Letter: Chap Crossing Deal Lets Down Constituents

Rob Greenstein criticizes the Town of New Castle's settlement with Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield, where the developer has agreed to suspend its housing rezoning review lawsuits in exchange for the town approving retail rezoning.

(Editor's Note: Below is a response from Rob Greenstein regarding New Castle's settlement with Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield. The post originally appeared in the Chappaqua Moms Facebook group and Patch asked if it could then be submitted as an opinion piece):

The Town Board just let down our residents, and our merchants.  I understand that reducing the risks of litigation has a benefit, but it would seem to make more sense if we were in a weak position.  The State lawsuit was already dismissed (although an appeal is pending), and the Federal standard is higher.   Summit Greenfield was incurring legal fees.  Our legal costs were paid for by insurance.  We were in a position of strength, and now we are not! 
Why would OUR Town Board agree to this????  The only possible explanation is for the one-time payment of $905,000 in fees that Summit Greenfield already owed the Town from the review of the residential portion of the project.   That is not a sufficient reason!   And if you were gonna settle with Summit Greenfield, why doesn’t the deal affect several outstanding challenges that Summit/Greenfield has to its property tax assessments?????

An article 78 is not a viable option. The Town Board has discretion to settle. I just don’t understand why they did.  
I am VERY concerned about how the economically feasible development standard will be interpreted & defined.   One thing is certain, we will not be making that decision.  A third party - such as a Court or an Arbitrator - will be making that decision for us thanks to OUR Town Board.   Would a Court or an Arbitrator ultimately decide that a 50,000 retail development fails the economically feasible test.
Thanks to our Town Board, we lost control of guiding the process.  We will now be guided by milestones, that have yet to be disclosed.  Will the “milestones” mean that the Town Board will rush their decision so the developer can revise their site plan to add the retail component before the 6 month extension expires in April.

Do the “milestones” mean town board won’t listen to the recommendation of the planning board & commission a market study to assess the effects of the grocery/shopping center at Chappaqua Crossing on the existing commercial centers before changing the zoning? 

Do the “milestones” mean that the Town Board can’t follow the Planning Board’s suggestion that adding 120K new retail space should only be done in conjunction with updating our master plan?  
One thing is certain, the proposed law must be changed to protect local merchants and the traffic mitigation measures proposed by Summit Greenfield must be studied VERY carefully.

Thanks to OUR Town Board,  I think that the retail rezoning at Chappaqua Crossing is virtually a foregone conclusion.   The concerns of the residents, merchants & the Planning Board were ignored.

Chapp Dad December 13, 2012 at 08:44 PM
.Thanks Tom - any chance you can get Rob to explain to us why he circulated a petition that intentionally deceived us? He would like to be viewed (and is viewed by some) as a knowledgeable community activist. Seems hard to own that reputation after that petition full of lies. Many think an explanation and an apology is in order. Here and on other community blogs he has been asked for an explanation. We know he reads these requests but he has chosen to ignore them and only speak to the issues he chooses. Thats certainly his prerogative but that would be inconsistent with his self appointed role. Its not unreasonable that community members such as myself who signed his petition because I believed its contents were accurate, now ask for and receive an explanation from him. Perhaps that explains why he is posting on Chapp Moms Facebook and not on Patch, NEWCASTLENOW, and Daily Chapp Tom-keep up the great work. We appreciate it.
Bassett December 13, 2012 at 08:52 PM
any chance you will cease this unproductive vendetta
Chapp Dad December 13, 2012 at 09:12 PM
what vendetta? A simple question deserves a simple answer. Many have asked the same. Many signed the petition under false pretenses. I signed because I thought a sewage treatment plant was planned. Seems that an explanation is a reasonable thing to ask for. Whats wrong with that?
Bassett December 13, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Yes, so you have said, over and over in publication after publication... The petition had some errors, no question. You are sorry that you signed it, okay. There were many rumors going around and the way that the Town Board has proceeded with this legislation has hardly been transparent, in fact it has been most secretive, creating the sort of atmosphere that gives rise to rumors and gives rise to great concerns. What you see as 'false pretenses', I see as reasonable errors, nothing more, and yes what you are doing here and everywhere is carrying on a vendetta for no good purpose. I am grateful to Rob Greenstein for the hard work and time that he has given to this community. I do not believe that he owes you an explanation.
Jonathan Birenbaum December 20, 2012 at 11:03 PM
What is going on with the D'Agostino store? Will Trader Joe's come to Chappaqua?


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