Livable Built Environment
Principle: Livable Built Environment
Ensure that all elements of the built environment, including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure, work together to provide sustainable, green places for living, working, and recreation, with a high quality of life.
Goal 1. Preserve the bucolic residential character of the community’s neighborhoods
All development should complement and maintain the bucolic character of the community’s neighborhoods. Amendments to the Town’s zoning regulations should be crafted as to ensure that the development that occurs is consistent with the bucolic character of the Town’s residential neighborhoods and to encourage development that keeps with the density, scale, character and aesthetic quality of the existing built environment in the Town’s various zoning districts.
Review and revise existing zoning regulations or develop alternative zoning regulations that encourage development that keeps with the scale and character of development in the Town’s various zoning districts. This may include examination of land use characteristics (e.g. density, lot size, FAR, setback regulations, coverage calculations, special use permits).
Map and inventory existing special use permits outside of hamlet areas to understand their relationship to underlying zoning and aid in future land use planning. Map and inventory should include neighboring communities’ zoning and special use permits.
Review and revise existing subdivision and conservation subdivision design regulations to include low-impact development (LID) standards and smart growth principles. Consider new “smart growth subdivision” designation for new subdivisions incorporating these provisions.
Identify existing conservation subdivisions, as well as general neighborhoods and neighborhoods under planning board jurisdiction, within the Town’s property assessment system and GIS data.
Redefine and codify Clearing and Grading Limit Line (CGLL) in relation to protection of natural areas. The new CGLL definition should center around the creation of a limit of disturbance during construction activity for the protection of open space areas across property lines and sensitive environmental features and conditions.
Make property characteristics (e.g. parcel dimensions, elevation, steep slopes, streams, floodplains, wetland areas, sensitive habitats, and historic resources) publicly available through online database or website.
Goal 2. Locate higher density residential development in hamlets, with density of development decreasing as distance from hamlet centers increases
To allow for higher density residential (not mixed-use) development in areas immediately surrounding the hamlets while maintaining the residential character of the neighborhoods, the Town should revise the regulations found in the zoning code regarding transition areas surrounding the hamlets. Alternative zoning approaches, including form-based codes, should be considered for areas within the hamlets and associated transition areas. Regulations should be revised to allow for development, while ensuring it does not disrupt the single-family residential character of the adjacent neighborhood and should include guidance regarding the appropriate scale, density and housing type.
Revise the regulations found in the zoning code that refer to transition areas between existing hamlets and surrounding residential areas. Revised regulations should enable higher density residential development that is consistent with and does not disrput the bucolic character of areas adjacent to the hamlets. Consider the use of form-based codes within transition areas.
Goal 3. Facilitate a range of housing types that are affordable to a diverse residential population in the hamlets and surrounding areas
Facilitating a range of housing options in or in the hamlets or surrounding areas would provide a diverse set of residents, from young professionals and low-income families to workforce and senior populations, with access to amenities and services. The Town Code should be updated to better encourage the provision of mixed-use, multi-family, condominiums, townhouses, senior and workforce housing, and accessory dwelling units in such areas as part of infill and mixed use developments. Currently, the Town Code requires the provision of a certain percentage or number of affordable units in new multi-family developments in all multi-family residential zoning districts. Determine whether existing percentages should be increased and/or expanded to apply to mixed-use development.
Strengthen zoning code to encourage the provision of mixed-use, multi-family, condominiums, townhouses, apartments, senior and workforce housing, and accessory dwelling units in or in proximity to the hamlets and their amenities, including retail, health care, and transportation. Consider revising minimum lot size, parking regulations, setbacks, incentives and other regulations to allow for a range of housing types. Mixed-use development should take priority over other residential development in the hamlets.
