Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Planning Board Work Session
April 23, 2012

Members Present: Richard Fon, Chairman, John Flynn, John Savoca, Darlene Rivera,  John Kincart, Ann Kutter, Alternate

Planning Department Staff Present:

John A. Tegeder, Director of Planning, Robyn A. Steinberg, Town Planner, Lorraine DeSisto, Assistant Planner,  Karen Wagner, attorney

1. Cranberry Hill Subdivision
The Planning Board went into special session to approve the site plan of Lot#1.  The Board noticed some discrepancies between the site plan presented for approval and the original plan they had reviewed, i.e. with respect to a dry swale and roof leaders.  The site plan was approved with the condition that the Town Engineer approve the changes made in the drainage plan.

2. Mid Valley Oil Co. (BP Gas Station Yorktown Heights)
The Planning Board saw no planning issues it needed to review.

3. Old St. George's LLC
Jeff Econom, engineer for the project, showed the Planning Board a revised site plan which moved the parking on the east side of the property further from the wetlands.  Sand filters will be installed to treat water flowing from the parking lot into the wetland, the debris will be removed and plantings will be installed.  Conservation Board liaisons, Diane Dreier and Patrick Francois, reported their board approved of the new site plan because it allowed better mitigation of impacts on the wetland.  They suggested the sand filter be extended the entire width of the parking lot and that a bioswale be installed along Route 6.  A bioswale is a swale containing rocks and planted with perennials and grasses.  It would provide additional wetland protection by filtering water running off Route 6 onto the Old St. George property and into the wetland.  It would also offer a pleasing entry-way into the Mohegan Lake business district.  Mr. DeChiaro, the applicant, said this would only be possible if he was able to buy the area along Route 6 from the State.  The Conservation Board representatives strongly urged that all mitigation measures agreed upon by the applicant be specifically detailed in writing on the site plan.


There was a discussion of where the project review will go from here.  The next step is a determination of whether the eastern parking area is parkland or not.  If it is parkland, is parking allowed?  According to Mr. Tegeder, parking is allowed in order to use the park, i.e. visit the wetland in this case.  The area could be licensed to Mr. DeChiaro to use as parking for his business.  If the area is not parkland, then there are the options of a sale to Mr. DeChiaro or a land swap.


If the site is rezoned to a transitional zone, the site plan will be referred to the Planning Board again for comments, but not for site plan approval.  The Town Board does site plan approval in transitional zones.


The Planning Department will prepare a memo to the Town Board indicating that the Planning Board

·         recommends rezoning to transitional zone

·         approves of the revised site plan

·         recommends extension of the sidewalk along Route 6, if possible

·         supports the Conservation Board recommendations concerning wetland mitigation

·         requests to be referred the final plans

4. Fieldhome Expansion
The discussion centered on the future ownership and use of the 32 ac. site that abuts the proposed new independent living units. Mr. Capellini said the Fieldhome preferred to retain ownership of the site and designate it as a conservation easement. 

The Town holds a 20 year lease (which is approaching its end) on a 2.5 ac. soccer field within the 32 acres.  The Planning Board, especially Mr. Fon and Mr. Kincart, emphasized what an important resource this field is for younger age group travelling teams in the Town’s three soccer clubs (AYSO, YAC, YYSC) and hoped the field would continue to be available and could be upgraded.   There was discussion about exactly what is included in “upgrading”, because “improvements” are not allowed under the terms of the current lease.  Mr. Ahearne, Fieldhome CEO, was concerned about the magnitude of upgrades proposed and potential negative impacts of soccer games on Fieldhome residents and neighbors on Glassbury Ct.   According to Mr. Fon, the age group using the field is low-impact usage.  The proposed upgrades include widening the field to regulation size, improving drainage, fencing to protect the field and parking.   This seemed acceptable to Mr. Ahearne, especially parking spaces which would  alleviate the congestion of cars parked on the road.  He was specifically opposed to seating, lighting and bathrooms.  The Planning Board assured him that none of these improvements were under consideration.  Mr. Ahearne also wanted a definition of the hours the field would be in use.  In general, the games will be on weekends between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and practices will be during the week, Spring and Fall, but the Recreation Commission and soccer clubs will be consulted for specifics.

