Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Town Board Work Session

January 26, 2016


Closed Executive Session

“to discuss contract negotiations and conduct interviews for Volunteer Boards”


Open Session

1. Water Rates

Citing the fact that the town’s water rate of $5.00/1,000 gallons  hasn’t been changed since 2006, and that it’s “significantly” lower than rates in other towns, Supervisor  Grace is proposing to raise the rate by $1.25 to $6.25/1,000 gallons.  The town attorney was directed to draw up the appropriate local law so that the board can set up a public hearing.  The supervisor said it was his “mistake” that the rates should have been increased incrementally over the past several years but weren’t..


In response to a comment by Councilman Patel that not all water consumed goes into the sewer system, e.g., filling a pool or watering a lawn, Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue of whether the increase would also be passed on to taxpayers who also pay a separate “sewer”  charge based on their water consumption. 


As part of the discussion, the board was advised that one of the storage tanks at the Joint Water Works will have to be replaced. Because the Joint Water Works cannot bond to pay for the project, Supervisor Grace said the project will have to be paid for either by each participating municipality paying its pro rated share of the expense, or passing along the expense as a charge on the water bills .


When Councilman Patel raised the issue of the administrative fee that district pays to the General Fund, Supervisor Grace responded that issue has been vetted  before and he defended the 6% fee.


2. Parks & Recreation Department

Truck request: Superintendent Gray asked the board for permission to buy a pick up truck at a cost of $31,653. He said the money for the unplanned purchase could come from the department’s equipment line. (Note:  the 2016 budget has $40,000 in the equipment line.)  The department purchased a new truck in 2015.


Use of organicic pesticide/herbicide: Mr. Gray requested the board act to amend or update (which action wasn’t clear) a 2009 board resolution that banned  the use of chemical pesticides on town properties but which was amended in March, 2010 to permit the application of a product to kill bees in the grassed areas surrounding the pools. Since then, the department has been using an organic process that involves the application of a variety of products to fertilize and control plant diseases. The process has been successful and the department feels it needs an updated resolution to continue the program.


The department also wants permission to use an organic weed killer to remove poison ivy. Mr. Gray pointed out that pulling out the plants by their roots wasn’t sufficient; the plants grow back.


The board will prepare a resolution for adopt at its next meeting


Chamber car show: In response to Supervisor Grace’s question whether the Chamber would have to pay the $500 fee for a permit to hold a car how in June on the DeVito Fields, Mr. Gray said the Chamber had never paid the fee in the past for show and would not be charged this year. 


Joint board meeting: A joint meeting with the Recreation Commission, Town Board and Planning Board will be scheduled. No date has been set yet.


3. Police Generator

(See Town Board  1-12-2016) The board authorized, as an emergency purchase, the purchase of a 40kw diesel generator for the department at a cost of approximately $18,000. The chief will check if the generator is available off state contract.  There will be an additional cost of about $2,000 for electrical work; it was not clear if that cost also included the cost of a new transfer switch. The new generator will be larger than the current 30kw generator to accommodate the additional areas like the court and the Emergency Operations Center.  Also, even though the diesel generator cost more than a propane model, the decision was made to go with diesel because the town already has on site supplies of diesel for its trucks.


The generator will be located in the building but its exhaust will be piped to outside the building.


4. Senior  Nutrition Center

Center director Noreen O’Driscoll asked, and received permission, for the town to enter into a contract with the Food Bank of Westchester, located in Elmsford, to pick up available produce and staples as needed and at no charge.  In the past, the Food Bank delivered produce but it was not always in usable condition and/or the nutrition center had to store the produce. The center has been purchasing some produce at Turcos.  Under the new arrangement, if the Food Bank has what the center needs, a driver will be dispatched to pick up the supplies.


5.  Hilltop Service Station   

Chris Sciarra showed the board photos of what he said was the “look” the owner wanted to achieve as part of his efforts to “beautify” the site.   He said the owner planned to apply for a rezoning to allow the sales of used cars but before he did, he wanted a sense of the board as to exactly what it wanted.  (Based on a passing comment, the applicant may be applying for a new transitional zone for the two parcels that currently comprise the site; one parcel is used residential, the other already is a transitional zone.)