Goal 4. Provide a range of housing types that are affordable to a diverse residential population throughout the community where supported by this Plan
To encourage the development of alternative housing options available to households with a range of income levels, housing legislation (i.e. zoning) and development incentives within the Town Code should be studied. Currently, the Town Code requires a certain percentage or number of lots be created for the provision of an affordable housing unit in new subdivisions. The Town should determine whether existing percentages should be increased to better encourage price point and housing type variation in all zoning districts. So as to maintain New Castle’s bucolic, single-family residential character, all new housing units should be consistent with the character, aesthetic and scale of the neighborhood within which they will be located. Alternative housing consisting of smaller single-family homes (e.g. “gate” houses), two-family homes and accessory apartments located in single-family residence buildings should be developed using creative design techniques to appropriately fit seamlessly among existing residences in the Town’s low-density neighborhoods. Large-scale residential development of any kind in more remote, undeveloped areas of the town faces a myriad of challenges, including but not limited to the following: (i) significant environmental constraints (such as sensitive wetlands and wetland buffers, steep slopes, public drinking water watersheds and aquifers); (ii) the lack of existing infrastructure (such as public water and sewer utilities, substandard roads in terms of surface, width, drainage and sight lines); (iii) little or no access to public transportation; and (iv) limited fire protection when public water is unavailable. Alternative housing should be developed as part of infill and mixed-use developments in the Town’s hamlets and surrounding areas.
This goal can also be accomplished through the reuse and repurposing of underutilized properties. The Town should coordinate with financial institutions or non-profit organizations to identify properties that may be redeveloped or reused as alternative housing available to a range of income levels.
Review existing housing legislation and development incentives and revise to address current housing needs (see housing needs discussion in Livable Built Environment chapter). Consideration should be given to housing type, income, structural accessibility features, connections to the hamlets, and use of alternative transportation.
Consider an increase of the required percentage or number of lots for affordable housing units in new subdivisions.
Coordinate with financial institutions or non-profit organizations to identify existing market rate housing that can be used to meet multifamily and affordable housing needs.
Goal 5. Encourage the placement of housing units of various economic value throughout new multi-family and mixed-use developments (i.e. market rate units next to workforce/affordable units)
Based on housing trends and economic conditions, it should be required that a certain percentage of units in all new multi-family housing developments and mixed-use buildings are affordable, and that these units are interspersed throughout those of higher value. The zoning code should be revised to ensure that affordable housing units are interspersed among those that are market rate, as opposed to clustered together or physically separate from other housing units.
Revise zoning code to ensure that affordable housing units are interspersed among those that are market rate, as opposed to clustered together or physically separate from other housing units, in all zoning districts which accommodate residential development.
Goal 6. Preserve and protect historic resources
The preservation of historic resources is integral not only to preserve but celebrate what gives the Town its identity, creating a stronger sense of place and community among residents. The Landmarks Advisory Committee (LAC), led by the Town Historian, maintains a list of landmarked properties in the Town and endeavors to add historic properties to the list in order to maintain the Town’s unique, historic landscape. Approximately two buildings are added to the list of landmarked properties in New Castle each year. There are many historical assets that have not yet been considered, cataloged or marked as such, including trees, parks, businesses and streets. Additionally, many buildings in New Castle could be considered historic for reasons other than age or previous occupants; design and architecture could also play a role in categorizing certain structures as historic. The Town should partner with the Historical Society, when appropriate, to provide resources, such as manpower or program support, to stimulate research activity and awareness regarding the Town’s historic resources.
Ensure the Town Clerk receives an updated list of historical landmarks/buildings every six months from the New Castle Historical Society.
Explore the possibility of establishing an ongoing internship program, or similar programs, with the Historical Society to stimulate research activity to aid in the cataloging of historical assets that have not yet been considered such as trees, parks, businesses and streets.
Provide access to the Historical Society website directly from the Town website.
Coordinate with the Historical Society to develop a “Welcome Package” with historical information to be given to new residents along with their tax information etc. upon their move to New Castle.
Goal 7. Support the improvement and promote the use of alternative transit services including rail, bus, and school transportation
To enhance access and mobility of all those who live, work and play in the Town, the Town should coordinate with Westchester County to provide more frequent bus service, more cross-town service and streamlined service to the hamlets. An outreach program and incentives to promote alternative transportation should be developed. The Town should coordinate with the school districts to examine school bus ridership trends and, if necessary, encourage ridership through outreach campaigns. The Town should also coordinate with the Chappaqua Bus Company to explore opportunities to use their services to fulfill community transportation needs, such as public transportation between the hamlets.
