Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Planning Board

February 25, 2013


Attending: John Flynn John Kincart, John Savoca, Richard Fon, Darlene Rivera, Ann Kutter


1. Lake Osceola Realty

The Board voted 5-0 to approve the site plan, wetlands permit and stormwater permit.  The approving resolution includes a condition that if the DEC approved mitigation plan involves “substantial” changes in the site plan, the applicant will have to return to the Planning Board. According to Planning Director Tegeder, there’s no “hard threshold” for when a change is deemed “substantial.”


One of the issues raised in a letter from the DEC  (it was not clear whether the letter was addressed to the applicant or the Planning Board) dealt with planned mitigation measures on the adjoining Ceola Manor property.


2. Bernstein house /proposed sign

On a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board discussed a proposed sign announcing the rehabilitation of the house. While Board members had no issue with the sign, per se, and thanked Mr. Franzoso for taking on the project to save the house, they did express concern that the proposed location, in the right of way along Route 132, was not safe. Mr. Franzoso said he had no problem relocating the sign closer to the house.  The sign has also been redesigned to make it less commercial looking and more community oriented. It will list the vendors who will be involved in the rehabilitation efforts. The Planning Board will convey its comments to the Town Board.


3. Zoning change to permit raising fowl in residential districts

On a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board discussed the proposed legislation. Several members expressed reservations about allowing the practice on quarter acre lots; some also had issues with half acre lots. After Mr. Flynn noted that the proposed law placed no limits on the number of chickens that could be raised on larger lots, other Board members noted that it didn’t seem reasonable that a residential use would need more than 12 chickens; anything larger, they thought, appeared to be a commercial enterprise.


Planning Director Tegeder advised the Board that instead of setting up a separate, and conflicting, special permit procedure for raising fowl, a better approach would be to modify the exiting special permit requirements governing farm uses in residential zones. Town Code currently permits farm use on lots greater than five acres. That requirement  could be lowered for fowl, he suggested.   The Board agreed that this would be a better approach and will convey that message to the Town Board.


Resident John Schroder also suggested that Board members learn more about what’s involved in raising chickens. He said that some of the comments made by Board members, such as chickens generating objectionable odors or that chicken coops invited rodents were not necessarily accurate.


Ms. Kutter raised the issue of whether any proposed changes in the Code should include restrictions on outside lighting that could be used to heat the coops during the winter months. She pointed out that depending on the location and distance to neighboring houses, the lights could be a problem for neighbors.


4. Faith Bible Church

The Board reviewed possible changes in the configuration of the intersection of Sagamore and Mohegan Avenues and the location of a crosswalk connecting the parking lot and the church.  The Town is still waiting for a report from its traffic consultant who is analyzing the applicant’s traffic study. If the report is received in time, the Board will review it with the applicant at the March 11 meeting.


The Board also discussed the adequacy of the applicant’s parking plan which doesn’t conform to Town Code and the suitability of using “stacking” for 23 spaces. While Mr. Kincart said he preferred not to see stacking for safety reasons , the applicant’s attorney, Al Capellini, stated that stacking was actually a safer alternative than parking along the street. Citing examples of other houses of worship elsewhere in Yorktown, everyone appeared to agree that homeowners living near these uses got used to the occasional inconvenience of the additional traffic and street parking.


The church’s pastor advised the Board that he was exploring the possibility of 15 additional off site parking spaces at the neighboring day care center that is not in use on Sundays. A shuttle bus would bring early church goers to and from the site.  Planning Director Tegeder asked the applicant’s engineer to confirm the distance from the day care lot to the church as Town Code has provisions for off site parking within 500 feet of an applicant’s site.  The church also makes use of six additional spaces across Mohegan Ave. at the lakefront.


The pastor also took issue with some of the criticisms of the church’s application contained in a letter from nearby resident Evan Bray. The pastor said that contrary to statements made by Mr. Bray, the expansion of the church will not put added stress on the septic system as the church plans to tie in to the existing sewer llne on Route 6. He also said the church as absolutely no intention of establishing a 172 student school.


