Planning Board Meeting
December 8, 2014
Members Present ::Richard Fon, Chairman, John Flynn, John Savoca, Darlene Rivera, John Kincart
Planning Department Staff Present: John A. Tegeder, Director of Planning, Robyn A. Steinberg, Town Planner, Anna Georgiou, Counsel, McCarthy Fingar LLP, Counselors at Law
1. PEG Realty Corporation
The applicant needs to make a change (steeper) in the grade of the roadway connecting his parking lot with that of the adjacent bowling alley. This is necessary because of an error in the original survey. The drainage remains the same, there will be no change in the number of parking spaces and the area is curbed which will contain cars. The Planning Board approved this change.
During the work session portion of the meeting, there was discussion of the performance bond situation for this project. The Planning Board required a performance bond, the applicant acquired the funds and received his permit to install his building’s foundations while the weather still permitted. However, the Town Board refused his check for the bond. This was the first the applicant knew of this situation. The bond was for stormwater and parking lot work on private property, but which could impact public spaces if done incorrectly. Therefore the Planning Board requires a bond for protection, which is now lacking in this case because the Town Board would not accept the bond. The Planning Board will keep the bonding requirement in its approval resolution, and Mr. Tegeder will draft a letter to the Town Board.
2. Creative Living Development aka Navajo Fields
The extension was requested since there has been no real movement on the application. The Planning Board granted the one year extension, but asked that the Planning Department, Town Environmental Consultant and Building Department make site inspections.
3. Hilltop Associates
Mr. Capellini reported that the applicant “just needs more time”. The extension was approved, but the wording of the resolution was changed to clarify that the project consists of two building lots and one conservation lot, rather than three building lots.
4. Costco Wholesale
The discussion centered on a revised version of the Planning Board’s proposed SEQR Findings Statement. This statement is based on the full environmental impact statement, all the public comments and questions, and the applicant’s responses to these questions. The Planning Board had just received this revision and hadn’t had time to read it thoroughly which limited the scope of the discussion.
Mr. Fon’s opening comments referenced counsel’s assurance that the Planning Board was following the SEQR procedure correctly, the value of public input, the hard work of both the Planning Board and Planning Department and the responsiveness of the applicant.
Bruce Barber, Town Environmental Consultant, is satisfied that the project’s environmental impacts are mitigated to the greatest extent practicable. He summarized comments relating to the site’s environmental resources and the applicant’s responses. Various agencies and individuals commented that Costco:
1. Underestimated the amount of phosphorous deposited from the site into wetland A
2. Overestimated the degree of infiltration water scouring the site’s soil could provide, because the site’s soil actually has a very high infiltration rate.
-- As part of an enhanced stormwater plan, a “jellyfish” system will be installed to remove phosphorous from run-off. There will still be a slight increase in the amount of nitrogen going into wetland A, but this will not have a substantial impact.
3. Based hydrological calculations on outdated rainfall data
--Another feature of the enhanced stormwater plan, a 28000 cu. ft storage vault will in installed to hold rainwater and prevent downstream flooding in heavy rain events
--With regard to points 1-3, the Findings statement includes a requirement for Costco to test water quality leaving the site to ensure the enhanced stormwater system is working. The Planning Board and Engineering Department will receive the test reports and adjustments will be made as necessary.
4. Did not identify a hydrological connection between wetland A and wetland B
--Mr. Barber reported that additional field observations and testing revealed no connection between the two wetlands.
5. Used incorrect methodology to assess the site’s wildlife and its critical habit
--According to Mr. Barber, the applicant correctly followed scoping andTown biodiversity guidelines in assessing wildlife, and did increase the buffer on the site’s vernal pool after finding one box turtle, a species of concern.
Mr. Flynn expressed concern about a letter from the Watershed Inspector General, an interested party, dated 10/31/14, which ends by urging the Planning Board not to issue a Statement of Findings at this time. Through considerable back and forth between Mr. Flynn, Mr. Tegeder, Mr. Barber, Costco’s environmental consultant and the DEP representative, it was established 1.) that this letter pre-dated meetings between the applicant and the DEC and DEP in which these agencies’ concerns were discussed, 2.) that the stormwater system enhancements were actually recommended by the DEP, so the DEP would be in full agreement 3.) that this unusual request by the Watershed Inspector General was actually an artifact of the time constraint’s built into the SEQR process. Nevertheless, Mr. Flynn would feel more comfortable with a paper trail reflecting the Watershed Inspector General’s “blessing” of the Planning Board’s issuing a Statement of Findings. The Planning Board urged the DEP representative to encourage the Watershed Inspector General to provide such a paper trail.
Mr. Flynn was also concerned that additions to the stormwater treatment plan (comments 1-3 above) were significant changes requiring further Planning Board review and public comment. There was considerable discussion on the difference between substantive “changes” in and “enhancements” to the stormwater. Legal Counsel advised that the enhancements did not change the project nor generate a significant negative environmental impact, so did not require reopening the public comment period.
Conservation Board representative Patrick Francois told the Planning Board to expect comment on the Statement of Findings from his board.
