Town Board Work Session Meeting
October 13, 2015
Personnel and interview for the Landmarks Preservation Commission
1. Parks & Recreation Department truck purchase
Brian Gray, Parks & Recreation Superintendent, was planning to purchase a Ford F250 pickup truck. At the suggestion of Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli, the Board decided that the extra cost to purchase a heavier truck, an F350, would be more cost effective in the long run. He also suggested that the town would save several thousands of dollars if the truck was ordered with a snow plow; in the past, when Parks bought a truck that would also be used for plowing, Highway had to purchase the plow separately at an added cost.
No action was taken on the department’s need to purchase a chipper. Mr. Gray advised the board that the $50,000 included in the town’s bonding plan was not sufficient for purchasing a new chipper. He has been looking into the availability of a used one, adding that he had seen several listed online. This lead to a discussion of how the town goes about purchasing used equipment as distinct from new equipment. The comptroller and town clerk will review how previous used equipment was purchased.
2. 3574 Lexington Ave rezoning request
Mr. Sanders returned to the board with a revised plan based on discussions with the Planning Department. (Note: while he said at the meeting that the new plan reduced the number of units to 12 from 18, at the June meeting he said he was proposing 12-14 units.)
The revised plan includes a recreational area at the rear of the property. The current plan does not meet the set back requirements for the multi family zone but Supervisor Grace felt that this issue could be resolved. (The disparity cannot be resolved by obtaining a ZBA variance.) I indicated my general support the project and the need for rental units, but added that I was concerned about the density. It was noted that there were other uses along Lexington Avenue that were not compatible with the existing half acre single family zoning. I also wanted proper screening for the existing homes to the rear of the property.
Mr. Sanders said he would also consider one bedroom units as part of the plan which currently consisted of two and three bedroom units. Town Clerk Roker suggested that Mr. Sanders speak to the Housing Advisory Board . When the issue of “affordable housing” was raised, Mr. Sanders said he was not planning to include his project in the county’s affordable housing program and Supervisor Grace added that he didn’t have to worry about the town’s affordable housing requirements because he considered the requirement unconstitutional.
Having received a generally favorable board response to the rezoning concept, Mr. Sanders was advised to file a formal application so that the referral process could begin.
3. Yorktown Trail Town Committee
Mark Linehan, co-chair of the Committee presented the group’s plan to erect two or three signs displaying the Heights map the Committee has created along the Trailway. The map highlights where trail users can avail themselves of local services. The signs would be generally near the firehouse and the highway garage and in the middle of Railroad Park. ABACA has reviewed the sign and had no objections. The board asked that Mr. Linehan to flag the exact desired locations so that board members could do a site visit and see the actual locations before giving approval. Mr. Linehan indicated that while the signs will be located on town property, the county had no objections to the signs.
4. Water Department software and meter issues
Water Superintendent David Rambo explained the need for a new GIS provider and the two options for securing the service: buying off the shelf software or going with custom designed software that the town would own. His recommendation was for the latter and the board generally agreed. However, before any decision was made, it was suggested that he meet with other department heads who use separate GIS systems to see if, in the future, the different systems, used for different purposes, could be integrated into one software package.
The board will approvea resolution at a subsequent meeting to hire Woodard & Curran Engineering to upgrade the town’s telemetry software that monitors storage tank levels and system pressure readings.
On the subject of meters, Supervisor Grace suggested that the town attorney draft a local law that would require that the new water meters be installed at the time the property was sold. The requirement would be tied to the request for a “last meter reading” that is part of the sales transaction. The law would leave it up to the seller and buyer to negotiate who paid for the installation of the new meter. Mr. Rambo estimated that there are about 300 requests for “last” readings a year and that the installation would cost about $300. The law would also waive the fee for the “last” reading.
I asked Mr. Rambo to provide the board with an update, at a future meeting, on the status of the meter tests for commercial users (that are required to be done on a regular basis as per our Code) and the meters that supply water to out of district users.
5. Hilltop Gas Station, East Main Street & Strawberry Road
At issue is the fact that the new owner has taken down screening fences along Route 6 and the abutting residential property on East Main Street in an apparent violation of conditions incorporated into a prior transitional zoning approval. Also at issue is the intended use of the rear of the property facing Route 6: While an earlier transitional zoning resolution says the site is to be used for vehicle storage as an accessory use to the station’s towing and gas station business, the new owner wants to use the site for a used car business.
Speaking on behalf of the property owner, Chris Sciarra said that landscaping would be preferred to the Route 6 fence. I advised the board that a new fence had been erected on the gas station portion of the site abutting the residential property.
While Supervisor Grace said he was concerned about the aesthetics of the Route 6 corridor which was the gateway to Mohegan Lake, he said he had no problem with the car sales operation. He didn’t see this as a change of use from the earlier transitional zoning conditions and felt that it was an overreach to questions the types of vehicles he had on the site. I disagreed and stated that the earlier transitional rezoning resolution clearly stated a different use.
James Heller, a resident of the area, also questioned whether the earlier resolution allowed a used car lot. In response, Supervisor Grace said, “We’ll address that.”
No decisions were made.
6. Solaris parking
(See Town Board, June 2, 2015.) Citing safety issues, Highway Superintendent Paganelli asked the town to restore “No Parking” on the north side of Maple Hill Street from December 1 to April 1. Referring back to previous discussions about widening Veterans Road 2-3 feet to accommodate additional parking, he said the cost was prohibitive. He also said that the previous signs that said “no parking during snow operations” was meaningless because there was no acceptable definition of what constituted a snow operation.
Chris Sciarra, representing the Solaris owner, said the restrictions would negatively impact on the fitness center’s business. Supervisor Grace noted that he has seen the facility’s rear lot empty. It was suggested that when the facility needs extra parking for special events, employees park at the A&P lot; Mr. Sciarra didn’t agree that this was a viable solution.
Supervisor Grace said the he and Mr. Paganelli would meet with the owner to discuss the situation before drafting a local law and holding a public hearing.
7. Insurance update
There was no discussion other than Supervisor Grace responding to my request that the town’s insurance broker meet with the board as soon as possible in order to avoid the need for a last minute board resolution approving the 2016 premiums.
8. Equipment to paint fog lines on roads
Although not on the agenda, there was a brief discussion about the possibility of the town purchasing the equipment so that town staff could paint fog lines along the roads which all agreed would be desirable. Highway Superintendent Paganelli indicated that when the town used an outside vendor, it cost $1,267 per mile . Supervisor Grace said funds for the purchase of the equipment would be in the 2016 budget. The cost of the equipment was not discussed