Location: Jacob Road
Contact: Site Design Consultants
Planning Board, 2-26-2018
The applicant showed a revised plan that dedicates a portion of the site abutting the Hunterbrook to the town that meets the recreation fee component, plus a path through the site from Jacob Road to the rear parcel that will be donated as an easement to the Westchester Land Trust. The path will border the large parcel to be developed for a future agricultural use. Together, the two parcels total 5.6 acres. Mr. Tegeder advised the applicant that the board will need to hear from the Westchester Land Trust that it is agreeable to the plan. He also suggested that the easement be given jointly to the Westchester Trust and the Yorktown Land Trust in order to protect the town’s interest in the event the Westchester Trust ever withdraws from the region.
Planning Board, 1-8-2018
Mr. Colangelo expressed concern that the trail component not be included in any preliminary approval because the board had not yet received any feedback on the plan from the farmer who would be developing the agricultural portion of the site or the Westchester Land Trust that would hold a future conservation easement. He was also uncomfortable with the possibility of the board “double dipping” for the recreation fee when he came in for Phase 2 of his development plan. In response, Mr. Tegeder (and Mr. Fon) assured him that the board had no intention of double dipping on the rec fee.
Mr. Tegeder also explained that the location of the proposed land donation for the future trail connection needed to be shown on the preliminary plan although it could be changed at a later date, adding that additional Phase 2 features, including accessory buildings, a barn, and a trail connection to Jacob Road, needed to be shown on the preliminary plan but could be changed at a future date.
The board’s attorney also explained that the proposed conservation easement or land donation adjacent to the stream was an issue between the board and the applicant and did not involve that Westchester Land Trust, even though the Trust might be the eventual holder of the easement. Mark Michaels, speaking for the Advisory Committee on Open Space, also made it clear that no one was asking the applicant to build the trail; just set aside land for its eventual construction by volunteers.
Mr. Riina advised the board that he needs preliminary approval before proceeding with the next steps in the application that involved outside agencies.
Mr. Fon suggested that Mr. Colangelo meet with the Planning Department to work out the details that are needed on the preliminary plan prior to the board’s approval. He reiterated the board’s decision that it wanted the land donation in lieu of money.
Planning Board, 12-18-2017
Members of the Advisory Board on Open Space (ACOS) met with the board to discuss the proposed trail link. The group supports the donation of approximately 5 acres adjacent to the existing linear park to satisfy the 10% open space in lieu of money recreation fee requirement. The group is also flexible on the location of a future trail route that would link up to Jacob Road. The applicant had no issue with this plan but wants an easement that would in the future allow it to construct a pump station so that water could be pumped up to irrigate the agricultural land. It was also suggested that a small additional piece of property be added to the donation to provide a better access to an adjoining site.
The remaining outstanding issue was the location of the future connection to Jacob Rd; without something in the preliminary approval, the board’s attorney said that simply a commitment from the applicant would not be enforceable. Mr. Tegeder said the preliminary map should include a location that could be changed once the applicant returned for final approval. The attorney will provide appropriate language for the next meeting.
During Courtesy of the Floor after the close of the Regular Session and prior to the start of the Work Session, both John Schroder, speaking for the Yorktown Land Trust and ACOS, the Advisory Committee on Open Space, and Susan Siegel (the observer writing this summary), speaking for the Yorktown Trail Town Committee, urged the board to include the trail link in the preliminary subdivision approval. Mr. Schroder explained that he was speaking during Courtesy in order to “plant the seed’ with the board as he would not be able to address the board during the work session.
During the work session, most of the discussion focused on the trail issue. The applicant was concerned that he was being asked to pay both a recreation fee and donate land for the trail. Mr. Fon noted that Rec Commission wanted the fee. However, in response to the earlier comments by Mr. Schroeder and Ms. Siegel, the board appeared to agree that the trail was in furtherance of both the Comprehensive Plan and an earlier Planning Department plan for the Hunterbrook Linear Park and that the board should not let this opportunity slip by. It was suggested that a compromise might be able to be worked out that would address the needs of the Rec Comm, set aside land for the trail, and not constitute an undue burden on the applicant. Alternately, the approval resolution could be worded so that a final decision could be left to final approval.
