Town Board Work Session
January 10, 2012
Note: The following items on the Final Agenda were discussed in a closed session prior to convening the open session.
a. Outside legal services
b. Filing vacant position in the building department
c. Auditors for the Town
d. Fonte/Rosato; water runoff issue at Wood Place
e. Yorktown Farms Building Permit
f. Central Garage – Interim Department Head
1. Senior Center Change Orders
Planning Director John Tegder walked the board through a series of seven change orders to the initial contract for the renovation of the senior nutrition center and related spaces. For the most part, the changes were due to unforeseen events such as the need to relocate steam piping, the instalaltion of three additional doors, some masonry demolition, the installation of a new electrical line and the installation of a partition in the space for the Nutrition Office. Mr. Tegeder recommended that at the January 17th meting, the board approve the first four of the seven changes totaling $17,580.36. The remaining three changes will be forwarded to the board for its review at a future work session.
A total of $531,208 is available for the project, $300,000 in town funds that are the residual from a 2009 federal grant and $231,208 from the CDBG program. The contracted amount is $474,849, leaving $56,359 for potential contingencies.
Councilman Paganelli asked if there would be enough money to complete the project and Mr. Tegeder seemed confident that there would be sufficient money as most of the gutting type work that accounts for change orders is completed and the remaining work is mostly finishing.
2. Winery at St. George’s: request for temporary certificate of occupancy.
While no action on the request was required by the Town Board as the town code permits the building inspector to issue a temporary CO for up to 90 days, Supervisor Grace said that he wanted to advise the board of what was happening. He said the current system “front loaded” the expenses of getting a business up and running and that this could bankrupt the business before it was able to open and collect revenue. This could kill a project before it starts, he said. He told the board that it was his intention to have legislation drafted that would permit two 90-day extensions of temporary COs.
Mr. Grace asked Chris Sciarra, project manager for the Winery, if the Winery had done all it needed for final approval. Mr. Sciarra replied, “We’re working on it.”
Councilman Bianco expressed concern about trees having been cut on the site and Mr. Sciarra said that the cutting conformed to the wetlands permit. Mr. Grace added, “It’s all been resolved. There was a lack of communication.” Mr. Bianco added that he did not want to see a repeat of the temporary CO issued to BJs years ago. It suggested that Mr. Grace look at the law.
Councilman Paganelli expressed concern that the unfinished items not constitute a safety issue. If it’s a bush that’s missing, he said, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to open.
The board referred the issue to the Building Inspector and Planning Department for review.
Mr. DeChiaro indicated that he would be submitting an appliction to rezone the Winery parcel.
3. New Chalet: Sale of O’Dair unit
Four members of the Community Housing Board addressed the Town Board to discuss the potential sale of the affordable housing unit (a condo) to the owners of New Chalet, a 205 unit rental development.
New Chalet has agreed to give the town $200,000 for waiving its right of first refusal on the sale of the unit, and an additional $300,000 to the current owner, Paul O’Dair to sell the unit to New Chalet. Both offers would facilitate the sale by New Chalet to a new owner.
Mr. O’Dair paid $103,000 for the unit in 1991 and the town’s Housing Trust Fund contributed an additional $37,000 towards the sale.
As explained by the Housing Board, under the terms of the agreement Mr. O’Dair signed, it was up to the Housing Board to set the resale price of the unit. According to their calculations, which were based on the CPI, that should have been $179,881. They did not want to see Mr. O’Dair make a windfall on the sale, especially as they said he had been illegally renting the unit for several years. They said that when Mr. O’Dair first approached the Housing Board about the resale, he was prepared to give the town back the $37,000, although they agreed with Supervisor Grace that under the terms of the agreement he was not required to give back that sum. Ken Belfer, chairman of the Housing Board reminded Mr. Grace that the town was also under no obligation to release the unit from the affordable housing program.
Supervisor Grace said that the initial legislation that set up the affordable program, which he had drafted, was the problem. Calling the law a “morass,” he said he raised issues about the law back them. “The ordinance doesn’t work,” he said and the town has no legal remedy. We should not be punitive. He said the town had no recourse for recovering the $37,000.
John O’Dair, the father of the owner, speaking on his son’s behalf, said that the offer to return $37,000 to the town was made before his son know about the $300,000 offer from New Chalet, a point that was challenged by Mr. Belfer. He said the offer was no longer on the table.
Saying that “It’s water under the bridge,” Mr. Grace advised the board to forget about the problems that the town can’t do anything about and basically accept the $200,000 from New Chalet.
The board voted 5-0 to accept the $200,000 New Chalet and that the money will go to the Housing Trust Fund.
In response to Mr. Grace’s comments about problems with affordable housing laws in general, Mr. Belfer said that many of these types of laws are working and that the Housing Board planned to return to the Town Board for a discussion of changes to the current law. In response, Mr. Grace said, “You’ll have a battle with me.”
4. Personnel: Filling vacant library position
Library Director Patricia Barresi asked the board for permission to canvas the civil service to fill a senior clerk position to replace a retiring senior clerk. She said the money for the position was in the 2012 budget. She didn’t want to call for the list without being certain that the board would make the appointment.
Councilman Bianco wanted to know what would happen if the position was not filled. “Would you have to close the library one day,” he asked. In response, Ms. Barresi said that that wouldn’t happen as the position is an administrative one but also a key position.
The board gave Ms. Barresi the okay to fill the position.
5. Girl Scout Project: Street banner
Supervisor Grace explained that there was a request from a girl scout to erect a street banner in the town’s right of way and that there was an insurance issue. Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo spoke up and said that there shouldn’t be an insurance problem as Relay for Life always has a banner.