Coordinate with Westchester County Department of Transportation (i.e. Bee Line) to provide more frequent and reliable bus service as well as more cross-town service.
Create outreach program to promote alternative transportation.
Coordinate with school districts to examine school bus ridership trends. If necessary, encourage ridership through outreach campaigns and pursue other measures to maximize bus use.
Coordinate with the Chappaqua Bus Company to address the community’s public transport needs. Consider providing bus service between the Town’s hamlets.
Goal 8. Ensure underserved and/or special need populations have access to adequate public transportation services
Access and mobility must be enhanced for all populations, especially those who do not or cannot rely on privately-owned automobiles to get around. The Town should determine whether or not there are populations that have special needs or are underserved when it comes to existing public transportation services and, if necessary, identify areas for enhancement of public transportation for those populations. The Town should also remain attuned to the transportation needs of seniors and engage with merchants to make mass transit easier for their employees to use and access.
Identify underserved and/or special need populations (e.g. seniors, families, disabled persons, workforce)
Identify areas for enhancement of public transportation for populations in need.
Provide support to Recreation and Parks in provision of public transportation for seniors when necessary.
Engage with merchants on making mass transit easier for their employees to use and access.
Goal 9. Alleviate traffic congestion
Traffic, especially in the Chappaqua hamlet during rush hour periods and on the weekends, is a major source of resident frustration. The Town should explore the use of alternative traffic circulation patterns in and around the Chappaqua Train Station during peak travel times and in the hamlet during the weekends. To alleviate traffic outside of the hamlets, intersections prone to congestion and conflict should be identified, and traffic flow improvement solutions should be developed.
Explore use of alternative traffic circulation patterns in and around the Chappaqua Train Station during morning and afternoon rush hour.
Identify intersections prone to congestion and conflict (e.g. railroad grade crossing at Roaring Brook Road and the Saw Mill River Parkway) and develop solutions to improve traffic flow.
Goal 10. Provide access for non-motorized forms of transportation, make streets accessible for all users (i.e. pedestrians of all ages and abilities, cyclists, vehicles) and promote walkability
Streets that provide safe access to all users, pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles alike, are called Complete Streets. The Town should look to provide Complete Streets provisions on its roadways, where appropriate. Priority should be given to roads that connect neighborhoods to the hamlets, schools and other locations of public gathering. A Complete Streets policy document that is specific to the Town should be generated so that the Complete Street provisions made on the Town’s roadways are appropriate for the Town’s roadways and improve safety. A Sidewalk Plan for the hamlet areas and outlying neighborhoods as well as neighborhoods near the schools and other public gathering spaces should be developed. The Town should also examine the feasibility of sidewalks within and between neighborhoods that do not border the hamlet areas, and on all major routes including Route 117, 100, 120, 133 and 128. Coordination with County and State permitting entities should be undertaken.
Generate Complete Streets policy document specific to the Town. Include Complete Street techniques and best practices where reasonable when constructing, maintaining or upgrading street infrastructure.
Develop a comprehensive sidewalk plan, which includes identification of priority areas for new sidewalk construction and rehabilitation of existing sidwalks. Focus should be placed on commercial areas and outlying neighborhoods.
Examine the feasibility of sidewalks within and between neighborhoods that do not border commercial areas.
Examine the feasibility of sidewalks on all major routes including Rt. 117, 100, 120, 133, 128.
Goal 11. Improve circulation and connectivity within and between the hamlets and Chappaqua Crossing
Improving circulation and connectivity within and between hamlets will mean ensuring that residents and visitors of the Town can make their way around and find opportunities to park. The Town should review and update parking standards to determine appropriate ratios of parking demand to development. The visibility of public parking opportunities in the hamlets should be improved through directional signage and implementation of a wayfinding program to enhance connections between the hamlets and other destinations of local and regional importance. A shared parking forecast should also be developed to assess the feasibility of a shared parking initiative.
