Legislation, miscellaneous

See also:
Temporary CO
Building Permit Renewal Fees
Helistop/Changes in Approval Authority
Tree Ordinance
Zoning Code Changes

Best Value Procurement Legislation
Noise issues
Accessory Structures
Affordable Housing
Fire lanes
Landmark Preservation Law
Sustainable Energy Loan Program
Tax Installment legislation
Ethics Law
Littering/Dumpsters
Escrow Fee Laws

Affordable Housing Law
Puppy Mill Law
Wetlands Law


Town Board, 2-24-2016

As part of an ongoing series of meeting with department heads,Town Attorney Michael McDermott outlined a series of legislation he will be looking into.

 

1. Industrial Advisory Board (Section 485B): He advised the board that before it can pass a law to grant tax relief for existing commercial properties that are revitalized, the town must create an advisory board that must issue a report

The discussion involved the future development of six contiguous small residentially zoned parcels along Front Street: 2 owned by Paul Labriola and 4 by Mr. Roberta. It was explained that Mr. Roberta reached out to Mr. Labriola so that any development plan involving both owners could be coordinated.  A key part of the discussion and the development of any future site plans involves the ownership and disposition of a paper road, the extension of Edgewood Street.  The town has hired a title company to research the ownership of the paper road; it is assumed that the road was laid out in the 1920s as part of a subdivision.

 

Mr. Labriola advised the board that his general plan was to construct a butler building style 3-car garage, but that he cannot do a site plan until the ownership and disposition of the paper road is resolved.  (If the town can acquire ownership, it could make the land available to Mr. Labriola – Supervisor Grace used the word “swap” but did not elaborate – which would enable Mr. Labriola to move any future building to the front of the parcel, creating a larger buffer for the residential properties to the rear along Summit St. Mr. Grace also advised him that the town would likely want something more aesthetic than a metal butler building.

 

No new plans were presented for the four Roberta parcels. However, in a brief discussion, the supervisor again supported having the parcels rezoned for a transitional zone (instead of a commercial or industrial zoning designation) which would give the Town Board approval authority and where all the site plan issues and uses would be custom designed.  Mr. Roberta indicated that his rezoning application was complete and ready to be submitted.identifing what types of businesses and in what parts of town would be eligible for the relief.  There are few guidelines for who the members of the new board should be; one option might be certain department heads and a representative of the Chamber. He wasn’t sure if the Town Board could constitute itself as the advisory board.  If and when the town approved a local law, the relief would only apply to town taxes. Supervisor Grace said he has already had discussions with the Yorktown School district and they appeared to be in favor of the program as it would apply to relief for school taxes.

 

Mr. McDermott has prepared draft legislation creating the advisory board and it will be scheduled for a public hearing.

 

2. Open Space Fund. This was a multi part discussion about the flat $30/year fee that every property owner pays . The fee was approved by referendum many years ago. The fee, which raises approximately $400,000 a year, is used to pay off bonds that are used to pay for the acquisition of open space.

 

a. Use of existing revenue. Supervisor Grace stated that after the bond for the Granite Knolls purchase will be paid off this year, there is no future need for the $400,000/year that the fee generates. During the discussion with Mr. Paganelli, it was agreed that the money could not be used for paving; it can only be used for acquisition of open space. It cannot be used for park operation  or maintenance expenses.

 

b. Reimbursement for previous acquisition costs. Supervisor Grace asked the attorney to research whether monies used to acquire parkland before the $30 fee went into effect could be reimbursed from the fee’s future revenue. He cited $750,000 taken from the Trust & Agency Fund (residential developers pay into this fund based on $10,000/approved lot if the subdivision does not include any recreation land) for Turkey Mountain and $400,000 from the General Fund (It was not clear what acquisition this money was used for.)

 

c. Ending the fee. Noting that there is no sunset provision in the existing law setting up the fee, Supervisor Grace suggested that in the future the town may want to have a referendum that would add a sunset provision and correct what he called “the sins of the past.”  In response, Councilman Patel defended the fee, saying that had the money not been there, the town would not have been able to purchase Granite Knolls.  The supervisor  said that If the voters approve the referendum, the town could then have a referendum on whether to bond for road paving. He suggested that if given the choice between the two fees, voters would opt for the road fee.  He said that if, in the future, the town wanted to acquire a critical piece of open space, it could do so by using eminent domain.

 

3. Code updates. He will be working with the building inspector to prioritize the list of code sections that need updating.  He specifically mentioned the Property Maintenance Code that allows the town to make repairs to private property, e.g., vacant property, and put a lien on the property for the cost of the repair.

 

4. Escrow law. He will work with the comptroller to review this law with the goal of eliminating fees that developers pay as part of the approval process.     

 

5. Tree Ordinance.  He will be working with Bruce Barber on changes. None were specified.

 

6. Affordable housing. Supervisor Grace asked the attorney to look into the legality of the law’s required set aside for affordable housing units. Stating that Westchester County municipalities are the only locations with such laws, he said the federal government cannot tell us what to do. He called the set aside an unconstitutional impact fee.  In lieu of the set aside, he said the town might consider a density bonus which would not be a tax but which would be given in consideration.

 

In a related discussion, the supervisor asked the attorney to research whether $400,000 in an Affordable Housing Trust Fund (funded years ago based on a local law no longer in effect) and which hasn’t been used in years could be transferred to the General Fund.

 

7. Wetlands Ordinance. He advised the board that he has not yet spoken to Mr. Barber who has been working on revisions to this code, including definitions, adding an appeal process, and provisions dealing with the functionality of wwtlands.

 

8. Bid documents. He is working on an updated set of general conditions that can be used as a template in all bid documents that reflect changes in laws governing bids and contracts.

 


Zoning Code Changes

(Scroll down for specific zoning issues, or do a keyword search. See JV Mall for a discussion of zoning amendment changes regarding parking and signage requirements for the mall site as well as proposed changes in parking requirements for other commercial zones.)

See also:

Staples Shopping Center for discussion of rezoning request to allow gas pumps at Bj s facility

Crompond Terraces (Mandalay) for proposed rezoning of multiple parcels along Old Crompond Road to C-2 and R-3 (multi famiy)

Convalescent Home/Compass Westchester for zoning changes related to sober living residences


Rezoning request for 712 Kitchawan Road (Route 134)

 

Town Board, 6-13-2017

The applicant advised the board that the county okayed the maintenance for the easement to the Kitchawan Preserve and waived its right of first refusal. The applicant will amend his request to reflect the consensus that a transitional zone, as opposed to a straight out office zone, is preferred. As the rezoning will reflect the proposed site plan, Supervisor Grace advised the applicant to consider future needs before finalizing the site plan. A public hearing is scheduled for July 18.

 

 


Planning Board, 5-8-2017

In a brief discussion, the board had no issue with the proposed rezoning although members did want an opportunity to look at the site plan. (Note: there was no indication during the discussion whether the board was considering a rezoning to office use or a transitional zone, although the reference to wanting to see the site plan implied that it would be a request for a transitional zone.)


Town Board, 4-28-2017

Tracer Imaging, a North White Plains based digital printing company, wants to purchase the property that houses an unoccupied building that formerly housed a laboratory/office and was originally owned by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The site is currently zoned residential and the previous use existed prior to the enactment of the Zoning Ordinance. It was stated that the property has been off the tax rolls for 80 years.  Tracer plans to repurpose the existing building without making any changes to its footprint to house its current 12 employees (which might expand to no more than 20) but wants the property rezoned to office use to avoid future complications over the office use. The property currently has an agreement with the county to provide access over the site to the Kitchawan Preserve Trails. The agreement would remain in place and access would be for the company’s use as well as trail users. The company has a manufacturing facility in Chicago; the Kitchawan site would be for creative and corporate use.

 

Supervisor Grace suggested that rezoning to office use (zone “O”) would open up the site to other potential uses allowed in the “O” zone and suggested instead rezoning to a transitional zone that would be specifically, and only,  for the Tracer use.  Tracer’s attorney said that although an application has already been made for the “O” rezoning, his client would consider the transitional zone. The board agreed to refer out the application for comment.

 


Rezoning request: The Weyant, 2040 Crompond Road

Town Board, 6-6-2017

The Board agreed to reschedule the public hearing on The Weyant transitional rezoning request to September 19 from the previously scheduled July 18.


Planning Board, 5/22/2017

On a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board did a brief review of both plans, although Mr. Riina indicated that the DOT prefers the plan with access from Hamblyn.  There was some discussion about how the use of heightened curb cuts and road widening could control (and limit) the use of Hamblyn Street.

 

Although the Town Board will be the approval authority for the site plan and rezoning and the Planning Board’s role will only be advisory, the Planning Board will send a memo to the Town Board noting that it wants more time to work on site plan issues before the application returns to the Town Board.

 


Town Board, 5-16-2017

Several neighborhood property owners and other residents spoke out against the proposed rezoning as being out of character with the Hamblyn Street residential neighborhood and also citing potential traffic and parking issues. Supervisor Grace assured the residents that they would have an opportunity to voide their concerns at a future public hearing on the rezoning.  He added that as the town no longer has an affordable housing law, there will not be any restrictions on the planned 36 rental units. He added that Yorktown was not party to the county’s affordable housing lawsuit.


Town Board, 5-9-2017

In a brief discussion, the applicant asked that the rezoning application be referred out.  The referral will include both plans. A public hearing was set for June 20 and the board declared its intent to be lead agency.   Supervisor Grace explained that while the alternative plan with access directly onto Route 202 was prepared in response to concerns from residents of Hamblyn Street, the original plan also needed to be considered in the event the DOT did not grant the Route 202 access. In response to comments from two Hamblyn Street residents, the supervisor defended the proposed plan stating that some properties are destined not to stay the same and that the proposed plan made for a smooth transition between existing different uses. He added that a lot of the neighbors’ concerns were hyperbole but that they’ll have an opportunity to bring them up at a series of meetings that will tweak the plan.


Town Board, 3-28-2017

As an outgrowth of a meeting with Hamblyn Street residents, the applicant presented an alternate plan with access directly onto Route 202 instead of Hamblyn.  Supervisor Grace that both plans would be considered, along with a third option that would make the proposed emergency exit onto Route 202 located closer to the Roma Building into a full access point although Councilman Bernard suggested that this third option might be too close to the intersection. Supervisor  Grace also suggested that it might be time to consider making Hallocks Mill Rd a one way street.

 

Supervisor Grace indicated that he didn’t think the traffic impact would be as great as some people think, suggesting that they consider the traffic entering and leaving the New Chalet complex on Lexington Avenue.

 

In response to a question from a resident as to whether the developer was considering a change in the number of units, an issue that had been brought up at the meeting with residents, Mr. Capellini said that no change was planned.   The supervisor also defended the proposed rezoning to a “transitional zone” that gives the Town Board the ability to custom design a zone from scratch without regard to existing setback and other requirements.

 

With a general consensus in support of the concept plan from the Town Board , Planning Board and Planning Department,, the supervisor advised the applicant to submit a formal application. He advised the neighborhood residents at the meeting that they would have ample opportunity to comment on the plan during the review process.


Town Board, 2-28-2017

The discussion assumed, on a “broad strokes” basis, that the property would be rezoned to transitional use. Supervisor Grace said that the proposed use is acceptable and that for him the main issue was the aesthetics of the development as it related to the gateway to Yorktown. In response to a Hamblyn Street resident who asked why the board wasn’t considering the development’s impact on his neighborhood, the supervisor pointed out that the board could always rezone the property to other, less desirable, uses, such as commercial, or that, as of right, the existing old house could be converted into a restaurant. He asked the residents, who would be meeting with the developer the following evening, not to have a knee jerk reaction against the development.  Councilman Bernard stated that the multi family use is in furtherance of the town’s goal of having a diversity of housing opportunities.

 

Mr. Capellini emphasized that the units would be strictly market rate, with no affordable housing or Section 8 subsidies.   

 

The Hamblyn Street homeowners also expressed concern about traffic coming from Hallocks Mill Road and it appeared that there would be ongoing discussions about the access and also the need to widen Hamblyn from Route 202 to the development’s entrance.

 

Supervisor Grace assured the residents that their other concerns would be addressed at both the Planning Board and Town Board levels. He explained that after the Planning Board reviews the site plan, the Town Board will make the ultimate decision on the rezoning that will include approval of the site plan.

 


Planning Board, 2-13-2017

On a referral from the Town Board, the board discussed the requested rezoning of the parcel to a transitional zone.  Mr. Riina explained that the applicant had looked at, but rejected, rezoning the parcel, currently zoned R1-10, for half acre single family homes, to either C2R, a mixed commercial/residential zone (like the Kear Street parcel) or R-3, multi family. He said the mixed use zone was rejected because it was too dense and also the applicant didn’t see a market for more retail space. The R-3 multi family zone was rejected because it would have resulted in fewer allowed units and smaller size units. (He didn’t specify the number of units.)  Mr. DeVito explained that the proposed number of units were dictated by the economics of the project and that he was not trying to “be a pig” by squeezing in as many units as possible.