In the meantime, the boad will seek clarification on whether setting aside land for the trail, either through a donation of land or an easement with public access meets the town’s requirement that any land donation be used for “active” recreation. (The point was made that hiking is “active.”)
The applicant will attend next week’s ACOS meeting to discuss the trail in greater detail.
In the meantime, the applicant asked the board for an approval resolution as soon as possible, explaining that it couldn’t proceed with getting it’s other approvals without first having preliminary approval from the town. The board’s attorney will begin work on a draft approval resolution.
(The CIY observer did not attend the meeting. See the official board minutes for a summary of the public hearing.)
The applicant reviewed the basic site plan, noting that the exact nature of the future use, expected to be agricultural, of the sixth large lot remained uncertain. The plan does, however, include a barn on the lot that would be used for any future agricultural use. An area along Jacob Rd would also be used for a possible farm stand.
While the applicant has completed the SWPPP, it was noted that once the DEP reviews the plan, changes may have to be made.
John Schroder, speaking for the Yorktown Land Trust and Yorktown Trail Town Committee and Walt Daniels, speaking for the Advisory Committee on Open Space, supported the inclusion of a trail along the periphery of the site that would link to the existing Dineen Linear Park along the Hunterbrook.
A Cortlandt resident whose property abutted the site expressed concern about drainage onto his property and also noted that trees have been cut on the property for the past four weekends. Commenting on the potential farm stand, he noted traffic issues at the intersection of Jacob and Catherine St.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summar6y, asked about how the rain gardens behind five of the houses that are part of the stormwater plan would be maintained over time.
Because of an issue with the required public notification, the hearing was adjourned to November 20.
The board set an October 16 public hearing on the project. No changes to the plan have been made since the last meeting. Because some abutting residents in Cortlandt complained that they never received the notice about the first hearing, on the suggestion of assistant planner Robyn Steinberg, the board agreed to have the applicant send notices by first class mail (the new requirement) and also certified mail, although without the requirement for a return receipt.
Hunterbrook Linear Park: John Schroeder, speaking on behalf of the Yorktown Land Trust, the Open Space Committee and the Yorktown Trail Town Committee, explained that because the current members of the board were not on the board in the 1990s, he wanted to reacquaint them with the 1992 Hunterbrook Linear Park Study that had been developed by the Planning Department and which had the support of the then Town Board, Planning Board and Recreation Commission. Explaining that over the years as subdivisions in the area had been approved, some land had been set aside for the park, he called attention to how the Colangelo property currently before the board fit into the overall plan. He added that he had been in touch with the owner of the Colangelo propert6y about the potential for a trail that would link up to the existing trail network. He also gave each board member of a copy of the Yorktown Land Trust’s The Yorktown Walkbook. The board thanked Mr. Schroeder for this presentation.
The applicant’s environmental consultant requested permission to remove 435 trees, identified as sweet (or black) birch that he said were dying or dead as a result of a fungus and could not be saved. He said a site visit by the town’s code inspector had confirmed the condition; this was confirmed by a memo from the town engineer. The trees to be removed constitute about 1/3 of the 1,500 trees on the site. The trees will be cut in 4’ lengths and burnt off site; they will be stockpiled on site until removed.
The board approved the removal and Mr. Fon said the Tree Commission would be notified.
The board opened and closed a public hearing on the proposed sewer district extension for the proposed 6 lot Featherbed (Colangelo) subdivision on Jacob Road. There were no public comments. The board approved the request which will now be sent to the county for approval into the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District.
On a referral from the Town Board, the board said it had no issue with the request for the property to be included in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District.
The applicant advised the board that since it could take up to a year to get the sewer district approval from the county, in the meantime, he wanted to create a “flower farm” on approximately 2 acres in the general area where the houses would eventually be built and which the applicant had previously cleared without a permit. Although not too many details about the farm were discussed, the applicant said it would be operated by a university and that student interns would do the farming. He wants the operation to begin this spring. A plan showing the trees that would have to be removed to make way for the farm was shown but the number of trees to be removed was not disclosed.
For the flower farm, the applicant would need a stormwater permit and a tree permit. Mr. Barber advised that if some of the work was phased, the applicant might be able to come in under the disturbed land threshold that would require a DEP stormwater permit.