5. Fieldstone Manor (Strawberry Road)

The Board discussed two issues:  the applicant’s traffic study and the future use of the existing building.


Traffic consultant Phil Greely explained that the area intersections are already stressed and that the estimated 20 additional trips per hour that the development would generate would not drastically changed things. He said both Cortlandt and Yorktown officials are well aware of the problems but that the installation of a traffic light on Lexington Ave, the likely solution, has not happened, in part because of grade issues.


When Mr. Fon expressed frustration that the traffic problem will continue to exist even if no new development takes place, Mr. Flynn said that every time a new application in the area has come before the Board, the traffic issue has been raised.


On behalf of the applicant, attorney Al Capellini explained that upon further review and study, the applicant has determined that his original plan to create two units at either end of the existing building is not economically viable. As an alternative, he showed the Board a conceptual plan that would create three additional units in the building, for a total of five untis, in addition to leaving some space for a community center for the residents.  He added, however, that because the building itself is so large, at least one of the proposed additional  units could be as large as 4,600 square feet, much larger than the approximately 2,800 square foot size of the proposed detached single family homes.


To permit the additional three units, Mr. Capellini suggested that the Town Board could either rezone a portion of the property for two family use (R-2 zone), or it could increase the overall permitted lot count for the half acre zone by counting some of the wetlands in the lot count calculation.


The Board will review the matter again after visiting the building. There appeared to be a consensus that the building should be saved.


6 Planet Self Storaage/Staples Shopping Center

Based on a personal visit to the site, Mr. Fon chastised a representative of the shopping center’s owner for the lack of acceptable maintenance at the site. He said he understood why area residents were so concerned about the new application; past promises have never been kept. He made it clear to the Planet Storage development team that his issue was not with them but with the owner of the shopping center. The center’s representative said that all the necessary clean-up work would be taken care of within the coming weeks.


The project’s engineer said that after reviewing earlier approved site plans for the shopping center, the applicant was now looking at a combination of different types and heights of fencing along different sections of the perimeter in addition to a mix of new trees and shrubs to provide a buffer between the center and the homes along Pine Grove and Lynn Courts.  The details of the plan remain to be worked out, based on a Planning Board site visit scheduled for March 23, as well as recommendations from the Conservation Board and ABACA.


Mr. Tegeder noted that in addition to the final site plan that would detail the required buffering, the applicant should be required to submit a maintenance plan so that the requirements of the buffering plan could be enforceable.


7. Trump Park

On behalf of Yorktown Realty Associates, owner of Trump Park off Barger Street, Joe Apicella asked the Board to reconsider the requirement of the development’s 2003 approval  that the temporary sales office building be demolished at a future date. He asked the Board be “think out of the box,” adding that the Town could “do better” than leveling a building that he valued at $4 million. He suggested that the Town would be better served using the building as a senior center or for some other community use rather than having a walking trail and gazebo .


John Schroeder, representing the Yorktown Land Trust and the Westchester Land Trust  reminded the Board that the building was located on a 40 acre parcel that had both a conservation easement and a recreation easement and that it was always clearly understood that the building was to be temporary. The two land trusts and the Town are holders of the easement. When Mr. Flynn, who was on the Planning Board when the original approval was granted, reminded Mr. Apicella that the Board made it clear in 2003 that it wasn’t interested in accepting the building as a future donation and asked why the issue was being raised again, Mr. Apicella said that the” reality has changed.”


Mr. Schroder also advised the B\oard that other conditions of the original approval have still not been met.


Before proceeding, the Board agreed to have its attorney review the conservation and recreation easements, have Bruce Barber, the Town’s environmental consultant inspect the site for compliance with the conditions of its site plan approval, and also check with the Town assessor as to how many units have been sold, a calculation that triggers when the temporary building is supposed to be demolished.  The Board may also do a site visit to the building.