 

Mr. Tegeder defended the use of the transitional zone saying that it conformed to the Comprehensive Plan and was appropriate for the parcel.   He supported the plan that turned one of the buildings.  When some residents compared the mass of the proposed two buildings to the Pied Piper “mass” discussion earlier in the evening, Mr. Tegeder noted that the two parcels were very different in size.

 

While several residents from Hamblyn Street were at the meeting and asked to speak, Mr. Fon advised them that anything they said at a work session would not be in the record.  However, he did allow some comments, most of which were focused on traffic, especially cars entering the site from Ridge/Hallocks Mill Road through their neighborhood.  This led to a discussion of whether the proposed emergency access to Route 202 could become the main access point and Hamblyn the emergency access. Mr. Riina said that planning guidelines suggest that access should be the closest major intersection. The applicant ruled out using the existing driveway access to Route 202.  The access issue was left to future discussions as Mr. Fon reminded the residents that the only issue currently before the board was the appropriate zoning designation.  The consensus of the board was in favor of the transitional zone and a recommendation will be sent to the Town Board.


Town Board, 1-24-2017

Local contractor John DeVito and members of his development team, attorney Al Capellini and Joe Riina of Site Design Consultants, unveiled a conceptual plan to build 36 units of market rate rental housing on the Weyant parcel, a 2.6 acre site abutting the upper parking lot of the Roma Building. The one and two bedroom apartments, ranging from 725 Sf to 1,200 SF, would be in two 3-story buildings, separated by a courtyard. Two alternate designs for siting the building were presented. Between 6-8 units would be one bedroom. Access would be from Hamblyn Street off Route 202, with an emergency exit to Route 202. Access to the latter is controlled by the state Department of Transportation. Tentative rental rates for the units would be in the $1,500 range for one bedroom units and $2,000 for two bedroom.  Mr. DeVito explained that the number of proposed units was based on the economics of the project.

 

The plan calls for the existing stone wall along the property’s edge, as well as the healthy mature trees, to be retained. The plan includes a sidewalk that would link to the existing sidewalk along the Roma building.

 

The site is currently zoned for single family residential and the site can be rezoned either to R-3 multi family which allows 9-12 units per acre and makes the Planning Board the approval authority, or to a transitional zone that is completely custom tailored to what the developer and Town Board agree to and which makes the Town Board the approval authority. Initially, the plan was to go the transitional zone route, but Supervisor Grace suggested that the applicant go to the Planning Board and let that board weigh in on the appropriate zoning district.

 

Councilman Lachterman expressed some concern about the access to Route 202 and also the density which would be higher than allowed in a straight multi family zone. Councilman Bernard did not appear concerned about the density noting that like the recent Lexington Avenue rezoning, the proposed housing was not in a single family home neighborhood.  He also noted that the nearby nursey school was also planning a 2-story addition to its existing building.

 

Supervisor Grace suggested that the developer contact the existing homeowners in the neighborhood.

 

Before submitting a formal application, the applicant will make a presentation to the Planning Board.

 


Rezoning request: Front Street

(see also Town Board, 2-24-2016 above)

 

Planning Board, 5-22-2017

On a referral from the Town Board, the board reviewed the plan. One outstanding issue that needs more work is the ownership and treatment of the proposed plaza in front of one of the buildings along Front Street that is located on the extension of the paper portion of Edgewood St. The town attorney is in the process of checking out the title issue. Another issue that might need attention is the proposed loop road around the back of the two story building that would provide the access to the apartment; the issue is the grade of the road.

 

Although the Town Board will be the approval authority for the site plan and rezoning and the Planning Board’s role will only be advisory, the Planning Board will send a memo to the Town Board noting that it wants more time to work on site plan issues before the application returns to the Town Board.


Town Board, 5-9-2017

Mr. Roberta and Joe Riina of Site Design Consultants presented a more formal plan based on Mr. Tegeder’s earlier drawing that calls for a 5,400 SF 2-story building with retail on the first floor and five 2-bedroom units on the second floor and a second 1-story, 2,100 SF retail/office building.   Supervisor Grace called the apartments market rate but affordable. He also called for the project to include streetscape features such as street lamps and street furniture in line with what has been done on Commerce Street.  Renderings on proposed buildings will be available at a public hearing set for July 18th.

 

In an aside, when the Supervisor asked Mr. Roberta about the status of his plans for his Lake Osceola property, Mr. Roberta responded; one project at a time.   Councilman Bernard commented on the “shoddy” appearance of the area and the supervisor indicated that the redevelopment of the beach site would be an incentive for the other property owners to upgrade their sites.  Mr. Tegeder said he still supported a mixed use concept for the site.


Town Board, 1-10-2017

Property owner George Roberta presented a sketch for a single story commercial building and a two story building with commercial on the first floor and apartments above.  (The sketch was prepared for Mr. Roberta by the town’s Planning Department.)    Mr. McDermott advised the board that as he has been unable to locate any documentation about the ownership of the paper road, his suggestion was to condemn the land.

 

The applicant was advised to file a formal application for a rezoning to a transitional zone and also to contact the abutting property owners on Summit Street in order to get their input as early in the process as possible.


Town Board, 9-27-2016

In a change from an earlier plan that showed two buildings, Mr. Roberta showed a new plan for a single building, saying that the change was based on a conversation with Town Engineer Quinn that would have moved the building out of the wetland.  M. Quinn said he never suggested that. Mr. Tegeder said he had not seen this new plan but that in general the mass of one larger building was not so pleasant. Supervisor Grace said that he was more concerned about the aesthetics of the building than whether there were one or two buildings.  He discounted the presence of wetlands on the site, calling the water a “puddle.”

 

Mr. MdDermott said the ownership of the paper road has not been determined although even in the absence of any documentation, he believes the town may own the road. Mr. Grace said the town could condemn the land.  (Note: It was not clear whether the latest plan included the Labriola parcels as discussed at the last meeting.)

 

The supervisor will visit the site with Mr. Tegeder and Mr. Roberta so that the town can give Mr. Roberta a sense of direction that can then be incorporated into a customized plan for a transitional zone. (Note: it was not clear whether a rezoning application has been filed.)

 


Town Board, 5-24-2016

The discussion involved the future development of six contiguous small residentially zoned parcels along Front Street: 2 owned by Paul Labriola and 4 by Mr. Roberta. It was explained that Mr. Roberta reached out to Mr. Labriola so that any development plan involving both owners could be coordinated.  A key part of the discussion and the development of any future site plans involves the ownership and disposition of a paper road, the extension of Edgewood Street.  The town has hired a title company to research the ownership of the paper road; it is assumed that the road was laid out in the 1920s as part of a subdivision.

 

Mr. Labriola advised the board that his general plan was to construct a butler building style 3-car garage, but that he cannot do a site plan until the ownership and disposition of the paper road is resolved.  (If the town can acquire ownership, it could make the land available to Mr. Labriola – Supervisor Grace used the word “swap” but did not elaborate – which would enable Mr. Labriola to move any future building to the front of the parcel, creating a larger buffer for the residential properties to the rear along Summit St. Mr. Grace also advised him that the town would likely want something more aesthetic than a metal butler building.

 

No new plans were presented for the four Roberta parcels. However, in a brief discussion, the supervisor again supported having the parcels rezoned for a transitional zone (instead of a commercial or industrial zoning designation) which would give the Town Board approval authority and where all the site plan issues and uses would be custom designed.  Mr. Roberta indicated that his rezoning application was complete and ready to be submitted.


Town Board, 4-11-2016

Allowing area residents to address the board, Wade Hoyt, a Summit Street resident whose house backs up to the Roberta property, presented a petition signed by 22 residents of Summit Street and the owner of the single family house on Front Street, opposing the rezoning. Calling the rezoning, “a pig in a poke,” their main concern was that a rezoning to “commercial” left unanswered exactly what type of businesses would lease the space and what the impact would be on their properties.

 

In response, Mr. Roberta clarified that his intention was for professional office use, not retail, with apartments above.

 

Supervisor Grace advised Mr. Hoyt and his neighbors that an attractively built commercial building would actually be an improvement over the “crap” that’s currently on the vacant and untended site. He also said a commercial building would have less of an impact than single family homes which would likely be small rental units.

 

The board eventually agreed with Councilman Bernard’s suggestion that Mr. Roberta apply for rezoning to a transitional zone, a special provision in the town code that lets the Town Board custom tailor the requirements for a parcel that straddles two different zones. The actual rezoning would be tied to a specific site plan that would include provisions regarding landscaping, buffering, lighting etc.

 

Mr. Roberta indicated that he would submit the appropriate application.

 


Town Board, 3-8-2016

The request involves four small adjoining vacant parcels on Front Street next to the existing single family house. The parcels are zoned for residential use, and the owner was among the first to receive sewer permits when the DEP moratorium was lifted last spring. Although the owner has obtained a building permit for a single family house, the parcel could also be developed as a mixed commercial/residential building or all commercial.  The property owner said he’s open to suggestions and not adverse to assuming  the risk of a commercial building; he’s willing to work with Mr. Tegeder on development/zoning  options. One of the four lots involves a “paper road” shown between Front Street and the lot. The town will have to do a title search to determine ownership.

 

The question of when to let residents on Summit Street know about the possible rezonng and development was raised. It was decided to wait until the property owner has a better idea of how he would like to develop the site so that the residents could react to something more specific.

 


Rezoning 3561 and 3563 Ellis Street

Town Board, 6-14-2016

Although Evan Bray’s name was listed on the agenda for the discussion, he was not present at the meeting. However, there was a brief discussion with Ira Hertz, the owner of one of the properties.  (Note:  The two parcels abut the recently rezoned Lexington Avenue parcel. Both homeowners were opposed to the rezoning.)

 

Mr. Hertz advised the board that his motivation for seeking the rezoning to multi family use was:  if you can’t beat them, join them and make money.  He said that in addition to his Ellis Street neighbor, other homeowners on Clover Road were considering joining the rezoning request.

 

Supervisor Grace advised Mr. Hertz that in order for the board to consider the rezoning request, he would have to provide a conceptual sketch of what his rezoning plan is. Councilman Bernard added: And it can’t be on a napkin.


Rezoning request, 3574 Lexington Avenue

(Note: As of 9/12/2016, the Planning Board began a review of the site plan for this development.  Summaries of this review are available at RGP.)

 

Town Board, 6-7-2016

In a unanimous vote, the board approved the rezoning to R-3 (multi family) from R1-20 (half acre). Supervisor Grace summarized some of the conditions in the approving resolution, including the limitation of 8 units, the open space buffer as the development’s recreation requirement, and the condition that the Planning Board consider the architectural and landscaping treatment of any future site plan.

 

Before the vote, Councilman Patel expressed concern that the rezoning could be considered spot zoning, but Supervisor Grace rejected the idea. He said that the rezoning was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and pointed out that while the proposed multi family use was more intense than the current half acre zoning, it was less intense than the surroundingt uses, including a school, nursing home, pre school center day care, and Islamic Center.  He said the proposed two rows of town houses were akin to two oversize homes.

 

Councilman Bernard explained that the application had been thoroughly vetted, that compromises had been made and that the board had given the neighbors ample opportunity to express their concern.

 

Prior to the vote, Supervisor Grace indicated that he had received three similar letters from area residents indicating their intention to sue in the event the rezoning was approved. He also noted that in a phone call, Evan Bray advised him that some area residents may be applying for rezoning their property. 

 


Town Board, 5-17-2016

Supervisor Grace explained that the board has had several work session discussions with the applicant as well as  input from neighbors. The applicant made a brief presentation of the latest revised plan showing only 8 units.

 

Evan Bray took exception to the comments made by Planning Director John Tegeder at an earlier meeting to the effect that the rezoning was not “incompatible” with existing zoning and land use and noted that even with the rezoning, the applicant’s plan would still need variances from the Zoning Board.

 

A concern brought up by many speakers was whether this rezoning would set a precedent or be a prototype for similar rezonings elsewhere. One speaker asked the board to protect his neighborhood instead of being a salesman for the applicant. In response, Supervisor Grace addressed what he called the “contagion” factor and said that all applications for rezoning are considered on a case by case basis on their own merit and that the Lexington Avenue rezoning would not set precedents for future applications.

 

The supervisor also explained that the board was looking at how it could fill the density gap in the current Zoning Code between the R-2 zone that allows for a  two family house on a half acre lot and R-3, the multi family zone that allows up to 12  units per acre. He said that the board was looking at a limit of 8 units for the Lexington Ave. parcel as a condition of the rezoning. He considered the applicant’s plan an improvement to the existing neighborhood.

 

Councilman Bernard reminded neighbors that the ultimate decisions regarding the actual site plan would be made by both the Planning Board and the Board.

 

Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked if the residents would be able to see a copy of the approving resolution before it was voted on so that they could be assured that the conditions the supervisor said would be in the resolution, e.g., limiting the number of units to 8, would be in the resolution.  (Ed Ciffone noted that after the Town Board had rezoned the Crompond Terraces site for 80 units, the developer came before the Planning Board with  a site plan for 121 units.)