After Councilman Bianco suggested that the supervisor get more information, the mother of the girl scout, who was in the audience, approached the board an explained the nature of the project: a 30’ x 240’ banner that would be erected for one month as part of her daughter’s Gold Award project.
Mr.DiBartolo told the board that the Highway Department would put up the banner on Commerce Street by the gazebo during February.
The board passed a resolution unanimously approving the request.
6. Eagle Scout Project: Smoke alarms at Senior Citizens
When the agenda item was brought up, Supervisor Grace had no information about the project and no one in the audience stood up to speak about it. Eventually, Mary Capoccia, the Supervisor’s assistant came forward and explained to the board that according to some paperwork that had been provided by Mary DeSilva, the scout wanted to install smoke detectors in the homes of senior citizens. The board unanimously passed a resolution approving the project.
7. Senator Ball: Women of Distinction Ceremony
Supervisor Grace announced that Senator Ball was seeking nominations for a Women of Distinction Ceremony to take place on March 20, 2012. In response to the announcement, several people form the audience called out suggested names.
8. Underhill Avenue speed limit
Explaining that the 30mph speed limit on Underhill Ave. was one of his “pet peeves,” Supervisor Grace said that he had had discussions with Councilman Paganelli, the Police Chief and Larry Eidelman, the public safety officer, about raising the limit to 40mph. He explained that the speed had been 40mp in the past but was reduced to 30mph when it became a town road. Mr. Paganelli summarized a report from the Police Department indicting that the average speed on the road was 48mph. Raising the speed to 40mph, he said, would not be precedent setting, and the police had no problem with the change.
A local law will be drafted raising the speed limit from Route 118 to the westbound southern entrance to the Taconic. The 30mph limit for the remainder of Underhill Ave. would remain unchanged.
Supervisor Grace explained that he hadn’t had the law drafted in advance of the meeting as he wanted to know if the board was in favor of the idea. He said he didn’t want to do something for naught.
9. Cable Committee
Supervisor Grace announced two vacancies on the Cable Committee
10. Building Permit Renewal Fees
Citing an example of a $16,000 fee to renew a building permit, Supervisor Grace called the practice “exorbitant” and “crazy,” Supervisor Grace said that changes needed to be made to the Town Code. He said that if the fees were too high people will build without a permit and there will be no incentive to renew a permit, and without a permit the town would not know about the additional construction and increase the property’s assessment. He suggested that the renewal fee should be nominal.
Councilman Murphy briefly cited an instance where a property owner couldn’t get work inspected because the building permit hadn’t been renewed and Councilman Bianco said the it should be the property owner’s responsibility to know that the permit had to be renewed. He also said that something should be done to speed up the process of issuing building permits. Councilman Paganelli said the town should be sensitive to people’s needs and not be punitive and said that the board needed to have a discussion with the building inspector.
(Editor’s note: building permits are good for one year. The renewal fee is 25% of the initial permit fee.)
11. FOIL (Freedom of Information Requests)
The board unanimously passed a resolution to make the Town Clerk the FOIL officer, replacing the Supervisor. Supervisor Grace said it was inappropriate to have the Supervisor’s office respond to FOIL requests, adding that the CEO should not get involved in this type of issue. He also stated that most of the records were in the Clerk’s office.
Town Attorney Koster asked if the board wanted to change the appeals process currently set out in a 1977 resolution. Appeals of FOIL denials are currently reviewed by a committee consisting a member of the Town Board, the Town Attorney and the Town Clerk. Ms. Koster pointed out that it would the Clerk who would be denying the initial request. Mr. Grace said to leave the existing appeals process alone as the appeals process was “simple.”
When asked if the Clerk’s office would have a problem handling FOIL requests, Deputy Town Clerk Quast said that the office could handle it.
12. Underhill Apartments
In an item not on the agenda, the board unanimously approved a resolution granting a 33 year revocable lease to the company purchasing the Underhill Apartments that permits the apartment complex to encroach on town parkland. Without any explanation, Supervisor Grace said that the town “will straighten it out.”
13. Advertise for printing bid
The board unanimously approved a resolution to advertise for a printing bid. (Note: There was no discussion as to what was included in the bid.)
14. Award bid for 2012 Parks Brochure
The board unanimously approved a resolution to award a bid for the 2012 Parks brochure. . (Note: There was no discussion of the amount of the award or how many vendors submitted bids.)
15. Holland Sporting Club
Listed on the agenda as “Award bid for demolition at Holland Sporting Club,” Supervisor Grace said he wasn’t prepared to move forward on the recommendation of the Building Inspector to award bids for the asbestos abatement of the building and also the demolition. He said that while the town needed to hire an outside company for the abatement, he wanted to look at doing the demolition in house.
The low bids were $68,000 for the abatement and $77,000 for the demolition.
Councilman Paganelli asked if the demolition work could be done in house and Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said, “Yes.” He said the town would only have to rent out dumpsters and that he would get prices and report back to the supervisor. He estimated that the job could be done in 4 days and that he would use wood chips to “dress” the site after the buildings were taken down. He reminded the board that he took down the former Sparkle Lake building in 1½ days.
Councilman Patel expressed concern about environmental issues for nearby Mohegan Lake but Mr. DiBartolo said that the Sparkle Lake project was also by a lake.
15. Reappointment of Patricia Caporale to Parks & Recreation Commission
The board delayed voting approval for this reappointment until the January 17th meeting when Ms. Caporale could be present.