Town Board Meeting
January 19, 2016
Closed Executive Session
(Subject matter not shown on agenda)
1. Opening on volunteer boards
Supervisor Grace announced openings on the following volunteer advisory boards: Assessment Board of Review;
Cablevision; Housing; Conservation; Planning.
Interested residents should send their resumes to the supervisor’s assistant, Mary Capoccia, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Volunteer Board appointments
The board reappointed the following residents:
David McConnell to ABACA
Diane Dreier and William LaScala to Conservation Board
Al Avitabile to Parks and Recreation Commission
Robert Fahey to Zoning Board
William Gregory as alternate member to Zoning Board
3. Competition Carting/changes in pickup routes
(See Town Board, January 12, 2016.) Mr. Amico explained that with the exception of the Kitchawan area which will continue to be picked up Monday and Thursday, residences east of the Taconic would be picked up Monday/Thursday and west of the Taconic Tuesday/Friday. Three neighborhoods that will be changed include Strawberry Road, Barberry and St. Patrick’s. There will also be some tweaking of the recycling pickup schedule.
The changes will start April 4th. Only residents whose pickups days will be changed will receive postcards and door hangers.
Mr. Amico said that the Village of Pelham, also served by Competition Carting’s new natural gas powered trucks, has received a state grant for the shift to natural gas. He suggested that Yorktown might also be eligible for a similar grant.
4. Crompond Terraces: Public hearing on amendment to zoning map
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked the board to postpone a vote to amend the zoning map until it also voted on a new rezoning resolution that replaced the one voted on December 22. She explained that when the board voted on December 22, members did not know exacting how the parcels were being rezoned because the approving resolution did not include the exhibit with the map showing the zoning line between the commercial and multi family zones. She added that when she received a copy of the map the following week, the zoning line differed from what the board had received in November in the EAF; while the line in the EAF map was a relatively straight line with aq single dip at the western end, the line on the final map had several indents. Ann Cutignola, on behalf of the applicant, explained that the map in the EAF was a long outdated map and that a newer version showed the same zoning lines as the final map.
Supervisor Grace explained that the plan never called for a straight line separating the two zones and that the “newer” map more accurately reflected the proposed parking and stormwater measures shown on the concept plan. He said the difference of 0.2 acres in the proportions of land zoned commercial and multi family was minor and resulted in the actual survey of the parcels. He also added that the zoning resolution left the zoning line flexible so that there could be minor changes in the future based on site plan considerations.
Later in the meeting, Councilman Bernard took exception to Ms. Siegel’s earlier comment that because there was no map included in the December 22 resolution, some board members didn’t know what they were voting for when they voted for the resolution on December 22.
The board closed the hearing and voted 5-0 to amend the zoning map.
5. Mobil Gas Station special permit: Public hearing
(See Planning Board 12/7/2015.) Architect Michael Piccirilli explained the proposed changes which he said would be an improvement to the overall site. The applicant will be meeting with the DEP on January 27; the sewer easement issue at the rear of the property has been satisfactorily addressed with the town engineer; and he is working through other issues of concern to the Planning Board.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked how the Town Board, as the approval authority for the special permit, would proceed pending the applicant returning to the Planning Board for additional review.
The board voted unanimously to close the public hearing to public comment but left it open for further comments from the Planning Board and DEP. Supervisor Grace explained that the Town Board will work out final details of the permit in a work session.
6. Shrub Oak Community Association: Public hearing on wetlands general permit
Environmental consultant Bruce Barber explained that the three year permit would allow the association to use approved chemicals to kill the blue algae and vegetation in the pond in order to improve boating and swimming conditions. The association already has approval from DEC .
The board closed the hearing and voted unanimously to issue the general permit.