 

After the board voted to close the hearing, Supervisor Grace read off some of the conditions in the draft resolution approving the rezoning. He advised interested parties to request a copy of the draft and provide comments prior to an anticipated vote at the board’s June 7th meeting. (Note: Ms. Siegel questioned the condition relating to land set aside for recreation and asked if that meant the developer would not have to pay the $4,000 per unit recreation fee. She also asked if the resolution included the requirement that the applicant set aside one of the eight units as an affordable unit.)

 

 


Town Board, 5-10-2016

The applicant showed the board a revised plan with only eight units. The new units will be slightly larger than those originally proposed but the total FAR (floor area ratio) still meets code. The plan will still need variances.

 

The board was supportive of the plan and will reconvene the rezoning hearing on May 17.  The applicant’s attorney will prepare an initial draft of the approving resolution that will limit the number of units to eight.  Concerned about the aesthetics of the proposed townhouses, Supervisor Grace suggested that the previously reviewed rendering that had the board’s general approval, might be part of the resolution as a “guide” that the Planning Board could use once it reviews the site plan.

 

When Councilman Bernard brought up the aesthetic issue of the site’s dumpster being placed at Lexington Avenue instead of in the rear of the property, the developer explained that he was trying to avoid placing the dumpsters close to the abutting residential properties.   It will be up to the Planning Board to consider adequate screening for the dumpster.

 

Supervisor Grace advised the applicant to let the neighbors know about the reconvened hearing; the applicant said he had already shared the eight unit plan with them.

 

Although the site’s sewer connection has not been worked out, one option appeared to be tying into the line that currently serves the facility at the corner of Route 6 and Lexington Ave. Supervisor Grace advised the applicant that since the town had done a favor to the Cortlandt facility, allowing it to tie into Yorktown’s sewer system as relief for its failing septic system, the facility should not give the developer a hard time if  he wanted to tie into the facility’s existing line.

 


Town Board, 4-11-2016

As previously requested, Mr. Sanders presented two versions of a revised plan for 10 units, the difference being the parking area between the two rows of units. Both versions will require side yard variances.

 

Two area residents repeated their earlier objections to any rezoning, asking the board why it was even considering the rezoning which they said was out of character with the existing neighborhood. They felt that once the RPG property was rezoned for multi family use, other parcels in the area would come in with similar rezoning requests. In response; both Supervisor Grace and Councilman Bernard spoke about the need for this type of housing for adult children of Yorktown residents and/or the parents who want to downsize. Without getting into what they called “social engineering,” both said that the rental units were needed for a vibrant town. The supervisor added that in supporting the rezoning, he was cognizant of Yorktown’s needs for a diversity of housing types.  He added that two single houses on the site didn’t make sense and that an attractive multi family development would actually improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood. He rejected the notion that rezoning this one parcel would lead to other multi family rezonings along Lexington Avenue.

 

After one resident reminded the board that the supervisor had earlier asked the applicant to return with an 8 unit plan in addition to a 10 unit plan, and he advised the board that the neighbors would be willing to accept an 8-unit compromise, Supervisor Grace requested Mr. Sanders to submit an 8-unit plan. Mr. Sanders indicated he would and added that an 8-unit plan would not require any variances and would conform to the town’s FAR (floor area ratio) requirements.

 


Town Board, 3-8-2016

The applicant returned to the board with the same basic plan; the only change was eliminating the playground in the 55’ buffer area. This time, the applicant showed an architectural rendering of the proposed two buildings, each housing six units, and a rendering showing a treed buffer between the site and the houses to the rear.  

 

Surrounding homeowners, who were permitted to participate in the discussion, still objected to the plan, citing the fact that they moved to the area because of its less dense single family character.  They also expressed  concern over how the property, which will be rental units ranging from $1,200-$1,400 for 3 bedroom units and less for two bedroom units, would be maintained over time. 

 

Responding to a series of questions the residents had previously submitted to the board, Supervisor Grace said that some of them, such as the applicant’s history, were not relevant to the rezoning discussion. The applicant, however, stated that although he doesn’t have a web site, he has built several commercial developments in the Mid-Atlantic region.  He added that once built, the properties would be maintained by a professional property management company.

 

Both Supervisor Grace and Councilman Bernard stated that in the event the board did approve the rezoning to the R-3, multi-family district that allowed up to 12 units per acre, it ultimately would be up to the Planning Board to decide on the permitted number of units.  

 

Although he asked the applicant to return with plans calling for 8 and 10 units, Supervisor Grace said that even the 12 unit plan would be an improvement to the area; he preferred the plan with the needed variances to the one rejected at an earlier meeting, that did not require any.

 

The applicant said he had no problem “lopping off” the end units on both buildings for a 10 unit plan.


Town Board, 2-2-2016

At the public hearing, several homeowners from neighboring Ellis, Clover and Lakeland Avenue spoke in opposition to the rezoning, citing their concerns about maintaining the character of their single family neighborhood, preserving the value of their property, safety, traffic, drainage, loss of trees buffering their homes, and lighting. They also wished that more of the neighboring homeowners had been informed about the rezoning request earlier.  (Note: Town Code requires the adjoining and opposite property owners be notified, but not the broader neighborhood.)

 

Citing provisions of the Comprehensive Plan that  called for preserving the character of existing neighborhoods, they said they were not against change or progress but felt that the rezoning to multi family use and the plan  calling for 12 units on one acre was out of character with the neighborhood. They also expressed concern that the units, planned as rental units and managed by an outside company, would not be maintained to the same standard as owner occupied units.

 

Planning Director Tegeder said that the rezoning conformed to the broad outlines of the Comprehensive Plan that talked about preserving the character of the entire town and not necessarily each individual neighborhood.  He explained that the plan, as presently designed, would require variances for the side yards but that the plan did meet the required buffer for the abutting Ellis St homes.

 

Councilman Bernard explained that many of the homeowner concerns such as the removal of trees abutting the Ellis St properties, as well as drainage and lighting issues, would all be part of a future Planning Board site plan review if the Town Board approved the rezoning request.

 

Supervisor Grace said that while he felt the parcel was not a bad location for multi-family use, he was concerned about the proposed density, adding that the board could put conditions on any rezoning resolution.

 

At Supervisor Grace’s suggestion, the board agreed to adjourn the hearing and ask the developer to come back with a revised plan, possibly with 8 units instead of 12, and some architectural drawings, with the board reviewing the new plan at a work session.


Planning Board, 12-21-2015

The board reviewed two alternative site plans and indicated a preference for Plan A that would require ZBA variances; the plan calls for 74’ between the two rows of units where the code requires 90’.  Building Inspector Winter advised the board that Plan B would have building code issues.

 

Mr. Kincart said he supported the variety of housing  units that the plan would provide and supported the zoning change as the site was a good location for multi-family housing.  However, he was concerned that the plan would increase the density for the site and that the plan would require the applicant to get a variance to increase the density.

 

In response to the issue of  whether the rezoning request constituted spot zoning, the board again raised the possibility that the rezoning for multi-family use be extended to the end of the street.

 

The board also expressed concern that for a second time it was being asked to comment on a rezoning that was linked to a concept plan but not an actual site plan.  It was agreed that its comments to the Town Board will be limited to just the zoning issue.

 


Planning Board, 12-7-2015

On a referral from the Town Board, the board briefly reviewed the application to rezone the property from R1-20 to R-3 to permit the construction of 12 residential units.  There were no representatives of the applicant at the meeting. It was noted that while the Comprehensive Plan did not recommend changing the zoning for the parcel, in general, the concept of developing the site with multi family house did meet certain Plan goals.

 

In response to Mr. Flynn’s question as to whether the rezoning constituted spot zoning, it was suggested that the board might want to consider extending the R-3 zoning to the abutting parcel that contains a single family structure that allegedly has been illegally converted into multiple dwelling units. It was pointed out, however, that this would increase the overall density in the area.  

 

The board noted that ABACA had suggested that the site might be considered for a less dense R-2 zoning (two family housing.)

 

Town Board member Greg Bernard who attended the meeting noted that there already were many non-single family developments in the surrounding area, including Treetops Nursing Home,  Ben Franklin school, and the Islamic Center. Mr. Tegeder will review surrounding uses, including uses in Cortlandt, on the other side of Lexington Avenue.


Town Board, 10-13-2015

Mr. Sanders returned to the board with a revised plan based on discussions with the Planning Department. (Note: while he said at the meeting that the new plan reduced the number of units to 12 from 18, at the June meeting he said he was proposing 12-14 units.)

 

The revised plan includes a recreational area at the rear of the property. The current plan does not meet the set back requirements for the multi family zone but Supervisor Grace felt that this issue could be resolved. (The disparity cannot be resolved by obtaining a ZBA variance.) I indicated my general support the project and the need for rental units, but added that I was concerned  about  the density. It was noted that there were other uses along Lexington Avenue that were not compatible with the existing half acre single family zoning. I also wanted proper screening for the existing homes to the rear of the property. 

 

Mr. Sanders said he would also consider one bedroom units as part of the plan which currently consisted of two and three bedroom units. Town Clerk Roker suggested that Mr. Sanders speak to the Housing Advisory Board . When the issue of “affordable housing” was raised, Mr. Sanders said he was not planning to include his project in the county’s affordable housing program and Supervisor Grace added that he didn’t have to worry about the town’s affordable housing requirements because he considered the requirement unconstitutional.

 

Having received a generally favorable board response to the rezoning concept, Mr. Sanders was advised to file a formal application so that the referral process could begin.


Town Board, 6-23-2015

In a preliminary discussion, Phil Sanders explained that he wants to rezone a one acre lot with an existing house between Route 6 and West St,  to multi family to allow approximately 12-14 attached units. (The existing house would be demolished.) The units would be 2 and 3 bedrooms, with a basement and might be rental. The site has public water and sewer. The board was generally supportive of the idea but wanted to see more details, especially some architectural details of what the units would look like. Based on the positive reception, Mr. Sanders will complete prepare a formal application.

 


Rezoning request/1805 East Main Street, Mohegan Lake

Town Board, 4-7-2015

The board opened and closed the public hearing. There were comments. The board voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of two small parcels from O (Office) to C-3 (Highway Commercial). 


Town Board, 3-17-2015

Although the original advertisement for the public hearing was not done properly and will have to be re-advertised for an April 7 hearing, the board opened the hearing with Supervisor Grace explaining that the rezoning from commercial to office use done in 2010 didn’t make sense. The properties are to the east and west of Lakeland Street. The owners of one of the affected properties said they favored to rezoning.

 


Town Board, 2-17-2015

Set March 17 for a public hearing on a request to rezone two properties on East Main St. in Mohegan Lake from office use to C-3 commercial

 


Planning Board, 2-11-2015

The board will recommend in favor of the rezoning.  Mr. Tegeder explalinaed that the original change to office use was intended to “chill” development along Route 6. However, he said, some Town Board members felt that the rezoning to office use was flawed, espec ially given the relatively small size of the parcels.  The board considered a change to C-2 which has a lower intensity of use but decided to support the C-3 zoning as it followed the existing zoning pattern in the area.


Town Board, 1-13-2015

This involves two small parcels: one at the northeast corner of East Main Street and Lakeland Street and the second on East Main Street, abutting Village Traditions which is at the opposite corner  of East Main and Lakeland St. The three properties had been rezoned from C-3 to O (Office use) as part of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan but the Village Tradition site was later rezoned back to C-3.  When the owner of the first parcel wanted to switch the zoning back to C-3, the supervisor decided that for consistency the second parcel should also revert back to C-3.  Since the town is initiating the latter rezoning request, the rezoning application is being considered a “town” request and the Planning Department completed the required Environmental Assessment Form (EAF.)  The information will be referred out based on an earlier board resolution.

 


Town Board, 9-23-2014

(Note: the exact location of the parcel was not identified, but based on the discussion,it may be near Lakeland Avenue.)

The owner wants the property rezoned from office to commercial use. Supervisor Grace said that when the parcel was rezoned from commercial to office as part of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, the change had the effect of sterilizing the property because it was too small for office use. Town Clerk Roker agreed and said she had voiced that opinion at the time. She said the reason for the change was for a use that would generate less traffic. Councilman Murphy said that if we made a mistake in 2010 we should fix it now.

 

It was explained that if the Town Board made the motion to rezone the property, the current property owner would not have to pay a rezoning application fee.  And Supervisor Grace said a second parcel should also be added in, but he did not identify the parcel.

 

The board agreed to refer out the request.


2718 Hickory Street/Transitional rezoning request

Town Board, 4-14-2015

No action was taken on Primavera's request to rezone his sinigle family house to allow it to be used for commercial offices as  Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Bernard and myself made it clear that before any application can be referred out to advisory boards for review  (standard procedure), a formal application will have to be made.

 

Mr. Primavera explained that he has four employees in his public relations business, that he sometimes sleeps in the house, and that he has built a television studio which he plans to make available to the public. He said he needs the commercial designation in order to qualify for economic development assistance funds available through the county. He also wanted to make changes to the driveway access point. He said he has a tenant living in a portion of the house.

 

Supervisor Grace set out three options for a new use for the historic house that he called a “white elephant”:

  1.  a special permit that would allow two family or multiple family or a restaurant. (I added that a permit could also be obtained for “limited office use”)
  2.  or rezoning to either a country commercial zone that has specific re bulk requirements or the transitional zone that is custom tailored to the specific property and proposed new use.