Also briefly discussed was whether the parcel would come into the county’s agricultural district program. Mr. Barber explained that applications to become an agricultural district are reviewed and approved by the county every seven years and he didn’t know what year of the cycle the program was in.
The applicant made a presentation of the plan. (See below for details.)
Patrick Cumisky, speaking for the Recreation Commission, said his group opposed the proposed trail connection and dog park. He said the Commission preferred that the applicant’s recreation requirement be used to upgrade other town recreational facilities.
A second public comment came from a neighboring property owner who said he was speaking on behalf of several area residents. The resident said he was not opposed to the subdivision plan; his issue was the tree cutting that had been and was continuing to take place on the property without a permit on some weekends. He said it was ironic that the presentation highlighted the applicant’s concern about preserving trees when in the past an estimated 200 trees were removed without a permit. He said he had brought the issue to the attention of town officials but had gotten a run around. In response, the applicant’s environmental consultant said that the prior tree cutting had been done before he came aboard. The resident also challenged the consultant’s statement that the trees being cut down now were all dead or diseased.
The resident also asked about what type of farming was envisioned for the large lot. In response the consultant said that the current thinking was small plots for what he called “neophyte farmers” who want to experiment with whether they wanted to farm and if so, what crops.
An abutting property owner in Cortlandt questioned whether he and his Cortlandt neighbors had been properly noticed about the hearing. In response, Mr. Tegeder said that the applicant had met the town’s requirement that the applicant show a receipt that a certified letter had been sent but that the town did not require a signed return receipt. Al Capellini, the applicant’s attorney, added that there was no public notice requirement for the earlier Town Board public hearing on the applicant’s request to use the town’s flexibility standards.
The hearing was closed
The applicant requested the board’s agreement with a plan to move a portion the road 25-30 feet into the wetland buffer in order to save two trees. He also wants to modify a stormwater plan so that a portion of any excess flow goes into the existing wetland with the balance being diverted down the slope at the rear of the property. The board had no problem with the road issue but said that more technical information was needed on the best possible balance on the stormwater issue.
The board opened and closed a public hearing on the use of the Flexibility Standards and voted to authorize the Planning Board to process the subdivision using the flexibility standards. During the hearing, the applicant explained the advantages of using the flexibility standards (see below). There were no comments from the public.
The applicant explained why he was seeking Town Board authorization to use flexibility, repeating many of the points he had made at the Planning Board meeting (see below). Attorney Al Capellini showed the board a photo of the property, circa 1926 when it was used for farming and there were no trees on the site, adding that all the existing trees were second growth.
The applicant advised the board of his long range plans to farm the undeveloped 47 acres that will be part of one lot but said he had no immediate farming plans. He added, however, that he would prepare a narrative describing the proposed future use and that he would seek of the guidance of the County Agricultural District staff and the Watershed Council in developing the plan. He said he also had prepared a Forest Management Plan.
Supervisor Grace expressed no interest in the proposed dog park, and it was noted that the applicant would need a special permit from the Zoning Board for the proposed farm stand. Mr. Tegeder added that the barn, shown on the concept plan, would not be part of the subdivision plan.
The board had no issues with the proposed use of flexibility and voted to advertise a public hearing for November 15th.
Reviewing the conventional layout, the applicant advised the board that he had made some slight changes to the house location on two lots. The rest of the conventional plan, used to determine lot count, was the same. He also said that contrary to his statement at the previous meeting, the site was not in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District but that he would be applying to come into the district. The applicant showed a plan that included the 6 proposed houses, farm stand, trail, dog park and the remaining undeveloped portion of the site.
The applicant went through a comparison of the conventional and flexibility layouts, pointing out that the latter would result in 25% less disturbance, less imperious surface, smaller houses and the potential removal of only 607 trees compared to 766 trees in the conventional layout; he said that every effort would be made to save as many trees as possible.
Mr. Tegeder noted that the goal of the flexibility provisions was to develop a plan that was more sensitive to the land. He said that the current plan met that goal.
