“ARB”) to attend. WSP will be working on design standards for downtown Chappaqua, and we would like input from the ARB.
Sledding at Gedney
The Town Board approved the amendment to Park and Recreation Rule requiring minor children to wear a bicycle helmet, skiing/snowboarding helmet or equivalent helmet when sledding at Gedney Park.