Supervisor Grace clearly favored the transitional rezoning arguing that it would improve the property; he said the existing fence was unattractive and ideally should be replaced with some landscaping; a point Mr. Primavera agreed with.

 

Other than commenting on the referral issue, Councilman Bernard did not give any sense of his position on the transitional zoning. Councilman Diana was silent and Councilman Patel remains opposed to the rezoning.


When I pointed out that the parcel did not appear to meet the requirements for the transitional zone, Mr. Primavera said I was ‘stretching” the language of the zoning code. I suggested he might want to consider applying for a special permit for “limited office use.”

 


Town Board, 5-13-2014

The property owner, Bill Primavera, wants his property rezoned to the special “transitional zone” so that it can be used for professional offices. (The special permit to allow a professional office in a residence requires the professional to live in the house; Mr. Primavera does not plan to continue living in the house.) He told the board that he has been unable to sell his historic house due to the surrounding commercial uses, including the deli, which has lights on at night, the Verizon building on Hickory Street that results in trucks being parked on the street, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind  across the street on Granite Springs Road. In response to a question from Councilman Bianco, he said that those uses existed when he bought the property 45 years ago.  He said that initially he had a special permit to conduct an antique business in the house, and later a child care business.     

 

Supervisor Grace said the property met the requirements for a transitional zone and that it would help preserve an historic structure.  He said that the proposed professional offices were preferable to converting the house into a restaurant or multi family housing.  He suggested that the aesthetics of the property would be improved if he removed the existing fence; Mr. Primavera said he had plans to replace the fence with a stone wall.

 

Councilman Bianco expressed reservations about the rezoning that would permit a commercial use, noting that the deli was likely a pre-existing use but Dan Ciarcia, representing Mr. Primavera, thought it might have been rezoned to allow commercial use. The Verizon parcel is still residentially zoned.   

 

A motion to refer the rezoning request to advisory boards was defeated in a split 2-2 vote, with Councilmen Bianco and Patel voting not to refer the application; Councilman Patel stated that he needed more time to consider the issue. After the vote, Supervisor Grace pressed Councilman Patel when he might be willing to entertain the request but Councilman Patel said he needed more time.


 Boniello rezoning (Route 202)

Town Board, 4-2-2013

The Board unanimously approved a resolution amending the 1991 resolution that keeps the R-2 rezoning intact but eliminates the conditions regarding affordable housing and a sewer connection.

 

Prior to the vote, former town Planning Director Ray Arnold called the rezoning, which would allow a total of 6 units, spot zoning and he noted that there was no record of the 1991 rezoning local law although the zoning map had been changed to reflect the R-2 status.

 


Planning Board, 3-11-2013

On behalf of the applicant, Al Capellini explained the history of the site.The Board appeared to have no problem with keeping the R-2 zoning as long as the applicant developed the three lots for 2 additional 2-family homes, one of which would be on septic.When Mr. Capellini said that the applicant might want to combine the three separate lots and submit an application for more than 6 units on the site, “possibly 7 or so,” Mr. Tegeder said that that would be a very different situation and would require a new submission.


Town Board, 3/5/2013

Supervisor Grace announced that on the advice of counsel to “cover all bases” dealing with the issue of how the rezoning can proceed, the issue will be referred out to advisory boards and that a public hearing will be scheduled.


Town Board, 2/26/2013

The Board decided that since the original 1991 rezoning was done by resolution as opposed to a local law, the current Board could vacant the two conditions of the rezoning (the affordable housing requirement and the sewer connection) also by resolution and the rezoning to R-2 would stand.The town attorney will draft an appropriate resolution. The site will contain three 2-family houses. Two will be on sewers and one on septic.


Town Board, 11/27/2012

The property was rezoned in 1991 from R1-20 (half acre) to R2 (two family) to permit 14 units to be built. The parcel is located off Route 202. (The number of acres was not discussed.) As a condition of the rezoning, the property owner received a density bonus under the then existing affordable housing law that required a certain number of units to be sold at affordable prices. A second condition required the development to tie into the town’s sewer system.

 

Because the moratorium on new hook ups to the sewage treatment plant is still in effect, and the density bonus law is no longer in force, the property owner now wants to build one two family house on the property.

 

The legal issue was whether a 1991 rezoning was still valid if the property owner did not comply with some of the conditions in the rezoning application.

It was the opinion of the town attorney that the rezoning to R2 was not valid because the conditions were not met. She recommended that the Board hold a new public hearing to clarify what the current zoning for the site should be.Supervisor Grace thought that the R2 zone was in effect even if there is no current density bonus law and that the property owner could develop the site under the R2 zone.

 

Without reaching a decision, the Board decided to have the property owner attend a work session to discuss his plans for the site.



Zoning amendment relating to self storage use

Town Board, 2-19-2013

The Board voted 5-0 to adopt the proposed “cross reference” amendment tothe recently enacted amendment, with the additional change that the facility could be open until 11pm so that the closing time was consistent with another section of the Zoning Code.

 

During the hearing, former Planning Director Ray Arnold argued that the existing code was “convoluted” and that instead of the requirements controlling self storage in C-1 zones referring the reader to another section of the Code (self storage facilities in industrial zones), it made more sense to have all the requirements in one section of the Code.In response, current Planning Director Tegeder and Town Attorney Koster said that the change could be made either way but that it was a conscious choice on the part of staff to make the cross reference rather than repeat redundant text. Mr. Arnold noted that some of the requirements in a C-1 zone were different from those in the M zones, and everyone agreed that there were no more M zones in the Code (they are now “I” zones, for industrial uses.

 

As part of the discussion, it was generally agreed that the entire Town Code needed to be updated, a process that Supervisor Grace called a “monumental task” that he hoped to begin in the next few months.He said that when he speaks to potential developers, he tells them not to look at the Code but rather tell him what they want. Mr. Tegeder said he was already working on changes to the industrial zone sections of the zoning code. Mr. Arnold said that he had already done some work identifying sections of the entire Town Code in need of review/amending.

 


Town Board, 1-29-2013

The recently enacted amendments to the Zoning Code dealing with self storage facilities inadvertently omitted a sentence that had been suggested by Planning Director Tegeder that would have referenced another section of the Code. As a result, the Board will advertise a public hearing next week to adopt a new local law with the technical correction to the Code.


Town Board, 12-18-2012

In a brief public hearing, the Board voted unanimously to add self storage to the permitted warehouse use by special permit.

 

Citing vacant spaces in the Yorktown Green Shopping and Shrub Oak A&P shopping centers, Ray Arnold questioned the wisdom of allowing warehouse use in the C-1 district, especially as the goal of the C-1 zone was to bring people into the downtown area. In response, Anthony Romano said that the concerns were not valid because existing provisions in the special permit law limited where the warehouse use would be applicable. He added that allowing the self storage use, which is planned for the lower level of the Staples shopping center, would eliminate the use of less aesthetic metal buildings along Route 202.

 


Town Board, 12-11-2012

 

In a brief discussion, Planning Director Tegeder explained that the text of the proposed amendment that has already been advertised for a December 18 public hearing will have to be revisedso that it cross references requirements governing self storage facilities in industrial zones. The content of the changes was not discussed. The Board will consider the additional changes at the public hearing and after revisions to the amendment are drafted, the revised version will be circulated to the Board for a later vote.


Town Board, 10-9-2012

On the suggestion of architect Anthony Romano, the Town will look to put back into the permitted uses for a C-1 zone, a self storage facility.While the Town, earlier this year, amended the zoning code to allow warehouse use in a C-1 zone, according to Planning Director Tegeder, there’s a difference between warehouse use and self storage use.The change would apply to the Staples Shopping Center.

 

If the Town Board approves the change, the owner of the Staples building would like to convert the unused portion of the lower floor to a self storage use. The Planning Board is currently reviewing a site plan to convert a portion of the lower level for warehouse use.

The Board referred out the proposed zoning change.


Zoning Amendment to allow raising chickens

Town Board, 4-21-2015

Several people spoke passionately in opposition to the proposed fee (which some called a tax) for keeping chickens: $200 for an initial permit and $100 for a renewal. Many also spoke in opposition to the need for a permit and highlighting the benefits of keeping chickens, arguing that homeowners should be allowed to raise chickens “as of right.”  When Supervisor Grace reminded them that only the negative aspects of raising chickens were raised at the 2014 public hearing that led to the adoption of the current law, several speakers challenged that statement reminding him that several people did speak in favor of raising chickens at the hearing.

 

Supervisor Grace explained that the fee was not a tax but a fee to cover the administrative costs associated with processing the permit application, adding that when the law requiring the permit was approved in 2014, the board did not realize that the fee for a special permit was $625; once they realized the omission, the decision was made to lower the fee. The $200 fee had been suggested by the building inspector and was comparable to the permit fee charged for an accessory apartment or a variance request. The supervisor said he was open to considering a lower fee.

 

In other comments, Janelle Robbins questioned the existing law's requirement that the homeowner have a written waste management plan, somethng she said could only be done by an experienced professional and Barbara Wilkens expressed concern that properties that were designated as agricultrual districts were not exempted from the law. Responding to Ms. Wilkens, the town attorney said she believed that the law did not apply to properties that had an agricultulral district desgination but that she would check this out to be certain.

 

After the hearing was closed, the board voted unanimously to reduce the fee to $75 for an initial permit and $35 for a renewal. A discussion of whether the law should be changed to allow raising chickens “as of right” was put off for a future discussion.

 


Town Board, 7-1-2014

(See below for a summary  of the proposed law.)

 

Councilman Bianco summarized letters that had been sent to the town in support and opposition to the law. He also cited earlier comments from the Planning Board, Zoning Board, Westchester County and the town’ s environmental consultant, all of which he said had been incorporated into the latest version of the law.

 

Steven and Janelle Robbins , who currently keep chickens on a lot less than 40,000 square feet, spoke in opposition to the law.  It was their contention that they had been acting in good faith after reading the Zoning Ordinance that permits  a private noncommercial garden in which produce is raised for personal use only. It was their contention that the definition of the word “produce” included raising chickens, which meant that they had an “as of right” use to raise chickens, a point rejected by the board and the town attorney. They said that the proposed law the limited raising chickens to lots of at least 40,000 square feet, and only after obtaining a special permit from the Zoning Board imposed undue and unnecessary restrictions on the use of their property and constituted an “uncompensated taking.” The Robbins also objected to the proposed law’s setback requirements which they felt were excessive (and more stringent than setback requirements for dogs)  and which, they said, limited raising chickens to only wealthy homeowners with larger lots, a restriction they considered an economic injustice.

 

In the event the law was passed, the Robbins asked if homeowners with existing coops that did not meet the new requirements could be grandfathered.

 

Based on his experience with a neighbor who used to raise chickens, Kevin Murphy suggested that the law include provisions for how waste products from the coop would be handled. And Town Attorney Jeannette Koster advised the board that growing up on Long Island, her father had raised chickens, on a lot less than 40,000 square feet, and there were no problems.  The law’s intent, she said, was to liberalize the requirements for raising chickens, not to make them more restrictive.

 

The board voted to close the hearing, and based on comments made during the hearing, the board voted unanimously to adopt the law with the following modifications.

1. The law will retain the 40,000 square foot requirement -- but added a provision that will allow the Zoning Board to vary the lot size and setback requirements on a case by case basis.

2. The homeowner will have to provide a waste removal plan.

3. The initial special permit will be for one year to make sure the homeowner is complying with any conditions set by the Zoning Board. The length of subsequent renewals will be determined by the Zoning Board.

4. Existing homeowners will not be grandfathered. (Supervisor Grace explained that grandfathering occurs when a zoning change makes  a legal use no longer legal. In the case of chickens, the use is currently not legal, so it can’t be grandfathered.)

5. The 50 feet setback from an existing house will pertain only to houses in existence at the time the permit is issued. This will avoid possible future issues if a house is added on to.

 

In voting for the law, Supervisor Grace took notice of the town’s agricultural heritage but added that the town is now a suburban community that requires certain issues to be looked at differently.  Both he and Councilman Bianco also cited the need to consider the concerns of neighboring property owners.

 


Town Board, 5-27-2014

The board agreed to set a public hearing for July 3 on the proposed law that would allow fowl to be kept on residential properties of at least 40,000 square feet. A copy of the proposed law will be available on the town web site, yorktownny.org. (Note: It was not clear if the proposed law included any limitations on the number of fowl that could be kept, but Supervisor Grace said that given the size of the parcels, the number was self- limiting.)


Town Board, 5-13-2014

Referring back to legislation that had been considered in February, 2013 and comments on the draft local law that had been received from the Planning Board, Bruce Barber, the town’s environmental consultant and the county Planning Department, Town Attorney Koster went through a list of possible revisions to the law.

 

The board agreed that the new draft should allow keeping chickens on lots of 40,000 sq. ft. or larger with a special permit to be issued by the Zoning Board. It was not clear if there will be a limit on the number of chickens, but the board did reject any limitations on the size or construction of the chicken coops.

 

The board will review the text of the revised local law at its next meeting.