Bruce Barber asked the applicant to prepare a plan that showed the existing barn on both the conventional and flexibility plans so that the board would be comparing apples to apples. He also advised the board to consider the future uses of the remaining portion of the site that has slopes in excess of 20%, poor soils, wetlands, is heavily treed and is close to the Hunter Brook trout stream. He explained that if and when that portion of the site becomes an agricultural district, as such, it would be exempt for all town land use regulations and the board would not get a second chance to review any future plan for the site. The applicant said that at the present time it had no plans for the rear portion of the site. Mr. Barber noted, and the board agreed, that the proposed 6 houses are being situated on the more relatively level portion of the site.
The Planning Department will prepare a recommendation to the Town Board supporting flexibility and the Planning Board will conduct a site visit.
In a change of plans, the applicant is now proposing only 6 lots plus a farm stand on Jacob Road and a trail behind the houses leading to the Hunter Brook with the possibility of a dog park. The applicant is still seeking approval from the Town Board to use the town’s flexibility standards that would allow him to shrink the size of the individual lots and permit a narrower private road. The future of the remaining portion of the site is undetermined with the possibility remaining that it could be used for agricultural purposes, either for individual gardens for the homeowners or used by abutting Hemlock Hill Farms to raise corn an hay for the farm’s cattle.
Prior to going to the Town Board, the Planning Board needs to confirm the number of lots that can be subdivided under a conventional layout. However, there was disagreement over what additional information was needed or required by town code in order for the board needed to validate that after environmental constraints were taken into account, the property could be subdivided into 6 lots.
Bruce Barber, the town’s environmental consultant, said that given the site’s slopes in excess of 20% and the presence of rock out croppings, more information was needed; Planning Director John Tegeder said he needed documentation that the parcel was in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District and would be serviced by sewers, not septic systems that could require more land per lot. In response, the applicant’s engineer stated that his client did not want to spend the additional money to provide the information requested by Mr. Barber and that the parcel was located in the county sewer district. The board’s counsel said that the language of the flexibility provisions did not require the additional information that Mr. Barber felt was necessary. The board then advised the applicant that before sending a resolution to the Town Board requesting permission to review the application under flexibility, the applicant needed to provide documentation that the parcel was in the county sewer district.
It was also noted that if and when the Planning “Board approves the subdivision for up to 6 possible single family homes, the remaining portion of the 53 acre site could be further subdivided.
Planning Board, 12-21-2015
The applicant advised the board that he is dropping his plans for a farm use for a portion of the site due to what he called the onerous requirements of the Tree Ordinance that requires an inventory of all the trees that would have to be removed. The plan will continue to include 6 houses and a solar array. (Note: it was not clear if the plan continued to include a trail and/or a dog park.)
The proposed plan will need Town Board approval for the use flexibility standards to address lot size and frontage issues. The board supports the use of flexibility.
Tree Ordinance issue: The applicant indicated that based on a preliminary survey of the portion of the site that would be disturbed by the 6 residential units, he estimated 1,100 trees would have to be tagged as to location, type, size and condition, and that this number could reach 1,500. He said the Ordinance made no allowance for dead or diseased trees. It was noted that while the Land Development Regulations require all trees 8“ DBH or greater to be inventoried, the Tree Ordinance, which takes precedence, has a 6” requirement. In response to a question from the applicant whether the 8” provision was ever required for a large parcel, Mr. Tegeder said yes, for the 100 acre Stateland property. Mr. Fon noted that the cost of the tree survey could cost most than the cost of one of the houses.
It was the applicant’s opinion that the tree inventory requirement should be related to the use the property would be put to, e.g., that if the land was to be used for crops, the inventory should not be required. It was pointed that the Tree Ordinance does include a provision exempting agricultural uses from the inventory requirement. It was also pointed out that if the property owner had a Forest Management Plan, the property would be exempt from the requirements of the Ordinance for 10 or 15 years (it was not clear what the time limit was.)
Bruce Barber suggested that the wording of the ordinance could be looked at more carefully, e.g., whether the survey requirement included invasive species, and whether the requirement could be scaled back to possibly include only the limits of disturbance as opposed to the entire site.
The board will send a memo to the Town Board indicating its support for flexibility. The applicant was advised to take up the Tree Ordinance requirements with the Town Board.
