Town Board Work Session
October 23, 2012
Volunteer Board interviews
1. Front Street parking
A representative of Bauman Bus Company explained the company’s need for additional parking for its drivers. The drivers are currently parking on Front Street and this is creating problems for other businesses on the street that do not have access to rear parking lots as part of their leases.
The company is currently in violation of its 1973 site plan that requires all parking to be on site. The representative explained that since the plan was approved, the company has grown and there is a need for additional space.
Three near term and long term options were discussed.
a. Working with the abutting UPS company to allow Bauman drivers to park in a side lot on the UPS property. (The driveway into UPS is an easement across Bauman property.) The Supervisor will follow up on this.
b. Expand the Bauman lot into the rear of the property which is a wetland. Supervisor Grace said that as a trade- off for disturbing the wetlands, some mitigation measures could possibly generate some phosphorous reduction that would help the town meet its stormwater requirements. The Bauman representative said that the company had discussed encroaching into the wetlands about a year ago but was discouraged by the Planning Department.
c. Remove the No Parking signs on the east side of Front Street from the UPS building to the end of the street. It was explained that these signs were put up when there was a trucking company on the street but that the signs may no longer be needed as that tenant is no longer there. Planning Director Tegeder and Councilman Paganelli will visit the street on Wednesday to see if the signs can be temporarily suspended.
The idea of having the drivers park in the Food Emporium lot and have a shuttle bus take them to the bus lot was rejected as not feasible
2. Fox Den Estates
The owner of a 138 acre undeveloped parcel, split between one acre and four acre zoning, requested that the Town petition the county to have the parcel included in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District. The parcel has a potential for 55-65 homes. Currently there is one main house and 19 apartments on the site, all on septic.
One of the issues, that dates back to discussions the property owner had with the county in 1985, is what the “buy-in” cost to the property owner would be: would it be based on vacant land, or the value of any future homes that would be built on the property. According to Larry Praga, the attorney for the property owner, based on the earlier discussions, the county has agreed that the initial buy in would be based on vacant land but that the buy in would be reallocated once homes were built.
The Board voted unanimously to send the petition to the county.
Supervisor Grace said he was having discussions with the other municipalities that make up the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District regarding how to reallocate the remaining 3.5 million gallons per day capacity in the plant.
3. Bright Beginnings YCCC rent increase
Mara Zeidens, one of the co-owners of Bright Beginnings, a child care business that rents space in the YCCC objected to the planned 3% rent increase for 2013. The company currently pays about $5,700 a month for classrooms, or $22.19/sq ft, plus the use of the gym and two outdoor spaces. Ms. Zeidins objected to the fact that Headstart, a competing child care program, pays a lower rent ($10,000 a year less) because of its non-profit status; she felt that all tenants should be treated equally. She said that a new child care program at French Hill School will be paying $10/sq ft., a difference that Councilman Paganelli said was an “unfair advantage.”
Supervisor Grace said that the rent for every tenant should be based on its own merits and invited Ms. Zeidens to make a proposal to the Board. He said that the current $22.19/sq ft was under market and the rent structure was not one of equity. He also defended the lower $2.64/sq ft rental charge for Yorktown Stage saying that it was a “different animal.” If we don’t make the right deal with the theater, he said, we could lose it.
4. Parking requirements for JV Mall
The Board briefly discussed proposed changes to the zoning ordinance that would reduce the parking requirements for the JV Mall, the only CRC, or Commercial Regional Shopping District. (Note: It was not clear to the observer whether the proposed amendments related to other commercial districts.)
In general, the amendments reduce the parking requirement from 5/1,000 sq feet to either 4/1,000 or 4.5/1,000. Supervisor Grace called the 5/1,000 requirement “ridiculous.” The amendments also have a provision that allows for a 25% reduction of the parking requirement. The amendments also distinguish between gross square footage and gross leaseable square footage which subtracts out stairways and corridors.
Other provisions dealt with the length of each parking space. The text deals with landscaping requirements but does not specify any numbers, leaving this up to the recommendations of advisory boards.
The Board voted 5-0 to refer the text to advisory boards.
4. Croton Overlook SEQRA fees
TJ Muldoon, the applicant for this development plan that received a rezoning in 2011, still owes approximately $21,000 in SEQRA fees based on last year’s review of his rezoning application. The money is owned to Wormser Kiley, the law firm that represented the Town during the rezoning process. The rezoning application included a provision that the fees had to be paid before the applicant could submit a site plan or subdivision plan to the Planning Board.
According to Planning Director Tegeder, the applicant is now ready to come before the Planning Board, and in an email to the Town requested an audit of the unpaid bills and said he wanted to talk to the Town Board about the fees. Supervisor Grace said that the problem stemmed from the initial agreement between the applicant and Wormser Kiley that had different rates for the firm’s work and that there wasn’t enough escrow money to pay the attorney. He wanted the Board to approve a budget transfer that would pay the attorney, saying that the Town couldn’t go back to the developer to ask for the money. He said that even though the requirement to pay the fees before the application could proceed was in the approval resolution, that that didn’t make the requirement legal.
Councilman Bianco said that the Board shouldn’t talk to the developer until the check arrived, and Councilman Murphy said that it was time to pay the attorney’s bills and “move on.”