Town Board, 4-9-2013

In a brief discussion, the Board decided to have Bruce Barber, the Town’s environmental consultant work with the town attorney to do some additional tweaking to the proposed law.  Councilman Bianco and Murphy and the Planning Board were opposed to allowing chickens on lots less than an acre.  

 


Planning Board, 3-11-2013

The Board reviewed a draft memo to the Town Board with its comments on the proposed legislation, but did not read out the comments. It appeared, however, that the comments followed the Board’s previous discussion.The memo will also note that the Board has not gotten any response from Hilltop Hanover to its request for information regarding the keeping of fowl so that it would “know what we’re dealing with.” The possibility of a joint Planning/Town Board meeting to review the issue was suggested.


Planning Board, 2-25-2013

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 requirementcould 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.


Town Board, 2-13-2013

In a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Murphy voting no and Councilman Bianco not present, the Board referred out a draft of proposed legislation that would permit raising fowl on residential property. (It was not clear why Councilman Murphy voted against the referral.) The vote took place after Supervisor Grace deleted sections from a draft local law that had been prepared by the town attorney and added some provisions. Although town attorney Koster suggested that she present a clean revised draft to the Board at its next work session after she had had a chance to sit down with the building inspector, Supervisor Grace preferred to move ahead and not wait for a clean copy of a revised draft. Prior to the vote taking place, building inspector John Winter suggested that the number of chickens be linked to the size of the lot and not the zoning district.

 

Based on the discussion, it appeared that the proposed law would:

a. be limited to chickens and ducks only (and excluderoosters)

b. allow the use by special permit issued by the ZBA (the original draft made the Planning Board the approval authority)

c. allow 12 or fewer chickens/ducks on residential property, but allowing the ZBA to limit the number of chickens

d. setting 30 feet rear and side yard setbacks for coops.

 

Mr. Winter will also review the state’s Agriculture and Markets law to see if there are any provisions that would impact on a local law.

 


Town Board, 7-24-2012

A resident interested in keeping chickens on her property asked the Board to amend the zoning ordinance which now requires a minimum of 5 acres for a farm use.In contrast, the code requires 2 acres to keep one horse, and a half acre for each additional horse.

 

Supervisor Grace said he was supportive of the idea of amending the Zoning Code but that the Board had to figure out the best way to amend the Code; whether it should restrict the number of chickens based on the size of the parcel, or the size of the permitted coops, which he said, effectively limited the number of chickens.There was some concern that allowing any chickens on half acre parcels could be a problem. Also to be decided was whether any proposed amendment should be limited to just chickens or other fowl or other livestock.

 

Supervisor Grace asked the resident to work with the town attorney to come up with possible language.


Indoor recation in I-1 zone

Town Board, 6/15/2012

The board opened and closed a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow indoor recreation uses in I-1 zones. Planning Director John Tegeder explained that outdoor recreation was currently allowed in the zone and he saw no reason why indoor recreation could not also be permitted.There were no comments from the public and the law was adopted 5-0.


Recycling in an I-1 (light industrial zone)

Town Board, 9-4-2012

The Board opened and closed the public hearing on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would permit recycling operations (collection and processing) in light industrial zones.

 

Speaking in support of the amendment, attorney Al Capellini, who represents a client who wants to establish such a use in the Oseola Industrial Park on Route 6, said that the facility would be a benefit to the community. He noted that the zoning change applied to only two areas in Yorktown: the Oseola Park and Front Street. He added that at a future date the Board should address what he called an existing anomaly in the zoning code dealing with setback regulations from residentially zoned properties. (The nearby Creative Living sports facility is residentially zoned.)

 

Howard Frank noted that the Westchester County Board of Health had closed down a similar facility in Peekskill and said that allowing a similar use in Yorktown could “open a can of worms.” In response, Mr. Capellini said that many of Mr. Frank’s concerns would be addressed at the time of site plan approval and that the public hearing was only about adding text to the zoning code.

 

Supervisor Grace noted that recycling facilities were becoming more common and that current standards safeguarded against environmental problems. Councilman Bianco noted that while he initially did not favor the application, he now sees the use as the “wave of the future.” He also noted that recycling was a heavily regulated industry.

 

The Board voted 5-0 to adopt the new text.


Town Board, 7-24-2012

The anticipated advertising for a public hearing to amend the zoning ordinance to allow recycling facilities in an industrial zone will have to be postponed as Al Capellini, the applicant’s attorney, said that changes needed to be made in the proposed text.The changes dealt with restrictions on outdoor storage and also the required buffer to residentially zoned property. It was explained that the only residentially zoned property in the vicinity was currently being used for ball fields by Creative Living but that someday, a subdivision plan for the property could be submitted.Mr. Capellini will work with the town attorney on the changes before the Board is ready to advertise the law.


Planning Board, 6/11/2012

Using as a guide, zoning text from Riverside, California, the board continued its discussion of an appropriate amendment to the Zoning Code regulating the establishment of a recycling facility in a light industrial zone with Mr. Flynn pointing out that a stronger ordinance was in the best interests of the applicant as it would give him specific rights.

 

One issue to be resolved involves the distinction between “collecting” and the more intense use of “processing” recyclables. While the draft amendment proposed by the applicant includes both operations in the definition of a recycling facility, the California law made a distinction between the two and Mr. D’Amico has indicated that he intends to carry out both functions at the site. Also, the California law requires that processing that utilizes power driven equipment be permitted by special permit, a provision the Planning Board appeared to like and which Mr. D’Amico said would not present a problem for his planned operation.

 

A second issue was the limitations on outdoor storage and what constituted outdoor storage. The current zoning ordinance limits outdoor storage in the light industrial zone to 25% of the site and Mr. D’Amico’s attorney, Al Capellini, noted that storage containers, even if enclosed, would be considered outdoor storage. Mr. Flynn noted that the existing 25% limitation was not always enforced. Mr. D’Amico explained that while recyclable products such as paper that would degrade if left on the ground were kept indoors, other products such as concrete would be stored on the ground and not in containers until he had sufficient quantity to move them off-site. Tire storage is required by law to be in containers.

 

There was also some discussion, but no consensus, on the distance the recycling facility should be from abutting residentially zoned property.

 

The Planning Department will work on a revised draft of the zoning amendment for a follow up board discussion.

 


Planning Board, 5/21/2012

On a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board reviewed the draft amendment to the zoning ordinance. Mr. Capellini acknowledged that there were lots of problems with the zoning text for the I-1 zone but asked the board not to hold back his client’s desire to move forward on the recycling use.

 

The applicant, Brian D’Amico, proposes to establish a recycling business for metal, plastic, paper, wood and cardboard in two buildings at the Osceola Industrial Park. The business would be aimed primarily at commercial establishments, plus he plans to solicit business from Putnam County municipalities. Eventually, he hopes to collect Yorktown’s residential recyclables when the town’s current IMA with the county expires. He said the town could make money if the recycling was handled locally.

 

In response to questions from board members, Mr. D’Amico explained that trucks carrying the recyclables would dump their contents outside the buildings. The material would then be “pushed into” the building, baled and then taken out of the building and onto trucks to be shipped elsewhere. He added that there was a possibility that some sorting of co-mingled products might take place inside as sorted recyclables command a higher price than co-mingled.In response to questions, he said he might also collect tires, in which case, they would be stored in a trailer and when he had sufficient quantity, he would rent a shredder. In addition, he might collect waste oil, but only for his own use and not for resale. Any wood processing would be done outside. The facility will not collect garbage.

 

Because the zoning amendment to allow for a recycling facility would apply to all I-1 zones, the board requested more information from the Planning Department about where other I-1 zones are located and the extent to which they might be close to residential areas. The board advised Mr. D’Amico that while his facility might present no problems, it was the board’s job to look ahead to the operations of possible future owners as well as other possible locations.

 

Planning Director Tegeder said that he needed more time to review other aspects of the proposed use including outdoor storage, types of uses and screening. There were also concerns about what restrictions, such as not creating dust, odor and noise, should be in the zoning text or come later during site plan review. He will send a memo to the Town Board stating that the Planning Board needs more time for its review of the draft legislation.


Town Board, 5/8/2012

Town Attorney Koster presented a draft local law to add recycling as a main use in an I-1 (light industrial) district. She said the draft was written by the attorney Al Capellini whose client wants to open such a facility at the Oseola Industrial Park. Ms. Koster pointed out that the I-1 section of the zoning code was in dire need of revision and was concerned that some sections dealing with the minimum size of the lots appeared to be contradictory. Planning Director Tegeder explained that while there was a 10 acre minimum for a development plan, once the plan was approved and the site subdivided into individual lots, the lots could be smaller.

 

Both Ms. Koster and Mr. Tegeder noted that there might be issues having a recycling facility at the site that also housed a day care facility and the new Navajo athletic fields.Mr. Tegeder suggested that there needs to be a look at the other operations in the industrial park and what traffic is generated by them.

 

Acknowledging that changes in the I-1 section of the zoning code might be needed, Supervisor Grace said, “let’s get this moving” and the board voted to refer out the draft text as is for review and comment and let people have their say.

 

Zoning Code revisions (general)

Town Board, 5/8/2012

As an outgrowth of a discussion about the need to revise the I-1 (light industrial) district language in the zoning code, Super visor Grace noted the work that former Planning Director Ray Arnold had done to highlight sections of the code that needed to be revised. He said that former Building Inspector Bill Gregory might be a good person to work on such a review.

 

Indoor Recreation by special permit

Town Board, 5/8/2012

Without any discussion, the board agreed to advertise a proposed local law permitting indoor recreation by special permit in a I-1 (light industrial zone) . The change would permit a dome to be constructed on the site of the batting cage facility on Lexington Ave and Route 202.


Littering/Dumpsters


(Scroll down for Littering Law)

 

Dumpster Law

 

Town Board, 6-7-2016

Public hearing: Town Attorney Michael McDermott explained that the purpose of the proposed amendments to the Solid Waste chapter of the Town Code was to set some standards and uniform procedures governing dumpsters and compactors in an effort to control an apparent ” visual litter” problem.  Supervisor Grace explained that where once a commercial development typically had a single dumpster per tenant, now that businesses must recycle, each tenant must have three dumpsters.

 

After the supervisor expressed disappointment that the proposed law had not generated more public input, the board agreed to adjourn the hearing and seek more input, especially from the Chamber of Commerce and owners of some of the older commercial buildings that, the supervisor said, might have problems complying with the new law.  To date, the board has received comments only from the Planning Board and Engineering and Refuse & Recycling Departments.

 

In response to a comment from the Planning Board, it was explained that in order to comply with the new law  the property owner may only have to apply to the Planning Board for an administrative permit instead of an amended site plan.  The board may consider a revision that would extend the period of time property owners have  to comply with the law so that the Building Department and the Planning Department are not overwhelmed with permit applications and/or site plan reviews. The board will also have to consider how to handle the required number of parking spaces if complying with the new dumpster law would eliminate some parking spaces.

 

Dan Strauss, the only resident who spoke at the hearing, said he strongly supported the idea behind the proposed law. He noted, however, that he had spoken to the manager of TJ Marx who advised him that corporate would not allow the store to have another dumpster despite what a town law might require.

 


Town Board, 5-24-2016

In an item not on the agenda, Councilman Bernard suggested that based on initial feedback regarding procedural issues in the proposed law, the board might want to have another work session discussion before proceeding to a public hearing. In response, Supervisor Grace said that these issues could be dealt with as comments during the hearing and Town Clerk Quast reminded the board that the public hearing has already been scheduled for June 7 – and that there would not be a work session before that.


Planning Board, 5-23-2016

William LaScala, the board’s new member and the owner the strip of stores in Jefferson Valley that includes the post office, explained the dumpster situation for his stores and why and how the new law would create problems, especially parking. In response, Mr. Fon noted that this was exactly the issue the board was concerned about at its last meeting and why each location would have to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

 

The board agreed that in its memo to the Town Board, it would recommend that masonry be the material of choice for dumpsters, with the ability to waive that requirement when appropriate.

 

There was a brief discussion of how property owners would be notified of the new law and how the law would be enforced. In response, Councilman Bernard said that although enforcement would be up to the Building Department, two options were to enforce the law region by region, or focus on the most serious problems first.


Planning Board, 5-9-2016

(Referral from Town Board)

Mr. Fon agreed that regulating dumpsters in order to prevent littering was the right thing to do, but he cautioned Councilman Bernard who was present at the meeting in his capacity as liaison to the Planning Board, that the law would “open the box” when it came to regulating dumpsters on older sites where the site plan did not address the dumpster issue. How detailed a review do you want, he asked Mr. Bernard. Mr. Tegeder suggested that each case would have to be looked at separately and that some might need only a memo and resolution while others might require an amended site plan that could involve parking, environmental and other site plan issues.

 

Councilman Bernard said that the Town Board had discussed the feasibility of requiring the owner of a shopping center with multiple tenants each having its own dumpster, e.g., Turco’s,  to use a compactor instead of dumpsters but decided not to include such a provision in the law. Mr. Tegeder suggested that as part of an amended site plan, the Planning Board might require a compactor and that the property owner would then have to work out lease details with the tenants.

