Planning Board Work Session
August 24, 2015
Planning Board Members Present: Richard Fon, Chairman , John Flynn, John Savoca, John Kincart, Darlene Rivera
1. Taconic Veterinary Clinic & Canine Kindergarten
Issues raised at a previous meeting have all been addressed. The building has been connected to the natural gas line so the propane tanks will be removed. The site has been connected to the sewer and an inspection made. Noise issues have been addressed by a combination of fencing, landscaping, use of the site’s topography and behavioral management of the dogs in outside pens. The Planning Board has been familiarized with the operation of the facility and is satisfied that dog barking will not be a problem. The applicant has addressed five of the seven landscaping requirements from ABACA. The two remaining ABACA requirements would reduce the number of parking spaces, so the applicant will discuss these with ABACA at its meeting the next day. The gates accessing the rear of the building have been widened to 12 ft, which will allow emergency vehicles to reach all sides of the building, but not drive all the way around. The Planning Board went into a special session in order to declare itself the lead agency for SEQR, make a negative declaration of significant environmental impact and to approve the amended site plan, pending final approval of the landscape plan by ABACA. The Planning Board also approved the special use permit for outside services for five years. The five year permit was requested by the applicant in exchange for completing all the landscaping at this time, rather than phasing it in.
2. Colangelo Subdivision (Jacob Road)
This 53.5 ac. site was last farmed in the 1970s as the Constable Farm. It contains no structures and slopes downward to the southeast toward Hunter Brook. The applicant showed a 6 lot conventional site plan to establish the capacity of the site. The Planning Board was also shown a business plan for the project, titled “Hunter Brook Ranch”.
The proposal is for a mixture of open space, agricultural land and residences. A private, common, cul-de-sac driveway is proposed off Jacob Rd. Two silos, housing electric car recharging stations, are envisioned as an entry statement at this point. Four single family residences on 1+ ac. lots are proposed for the left side of the driveway. Each lot will also have an accessory structure with the possibility for “generational housing” in the future. A farm stand, specializing in local produce, will be located along Jacob Rd with its own entrance off Jacob. A hiking trail will run behind the residential lots from the farm stand to Hunter Brook and connecting with the Westchester Trail System. There is a small, seasonal (according to the applicant) wetland on the right side of the common driveway, proposed as an “educational platform”. A large farmhouse will be sited at the end of the cul-de-sac. The applicant sees this as his extended family’s compound, but not anyone’s permanent residence. The 5th lot encompasses the rest of the site and will include the large farmhouse, 4 agricultural parcels designated A- B-C- D, a barn, a 30,000ft solar array, a dog park at the property’s south end and open space on the east side where it slopes to Hunter Brook. Grazing beef cattle is the proposed farm use, but this is not definite.
The project will require site plan approval from the Planning Board, Town Board approval for clustering and ZBA approval for the agricultural use. The land currently is taxed as agricultural, although it is not in an agricultural district. The intent is to include it in an agricultural district.
The applicant John Coangelo said the project will emphasize sustainability and energy conservation in design, material and methods of construction. He also recognized that his concept was not typical of proposals coming before the Planning Board, so expected a lot of questions.
Mr. Kincart pointed out issues of a neighborhood association to manage the common areas of the site if the houses are sold to private owners, which could get very complicated given the diversity of land uses. Mr. Coangelo said he would prefer to retain ownership and rent out the houses.
Mr. Savoca asked about parking. There should be enough parking for the farm stand, the hiking trail and the dog park at the farm stand on Jacob Rd. If not, an agreement might be reached with the nursing home across Jacob to accommodate any overflow.
The Planning Board pointed out that 30,000ft is a very large solar array, and it was not drawn to scale on the plans. The array’s design is still preliminary.
Mr. Flynn asked about the degree of clearing necessary for the farm use and how this would affect run-off. Stormwater analyses haven’t been done yet, and the Agriculture Council would be consulted. Mr. Coangelo pointed out that the area had been farmed until about 35 years ago so the site has 25+ year old trees.
The business plan showed proposed houses of an older, farmhouse style architecture, which pleased the Planning Board as consistent with the Town’s motto of “Progress with Preservation”.
The Planning Board was generally positive toward both the project and its presentation.
3. Marathon Development Group
Adequate parking is a big issue. The applicant analyzed the number of parking spaces with respect to the number of units and the number of bedrooms at nearby Underhill Apartments. In both cases, the result was far fewer than the number of parking spaces required for this project, a mixture of commercial and residential. The project is short 11 parking spaces, but only short 2 if the Planning Board uses its discretion to reduce the required number. Mr. Capellini, lawyer for the project, urged the Planning Board to be even more flexible in its parking requirements, pointing out that the proposed use is a hybrid and therefore it’s more correct to consider a weighted combination of parking requirements, not to rigidly sum the parking needs of both commercial and residential. He also said that the Town codes doesn’t have a provision for this type of hybrid use, but Mr. Kincart compared it to Yorktown Commons and asked what parking formula was used there. The Planning Board decided to refer the parking requirements to the Planning Department staff.