Examine opportunities to enhance bike, pedestrian and alternative transport between Chappaqua, Millwood and Chappaqua Crossing.
Review and update parking standards to reflect desired land use (including availability of public parking in hamlet areas, minimum parking standards, etc.).
Undertake a parking feasibility study to analyze the opportunities and needs for parking in Chappaqua including a future needs forecast and shared parking.
Enhance visibility of public parking opportunities in the hamlets through directional signage.
Develop a wayfinding program (e.g. consistent signage) to improve connections between the Chappaqua Train Station, hamlets, and other destinations of local and regional importance.
Goal 12. Improve accessibility of train service
To improve the accessibility of the train service, traffic circulation issues at the Chappaqua Train Station should be addressed. Additionally and consistent with traffic circulation improvements, the Town should explore opportunities for public-private partnerships in constructing a parking structure to serve the train station and the Chappaqua hamlet.
Address traffic circulation issues at the Chappaqua Train Station pick-up/drop-off areas.
Explore opportunities for public-private partnership to construct parking structure near train station.
Goal 13. Ensure adequate infrastructure service to meet existing and future demand
Infrastructure services include roads; stormwater, sewer, and drinking water systems; clean energy systems such as LED lighting, microgrids and/or combined heat and power (CHP) installations; and potable water and fire suppression technologies, among others. The Town should develop an Infrastructure Inventory, Repair and Replacement Plan that includes the history of infrastructure district creation (if applicable), quantifies existing infrastructure capacity and identifies needed improvements regarding expansion of service for health and safety (including fire suppression) and in relation to hazard mitigation measures as discussed in the Town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. Proposed development projects should be coordinated with the Town’s infrastructure needs, including the continued examination of the feasibility of extending sewer service to the Millwood hamlet and areas where septic systems are failing. The expansion of wastewater systems and other associated infrastructure should not take place solely to allow for additional higher density development, to the detriment of the environment, or without some additional benefit that meets other goals of this Plan. For example, the expansion of infrastructure systems should enhance the use of clean/green technology, expand opportunities for alternative and/or affordable housing, and/or aid in building alternative transportation linkages.
Develop Infrastructure Inventory, Repair and Replacement Plan that can be accessed by all Town departments. This Plan should include the history of infrastructure district creation (where applicable), quantify existing infrastructure capacity and identify needed improvements including hazard mitigation measures as discussed in the Town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Review and update Capital Improvement Plan to prioritize, budget, and facilitate infrastructure repair, replacement and expansion where appropriate.
Create a workgroup consisting of relevant Department Heads and Town staff to facilitate enhanced inter-departmental communications and coordination on planned and proposed capital improvement and/or infrastructure repair and expansion projects, as well as large private developments that could impact public infrastructure.
Investigate the feasibility of extending sewer service to the Millwood hamlet, areas of higher density, and where septic systems are failing.
Require applicants to loop water systems and other relevant infrastructure as part of site plan and subdivision design.
Explore the creation of maintenance districts for hamlet infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks, parking lots) and solid waste management.
Explore the creation of a program to inspect sewer laterals from private structures that are currently connected to the Westchester County sewer system. Such a program should include lead detection and illegal connections.
Goal 14. Promote development in areas with existing infrastructure over areas with limited or no infrastructure service
This goal is established in order to limit development in more bucolic parts of Town to preserve their character and avoid disturbances to biotic/naturally existing corridors. Infill development should be promoted in areas with supportive infrastructure and should be planned for sparingly in areas that lack the necessary infrastructure. Existing infrastructure mapping should be enhanced to aid in these efforts.
Identify and map limits of existing infrastructure (i.e. sidewalks, sewer, water) in relation to surrounding land use. Prioritize expansion potential based on density of surrounding development, allowing for expansion where higher densities and infrastructural provisions exist while maintaining adequate transition zones between existing densities.