7. Spectra license agreement
Without any explanation or discussion, the board voted unanimously to amend the license agreement signed in 2015 allowing Spectra temporary access to workspace in Granite Knolls and Sylvan Glen parks. The amendment removes from the Agreement the requirement that Spectra contruct a 2,000’ gravel driveway in the workspace for access to a future park at Granite Knolls. In consideration for eliminating the driveway, Spectra will pay the town $62,500.
The resolution also directed the town attorney to discontinue the Article 78 lawsuit that challenged the Agreement.
In response to a question during Courtesy of the Floor from Stewart Glass who wanted to know why the Agreement was being amended, Supervisor Grace explained that the access road contemplated in the Agreement might no longer serve a purpose because when the Phoenix House property is sold, and will likely be repurposed, the town will have an opportunity to work with the new owner to create a new access to the town land, and that the new access could open up the property for development as a park.
The supervisor added that the Agreement was also amended in an effort to end the litigation.
8. Courtesy of the Floor
(See Town Board, January 5, 2016)
Before opening up Courtesy to speakers, Supervisor Grace said that since the decision to move to a single Courtesy at the end of the meeting, he has received many comments. Adding that the board “cherished” both praise and criticism from the public, he said the reason for making the change was to restore decorum to board meetings. He added that whatever change the board made, it would not satisfy everyone.
He then went on to set down some rules for the conduct of Courtesy of the Floor:
Residents would have to identify themselves; speak for 3 minutes, address the board, not the audience, limit their comments to the business of the town; refrain from making personal attacks, including disparaging comments; and not ask the board members how they planned to vote on specific issues.
The supervisor added that if a person couldn’t stay until the end of the meeting to address the board, they could write down their concern and give it to the town clerk or a board member prior to the start of the meeting. If the board felt that the subject was suitable for an open discussion by the board, it would add the item to that night’s agenda.
The supervisor noted that contrary to what had been written in emails about Courtes starting late at night, tonight’s Courtesy started at 8:30pm. And, at the close of Courtesy, he noted that Courtesy had lasted for a little over an hour, proving his point, he said, that the board was not shutting off public comment.
At the end of the meeting Councilman Diana read a statement regarding what he had learned about Courtesy while attending a recent Association of Towns school for Town Board members. At the sessions he learned that other towns also have had issues with Courtesy and that there was no one way to schedule it. He said he supported having Courtesy at the end of the meeting.
Also at the end of the meeting, Councilman Lachterman said he had an issue with what he considered “derogatory” remarks and the “man behind the curtain” implications of some speakers. He said both types of comments were insulting and upsetting the conduct of the town’s business.
Also at the end of the meeting, Councilman Patel said that respect had to be earned by both sides. And he repeated comments he has made at earlier meetings, that as a board member, he needed to have information about items on the board’s meeting agenda at least 24 hours before the meeting.
When Paul Moskowitz, the first speaker, suggested that the board have two Courtesy sessions and that the first be limited to friends and supporters of the board who would say “nice” things about board members, Tom Pomposello, Jr shouted out a criticism from the audience which led Supervisor to make a motion to adjourn the meeting, which was supported by the Republican councilmen. However, after some calming down, the meeting, and Courtesy resumed (note: there is a break in the video of the meeting at this point) but not before Councilman Bernard accused Mr. Moskowitz of making “snide remarks” and not following the parameters that had been set down earlier in the meeting. (In comments at the end of the meeting, Mr. Bernard likened some of the criticism leveled against board members to children liking to argue and deliberately challenging the board.)
After Mr. Moskowitz was allowed to complete his remarks, several additional speakers addressed the Courtesy change, all objecting to the move to the end of the meeting and offering suggestions on how decorum could be maintained but by not limiting Courtesy. Mr. Pomposello apologized for his outburst, adding that he was tired of residents using Courtesy to “badger” the board. Ed Ciffone noted that the supervisor had violated his own rules when he continually interrupted another speaker who was commenting on a different issue.
