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Millwood Sewers for Affordable Housing?

Mike Kaplowitz pitches Millwood sewer extension approval from county in exchange for affordable housing units being built to satisfy 2009 settlement.

Millwood Sewers for Affordable Housing?

Although the Millwood hamlet was not included in a planned sewer extension that will go to other places in the Town of New Castle, a similar proposal involving it may come up in the future.

At this month's Millwood Task Force meeting, Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz (D-Somers), proposed a deal to make sewers a reality: extend the existing sewer system to the business district, in exchange for having the hamlet become a site for affordable housing to fulfill the county's 2009 housing settlement.

“It could be a real win-win," said Kaplowitz, whose district includes New Castle. He envisioned the deal bringing in new shoppers to Millwood while helping the county with its obligation.

An extension, which would also require enlarging the system's surrounding sewer district, must be approved by the Westchester County government.

The federally monitored settlement, which was meant to end litigation between the county and the Anti-Discrimination Center, calls for the construction of 750 units of what is deemed to be "fair and affordable housing," in predominantly white municipalities, accompanied with aggressive marketing for them. The county has until 2016 to compete the construction.

In going forward with such a plan, Kaplowitz told the task force that he would like their input on what direction business district should take.

Such an agreement, Kaplowitz told the task force, could help in getting support from Yonkers-area county legislators, who have historically been hesitant to approve sewer extensions that are connected to a treatment plant in their city. He noted that such a deal would not be the first in New Castle. For example, last year's deal, in which the county's Board of Legislators backed sewer district extensions for part of Chappaqua Crossing and the neighborhoods of Riverwoods, Yeshiva and Random Farms, came with the New Castle Town Board's zoning approval earlier that year of 20 affordable housing units for Chappaqua Crossing. The legislators' approval of that deal came in spite of Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield's pending lawsuits with the town over the board's review of the rezoning process.

The approved extension would allow for a trunk sewer line, based around Route 100 in the Briarcliff Manor area, to travel northeast to serve the three affected neighborhoods but bypass the Millwood busisness district itself, a disappointment to some residents in the western part of town.

That implementation of the sewer district extension, which was approved by the legislators and County Executive Rob Astorino in late 2011, is far from over. Kaplowitz, giving a status update to the task force, said that the town, county and New York City - the affected communities are in its watershed - have to work out a term sheet agreement. Meanwhile, roughly $10 million in "East of Hudson" funds that the county is to give the town for the work still have to be released. According to Kaplowitz, funds release is contigent upon design work being completed for odor remedition for the Yonkers sewage treatment plant, which was part of the approval deal. Kaplowitz expects the design work to be completed either this month or the next.

The extent to which Millwood would be altered by sewers is unknown. Part of the business district falls within New York City's reservior watershed, Kaplowitz said, which could subject it to the city's related regulations.

While details in the financing term sheet for the East of Hudson funds in the other deal have not been worked out, Kaplowitz believes that the city will likely maintain a position that whatever development can be done with sewers should not be more than what is possible to build with septic systems. Whether the term sheet will limit Millwood's potential development has not been agreed to is not yet known. Even with such a restriction, however, Kaplowitz believes there is flexibility in working with the city.

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