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Town of New Castle, NY Seeks Form-Based Code for Chappaqua Hamlet

Chappaqua Hamlet in New Castle (photo: New York Times)

On June 21, 2017 after a multi-year public outreach process, the Town of New Castle adopted its Comprehensive Plan Update, “A Framework for New Castle”. The Town’s Comprehensive Plan Update sets forth specific goals to “preserve the Town’s bucolic, residential character and its historic resources, while promoting new mixed-use development in the hamlets to meet the community’s housing needs and fostering thriving commercial and civic spaces. The plan recognizes that a healthy 21st century hamlet is much more than a retail destination; it is a place for community gatherings and civic events; a place where residents can live, congregate and spend their time comfortably; a place that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles; and a place that offers exciting dining and entertainment options that attract community residents and visitors. Today the Chappaqua Hamlet fulfills some of these criteria but falls short on many others (e.g. limited entertainment options, limited selection of housing types, difficult pedestrian navigation, limited parking). The Comprehensive Plan acknowledges the need to revitalize the Chappaqua Hamlet as a more modern, mixed-use community calling for actions that will help support its goals. The New Castle Comprehensive Plan Update can be found at https://plannewcastle.us/

The Chappaqua Hamlet is the subject of this RFP specifically because there is easy access to sewer and water infrastructure, other amenities and alternative transportation. In addition, the Town of New Castle is currently implementing a $15 million dollar update to the hamlet’s sewer, water and stormwater infrastructure, including new sidewalks, street lights, street trees and public gathering areas. The Chappaqua Hamlet is roughly 342 Acres, 72 of which are currently zoned for non-residential purposes. Approximately 10% of the land area (33 Acres) in the Chappaqua Hamlet is owned by the Town of New Castle with roughly 12 Acres of the Town-owned property located adjacent to the Metro- North train tracks, which serves as surface parking for commuters who take the train to New York City. The commercial core of the hamlet is located along Greeley Avenue, King Street and Allen Place. The vast majority of commercial use consists of retail stores, restaurants, office spaces and personal care stores, such as dry cleaners and nail salons. In addition to being a stop along the rail- line, the Chappaqua Hamlet is also home to the New Castle Town Hall and Police Department, the New Castle Historical Society, the Chappaqua Library, Bell Middle School, the New Castle Community Center and the New Castle Recreation Field. As such, the Chappaqua Hamlet is not just a retail core, but consists of many community facilities as well.

The Town of New Castle is looking for revised legislation that will meet the reality of main street development today and should include commercial and residential uses. Consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the future vision includes transit oriented development and may include different standards for properties aligning Town/County/State roadways (the commercial core) as opposed to areas within the existing train station parking lots or the existing residential areas in the hamlet. It is envisioned that the legislation will be provided in both visual and textual forms. Specific elements of the legislation should address street frontage, street wall, overall height of buildings and open space. Details regarding building alignment, setback and height variation should be included and ultimately care should be provided to break up overall massing. First floor elevations should include elements that relate to the pedestrian experience (e.g. doors, windows, projections, columns, awning and canopies, ornaments, outdoor cafes). Existing surface parking quantities in the Chappaqua Hamlet must be maintained. No net loss of parking amounts is acceptable. The legislation should include examination of current parking standards, shared use and non-competing uses.

Proposals must be received by 4:30 PM Friday, January 25, 2019. 

The full RFQ is available on the Town of New Castle’s website.

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