 

It was noted that proposed law does not have a waiver in terms of the properties that must comply with the law although the law does give the Planning Board discretion to vary the  law’s requirements.

 

The Planning Board has until its next meeting to finalize its comments.


Littering

 

Town Board, 6-21-2016

The board opened and closed a hearing and voted to approve an amendment to the local law that would make it a civil violation if a camera captured an image of a car license plate and the operator of the car was seen dumping.

The goal of the law is the act as a deterrent to dumping.

 

Bob Buchanan, a resident of Indian Hill Road just south of the Putnam border spoke about the dumping that he has witnessed and the need to take action. Dan Strauss, who has frequently addressed the board about the littering issue supported the law and Howard Frank suggested that the law be expanded to include graffiti. (The town attorney advised Mr. Frank that he was working on a separate graffiti law.)

 

Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, said she also supported the law, but suggested that the town gather more information about the technology of the cameras, who would monitor them, cost, etc. before passing the law.  The sense of the board was: we’ll pass the law as is and work out the technical details later.


Planning Board, 6-13-2016

 Mr. Tripodi felt the law, while well intentioned, needed to be reworked. He said it wasn’t fair to fine the car’s owner if the car had been stolen and the thief did the littering. Similarly, the owner should not be penalized if someone else used the car and littered. Mr. Kincart agreed.


Town Board, 5-24-2016

Already scheduled for a public hearing for June 21, the amendment deals with the definitions of owner and lessee. As explained by Mr. McDermott, if car is leased, then notice would go to the company that owns the vehicle who would in turn let the town know who the car was leased to.  Mr. McDermott also explained that based on how the cameras were used in other municipalities, in the event the camera did not get a clear picture of the license plate – but did get a picture of the person dumping – the photo could be posted on the town’s web site  with text asking viewers if they could identify the person.   He also suggested that in addition to the “real” cameras, fake ones to installed in order to deter would be dumpsters.

 


Town Board, 4-26-16

Town Attorney Michael McDermott suggested that the town adopt a “red light camera” law that would involve installing surveillance cameras at littering hot spots that would take pictures of cars that illegally dumped.  The owner of the car would be subject to a civil penalty. (For littering to be prosecuted as a criminal offense, a person has to observe the actual dumping.) Supervisor Grace said Yorktown would be the first in the nation to adopt such a law.  It was suggested that five cameras could be installed and rotated to applicable hot spots.

 

Councilman Diana suggested that the attorney check out the vehicle & traffic law to see if littering was already covered and Mr. McDermott will do more research to make sure the law “passes muster” before drafting a local law. 

 

Refuse and Recycling Coordinator Kim Anglis Gage asked the board to consider okaying the purchase of 40 “anti littering” signs, at a cost of approximately $1,000. The signw would be posted at 36 hot spots and the funds would come from the current R&R budget. A sample sign was distributed, and it was suggested that wording be added about the camera surveillance. The signs would be 18’x12’.

 

Supervisor Grace suggested that there be a major, coordinated roll out of both the law and the signs. The sense of the board was that the signs would make the public more aware of littering and the cameras would make enforcement easier.

 

See related discussion below on a dumpster enclosure local law.

 

Dumpster Enclosure Local Law

Town Attorney McDermott walked the board through a draft of the law that would regulate the location of dumpsters and compactors and set design and construction standards.  The law will apply to multi-family developments and all commercial properties. He explained that the law is drafted broadly in order to capture a wide variety of “containers.”  The law, which is modeled after one in Mamaroneck Village, would apply retroactively to dumpsters in place that were not reviewed and approved as part of a site plan; owners would have to go to the Planning Board for an amended site plan.  While the attorney had included a $50 fee for an amended site plan in the draft law, on the suggestion of Mr. Tegeder, the fee will be changed to $250. Dumpster issues are covered in relatively recently approved and all pending sites plans.

 

It was pointed out that when trying to make existing dumpsters comply with the new law, other amendments to the site plan may be needed, e.g.,relocating existing dumpsters may trigger changes in parking or setbacks.

 

When it was explained that enforcing the conditions of a site plan falls within the purview of the building department, Supervisor Grace said that if this was not clear in our existing laws, then the laws should be amended.

 

While saying that he was “squeamish” about government dictating what businesses could do, Supervisor Grace said that the law was necessary to deal with the mess that exists in some locations, specifically calling out DeCicco’s in Jefferson Village, Starbucks, and Yorktown Green. He said that if the new law, once in place, was not sufficient to control the problem, he would consider a franchise operation where the town would select a single commercial carter that all property owners would have to contract with. The carter would be selected through a bid process.

 

The board voted to refer out the draft law and set a public hearing for June 7.

 

 


Proposed pedestrian amenities legislation

 

Town Board, 1-15-2013

(See January 8, 2013 meeting.) Planning Director Tegeder and Planning Board Member Ann Kutter presented the Board with a conceptual draft of new language to be added to the Land Development Regulations portion of the Town Code dealing with sidewalks and pedestrian connectivity in site plans.The proposed regulations mimic language already in the Code for residential subdivisions and would give the Planning Board the ability to require the amenities on a case-by-case basis if and when appropriate.

 

During the brief discussion, the focus was whether the new language should say “may” or “shall. Town Attorney Koster said she would meet with Mr. Tegeder and Ms. Kutter to review the text and put the lagnuage into a proper format for adopting a local law.


Funtime Amusements (Front Street)

Town Board, 5-7-2013

Without any public comment, the Board adopted the textual amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that will allow Funtime Amusements to serve liquor. (See previous meeting summaries.)

 


Town  Board, 3-12-2013

At issue was whether the Zoning Ordinance, which was amended in 2009 to permit the proposed use in an industrial zone, has to be amended to allow the establishment to apply for a liquor license. Town Board minutes from 2009 stated that no liquor was to be allowed on the site and there was to be no cooking. According to John Iorio, the site’s owner, the concern at the time was that the facility not become a bar as the Town, at the time, was experiencing problems with a bar on Kear Street.

 

The facility is currently used for private parties on a pre-planned basis with outside vendors supplying food, wine and bear.Town Attorney Koster said this use fits the Code’s definition of “banquet hall.”

 

Supervisor Grace said that as the current language in the Zoning Code was ambiguous, any interpretation of the code had to be construed to be in favor of the applicant. Ray Arnold, the Town’s former planning director disagreed, and said that if a use is not allowed in the code, it is prohibited.Supervisor Grace told Mr. Iorio to go ahead and apply for the liquor license and that a zoning code change was not needed.



Best Value Procurement local law 

Town Board, 6/5/2012

At the start of the public hearing, Councilman Murphy took issue with an unspecified item that appeared in an unspecified publication that was critical of the Town for not fulfilling its financial responsibilities. Supervisor Grace also said he resented an editorial that appeared in a local paper that criticized his handling of an emergency board meeting that the public was not informed about, adding that he was not hiding anything from the public.

 

Supervisor Grace explained that new state enabling legislation gave the Town the ability to award bids based on “best value” as opposed to “the lowest responsible bidder. Sometimes, he said, the lowest bidder isn’t the best, and the state has finally recognized that.He also said that sometimes it was not cost effective to go out to bid.

 

Comptroller Joan Goldberg explained that the Town has always been following “best value” guidelines but that the state has finally caught up to what Yorktown and other towns are doing.This is nothing new, she said.She also corrected Councilman Paganelli’s statement that staff had to travel to Home Depot to save a few pennies instead of buying at Mitchell Hardware. Not true, she said.

 

The board approved the law in a 5-0 vote.


Town Board, 5/8/2012

 Without any discussion, the board agreed to advertise a proposed local law that would change how and when the board purchasedgoods and services. The hearing is set for June 5th.


Noise ordinances

Barking dogs legislation

 

Town Board, 6/19/2012

The hearing was opened and closed without any comment. The Board approved the law 4-1 with Supervisor Grace voting no. He did not explain his reasons.


Town Board, 5/22/2012

 

Explaining that both the town prosecutor and town attorney have determined that the current law governing barking dogs is unenforceable due to its vagueness, Police Chief McMahon asked the board to consider amending the law in order to make it enforceable. He said that the departments gets about 12 complaints a year. When responding to complaints, an officer visits the owner and explains the law, basically giving the owner a warning. In most cases, the barking stops after the owner gets a warning, he said. If the barking continues, then a summons is issued. He didn’t explain how the current law should be amended, although one suggestion from Town Attorney Koster was that the barking level be monitored by a decibel meter. (See related discussion about amending the Noise Ordinance.)

 

In response to Councilman Paganelli’s question whether the law should include time periods, Chief McMahon said that the problem was basically 24/7 and he did not recommend complicating the law by adding different time periods.

 

Supervisor Grace didn’t think any law that made barking a violation would be enforcement but he told the Chief to work with the town attorney to see what they could come up with.

Councilman Bianco told the Chief that he thought one of the problems enforcing the law was that when residents call the PD to complain, they were told that they would have to sign a complaint. Calling this a deterrent, he suggested that the PD first talk to the owner and seek voluntary compliance before having to ask the neighbor to file a written complaint in the event the barking didn’t stop.

 

Town Board, 5/22/2012

Noise Ordinance

Police Chief McMahon explained that the current law that refers to an “unreasonable”noise level, e.g., from chain saws or loud music, is unenforceable because it is too vague. The only solution, he suggested, was to purchas3e a decibel meter, at approximately $200, and then decide what level should be considered unacceptably loud.The meter would be used at the property line and would function like radar.

 

While Councilman Bianco called this a “qualify of life” issue, Supervisor Grace said that the law would be thrown out on its first challenge. “You guys figure it out,” he said to the other board members.

 


Town  Board, 1-24-2012

In response to concerns from a resident on Indian Hill Road over the noise from construction equipment, including a jackhammer, used on weekends and into the evening over a three year period (the property owner is building a house and apparently can only do the work on weekends), Councilman Bianco proposed changes in the town’s existing Noise Ordinance that would include restrictions on the use of certain types of equipment on Sunday.The town’s current ordinance has noise restrictions from 11pm-7am.

 

As the board reviewed the proposed changes, however, it became apparent that the proposed amendments raised other problems including exactly what types of equipment to include in the restrictions and why the restrictions should apply to one day, e.g., Sunday, but not another day, e.g., Saturday.

 

While the board shared the resident’s concern, there was no clear agreement on how the problem could be addressed. Supervisor Grace said he would direct the Building Inspector to visit the site and speak to the property owner using the equipment.  He said that he didn’t think a law should be changed because of one instance. He also noted that in these economic times, he was sympathetic to a property owner doing work on weekends when he had to earn his living during the week.

 


Temporary Certificate of Occupancy

(See also Winery)

Town Board, 3/6/2012

Public hearing on proposed law relating to Temporary Certificates of Occupancy

Supervisor Grace explained that the purpose of the proposed local law was to extend the period of time for a temporary certification of occupancy (TCO) from the current 90 days to 180 days.

 

Susan Siegel (the person writing these notes) spoke in opposition to the proposal law and expressed concern that 180 days, plus a 90 day extension, plus the possibility of indefinite extensions, gave the property owner legal cover to indefinitely postpone making site plan improvements that might compromise public safety issues.She said the proposed law had no criteria or standards for judging what constituted “good cause” for the town approving the issuance of a TCO.

 

Supervisor Grace said that in this difficult economy, a one to three month delay in a business being able to open could mean the difference between success and failure and that the town had to do something to help fill up the town’s empty stores. He said that the town would not compromise on safety issues and that the decision to issue a TCO would be made on a case by case basis making sure that all safeguards were in place.He said that in some instances more time was needed to deal with site plan issues. He cited the example of a business that has been trying to get a CO for four months for a planned change of use for an existing commercial space but was having difficulty because of a parking issue. The business is paying out rent but not getting income, he said.The longer period for a TCO would, he said, give the town another “tool in its arsenal” and allow the town to be a partner with business instead of an adversary. The town could always put conditions on the TCO or shorten the period of time, he added.

 

Speaking in favor of the proposed change, Councilman Paganelli said that public safety would be a primary concern and Councilman Murphy said that delays in opening were another obstacle for businesses.

 

Councilman Bianco said he thought a 90 day TCO was sufficient and agreed with some of the public safety concerns raised by Ms. Siegel. He wanted to add language to the law about public safety concerns but Supervisor Grace said that the proposed language about showing “good cause” was sufficient. Councilman Bianco also expressed concern that giving the board discretion to approve the TCOs could lead to decisions being made for political reasons instead of public safety, a point rejected by Councilman Paganelli.

 

Councilman Biancosaid that what was needed to help business were changes in the Building Department and the inability of property owners to sometimes get straight answers from the department.

 

In response to question from Ed Ciffone about the taxes paid by the Winery at St. George which recently was granted a TCO, Supervisor Grace said that a property’s assessment was changed when a CO for the property is issued.

 

The board voted 4-1, with Councilman Bianco voting no, to approve the proposed new law.


Town Board, 2/14/2012

The board discussed a proposed amendment to the Zoning Code extending the time for a temporary certificate of occupancy “for a part or all of a structure, upon a finding of good cause” provided all the requirements for the development of the lot or site could be completed with the stated time period.

