During the correspondence portion of the meeting, acting chair Kincart read out loud a memo from the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission opposing the approved tree mitigation plan as inadequate because it failed to adequately address the lost functions of the woodlands that were being disturbed/eliminated as a result of the development plan.
Prior to voting to approve the project, the board had the following discussion. On behalf of the applicant, Steve Marino said that at the request of the Planning Department he had submitted a letter summarizing the proposed tree and wetland mitigation plan; his letter, which identified how many new trees and shrubs were to be planted and in what locations, was read out loud and shared online. The letter also noted that the woodland was located on the fringe of a larger, more well preserved woodland.
Mr. Fon read out loud, and also displayed online, a written comment submitted by Linda Miller that questioned whether the board had taken the required “hard, professionally driven data look” at issues involving the woodlands that was needed in order to determine appropriate woodland mitigation measures. She also distinguished between the need for wetland mitigation and woodland mitigation. While Mr. Fon noted Ms. Miller’s expertise in the area, Mr. Kincart said he resented what he considered her “offensive” and “dismissive” comments, which he said accused the board of having bought in to Mr. Marino’s “snow job.” Several board members noted that wetlands and woodlands should be looked at together in an holistic approach, as opposed to being looked at separately, and they were satisfied with the proposed mitigation plan and the project of providing benefits to the town.
The board noted that while the plan covers two abutting parcels, the approval will be based on the two lots being combined. The board also agreed with Mr. Bock’s suggestion that the rear parcel abutting Greenwood Street be designated a conservation easement; in response to the suggestion, Mr. Riina contacted the applicant by phone and then advised the board that the applicant has no problem with the conservation easement designation.
With some minor edits to the text of the approval resolution, the board approved the site plan and all the related permits.
The board opened the adjourned hearing. Steve Marino explained the environmental aspects of the plan, including the mitigation plan for tree and wetland disturbance.. He explained that only the 1.5 acre woodland fronting on Maple Hill St and where the building will be located will be disturbed; he said no trees would be cut down on the rear 3.1 acre parcel that abuts Greenwood St. He also explained that the proposed stormwater plan goes “above and beyond” what is required and will attenuate downstream flooding.
Linda Miller talked about the need to consider the functions of the woodland that will be disturbed and Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, expressed concern over whether the mitigation plan for the loss woodland was adequate. Mark Lieberman and Jennie Sunshine, noting the loss of a woodland, asked why the applicant couldn’t relocate to an existing vacant space instead of building on the proposed site. Mara Ziedins and Councilman Lachterman both expressed support for the project and the benefits it would bring to Yorktown.
In response to questions about the adequacy of the tree mitigation plan, Mr. Tegeder noted that the applicant’s plan addressed four of the six possible mitigation measures identified in the Tree Law and Mr. Fon noted that the board has used a “holistic” approach when reviewing the mitigation plan. Mr. Fon and the board’s attorney said that it was “improper” for the Planning Board to suggest other sites to an applicant and that property owners have the right to develop their property as they wish as long as their plans conform to town codes.
The hearing was closed and a 10 day written comment period left open.
Steve Marino walked the board through a revised tree mitigation plan that includes a series of measures including planting 107 new trees (125 trees are to be removed), planting 122 shrubs, installing deer fencing, invasive removal and installing a green roof on a portion of the building’s roof. The green roof was mitigation for disturbing the woodland which he described as having “nominal habitat value” but which does provide some benefits.
The board rejected the Tree Commission’s recommendation that the mitigation plan also include a payment into the Tree Fund and felt that the package of mitigation measures was sufficient. On Mr. Bock’s suggestion, the board’s eventual approval resolution will acknowledge the TCAC suggestion about the monetary contribution but indicate that the package of other mitigation measures was sufficient to meet the Tree Law’s requirements. The board reasoned that mitigation was not just “counting trees” but was taking a holistic view of the entire site. It was also noted that the TCAC memo did not take into consideration the shrubs that were to be planted and that the Tree Law did not require a 1 to 1 replacement for removed trees.
Some slight revisions to the site plan have been made based on ABACA input; the applicant is still waiting to receive color samples. The applicant will be before the ZBA for a hearing on a variance request 6/25.
The applicant gave a lengthy presentation of the plan, including the stormwater plan and wetland mitigation. The color scheme of the building and signage are still being worked out with ABACA. The applicant will need a front yard variance from the Zoning Board. According to the applicant, the only outstanding issue is the required archeological study of the site, although he indicated that he did not expect the review to find anything of significance.
Steve Marino, the applicant’s environmental consultant noted that between 160-182 protected trees would be removed but that about 60 new trees would be planted. He said that the forested area was not a “high value.”
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, raised concerns about the lack of a required tree mitigation plan and also the need for the applicant to identify the extent to which the plan disturbed a protected woodland. Mr. Fon noted that the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission had submitted a memo on the plan but the contents of the memo were not made public. In response to Ms. Siegel’s concerns, he said the board was taking the Tree Law requirements into consideration.
In response to Mark Lieberman’s question how a wetland could be changed and still be called a wetland, Mr. Marino explained that the existing wetland was being cleaned and modified with the result that the functioning of the existing wetland would be improved.
The hearing was adjourned.
Mr. Bock advised the board that although he is the owner of the adjacent office building, he felt he could be impartial when reviewing the plan.
The applicant reviewed the site plan and proposed stormwater plan that includes cleaning up the existing wetland at corner of Veterans Road and Greenwood Street. The applicant noted that he purchased the abutting property to the rear of the Maple Hill Street parcel in order to accommodate the project’s stormwater plan. The only public comment dealt with the issue of whether to restrict the tractor trailer trucks that will be delivering inventory to the warehouse to exit onto Veterans Road from Maple Hill St. The applicant explained that as the trailer trucks would use Route 35 from I-684, they were likely to use the Maple Hill exit rather than Veterans Road. It was also noted that other commercial establishments in Yorktown have tractor trailer deliveries and that the town has not had a problem with them.
In response to board questions about landscaping along Maple Hill Street, the applicant stated that the frontage closest to the post office would have a retaining wall and that the remainder of the frontage would have a grassed area. The side of the building facing Maple Hill Street will have a paved area for outdoor display, e.g., grills.
The hearing was closed and a follow up hearing on the site plan may be scheduled in February.
Mr. Riina advised the board that because the test boreings showed high ground water, he has revised the earlier stormwater plan to include an above surface pocket wetland instead of relying on an underground retention. The change has necessitated some changes to the parking and landscaping layout. He advised the board that the new pocket wetland would be oversized to address flooding concerns on Greenwood Street. The revised plan calls for cleaning up the existing wetland and adding new plantings. A public informational hearing will be scheduled.
The new owner (as of about two years ago) wants to construct a 2-story building on the vacant parcel between the post office and the Yorktown Office building. Mr. Riina showed the board a concept plan for the proposed building that would have a 10,500 sf footprint and include a basement used for storage, retail space on the first floor and office space for rent on the second floor. While the concept plan showed that the site met the parking requirements, Mr. Riina, noting the abundance of parking across the street, asked the board to consider allowing the applicant to “bank” some of the parking spaces and increase the amount of landscaping. The applicant has flagged the site’s wetlands to the rear and advised the board that he is aware of drainage issues on Greenwood Street that abuts the site.
The board was supportive of the concept plan and advised the applicant to work with the Planning Department on the parking and landscaping issues.