New Castle town officials want more information from Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield as part of the environmental review of its proposed grocery store and retail mix.
The Town Board voted Tuesday on the memo and agreed that it should be sent to the developer.
The 34-page memo is meant to point out areas where the town wants more details for the developer's draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS). The Town Board has to determine whether there is enough information in the DSEIS before it is ready for public review and comment, Town Attorney Clinton Smith explained.
A DSEIS that has enough information for a public hearing, in official terms, is described as one that is complete. The memo, said Smith, includes input from town staff and consultants and was prepared in reaction to Summit/Greenfield submitting a copy of the petition for its retail and grocery proposal in October, along with its DSEIS. The developer's proposal was made in response to a similar idea presented earlier this year by the Town Board, which would allow for an overlay zone to be petitioned for and established.
Summit/Greenfield is proposing 120,000 square feet of retail-zoned space, including a grocery store that would range between 36,000 to 66,000 square feet, depending on the specific tenant. The developer proposes converting the historic cupola building on the property, which is the former corporate headquarters of Reader's Digest, into the grocery space. The grocery store in the cupola building, known as Building 200, would be coupled with a new connected building to its south, which would replace the existing Building 100. Additionally, ancillary retail and parking would be built in the southern part of the property.
The environmental review memo includes a long list of comments to address. They include:
- Addressing "the full build-out potential," of a similar proposal that was made by the Town Board earlier this year. That proposal, which is merely legislation for a process to create a retail overlay zone, could potentially have greater impacts than Summit/Greenfield's version, the memo notes, citing potential differences in tenant mix and layout.
- Addressing the demand, locally and regionally for such a proposal.
- Addressing the project's impact to the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
- Addressing the retail's impact on the existing business districts in the Chappaqua and Millwood hamlets.
- Addressing the difference between rezoning and the current Town Development Plan.
- Including alternative versions of the plan in the SEIS, such as a scenario where Building 200's facade is fully preserved (new, street-level glass is proposed for the structure), using the main corridor as an "organizing element," and having more integration of the proposed retail and residential uses.
- More consistent identification between what's mentioned in the SEIS and the proposal's petition.
- Give an approximately number of "free-standing retail stores" for the proposal, along with information about what certain types of store sizes, such as a "junior anchor" would entail.
- More information on the potential impacts to the "architectural integrity" of the cupola building.
- Noting the possible wide range of grocery space, the memo calls for including the "reasonable worst case traffic conditions," in the proposal as part of a traffic study.
- More details on the existing and proposed conditions of the intersection between Roaring Brook Road and Horace Greeley High School's entrance, which would get a traffic light in the proposal become a T intersection with a side entrance to Chappaqua Crossing.
In order to make the proposal a reality, Summit/Greenfield needs the Town Board to approve a retail overlay zone, which could be used on top of the site's existing zone intended for office space, along with a concept plan from the board. Then, the developer needs site plan and subdivision approval from the Planning Board.
The review process of the proposal, which was submitted in October, is being steered by a Dec. 11 settlement between the town and developer, in which Summit/Greenfield agreed to suspend a pair of 2011 lawsuits it filed over the town's review of its rezoning bid to allow for condos and townhouses to be built on the site. The Town Board, in April 2011, voted to approve only 111 units out of 199 that were proposed. The developer has agreed to drop the lawsuits if its retail and grocery plan is approved, although the deal gives room for some adjustment to the project.
The timeline for review by both boards is expected to take roughly a year, according to the terms of the settlement, with Town Board approval by spring 2013 and Planning Board approval to follow. If Summit/Greenfield gets both approvals, then it will drop its lawsuits entirely.
A copy of the town's memo is attached to this story as a PDF file.