Supervisor Grace said that when he was town attorney, the town issued a TCO for BJs because the members of the Planning Board were new at the time and weren’t sure what to do. He added that the TCO got “lost in the shuffle” and remained in effect for many years. In general, he said, the TCO was used when the interior of a residential or commercial building met all the building code requirements but that there was remaining site work that had to be done.

While the initial proposal was to allow the building inspector to grant a TCO for 90 days, with an additional 90 day extension, on the suggestion of Councilman Terrence Murphy who thought that 90 days was too short a time, the time limit was changed to 180 days for the original TCO and 90 days for the extension. Councilman Patel raised the issue of whether there might be safety issues associated with site work and whether the Planning Board should be consulted before a TCO was granted, but the other board members did not respond to his questions.Town Attorney Koster asked if the board wanted to add language to the proposed law giving the Town Board the ability to rescind a TCO. There was no response.

Speaking of the Winery, which was just granted a TCO. Supervisor Grace said that since Mr. DeChiaro is going for a rezoning, the proposed 180 time limit should “keep his feet to the fire.” And, although TCOs haven’t been used often in Yorktown, he added that they might come into play with future projects on Route 202.

The town attorney will make the changes in the draft local law which will be advertised for a public hearing at the next board meeting.


IBM Helistop/Changes in Approval Authority

(See also IBM for some background on the Helistop request.)

Town Board, 6/5/2012

The board opened a public hearing on a revised text that would permit helistops in OB zones by special permit. Two area residents spoke in opposition to the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance, stating that the helistop wasn’t necessary, that it put area residents at risk, and that the standards in the law were too easy to meet. It was also pointed out that in the past, requests from residents for helistops on private property had been denied.

 

In response to comments that a considerable number of planes already fly over the area, Councilman Bianco noted that the area is an alternate flight path to Westchester County Airport. He also cited a concern about morning fog in the area. When Supervisor Grace noted that IBM already usesthe site across Route 134 for helicopters, one resident said “shame on the town” for not putting a stop to the practice. In response, Supervisor Grace said that sometimes we have to live with something and all we can do is is regulate it, which is what the proposed law would do. Councilman Paganelli expressed some concern that the helistop would be between a day care center and a glass building.

 

Before voting 5-0 to adopt the law, the board made one change:the special permit will be issued by the Planning Board, not the Town Board. It was explained that the Planning Board will be able to put conditions on the permit governing hours and intensity of use.


Town Board, 5/15/2012

Reconvened hearing on helistop and changes in approval authority for the OB zone.

Supervisor Grace said that the helistop provisions had been redrafted and separated out into a separate local law that would be re-advertised.

 

On the approval authority issue, he thanked those who attended the May `1st hearing and said their comments were “instructive” and “enlightening.” Going forward, he said the board will consider approving a resolution that will mandate the Planning Board to refer certain development applications to the Town Board.When Councilman Bianco said that the Town Board already has the ability to do that, Supervisor Grace said that a resolution would make it clearer.

 

Based on the above discussion, the board voted unanimously to close the public hearing and reject the proposed local law.


Town Board, 5/8/2012

Helistop Special Permit

Town Attorney Koster explained that she had made revisions to the text to add helistops as a permitted special permit use in OB districts and that she had separated out the helistop text from the changes in approval authority for the OB district.The new version reduces the distance the helistop can be from a residence to 250 feet from 500 feet. She said that IBM wanted the ability to use the helistop at night and some language may have to be added. In Armonk, one night flight per month is allowed and no later than 9pm. The Somers facility does not allow night flights.Supervisor Grace said the use was benign and not an issue. Because the text of the local law has changed, it will be renoticed for a new public hearing.

Changes in Approval Authority

This revision to the zoning code has been separated out of the helistop special permit. Commenting on last week’s public hearing, Supervisor Grace said the issue was “too nuanced for anyone to understand.” What got lost at the hearing, he said, was that the proposed change would return to the Town Board what it used to do and that giving the Town Board approval authority would not dilute the planning process. He said he personally didn’t want long meetings to discuss technical issues such as a turning radius. He said that Town Board approval was needed for bigger parcels that would have an impact on public infrastructure.

 

As a compromise, he said he would suggest that the board adopt a resolution that would require the Planning Board to refer certain applications to the Town Board. This could be accomplished, he said, as part of a coordinated SEQRA review with the Town Board being an interested party. The Town Board should be up to speed on these projects and this could have been better addressed if the speakers at last week’s hearing had supported what he called the “flip flop.” Planning Director Tegeder said he didn’t think such a resolution would have to be tied to SEQRA.


Town Board, 5/1/2012 (Public Hearing)

Supervisor Grace started the hearing by explaining that the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance had two distinct parts: A textual change that would establish a special permit to allow helistops in OB zones, and changes in the regulations governing OB zones in general that would shift approval authority for site plans in OB zones from the Planning Board to the Town Board. He explained that in 1994, the Town Board transferred approval authority for the OB zone, and other zones, from the Town Board to the Planning Board.

Explaining that the Board could adopt the proposed amendments as a whole, or as two separate amendments, he asked speakers at the hearing to address each part separately.

 

Helistop special permit

Supervisor Grace read a memo from the Planning Board that highlighted some technical corrections that had to be made in the text. A memo from IBM distinguished a helistop, which is for the purpose of people getting on and off the helicopter, and a heliport which includes fueling and maintenance of helicopters. Ray Arnold pointed out that while the text of the proposed amendments spoke about helistops, the definition of a helistop included heliport type functions.

 

Michael Byrnes who lives near the IBM facility expressed concern over the safety of the helistop and reminded the Board about the recent plan that landed on the IBM site.He also expressed concern about the noise from the rotors.John Schroeder said that the helistop was in conflict with the original design of the building.

 

Change in Approval authority

Most of the comments dealt with this proposed change. All the speakers were opposed to the change.

 

At different times during the hearing, and in part in response to questions raised by Evan Bray asking what was behind the Board’s desire to change the current practice, Supervisor Grace explained his reasoning behind the change. He said he believed that the Town Boards hould have the final say over “critical development parcels” because the Board was more responsive and accountable to the public than the Planning Board. It’s to be more responsive to your needs, he said.

 

In response to comments from Paul Moskowitz who was against the change, Councilman Murphy read from an undisclosed source that in 1994 Mr. Moskowitz objected to transferring the approval authority to the Planning Board because he felt that the Town Board was more accountable to the people. At the end of the hearing, Mr. Moskowitz spoke again saying that after 18 years he had changed his mind.

 

Supervisor Grace said that giving the Town Board approval authority did not mean that the Planning Board would be eliminated from the process. He said that both boards would work closely together.

 

He also said that the Town Board can do a better job of bargaining” with applicants to help pay for needed infrastructure improvements, a point Councilman Bianco disputed, saying that “we (the Town Board) never got a good bargain, which he said, was the reason the Town Board changed approval authority in 1994. (See Aaron Bock comments below.)

 

Former Town Supervisor Aaron Bock explained why, under his administration, the Town Board made the 1994 approval authority changes. It wasn’t, he said, to escape responsibility, but rather to leave planning decisions to the technical experts – the people who were best able to do the job, and also to avoid duplication with the work done by the Planning Board. He said the Town Board should focus on planning issues, not technical issues and that if they took on site plan approvals, they would lose time that should be devoted to policy issues which is where the Town Board was accountable.

 

Several additional speakers made the following l points:

  • All expressed confidence that the Planning Board had been doing, and would continue doing a good job, and some said that they didn’t always trust the Town Board, although they did not cite any specific Town Board member or planning issue.
  • That the Town Board didn’t know what it was getting into in terms of the time commitment associated with site plan review and that future Board meetings could last well into the night. “Be careful what you wish for,” one person said.
  • Delegation of responsibility. Jennie Sunshine asked Councilman Paganelli , the owner of a restaurant, if he would tell his chef how to run his kitchen. The best management, she said, was when you know how to delegate and have the best people do the job.
  • Patti Peckham expressed concern that granting the Town Board approval authority would set a precedent for additional similar changes.
  • John Schroder and Olivia Buehl challenged Supervisor’s Grace “bargaining” argument . Mr. Schroeder said that in his 40 years of monitoring Town Board and Planning Board meetings, he felt that the Planning Board had done some good “bargaining.” Ms. Buehl noted that if an applicant wasn’t asking for anything special, there was nothing to bargain over. She also asked why, if the Town wanted to be developer friendly, the Town would want to throw road blocks in a developer’s way.
  • Speaking of the need for stability and continuity in the planning process, several speakers noted that Town Board members have short “shelf lives” of two to four yearswhile Planning Board members serve five year terms. Planning Board member John Flynn said that many applications span many years so that new Town Board members may not be familiar with the past history of a project.
  • Several speakers expressed concern over the duplication involved in having the Town Board review what had already been reviewed by the Planning Board. Former Planning Board and Town Board member Greg Bernard (who voted for the 1994 change) said that the potential duplication of effort ran counter to the Town’s goal of streamlining the approval process.
  • Mr. Flynn addressed the issue of political responsiveness, noting that the Town Board decisions could be colored by upcoming elections. Public opinion, he said, could be erroneous.
  • Mark Levine, explaining that he is a lawyer who does work for developers, said that his clients would love the new law.

The Board voted to adjoin the hearing.


Planning Board, 3/12/2012

Acting on a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board discussed proposed legislation that would transfer approval authority for site plans in OB zones from the Planning Board to the Town Board. The proposed legislation would also establish a special permit for a helipad in the OB zone.

 

Councilman Dave Paganelli, the Town Board’s liaison to the Planning Board, attended the meeting and participated in the board’s discussion. Asked why the Town Board was considering the change, Mr. Paganellil said that some members of the board thought the change would provide some relief for developers of commercial projects and that these types of projects were important to provide tax relief to homeowners. He also talked about how the current board wants to counter the impression that Yorktown is not business friendly.He added that he has been advised by former Planning Board Chairman David Klaus who was a personal friend that the change would not speed up the approval process as the development plans would have to be referred to the Planning Board for review even if the Town Board has the final approval authority. He said that Mr. Klaus had also expressedconcern that the shift to the Town Board ran the risk of politicizing the approval process.

 

Referring to the perception that Yorktown has not been friendly to new business ventures, Mr. Paganelli told the board that after observing how the board had handled the applications earlier in the evening, he thought that the perception might not translate into reality. “You’ve been extremely accommodating and dilligent to their concerns,” he said.

 

Planning Board members appeared to be unanimously opposed to the change which they thought would politicize the approval process, a point Mr. Paganellil agreed was a potential issue. Mr. Flynn advised Mr. Paganelli to consider the case of the Wallauer project in Mohegan Lake and how it was the Town Board that obstructed the project, not the Planning Board.The Town Board, he suggested, might “put its finger to the wind” when considering a project.

 

Mr. Savoca expressed concern that the change for the OB district might set a precedent for subsequent requests for other zones. He added that while developers might lobby individual Town Board members, they did not approach Planning Board members individually on behalf of their projects.“We’re an independent body and an objective buffer,” he added.

 

Ms. Kutter pointed out that Planning Board members are required to attend special training classes and wondered if Town Board members would have the time to attend such classes.

 

Mr. Fon noted that the Planning Board’s job was to approve responsible development and that the board was not pro or anti business.He also expressed concern that the Town Board might not review a site plan as carefully as the Planning Board does.

 

The Planning Department will draft a response to the Town Board, but also, Mr. Fon will reach out to the Town Board to suggest that he attend a work session to discuss the issue further.

 


Town  Board, 3/6/2012

The board voted to refer proposed changes in the Zoning Ordinance relating to the OB zone and a special permit for helipads in an OB zone to the appropriate agencies and boards for their review. For a copy of the proposed legislation, go to: http://www.yorktownny.org/townclerk/pending-legislation


Town Board, 2/28/2012

The board briefly discussed a proposed draft of legislation that would establish a special permit for the construction of a helipad in an OB zone. The legislation would make the Town Board the approval authority for the permit and also change the existing law to give the Town Board the approval authority for all site plans in OB zones. Current site plan authority is with the Planning Board.

 

Planning Director Tegeder advised the board that there are currently only three OB zones in town: the IBM site, the old Mercy College site on Strang Blvd., and Contractor’s Register in Jefferson Valley. He added that his department has had ongoing discussions with the owners of the Mercy College site for the reuse of one of the buildings. Also, Contractor’s Register, which recently expanded its parking lot, has long range plans for additional development on its property.

 

Town Attorney Koster said that she had copied the technical aspects of the helipad special permit from codes in North Castle and Somers.

 

The board voted to refer the proposed local law to appropriate advisory boards and agencies. (It was not clear if the board also agreed to advertise the proposed law for a public hearing.)


Town Board, 2/14/2012

While not a specific item on the agenda, the discussion with IBM over two proposed projects on its current site, which is zoned OB1, led to a discussion of whether the authority for approving major projects should be taken away from the Planning Board and given to the Town Board.

