May 6, 2013
Attending: Richard Fon, John Kincart, John Flynn, John Savoca, Ann Kutter
1. Gione subdivision
Unanimously approved a second 90 day extension while title issues are being worked out.
2. Arrowhead Subdivision
Unanimously granted two separate 90 day extensions; the first to give the town more time to review certain documents and the second to allow the applicant time to come out of bankruptcy and sell the parcel.
3. Sierra Bella
Unanimously granted a second 90 day extension. The DEP has approved the project’s stormwater plan.
Unanimously adopted an amended approval resolution with some minor language modifications.
5.Dubovsky site plan - Public Informational Hearing
As explained by the development team, the project consists of two commercial units with two one bedroom units on a second story, a rear building that will be used as a garage on the first floor and storage on the second, and 10 parking spaces.
Two area property owners spoke out in opposition to the plan citing drainage issues and concern about runoff from the trailway that abuts the rear of the property and the change in the character of the area, arguing that the lot was too small for the proposed level of development. They said that they were okay with the existing commercial/residential building next door that had been approved several years ago but that they didn’t want to add any more development in the R1-80 zone. Acknowledging that they had not measured the site, they raised the issue of the site’s proximity to a nearby stream and felt that there was a conflict for the town’s wetlands officer to make a determination as to the existence of wetlands on the site. The property owners also said the site that the DEP should review the site plan. Mr. Fon advised them that the Health Department had jurisdiction over the location of the private well vis a vis the planned septic system.
Al Capellini, the applicant’s attorney, said he would take the comments under advisement. The hearing was closed.
Self storage facility- Staples Plaza: Public hearing
The development team presented an overview of the proposed project and a representative of Urstadt Biddle, the center’s owner, advised the Board that in response to homeowner complaints, the center has ceased nighttime sweeping and that all cleaning will be done manually and during the daytime. The company is also monitoring deliveries in an effort to eliminate truck idling.
The main concern, on the part of the Board and a resident of the area was the lighting plan; specifically the plan for nine 16’ tall lights along the site’s western perimeter. Even though the fixtures will be shielded and aimed toward the center and away the abutting homes, there was concern that the overall impact of the lights might cast a “glow” that would negatively impact the homes. (Some of the lights will be shut off at 11pm, leaving some on for security reasons.)
In response to this concern, the applicant was asked to provide additional information about the impact of the proposed lighting and also more details on the landscaping plan that will also shield some of the lighting. The landscaping plan calls for 8’-10’ trees to be planted in the same area, and the applicant’s engineer noted that the trees grow one foot a year.
Resident Joe Adrian, citing his background as an appraiser and his familiarity with the history of the site, questioned why the town was allowing a self storage use in a C-1 commercial district, something that, he said, would negatively impact the neighboring homes. He called the recent amendment to the zoning ordinance that allows self storage by special permit “despicable downzoing” and said it “looks like favoritism.” In response, Mr. Fon noted that the current application met all the requirements of the zoning ordinance and that how the special permit provision came about was not a Planning Board issue. He also thanked the development team and Urstadt Biddle for listening to and addressing the concerns of the residents.
The hearing was closed, leaving a 10 day additional period for written comments.
7. Faith Bible Church – Public hearing
The Board conducted a lengthy and often acrimonious hearing on the plan to replace the existing church with a new larger building. At times, Planning Board members had to remind both parties to remain civil and Mr. Fon advised people in the audience (who appeared to be both for and against the plan) that the Board wanted to listen to everyone and that it was interested in the facts. In their presentations, both sides said that they were presenting the “truth.”
The plan, which dates back to 2009, calls for the new church to be built on the existing footprint with a sanctuary seating capacity (on the second floor) of 344 seats and classrooms, a stage area and a kitchen on the first floor.
In general, area residents, including Evan Bray who lives next door to the church, oppose the plan as being too large and out of character with the neighborhood. One resident referring to a petition in opposition to the plan signed by 100% of area residents, pleaded with the Board to “please consider our opinion.” Citing previous Planning Board documents dating back to 1963 and provisions of the zoning ordinance, Mr. Bray stated that the conversion of single family residences for church use was illegal and that the town should not now approve an enlargement of an illegal use.
Much of the back and forth discussion focused on the history of the site and conflicting or unclear interpretations of different sections of the zoning ordinance which, adding to the confusion, have changed over time. These issues involved how to calculate front and side yard setbacks, conflicting sections of the zoning ordinance that governed “houses of worship” and “religious institutions,” whether a house of worship was allowed, as of right, in a residential zone and if so, what set back requirements were applicable. It appeared that the building inspector and/or the ZBA would have to weigh in on the interpretations and that earlier variances might have to be modified based on an updated review of the zoning ordinance. (The church currently has an application before the ZBA regarding a variance for its off site parking plan.) Mr. Bray also expressed concern that if the first and second floor were used simultaneously, the combined usage could exceed 700 people, a figure disputed by the church’s pastor.
In support of the project, the applicant noted that the planned stormwater improvements and change from septic to sewer would be an environmental plus for Lake Mohegan.
In the 1960s, the site was the home of the Lakeland Jewish Center. At some point in time, it ceased being used as a house of worship and a caretaker lived on a house on the property. The Faith Bible Church leased the property beginning in 1994. Over the years, its congregation has grown and according to the church pastor, Sunday attendance averages about 170 adults and children, use that is more intense than the previous, discontinued Jewish Center use.
Mr. Flynn noted that for the Planning Board, the issue wasn’t simply what a percentage of the area residents wanted. The Board’s decisions, he noted, could not be based on community sentiment, but had to follow New York State law.
The public hearing was adjourned.
8. Yorktown Farms subdivision
Based on a site visit by the Planning Department, the applicant modified plans for the placement of the houses on two lots in order to save some trees. During its regular session, the Board okayed the new plan.
During the subsequent work session, the Board reviewed plans for four additional lots, with concerns being expressed over wetland buffer issues and trees. In order to avoid lawns encroaching into the wetland buffer, the Board requested the applicant to erect monuments where appropriate in order to delineate the beginning of the buffer area.
At the request of the applicant, town staff will do a coordinated review of the house placement for the remaining of the 15 lots the developer hopes to proceed with this year.
9. Adrian Auto Body
In a work session format, the Board reviewed the applicant’s request to renew a wetlands and excavation permit that expired in December so that he could complete the unfinished excavation work on the hillside along the eastern border of the property. Although the excavation is part of an approved site plan for an expansion of the existing auto body shop, the applicant said that because of the economy, he had no current plan to proceed with the expansion or complete the remaining requirements of the site plan approval process; he only wanted to complete the excavation work, especially as he had an opportunity to dispose of the remaining 1200 yards of fill at no cost.
While the Board wanted to see the work finished, and Ms. Kutter noted that the neighbors also wanted to see the work finished, Planning Director Tegeder expressed concern about the process and the fact that the applicant has not complied with some conditions of the approval process or taken the required next steps leading up to a signed site plan, such as submitting a stormwater plan and getting DEP approval. Normally, he said, granting the excavation permit should have come after the site plan had been signed.
Given the overriding desire to see the work completed, the Board voted for a one year extension from the date of the December expiration, but with the understanding that the applicant would provide the required details on the seed mix and tree plantings that would be used to stabilize the slope after the excavation work was completed.