The Planning Board, finding itself unable to make substantive comments on the revised Statement of Findings without an opportunity to study it in depth, scheduled a special meeting on December 15, 2014 to take up the subject.
5. DeCicco's Marketplace
Request for Special Use Permit for a proposed new outdoor service area for patron recycling machines.
Although the building’s foyer will be remodeled, a special use permit is required because the recycling machines, covered by a garage door during off-hours, will be outside the building. The Planning Board requires the area be kept tidy and that there be a place to dispose of unaccepted items, so as to avoid the messy conditions often surrounding the recycling machines at the A&P in the TriangleShopping Center. With these conditions, the special use permit will be granted at the next public meeting.
6. Envirogreen Associates (East main Street, Mohegan lake)
The proposal is to remove the existing 5000 sq ft building, housing a Dunkin’ Donut, a pizza place and a nail salon, and replacing it with a 10,000 sq ft building. The site has adequate parking, even if the new building becomes a restaurant, i.e. 107 spaces. The plan includes a vehicle pass-through connecting this property and the one to the west, which would relieve some traffic on route 6. The applicant would like to obtain property to the east (housing a party store and hair salon and which is in foreclosure) so that traffic could enter the back of the combined sites from Lakeland Ave.
The main difficulty is that the site has 7 ac. of wetland, 1/3 -1/2 ac. of which would be filled for the proposed pass-through road. Even without the connecting road, the entire proposed building and most of the parking is in the wetland buffer. The applicant has experience in new wetland creation as mitigation and is willing to do this. He’s also okay with eliminating the connecting road, if that’s the Planning Board’s preference. It was generally understood that a site with such environmental restrictions would never be before the Planning Board, except that it’s in the heavily developed Mohegan/route 6 corridor.
There was discussion between Mr. Barber, Mr. Tegeder and project engineer Mr. Rina about when the wetland should be delineated, considering weather restrictions, the already extremely disturbed character of the wetland and the very preliminary nature of the proposal before the Planning Board. Mr. Rina and Mr. Barber favored doing the delineation now. Mr. Tegeder favored holding off until the Planning Board had something more definite to consider. The Planning Board decided on the latter timing. Applicant’s Counsel Mr. Capellini will research the history of the Town’s approach to route 6 corridor wetlands as it relates to theTown’s condemnation of the Ardizone wetlands on the south side of route 6 in the 1990s.
7. Crompond Terraces
This project has been referred to the Planning Board by the Town Board for its comments on the proposed rezoning. Ann Kutter and Dan Ciarcia summarized the modifications made in the plans, i.e. 80 vs 96 units, a buffer along the Bear Mountain Parkway, energy efficient dwelling design, transplanting or replacing trees, retention of a stone wall, inclusion of a pocket park. A letter to the Planning Board from attorney Gary Ajello concerning a dispute over property ownership was introduced. There was discussion about which part of the property was under control of the applicant and how and when that might change. Mr. Tegeder said the Town Board wants to look at the rezoning in a “holistic” way to achieve a cohesive plan for the area connecting Crompond Crossing and Costco. He suggested the applicant conceptualize a rezoning plan, both with and without the properties in dispute.
Mr. Flynn questioned the desirability of the commercial strip. Ms. Kutter pointed out that the proposed commercial buildings were not situated in a strip mall, and she referenced the master plan which calls for hamlets of mixed uses.
Mr. Kincart advised the applicant to be sure of the economic feasibility and demand for both the commercial and residential uses proposed.
The Planning Board decided it needed more information about the other properties in the area in order to get an overview of the impacts of rezoning. The Planning Department and Mr. Barber will synthesize the issues discussed so the Planning Board can develop its comments on rezoning.
8. Lake Osceola Square
The applicant described a change in the location of the site’s entrance driveway and sidewalk to slightly further east in order to take advantage of the view of LakeOsceola as entering. This necessitated a change in the landscape plan. Trees originally proposed along old route 6 will be replaced by shrubs. Twelve foot spruce trees have been added to screen the west edge of the site. In all, the landscaping includes planting 76 trees, about 800 shrubs and an equal number wetland plants. There will be very little grass on the site.
Mr. Flynn asked about creating a lane for the bus that stops near the site which would serve as a turning lane for entering traffic. Project engineer Mr. Rina will look into the feasibility.
The applicant said he had the impression the Town Recreation Commission did not want the beach as a town park. The applicant says he would encourage people to come to the beach, but not to use the water, for insurance reasons, unless the Town takes over and operates the beach. The Planning Board will recommend to the Town Board that it accept deeding of the beach to the Town.
Water quality of LakeOsceola was discussed. Most likely water quality will improve with this proposed use, since the current use is a significant pollution source.
None of the adjoining residential property owners followed up with any interest in sewers, so the applicant will have to use the alternate sewer route.
DEC stormwater concerns were discussed. The property’s stream is a Class C stream so is not protected. The lake is Class B but no activity impacting the lake is proposed so a permit is not required.
Mr. Capellini will check out affordable housing possibilities for the residential units above the commercial space.
There will be a public hearing on January 12, 2015.