Other subjects raised during Courtesy
Lexington Avenue rezoning. Several residents from Clover and Ellis Streets expressed concerns about the proposed rezoning to multi family use for a parcel on Lexington Avenue. They also expressed concern that from the time they learned of the hearing, they only had two weeks to gather their thoughts; they wished they had been given more advance notice.
Supervisor Grace explained that the board would be holding a public hearing on the rezoning on February 2 and at that time the residents would have unlimited time to voice their concerns. He also said that it was likely that the February 2 hearing would be adjourned two or more times.
Quality of life issues. Dan Strauss went through a list of issues that he said the town was doing nothing about, including the Hilltop Hanover Service station, the Roma Building, and dog poop at the DeVito field.
In response, Supervisor Grace said that Councilman Diana had been put in charge of working on the Roma Building issue. He said the issue involved contamination under the building and Route 35, differences of opinion between the property owner and the DEC about how the contamination should be cleaned up and liability issues. Mr. Diana is to meet with the station owner and his lawyer tomorrow.
Regarding the dog issue, the supervisor said that last week’s newspaper article that implied that the town was reconsidering the new signs was wrong; despite what may have been said at the Recreation Commission meeting. He said the Town Board will move forward with the new signs which will follow the town’s existing law that says it is a violation for dogs to urinate or defecate in town parks.
Regarding Hilltop Service Station, the supervisor said the owner will be back before the board “shortly” and that he has already made a good faith effort to remedy the situation by removing the used cars from the site.
Listing addresses on resolutions. Calling attention to the fact that the public hearing notice on the agenda for Crompond Terraces only listed section, block, lot (SBL) numbers, Stewart Glass asked the board to include a street address or the name of the property so that the public would know what property was being discussed.
In response, the supervisor explained that the law only requires that SBL numbers be shown, but he agreed that it would be helpful to add the additional information.
$400,000 grant for Depot Square
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked what grant the supervisor was talking about when he said on his January 6 Grace Notes program that the town had received a $400,000 grant and that the money would be put towards Depot Square.
When the supervisor did not address the comment, Councilman Patel had to ask the supervisor for an answer at least twice before the supervisor answered. He explained that he is currently working with Senator Murphy to obtain $300,000-$400,000 in state money to construct the foundation for the 17,000 SF steel building that the Crompond Terraces developer has agreed to donate to the town. (Note: it was not clear if the building was just for the Highway Department or also the Parks Department, although the supervisor said he was committed to reclaiming the Downing Park tennis courts.) Mr.Bernard expressed his support for continuing with the Depot Square project.
Special Board closed executive session meetings: Jan 8 and Feb 3, 11 & 17
(See Town Board, January 12, 2016) Explaining that the Open Meetings Law requires that board discussions about staffing issues be conducted in the open, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, repeated a request she made in writing for the board to open these four meetings to the public. There was no response from the board.
9. Comments by Councilman Bernard
At the end of the meeting, and in response to an earlier Courtesy comment that it was Mr. Bernard’s comments at a previous board meeting that were confrontational and harsh, Mr. Bernard apologized for his earlier remarks which he said were directed at people who were accusing board members of ”nefarious” activities and didn’t know that the campaign had ended.
10. Selected other resolutions
- Approved a $51,320 reduction in the 2015 assessed value for the office building on Strang Blvd.
- Authorized the payment of $11,404 to former Town Attorney Koster to cover 2016 vacation, personal days and a floating holiday. (She resigned effective January 12.
- Extended the services of Cary Vigilante who programs Channel 20/33 at an increased salary of $550/month from $500. The vote was 4-1 with Councilman Patel voting no. He said that the work could be done at home using appropriate software or by a volunteer.
- Extended several highway department contracts for an additional year, but, without any explanation, did not extend the contract for road paving.
11. Miscellaneous: Activity along the North County Trail near the firehouse
In response to questions he has been asked about the work being done along the trail, Councilman Patel explained that the project is and MS4 stormwater project that is being carried out by the East of Hudson Coalition.