June 25, 2013
Absent: Councilman Bianco
Closed session: “Litigation and Personnel”
1. Building Permit Fees
The Board discussed the need to revise the current law that doubles building permit fees if the property owner begins construction before the permit is issued. Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy expressed concern that there was too long a lag time between when the application was filed and when the permit was issued. They suggested that the law be changed to allow property owners to begin construction once the application was filed and that if the work didn’t conform to code after the permit was issued, the onus for ripping out the work would be the property owner’s. They did not want to penalize the property owner for any delay in issuing the building permit.
In response to Councilman Paganelli ‘s question as to when a building permit triggered an increase in assessment, the Supervisor explained that the assessment was adjusted after a certificate of occupancy was issued which, in effect, closed out the building permit. If the property owner didn’t apply for a CO, then the assessment wasn’t changed. That, he said, was the town’s problem, adding that the absence of COs was typically picked up years later when the property was sold.
Town Attorney Koster will prepare a draft of the amendments to the existing law.
2. Water Department issues
Meter project: The Board asked Water Superintendent Rambo to work with the Joint Water Works to do a statistical analysis of the savings generated by the installation of the 2,000 new Flexnet meters. Supervisor Grace wanted to know if the additional revenue generated by the new, more accurate meters was sufficient to offset the cost of the project. The findings from the study will be used to decide if the town should proceed to install the meters in the remaining 8,000 water accounts. Mr. Rambo said that an analysis had been delayed due to software issues but that these have since been resolved.
As part of the discussion it was noted that 37 of the new meters had malfunctioned and that the department, along with the manufacturer, is investigating the reason for the failure. The meters did not record water usage.
Excessive bill: Mr. Rambo advised the Board that a resident who does not occupy the house in the winter complained about a $700 bill for usage that spiked in January and was noticed in February. The usage reports showed significant hourly differences. The reason for the spike has not been determined. Councilman Paganelli said that even if the town was responsible for only 105 of the problem, the town should negotiate a settlement with the resident. But Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy said that a settlement would set a bad precedent and they suggested having the resident pay off the bill over a period of years. Mr. Rambo said that the town has never waived any excessive charges.
Water billing. Councilman Paganelli said that the town has dropped the idea of taking water billing back in house as it would only save $10,000 and would jeopardize the integrity of the NWJWW.
3. Store directory sign for Underhill Plaza
(See Town Board meeting, 4/23/2013) In an item not on the agenda, a representative of Signsink showed the Board sketches of a proposed monument sign. Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Murphy and Paganelli suggested various alternate configurations and the company will return with a revised sketch.
4. Senior Advisory Committee
Four members of the committee discussed the following issues with the Board.
YCCC security: They asked for more security in the building that has lots of open doors allowing anyone to walk in at any time. Mr. Kaufmann suggested using the auxiliary police as one option and Supervisor Grace said he would run by the issue by the police department. He raised the possibility of installing panic buttons. Councilman Murphy said he would speak to Patrol Officer Eidelman, the town’s public safety officer, about the issue and Councilman Paganelli raised the issue of exactly what constituted security, noting that the Parks & Rec Department paid $5,000 this past summer for a security guard at the day camp but the person was just a doorman while other doors to the building remained open and unattended.
Are You Okay program:
Supervisor Grace said there wasn’t much the town could do to have a call up program that covered everyone. Mr. Kaufmann advised the Board that he was told by the head of the American Legion post that it was planning on setting up some type of voluntary call up program. No details were available.
Newsletter: Ms. Panio said she had had discussions with the Yorktown News about a column dealing with senior issues and that the distribution of the existing Senior Calendar needed to be expanded. No suggestions were offered. Supervisor Grace said he would like to see more intergenerational activities.
Projector: As an aside, Ms. Menton asked about the status of the projector (although not explicitly stated, the inference was that this was for the YCCC). Supervisor Grace said that someone (unnamed) had gotten an estimate of $20,000. He advised Ms. Menton to keep reminding him to pursue this issue.
5. Highway garage project
In an aside prior to another discussion, Supervisor Grace said he expected to ask the Town Board for $20,000-$25,000 for a Phase II study for the proposed project that had been unveiled earlier in the day at a press conference at the Chamber of Commerce office. He said he did not anticipate any major environmental issues as no factory had been located on the site and that when the nearby Yorktown Auto Body did a Phase II study, no problems were uncovered. Citing Greenburgh’s example with the former contaminated Frank’s Nursery site, Councilman Paganelli raised the issue of whether the potential buyer should pay for any possible remediation.
6. Landmarks Preservation Commission
At the suggestion of Commission chair, Mr. de Lapérouse, the Board agreed to increase the Commission’s membership to seven from five by making two alternate members, Bridget Krowe and William Primavera full members. The Board rescinded the first resolution making the appointments when it realized that it had to figure out the staggered terms for each appointment.
On a second issue, Mr. de Lapérouse advised that Board that the town attorney had still not written the letter needed for implementing the landmark status for the Route 132 house (See Town Board, 5/28/2013.)
6. Yeshiva Settlement Solar Panels
Architect David Tetro and engineer Dan Ciarcia explained that because the proposed land disturbance will be more than one acre, an excavation permit and stormwater plan will be needed, but tbecause the law does not allow the ZBA to issue this type of permit, the Town Board will be the approving authority.
The applicant faces a critical timing issue. First, the applicant will lose its NYSERDA grant if it cannot start the project by September, and after this week’s meeting, the ZBA will not meet again until August.
But Mr. Ciarcia explained that the applicant still does not have a site plan for how or where the panels will be situated and there are key site issues that will need to be worked out between the engineer and the solar panel company. Locating the panels will involve considerable grading and tree removal as the site is heavily wooded. The plan will also have to be reviewed by the DEP.
Given the time constraints and SEQRA requirements that require as least a 30 day review period, the Board voted to advertise the excavation permit for August 6 if the applicant files an application by July 5 that can be referred out to the appropriate boards in time to meet the 30 day requirement. If a site plan is not available by July 5, the application will include only the conceptual aerial map with additional information being supplied later.
Supervisor Grace anticipated a fight over the application between various environmental groups as the panels will require the cutting of a significant number of trees.
7. Finance Update
Comptroller Caporale provided the Board with three summary reports: trial balance of cash on hand, revenue and expense. The reports were tracking the budget.
At the request of Councilman Paganelli, the Board voted to advertise an August 6 public hearing on the proposed dog park at Sylvan Glen.
9. Selected resolutions passed unanimously (copies of the resolution were not available at the meeting)
a. Set July 2 for a public hearing on the proposed Sustainable Energy Financing Program law.
b. Advertise bid for computer networking equipment
c. Permit the assessor to attend a training session at a cost of $1,250.
d. A budget transfer for an auto repair
With Assessor Penner relating to a tax certiori case. Supervisor Grace said that if a decision was made as a result of the discussion, it would be voted on at an open meeting.