A more formal, detailed site plan was presented, showing the 6 lots allowable under a conventional site plan. The site and size of the proposed solar array was shown. Mr. Capellini suggested that since the solar array would be used to power the proposed development, it should be considered an accessory use and therefore not require a special use permit. The Planning Board told him to consult with Building Inspector Winter about that. The subdivision will tie into the sewers on Catherine Street as septic systems were found to be not feasible. The site’s entry statement will be some sort of towers, not the silos as originally envisioned. There will be a public trailway leading to the Hunter Brook Greenway and also a public dog park. The trailway will not require tree removal.
Mr. Tegeder asked about tree removal on the property. Mr. Colangelo said that he had cleared 2 ac. as part of the proposed agricultural operation on the site. After the fact, he went to the Town Board for a tree removal permit. All that activity has been stopped and the area restored to the satisfaction of Bruce Barber, Town Environmental Officer, according to Mr. Colangelo. Mr. Colangelo said more recent tree cutting on the site was just removing trees downed during Superstorm Sandy. Mr. Tegeder pointed out that the project would require a tree survey and that removing trees before that’s done would make it difficult for the Planning Board to determine what mitigation should be required. Mr. Colangelo said he has a forester marking trees on the site, but wasn’t clear whether this was for a tree survey or to mark trees for harvest. Mr. Colangelo thought the tree survey could be done once the site plan had been approved, and seemed surprised when informed that it was a requirement of the tree permit necessary for approval. Mr. Fon encouraged Mr. Colangelo to consult with his professionals, Mr. Capellini and Mr. Riina, as well as Bruce Barber and Town Engineer Sharon Robinson, about the laws and regulations governing site plan approval and for guidance in presenting plans to the Planning Board.
Planning Board, 8-24-2015
This 53.5 ac. site was last farmed in the 1970s as the Constable Farm. It contains no structures and slopes downward to the southeast toward Hunter Brook. The applicant showed a 6 lot conventional site plan to establish the capacity of the site. The Planning Board was also shown a business plan for the project, titled “Hunter Brook Ranch”.
The proposal is for a mixture of open space, agricultural land and residences. A private, common, cul-de-sac driveway is proposed off
The project will require site plan approval from the Planning Board, Town Board approval for clustering and ZBA approval for the agricultural use. The land currently is taxed as agricultural, although it is not in an agricultural district. The intent is to include it in an agricultural district.
The applicant John Coangelo said the project will emphasize sustainability and energy conservation in design, material and methods of construction. He also recognized that his concept was not typical of proposals coming before the Planning Board, so expected a lot of questions.
Mr. Kincart pointed out issues of a neighborhood association to manage the common areas of the site if the houses are sold to private owners, which could get very complicated given the diversity of land uses. Mr. Coangelo said he would prefer to retain ownership and rent out the houses.
Mr. Savoca asked about parking. There should be enough parking for the farm stand, the hiking trail and the dog park at the farm stand on
The Planning Board pointed out that 30,000ft is a very large solar array, and it was not drawn to scale on the plans. The array’s design is still preliminary.
Mr. Flynn asked about the degree of clearing necessary for the farm use and how this would affect run-off. Stormwater analyses haven’t been done yet, and the Agriculture Council would be consulted. Mr. Coangelo pointed out that the area had been farmed until about 35 years ago so the site has 25+ year old trees.
The business plan showed proposed houses of an older, farmhouse style architecture, which pleased the Planning Board as consistent with the Town’s motto of “Progress with Preservation”.
The Planning Board was generally positive toward both the project and its presentation.
Planning Board, 2-11-2015
The board reviewed a pre-preliminary plan to subdivide the24+ acre parcel into three lots; two of which would be exclusively for houses while the third lot would include a house and the remaining area which would be used for farming. The farming area would be divided up into seven 4+ acre lots to be cleared and converted for farm use on a phased basis. The type of farming has not been determined. The owner would likely apply for the parcel to become an “agricultural district” which has tax and land use implications.
The applicant is asking for permission to develop the site using the “large lot clustering” provision in the zoning code; this will require Town Board approval. If developed under conventional zoning, the parcel, located in a
R-160 zone (4 acre zoning) could result in six building lots.
The parcel is located at the end of Catherine Street at Jacob Road.
The board considered this a “creative” use of the land that would not overburden the area and will send a letter to the Town Board in support of the clustering option.