January 13, 2015
1. Sober House
I presented the board with a completely new resolution to approve the Compass Westchester special permit application. I explained that while my initial thinking was to deny the application, my position changed once I contacted the Department of Health and it became clear that the department stood by its earlier decision to approve the septic system for a convalescent home. Once the septic issue was settled, I concluded there were no defensible grounds for denying the application. I then proceeded to draft a completely new approval resolution, with conditions, as I was not satisfied with the supervisor’s draft.
At the meeting, the board reviewed my draft and made some minor changes to some of the conditions. A revised draft will be voted on at the January 20 meeting.
As a separate but related discussion, I suggested that the board consider a six month moratorium while it amended the zoning code to address the problems in the code that came to light as a result of the Compass Westchester application. The supervisor appeared not to be interested in a moratorium but did say he would consider changes to the zoning ordinance that would change the definition of a family and also add a new special permit section to the zoning code with standards and requirements. He remained skeptical, though, that this could be done given the protected class status of recovering addicts.
2. Crompond Terraces rezoning
The applicant presented a revised “concept” plan that included additional potential residential and commercial units on two properties it does not currently control, as well as a conceptual layout prepared by the Planning Department that showed how the project would relate to a potential commercial development in front of Crompond Terraces between Old Crompond Road and Route 202.
The discussion centered primarily on the different level of detail needed for a rezoning application as compared to an actual site plan, especially as the applicant can’t currently prepare a site plan because it doesn’t control two parcels and a third parcel in the center of its concept plan is currently in litigation. The applicant’s desire appeared to be to have the town board consider the rezoning as a general planning matter and separate it from any future site plan.
It was stated that before the applicant proceeds to spend any more on more detailed plans, it needs a sense from the board that it generally favors the concept of the mixed use development. This support was apparent from the three members, but I did suggest that no decision be made on any rezoning until after there were five members on the board. This did not appear to be a problem for the applicant.
Since rezonings are optional, and often give the town the opportunity to ask the applicant for something in return for agreeing with rezoning, I asked the applicant to work with the Planning Department to consider other possible “contributions” to the town besides a senior center. Other options included a community center or some town offices. When the issue of the viability of the commercial spaces was raised (as it was raised at the Planning Board), it was suggested that a municipal use on the site would help bring people to the location.
I indicated that I had no problem with the change from senior housing to non-age restricted multi family housing that had been suggested by Supervisor Grace. (Both zonings have the same density provision.) The applicant will present some fiscal impact data on children at the January 20 hearing, assuming that the units are either sold as condos or fee simple. (The assessment differs.)
When Supervisor Grace raised the issue of the town’s affordable housing law which would require the developer to set aside a certain number of units as affordable, he called the law unconstitutional and said that if the town wanted to provide affordable housing, it should do so by using a density bonus. I advised him that I would continue to support the existing affordable housing law.
(See Costco discussion below regarding sewering.)
3. Courtesy of the Floor
I suggested the following guidelines , basically reverting back to what they had been prior to January, 2012:
· 3 minute time limit
· No back-and-forth dialogue between the speaker and the board
· A second courtesy at the end of the meeting
While acknowledging that it was important for the board to get down to its business, Supervisor Grace rejected all three suggestions saying he welcomed the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with residents. He felt the second courtesy was not needed because the only person who typically stayed until the end of the meeting was Ed Ciffone and he took issue with the tone and substance of Mr. Ciffone’s comments, as well as the comments of other speakers that were critical of him.
Taking issue with other attacks on him during the previous meeting, Supervisor Grace suggested, perhaps tongue in check, that one way to “solve” the courtesy program was to switch it to non-televised work sessions.
I said I would revisit the courtesy guidelines once there was a full board.
Although on the agenda, the discussion about taping work sessions was postponed for a future meeting.
4. Costco/Crompond Terraces sewer district (Hunterbrook Sewer District)
Two petitions are needed: one to the NYS Comptroller’s office to create the sewer district (with all the construction costs being paid for by Costco) and a second to Westchester County to allow the district to connect to the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District. Costco’s attorney asked the board to process both petitions simultaneously.
Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson explained that the submission to the county had to include the projected assessed value of the new units (residential and commercial) to be included in the district so that the county could calculate the 10 year buy-in that the property owners would have to pay. Referring to a previous application, she said that in the past the county rejected a petition from a property based on a rezoning plan; the county wanted a more specific site plan. This led to additional discussion about the Crompond Terraces rezoning application (see above) that is in the preliminary stages without a fixed number of units. The board will likely have a resolution on this at the January 20 meeting.
5. Rezoning for 1805 East Main Street (Mohegan Lake)
This involves two small parcels: one at the northeast corner of East Main Street and Lakeland Street and the second on East Main Street, abutting Village Traditions which is at the opposite corner of East Main and Lakeland St. The three properties had been rezoned from C-3 to O (Office use) as part of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan but the Village Tradition site was later rezoned back to C-3. When the owner of the first parcel wanted to switch the zoning back to C-3, the supervisor decided that for consistency the second parcel should also revert back to C-3. Since the town is initiating the latter rezoning request, the rezoning application is being considered a “town” request and the Planning Department completed the required Environmental Assessment Form (EAF.) The information will be referred out based on an earlier board resolution.
6. Jefferson Valley Street Lights
The board agreed to transfer approximately $11,000 from fund balance to replace a downed street light on East Main Street in Jefferson Valley and to install two lights on Strawberry Road in the vicinity of Freedom Gardens on existing Con Ed poles.
The East Main Street lamp will cost $9620 to replace because it is a decorative lamp that was installed as part of the Jefferson Valley Streetscape program. The light was damaged during a hurricane when a tree fell on it.
When Supervisor Grace suggested that the developer of the pending Lake Osceola Square project be asked to pay for the light, I suggested that the actual development could be years away and that in the meantime there was a safety issue that needed to be addressed. I suggested with an estimated $5 million in the fund balance, the town could afford to spend $11,000 for public safety.
A resolution authorizing the budget transfer will be voted on at the January 20 meeting.
7. 2015 Goals
The discussion on postponed for a future meeting.