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Quarrel Brews Over Affordable Housing In Chappaqua

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CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The median sale price for a home in Chappaqua is $1 million, but many residents have said they would welcome more affordable housing.

But as CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Tuesday, building that affordable housing has proven to be a struggle.

In the affluent Westchester County hamlet, annual median income tops $160,000.

But one small plot hard up against the Metro-North Railroad tracks, and next to a busy parkway, is the proposed site of Chappaqua Station – 28 affordable apartments reserved for families making less than $65,000 a year.

Under a directive from the Obama Administration, the affordable housing would have to be marketed heavily to black and Hispanic would-be renters. Chappaqua is 91 percent white.

Officials approved the project in September. But then in November, a new town board opposed to the project was voted in.

“They’re not making openly racist arguments — no one would say that in the 21st century with a black president. That’s unacceptable. So they make other arguments,” said project attorney Randolph McLaughlin of the Newman Ferrara Law Firm. “But at the bottom it’s, ‘We don’t want this type of housing.'”

McLaughlin said opponents are raising questionable objections. For instance, they said an overpass with an 11-foot clearance might keep fire trucks from reaching the site – although McLaughlin said a sketch of the photo shows a fire truck passing under it safely and thus proves otherwise.

“These are just ridiculous, pretextual arguments,” he said.

But many in Chappaqua insisted they genuinely want to see affordable housing – just not on that particular site. One resident said the site itself was actually denigrating to the residents who would live there.

‘If you look at that site, it’s like saying , ‘OK, we have to do affordable housing because the government says we have to do affordable housing, so where is the worst possible place that we can hide these people or tuck them into a corner?’” said Chappaqua resident Frederick Feiner. “I think it’s almost an insult to put people there.”

The developer vows to push on, and bring Chappaqua its first affordable housing project in 20 years.

The newly-elected supervisor told CBS 2 he is working on a plan for 36 units of land near town hall. The developer believes the option is being floated as a delaying tactic.

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