No. The Downtown Working Group consisted of the following individuals:
- Each member of the Town Board
- Three members of the Planning Board
- Randy Katchis and Steve Tavolacci, who own commercial properties in the Chappaqua business hamlet
- Bill Spade, a local architect
The property owners and architect who volunteered to serve on the Downtown Working Group participated in a purely advisory role. All have strong ties to our community. Randy Katchis lived in Chappaqua for 26 years and formerly served on the Chappaqua Board of Education. Steve Tavolacci is a lifelong resident and local developer. Bill Spade is a 30-year Town resident and has worked on numerous projects in our community, including as a volunteer at the Fuller Center rehabilitation underway at 300 King Street.
The volunteer members of the Downtown Working Group contributed real-world, and subject matter experience to the task of informing the Town’s independent planning consultant, Kimley Horn of New York, P.C. (“KH”), how to tailor the draft Form Based Code zoning legislation to best fit the needs of the Chappaqua business hamlet. Although the Town’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan established the community’s goals for the Chappaqua hamlet, input from these volunteer members helped inform how the Town could achieve its stated objectives through revised zoning legislation for the downtown.
The Downtown Working Group held its kick-off meeting on May 23, 2019, at which time each of its volunteer members explained their professional backgrounds, shared experiences living in the Town, and with respect to Randy Katchis and Steve Tavolacci, disclosed their property ownership in the business hamlet. Each meeting of the Downtown Working Group was videotaped and can be viewed here: Chappaqua Forward.
Residents who serve on advisory boards like the Downtown Working Group do not fall within the definition of Town “officers” or “employees” set forth in the Town’s Ethics Code. See Town Code § 9-2. The provisions of the Town Ethics Code are inapplicable to residents who volunteer their time to serve on such advisory boards.
Not only was there no conflict of interest in having these residents as members of the Downtown Working Group, the Town Attorney has confirmed that their involvement was entirely consistent with SEQRA’s objective of ensuring that interested parties are appropriately engaged in the consideration of a proposed action.