Supervisor Grace said he favored giving the Town Board the authority for “critical” projects. Past boards, he said, gave up that responsibility because they didn’t want to deal with politically controversial projects. Councilman Paganelli expressed concern that moving approval authority to the Town Board would politicize the process. He feared that a Town Board might favor a project today but that two years from now a new board might quash a project. The Planning Board, he said, doesn’t have a political agenda.

All board members agreed to discuss the issue further when a full board was present.


Accessory Structures

Town Board, 6/5/2012

Nick Witkowich asked the Board how it planned to deal with the new building permit application from his neighbor to construct a pole barn as an addition to his existing house as opposed to being a separate accessory structure. He said that the new plan violated the spirit of an earlier court decision and the accessory structure amendments to the zoning code that the Town passed in 2011in response to the court decision. Councilman Bianco said he would look into the matter and Supervisor Grace said he hadn’t had a chance to review Mr. Witkowich’s earlier email.


Fire lanes

Town Board, 7-17-2012

The Board opened and closed a hearing to designate fire lanes on both sides of the road leading into the complex in order to assure access for emergency vehicles. Currently, because there is no such designation, cars park on either side of the road due to the limited available parking spaces.

Fire Inspector Ed Kolisz explained that both the Police Department and the Fire Advisory Board had reviewed the plan and supported it. Ed Ciffone, the only member of the public who spoke during the hearing, suggested that the parking restriction be placed on only one side of the road. In response, Mr. Kolisz explained that that would not allow sufficient room for emergency vehicles.

 

Supervisor Grace said the Town is looking into how additional parking spaces can be made available at the complex.

 

The board approved the law.

 


Town Board, 6/12/2012

Fire Inspector Ed Koliscz reported to the board that because of a shortage of parking spaces at the complex, people were parking in front of the buildings, blocking what needed to be designated as fire lanes.The exact language of any proposed amendments was not discussed.

Ed Ciffone, who works part time at the court, said that more parking was needed and suggested that the existing parking area be extended. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said an open area behind the Conservation Department building could be converted into additional parking. Councilman Bianco noted that some of the potential parking spots became off limits when the Police Department installed the security gate.

 

 


 

Electronic Filing Law

 

Town Board, 5-21-2013

In a letter to the Board, Jack Goldstein, a local engineer, raised concern that once plans are available electronically, they could more easily to usurped by a competing professional than hard copies. Paul Moskowitz, speaking on behalf of Walt Daniels, a member of the Conservation Board and Open Space Committee, suggested that the law be amended to require additional types of technical information.

 

The Board voted to close the hearing and unanimously adopted the law. Supervisor Grace said that while Mr. Goldstein’s concern needed to be addressed, he wanted to get the process moving and that the issue could be dealt with later on.  He added that Mr. Daniels’ suggestions need not be included in the law but were part of the review process.

 


Town Board, 4-9-2013

Planning Director Tegeder advised the Board of last night’s Planning Board discussion regarding the requirement for paper copies. The Board had no problem with the recommendation. (It was not clear if the Board voted to advertise a public hearing.)

 


Planning Board, 4-8-2013

 

In a brief discussion the Board considered a referral from the Town Board. The only modifications suggested were that instead of the requirement that only one paper copy be submitted, the language should head “paper copies as required.” Mr. Tegeder said that the Town would never get away completely from paper and that it made sense for the applicant to provide the paper copies rather than have town staff make them.

 


Town Board, 3-5-2013

The Board referred to proposed law to advsiory boards and department heads.


Town Board, 2/26/2013

At next week’s meeting, the Board expects to refer out to department heads a proposed law that would require that applications for building permits, subdivisions, site plans and Zoning Board actions be submitted electronically. Supervisor Grace said the legislation would be the first step in digitizing the Town’s records.The law will include provisions to accept submissions if the applicant does not have the capability to submit the documents in an acceptable electronic format.

 

There was some discussion about the state Education Department requirement that plans from architects and engineers include their stamp and how this certification would work with electronic copies. The Town Attorney will research options.

 


Ethics Law

Town Board, 11-24-2015

After explaining that the purpose of an Ethics Code was to act as a guide and protection for town employees and officials and also to inspire the public’s confidence in town staff and officials, Steven Leventhal, the attorney hired by the board to review the current Ethics Code, proceeded to identify several sections of the code where he felt more clarity was needed. The discussion then changed to more substantive issues, including whether the code needed more “teeth” and if so, in what areas. The substantive discussion included:

 

Role of Ethics Board: Whether the Ethics Board should be an independent body with the ability to make its findings public or whether, as is the present case, its findings should only be recommendations made to the Town Board, leaving the Town Board with the ultimate power to accept or reject the Ethics Board’s recommendations. I noted that the members of the current Ethics Board felt strongly about the need for the Ethics Board to be independent and that members felt there was no need to have an Ethics Board if it wasn’t independent. Supervisor Grace disagreed and felt that the ultimate decision should remain with the Town Board and gave the following example:  if an issue dealt with a CSEA member and possibly the  union contract, only the Town Board could deal with that issue.  Mr. Leventhal also pointed out an inconsistency in the current code that says  that members of the Ethics Board are appointed for three year terms but also says that they serve at the pleasure of the Town Board.

 

Sanctions: There was no specific discussion on this other than Mr. Leventhal might propose a range of sanctions that could be imposed.

 

Revolving door (the ability of a former town employee or official to represent another person or corporation before a town body): Supervisor Grace argued against the provision in the current code that has a one year prohibition, calling it punitive for the former employee; he suggested that the issue of ethical behavior should be with the town body, not the former employee or official.

 

As a next step, Mr. Leventhal will provide the Town Board with a copy of the Town of Huntington Ethics Code, both the draft he produced and what ultimately Huntington officials adopted. He suggested that a committee review the document (the committee’s meetings would not be open to the public) and report back to the Town Board.

 

In general, Supervisor Grace considered the ethics issue one of personalities, not parties.


Town Board, 8-11-2015

After it was clarified that the board had never passed a resolution it had discussed at its May 26, 2015 meeting, the board voted to hire an outside attorney to review the existing Ethics Law and report back orally on recommendations for possible changes. It was not clear if the resolution would request the report by September or October.


Town Board, 6-2-2015

Although listed on the agenda, there was no resolution ready for a vote. Supervisor Grace said he was still working on one


Town Board, 5-26-2015

(Note: Although listed on the agenda for 7:45pm, due to a communications mishap, the two members of the Ethics Board thought the meeting was to start at 6:45 and had appointments for later that evening. To accommodate them, the agenda item was moved up and discussed at approximately 7:00 pm.  The supervisor initially wanted the discussion held in closed session but after I advised the other board members  that discussions relating to local laws were an open session item, the supervisor agreed to hold the discussion in the open. )   

 

Ethics Board members Richard Rubenstein and Albert J. Durante, later joined by Laurie Noonan, believe that the existing Ethics Law passed in 2011 is “arcane”  and “deplorable” and needs to be updated to reflect current standards. They recommend that the town hire Steven g. Leventhal, the attorney who provided ethics training to town employees a few years ago, to review the existing law and make recommended changes. The attorney would bill at $225/hour and charge up to $5,000.  It was their belief that having an outside attorney look at the law would take politics out of the process of amending the law. 

 

The committee members cited two areas of concern: they believe that the Ethics Board should have more power (Currently, the board can only make recommendations to the Town Board and the Town Board can choose to ignore the recommendations and/or not make them public), and the third year term of office for board members should be a fixed term and not subject “to the pleasure of the Town Board.”

 

Supervisor Grace said he had no problems hiring the attorney but was concerned that any suggested amendments relate to towns and not other levels of government.  He reminded the board about what he called the inuendos leveled against him last year that likened him  to Sheldon Silver.

 

While agreeing with the members of the Ethics Board that sections of the existing law needed amending, I argued that using the three years  of experience  the Ethics Board has had, a subcommittee consisting  of members of the Ethics Board, the Town Board and the Town Attorney could draw up the needed amendments that related specifically to Yorktown’s experience.  I didn’t think the town had to spend $5,000 for a lawyer to draw up recommendations that a majority of the Town Board might never consider. I reminded the board that in 2010 when an outside lawyer drafted a new Ethics Law, a majority of the board rejected many of her suggestions. In the end, I said, while the lawyer was not political, it would be the Town Board that would have to act on his recommendations, and that made the issue political.

 

Councilman Patel said that if a town employee had nothing to hide, they had nothing to worry about any revised law.  And Councilman Bernard labeled the discussion, and especially my comments, as “campaigning.”

 

The board is expected to vote on a resolution to hire the outside attorney at next week’s meeting.

 


Escrow Fee Laws

Given the late hour, Supervisor Grace said the board would postpone a discussion on the issue of escrow fee requirements.  However, he did say that the current law that requires developers to pay an escrow fee to cover the cost of hiring outside consultants had created problem after problem after problem and had to be changed, adding . that the current escrow law was of dubious legality.

 

He said his goal was to eliminate all escrow fees and set up a flat fee schedule for work that the town staff had to do related to development applications, e.g., review an easement or file a deed.

 


Puppy Mill Law

 

Town Board, 8-2-2016

Several people spoke in favor of the law and applauded the board for considering it, although two people, including the mayor of the Village of Mamaroneck, the first municipality in the county to adopt such a law, suggested that  the language dealing with home breeders be modified in order to eliminate the possibility of creating two classes of breeders.  The law, he said, should regulate where puppies are sold, i.e., retail stores, and not to restrict breeders.

 

Supervisor Grace said that the board had struggled with how to differentiate and balance puppy mills from legitimate home breeders and that the pro business board did not want to put undue restrictions on a business.  While he recognized the potential problem that had been raised by the Mamaroneck mayor, he said he preferred to pass the law as currently written and “see how this goes.”

 

The hearing was closed and the law adopted, without any changes, by a unanimous vote. A copy of the law is available on the town web site, www.yorktownny.org.

 

 


Town Board, 7-19-2016

The board voted to set a public hearing for August 2 for a local law that will prohibit the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores . For a copy of the law, visit: http://www.yorktownny.org/sites/default/files/fileattachments/town_clerk/page/247/pet_dealers_and_pet_stores_local_law_7-14-2016.pdf

 


Town Board, 7-12-2016

Town Attorney McDermott presented a revised law that would ban the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores. The sticking point, however, was the definition of a commercial breeder and how that term could be distinguished from a person who breeds dogs at home. As explained by the two women lobbying for the law, a person who breeds no more than 25 dogs a year at home is considered a home breeder and is regulated by New York State.  But Supervisor Grace explained that the term “commercial” could also be applied to home breeders because they are selling.  And Councilman Diana brought up a third category of puppies: when an owner’s dog has puppies and no one to give them to.  In this instance, the advice was to give them to a shelter, and the shelter, in turn, can sell them to pet stores as “rescue dogs.” 

 

Enforcement of the legislation would be up to the Police Department that would be empowered to check the “origin” paperwork on dogs being offered for sale.  Councilman Bernard said he was “not trilled” with the police being given this additional task.

 

While Mr. McDermott said he would fine tune the definition of the word “commercial,” the board agreed to set a public hearing on the proposed law for August 2nd. (Note: For a copy of the law prior to the hearing, check with the “pending legislation” link on the town’s web site, http://www.yorktownny.org/townboard/pending-legislation.)


Town Board, 6-14-2016

Town Attorney McDermott prepared a revised draft of a law (the original one previously discussed was based on the Village of Mamaroneck law) but indicated that there were still legal issues with the latest version. He said the town had to be careful not to take away someone’s right to earn a living and Supervisor Grace said the law had to be clear and have unambiguous standards.

 

Part of the problem revolved around the two types of puppy sellers and how to distinguish them: stores that sell puppies raised in puppy mills (which the law’s proponents consider to be unhealthy places) and private breeders who maintain proper standards and screen their buyers.  It was also noted that while the law’s proponents want to encourage buyers to purchase only from “rescue shops,” some rescue shops could be purchasing their puppies from puppy mills.

 

While the overall goal of the law’s proponents is to get a large number of municipalities to enact puppy mill bans on the theory that the mass of legislation will help eliminate puppy mills in Westchester, Mr. McDermott said that it was important to go slow, be patient and enact the best possible law adding that just because another municipality passes a flawed law doesn’t mean Yorktown has to follow. Supervisor Grace advised the proponents that he doesn’t want to pass “ribbon cutting legislation” that feels good but can’t be enforced.

 

All agreed that independent of any legislation, more consumer education was needed to warn buyers of the dangers of purchasing dogs from puppy mills. 

 

The law’s proponents will provide Mr. McDermott with copies of other laws he can review.


Town Board, 5-17-2016

The board voted to refer out for comment a proposed amendment to “Animals” chapter of the Town Code that would prohibit commercial puppy mills.  The draft law is modeled after a similar law in the Village of Mamaroneck.  Councilman Lachterman and several residents spoke of the need for such a law. It was explained that a state law enacted in 2014, enabled towns to enact local laws banning commercial puppy mills.  However, one speaker opposed the law, saying that the ban would only force the puppy mills underground and that the SPCA could not satisfy the demand for puppies.  Adding that the law “sounds good,” he urged the board to think it through and that what was needed was more enforcement of existing animal health and safety laws and regulations.

 

The board anticipates holding a hearing on the proposed law sometime in June.