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State board denies variances required for affordable housing project in Clintons' NY suburb

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WHITE PLAINS, New York — A state board denied on Wednesday most of the variances needed for an affordable housing project in the New York suburb that is home to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The denials mean at least a long delay in the construction of 28 rental units in Chappaqua that would be part of the 2009 settlement of a housing desegregation suit against Westchester County.

The settlement calls for the county to build 750 units in mostly white areas — like the Town of New Castle, which includes Chappaqua — and market them to non-whites.

The town supervisor opposed the project, which would go up alongside railroad tracks, and local officials raised safety issues that required variances. The county Legislature held back funds pending the decision by the Hudson Valley Regional Board of Review.

On Wednesday, after a meeting in Cortlandt Manor, the board approved a variance regarding fire truck accessibility but denied several others. It did not issue a formal report.

Randolph McLaughlin, a lawyer for the developer, said he believes the developer will be able to rework its case and come up with alternative solutions to win the variances.

"They said we hadn't produced sufficient detail or evidence, so I think we'll get the chance to do that," McLaughlin said.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating a complaint by the developer, Conifer Realty, that the local opposition is race-based.

Michael Kaplowitz, the county legislator who represents Chappaqua and held up funding, said he is committed to working on affordable housing but "cannot support the expenditure of county funds on a project that may not be safe for residents."

The Chappaqua dispute is separate from another battle stemming from the settlement. HUD is withholding millions of dollars in grant money from Westchester on the grounds that County Executive Rob Astorino refuses to submit an acceptable analysis of local zoning, another requirement of the settlement.

Astorino supports the Chappaqua project.

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