The Planning Board saw an area map, showing surrounding buildings and their relative heights, and Mr Fon noted that the proposed 3 story building “doesn’t tower too much” over its neighbors. The project does not need a variance for the height of the building. The building will be 384 ft from the nearest bus stop.
Mr. Savoca thought the site was a little small for all being proposed. Mr. Flynn shared his concern, adding that a residential development should have more open space. Mr. Riina, project engineer, pointed out that the area surrounding the site is totally developed and paved, so this project will not be atypical.
The Planning Board asked for a business plan in order to evaluate how the site will be used and differences between day/night parking needs.
4. Ianuzzi Subdivision (Baptist Church Road)
The applicant met with the Building Inspector and altered the design of the site’s long common driveway to met code requirements for emergency vehicle access. These include widening, providing pull out areas, regrading and providing a turn around area. The Building Inspector also asked that the side, rear and front yards of the existing houses be specified to facilitate review if/when homeowners come in for improvement permits in the future.
Mr. Flynn asked about the possibility that the access road might be paved in the future and what would be the run off consequences. Mr. Ianuzzi plans to keep the gravel and also has no plans to sell any of the lots. Just in case the property is sold and the new owners decide to black top the driveway, Mr. Riina, project engineer, will take a look at potential run off.
The project hasn’t been before the Town Board for approval of the flexibility standards. A Public Information Hearing was set for September 21, 2015
5. Triglia & Rezi Subdivision (Christine Road)
The applicant got an as built survey for the already approved house on lot #1 which showed it to be 25 ft closer to Baker Rd than previous thought. So the proposed site of the house on lot #2 was moved to line up. Mr. Fon questioned whether the site plan had been amended or if house #1 was built as approved. Mr. Capellini, lawyer for the project, said the latter, explaining that Baker Rd is not a regulation town road, so there is confusion about from where the setback is measured.
The applicant showed an aerial photograph of the site and the surrounding residences and roads, but Robyn Steinberg pointed out that this information still needed to be included in the site plan drawings.
The discussion centered on run off from the site. The plan proposes vegetation swales on each lot which will slowly release storm water into a ditch running off site along Baker Rd. From there the water travels down hill to a State-owned (according to the applicant) wetland. The Planning Board has little confidence this design is adequate, because the applicant has shown no data, details nor engineering on the stormwater management plan. The Planning Board requires detailed engineering of the plan, and additionally information about maintenance of the culvert and ditch along Baker Rd (since it is not a Town road) and information about the downstream wetland, i.e. its adequacy as a water sink, its ownership and which agency regulates it. Mr. Capellini, lawyer for the project, pointed out that this applicant was being required to show that no water would spill off the site, but no other properties in the area were being held to that standard. Mr. Fon pointed out that the other properties hadn’t come before the Planning Board for review, but this one had. Mr. Fon strongly urged the applicant to make a site visit with the Town Engineer. About 12-15 neighboring homeowners attended the meeting and told the Planning Board about flooding and run off issues in the area. The Planning Board urged them to make their comments at a public hearing for the public record.
6. JCPC Holdings (Front Street)
This proposal is for a building in which high performance cars and engines will be built. A minor problem involves paper road portion of Front St adjacent to the site which is still on Town maps. One side of this paper road is residential and the other commercial. Each zone has different setback requirements which affect the project. The Planning Staff will research the question.
Wetlands on the site are a more significant problem. Project engineer Dan Ciarcia said there is standing water and some wetland plants mixed with upland species, but no wetland soil. He maintained the wetland was created through neglect when Front St was relocated and subsequently the lot was abandoned and drainage structures weren’t maintained. He characterized the wetland as low quality and non-functioning. He asked the Planning Board to try to find “a way forward around the wetland issue”. He pointed out that the Town wetland policy is “no net loss of wetland”, but there is a provision for mitigation off-site if there is no other way to accommodate the proposed use. This would be the case for this project since Front St is the only industrial site in Yorktown and the proposed business a desirable use of the site.
Ms. Steinberg, Town Planner, told the Planning Board that when it was reviewing the site plan of Crown Dental on the adjacent property, it required Crown Dental to move its driveway out of the wetland. So the Planning Board would have to figure out a rationale to contradict its previous evaluation in its “way forward around the wetland issue” with JCPC Holdings. Mr. Flynn added that the site was “really wet”.
From the audience, Councilman Greg Bernard told the Planning Board that the Town Board was considering amending the Town Wetland Law to allow consideration of wetland quality and functioning in wetland permitting, but said it unlikely the changes would be made soon enough to affect this project. However, he suggested forthcoming changes in the law might inform the Planning Board’s decision on this proposal.
The Planning Board directed that the wetland be reflagged and its history and origin be researched.
Mr. Flynn asked about noise and code required distances to residences. The building will be far enough away from the nearest houses. The applicant said his business is moving from City
Island, The Bronx, where it is within 8 ft of a house, but there have never been any noise complaints. Parking was also discussed. There is little need for many parking spaces, because there will be only 3 employees and no regular customer trips. Cars are brought in on flatbed trucks and dropped off. Then the trucks leave, so only adequate turnaround space is needed, not truck parking.