Mr. Flynn asked if the soccer field could be relocated to minimize its impact on the neighbors.  Mr. Riina, project engineer, said it could, but would require much more land disturbance.

Ms. Kutter asked about the status of a forest management plan for the remainder of the conservation easement.  This could be part of the language establishing the easement, according to Ms. Wagner.

Mr. Capellini asked about a model for the language of the conservation easement.  Mr. Tegeder suggested using the Cappelli property on Barger St.   Mr. Capellini will write a draft which the Planning Board will review before sending to the Town Attorney.

5. Fieldstone Manor aka Lake Mohegan Mansion, LLC
The discussion centered on whether this site should be developed using clustering or flexibility standards.  Generally the goal of clustering is to preserve large tracts of open space by clustering the houses on small lots.  A formula is used to determine the number of lots to be allowed.   Flexibility is not necessarily for open space preservation, but rather to use the site creatively in order to preserve its best features.  It does not use a formula to determine lot count. 

The applicant presented a plan for 16 dwellings, consisting of 14 single family residences and 2 units within the existing mansion.  The lots are arranged using flexibility standards, which allows

·         the wetlands, pond, mansion and tower to be preserved,

·         requires only a single entrance from Strawberry Rd,

·         preserves space for an athletic field and

·         takes into account a future Route 6 by-pass through the site. 

The Planning Board preferred this layout to either a conventional plan or a clustered plan.  Ms. Wagner recommended looking at the history of the cluster/flexibility legislation and its application to try to clarify the ambiguity of which technique to use under what circumstances.  Susan Siegel, an observer, pointed out that flexibility standards would allow the applicant an additional lot over clustering, so the Planning Board should be prepared to field that criticism.  However, this can be answered by showing that 16 lots would also be allowed in a conventional design.

Ms. Kutter repeated her concern about the one lot within the wetland buffer, but thought the overall suitability of the layout balanced this concern.  The possibility of a physical barrier protecting the wetlands, such as a stone wall, along all the property lines was discussed.  These stone walls could be incorporated into the architecture of the houses and landscaping and be continuous with the proposed steps leading to the pond.

There will be an informational hearing on May 7, 2012 before the Planning Board refers to plan to the Town Board which must approve the use of the flexibility standards.      

6. Shrub Oak Commons
Mr. Fon recused himself from this discussion.

Mr. Riina, project engineer, presented a revised plan which showed preliminary grading and the elevation of the buildings.  The 4 buildings are staggered and each has a different front elevation, dictated by the grade of the road.  There will be a retaining wall between the wetland buffer and the end building.  A conservation easement is shown, but may change when the wetland is remapped.  The driveways have been narrowed and the island between them enlarged.  The sidewalk will be continued to the entrance of the A&P Shopping Center.

Mr. Flynn suggested a physical barrier between the backyards and the wetlands.  He also suggested the dwellings have two bedrooms and a den, rather than three bedrooms.  This would appeal to the Town Board because the dwellings would target smaller families with less impact on the school district.

The Planning Board viewed favorably the configuration of the buildings and how they will fit into the hamlet concept.  Mr. Flynn suggested the applicant prepare pictures of the buildings’ front elevations to emphasize how attractive they will be.    

7. Twist Yogurt Outdoor Patio, Roma Building

The Board discussed a proposal to build a patio with benches (but not tables) at the south end of the Roma Building, cut into the hillside leading to the back parking lot.  This would accommodate the large amount of pedestrian traffic newly generated by Twist Yogurt and give people a place to sit outside to eat their yogurt.  Currently, people sit on the curbs and stand in clusters, creating a very dangerous situation.  The Board concluded that the proposed patio would be dangerously close to the busy intersection and decided to ask the building owner to come to a meeting to discuss other ideas, including benches or a patio in the back parking lot.  At this time, there is no formal application before the Planning Board.