Supervisor Grace repeated his issues:  he is concerned with the aesthetics along the Route 6 greenbelt; he sees  no difference between cars parked for sale and cars packed to be repaired, a point challenged by a resident in the audience who was allowed to speak.  The supervisor suggested he would not be happy seeing a “ditch” along Route 6 and he also wanted to “soften” the site’s  look from Route 6.  Councilman Bernard asked the owner to touch base with the state to see what plantings might be possible along Route 6; otherwise, he said, the invasives will just grow back.


The major aesthetic issue was differences of opinion on whether a canopy should be permitted, and if so, what size and shape. Councilman Diana said he was opposed to one and wanted to keep the “old style” look of the station. He added, however, that he would be open minded if the owner came back with something smaller.


Mr. Sciarra said that the station was one of only two in Yorktown did not have self service and that it was important to help a local business. The owner explained that if the pumps are not protected by a canopy, they will deteriorate.


John Tegeder suggested that one solution to retaining the 1940s look might be to see if the roof line of the building could be extended over the pumps.


There was also a discussion of signs and it was unclear whether the owner was planning on keeping the existing signs or planning new ones.


The applicant will have to prepare a formal site plan (not, as the supervisor said, a drawing on a napkin) when he submits the rezoning application.


6. Lake Osceola Beach

Chris  Sciarra discussed a revised concept for the development of the beach property.  Before the owner proceeds further with formal plans, he was seeking a sense from the board whether it would consider the new concept.


The current idea is to split the property in half with 24-32 rental apartments on one side, with a dock, and a restaurant and some water feature on the other side.  He added that the owner was in discussions with the owner of the boarded up building fronting on East Main Street (Wet Willies) about a possible sale but nothing had been finalized.  (He told the board that the owner of the Wet Willies site has also said that he might want to redevelop his site on his own, as a restaurant. In response, Councilman Bernard said the thought the site was too small for such a use and the town would  not want a new building as close to the street as the existing one.)


Mr. Sciarra also advised the board that the sewer line for the new project would go under the sidewalk as the owners of the abutting residential properties were not interested in having the line go through their backyards.  He said that based on his calculations, it would be cheaper to repair the concrete sidewalk than repave the road.


Calling the parcel a “diamond in the rough,” Mr. Tegeder advised the board that the lakefront property had good potential for the right type of development. He did not think the site was suited for a “high end” restaurant, which was the owner’s original plan, but was more suited to a hamburger style restaurant.  From a planning perspective, he believed the site should be developed as one mixed use project and not split into two parts. He also wanted to make sure that any plan had access to the lake.


Supervisor Grace advised Mr. Sciarra that the owner has to be creative and decide what he wants to do and then come back to the board, adding: “Who gives a damn about the zoning.”  There was a consensus on the board  that the members wanted to see the site developed, and wanted to work with the owner, but that the ball was in his court to come to the board with a firm plan. It was suggested that the negotiations with the owner of Wet Willies be concluded before developing a plan


7. EZ Pass

In an item not on the agenda, Deputy Town Clerk Maura Weissleder advised the board that the town had been approached by the Thruway Authority about the town selling EZ Passes for them. After checking with other towns, she found no down side to doing this. The town would buy a package of 45 passes for $525 and then sell them at $25 apiece, keeping $4 for the town.  Unsold passes could be returned for a refund. Other than selling them, the town would have no other responsibility; all questions would be directed to the Thruway Authority.  In a unanimous vote, the board voted to authorize the supervisor to enter into  the agreement.


8. Public hearings scheduled

The board voted to advertise public hearings for February 19 on the following:

-- No standing and No parking local laws on Rochanbeau Drive to Woods lane

--Amending the zoning code to allow a new use in a C-4 zone. (see Town Board, 1-12-2016 related to leasing of the Verizon Building on Route 202)


9. Payment to town’s environmental consultant

Although the resolution to authorize the payment of $6,500 to Bruce Barber will not be voted on until next week, in response to Councilman Patel’s question what the payment was for, it was explained that it was for work he did “based on former Councilwoman Siegel’s comments”  related to the SWPP (stormwater pollution prevention plan) for the Spectra pipeline project through Granite Knolls and Sylvan Glen parkland.  Commenting on the charge, Councilman Bernard said, “We were forced to do it,” and Supervisor Grace said, “Next time we’ll be a bit wiser.”

(Note: Supervisor Grace participated in the discussion of having Mr. Barber do this work and he reviewed the SWPP comments and signed the February 24, 2015 comment letter that was sent to the DEC. As of March 1, 2015, Mr. Barber was paid for his environmental services at a fixed dollar amount for the year.)