When it was clear that the Board would not vote for the budget transfer, Supervisor Grace said he would tell the law firm that the Town is still “working on it” and that it would be up to the firm if it wanted to sue the Town.
5. Winery Temporary Certificate of Occupancy
The 90-day temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) that the Winery received in February, 2012 has expired and Tom DeChiaro was before the Board to request a new TCO under the terms of the amended TCO law that was approved by the Board after he received his initial TCO. The new law provides for 180-day TCOs, but gives the Town the ability to extend the TCO.
When Councilman Paganelli noted that Mr. DeChiaro had done nothing since February to comply with the requirements of his earlier approval, Mr. DeChiaro said that it didn’t make sense for him to do the work piecemeal and that he was waiting for the needed DEC wetlands permit which he had received just two weeks ago. He now had to get a town wetlands permit. When he asked who should apply for the permit, the Winery or the Town (the wetlands is on town property), he was told that he should file for the permit.
Mr. DeChiaro said he wants the new TCO to run until December, 2013 and that he’ll start the work next fall.
The Town Board will schedule a public hearing on the TCO request.
6. Generator update
There was a brief discussion but it was not clear exactly what the Town would be doing and whether the discussion was limited to the generator for just the YCCC or also included one for Town Hall. Supervisor Grace said he didn’t want to spend money for a new Town Hall boiler.
At the end of the meeting, after the Board returned to open session from a second executive session, Supervisor Grace said that Con Ed wanted $5,900 to bring the gas line to Town Hall. While no vote was taken, the Board appeared to have no problem with this expense.
7. East of Hudson Stormwater Retrofit Projects
Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson gave the Board an update on four planned stormwater retrofit projects on Town-owned property: two at Sparkle Lake, one behind the Police Department near the dog training area and one at the highway garage.
The projects are being designed by engineers hired by the East of Hudson stormwater consortium which will also pay for the projects. The engineers have met with Police Chief McMahon to address his concerns and are reviewing an alternate plan for the Sparkle Lake area that could address concerns of the Parks & Recreation Department.
8. Garbage contract
After a lengthy and often contentious discussion, and a closed executive session with the town attorney, the Board voted unanimously to award the garbage contract to Competition Carting.
Supervisor Grace started the discussion with a motion to award the contract to the lowest bidder, Competition Carting, at which point Councilman Bianco proceeded to ask Brian Amico, the lowest bidder, a series of questions about the number of trucks and employees he currently has, his experience, his financing, etc. He said his concern was deciding whether Mr. Amico qualified as a “responsible” bidder. He also handed Deputy Town Clerk Quast a copy of a vetting document prepared for the Board by Kim Angliss-Gage, interim head of the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the town employee in charge of garbage and recycling issues. Ms. Angliss-Gage recommended against giving the award to the lowest bidder. Her main concern was that Competition Carting could not gear up to begin collecting in the 10 remaining weeks before January 1. In response, Mr. Amico said that he had expected the bid to be awarded on October 2nd, the day after the bids were opened.
Mr. Amico said he would require eight trucks to do the job and that he would purchase 3 to supplement the five he currently had. He would also hire eight additional employees to supplement the four he now has on staff He refused to disclose any information about his financing, adding that this was not a requirement of the bid specs and that he first had to be awarded the bid before he could get his financing. And, while he didn’t like some of the requirements in the bid specs, especially those involving recyclables, he said he had no other choice but to comply with them. Asked where he would park his garbage trucks, he said he had several locations, but was not specific. He assured the Board that he could do the job and that as a Town resident, he did not want to create problems for his fellow residents. At one point, he turned toward the audience and showed hostility to the audience which voiced its displeasure at some of his answers.
Mr. Amico said that as a former employee of Suburban Carting which once had the Town’s garbage contract, he was familiar with the Town’s routes and had some ideas as to how the collection system could be improved. His other experience included having about 1,000 routes in Dutchess County which he sold, and an undisclosed number of current residential customers in Putnam county. He also said that collecting garbage wasn’t brain surgery.
Supervisor Grace explained, more than once, that when the Town stripped the experience r requirements from the bid specs, as well as the performance bond requirement, its intent was to give start-up companies an opportunity to bid on the assumption that they could come in with a lower cost to the taxpayers because of their lower overhead. Councilman Murphy said that he had voted against the new CRP contract last year because he felt that the Town hadn’t gotten competitive bids. (Supervisor Grace said that three or four companies had submitted bids last year.) When Councilman Bianco asked, “Did we do this bid for him (referring to Mr. Amico),” Supervisor Grace said an emphatic, “No.
Although the bid specs did not require a performance bond, Mr. Amico said he would get a six months bond.
As the discussion heated up and Town Attorney Koster said she wanted to speak to the Board in closed session, the Board voted to go into executive session and left the room. When it returned, Supervisor Grace said he would not vote for something that had been written down; he didn’t explain what was in the document. He then made a motion to award the contract to Competition Carting which was seconded by Councilman Murphy. A 5-0 vote followed. Board members then explained the reasons for their vote.
Councilman Bianco said that on the advice of the town attorney “we have no other choice,” that the issue was not whether Competition Carting was a “responsible” bidder, and that he hopes the new carter will succeed. He said that he made a mistake when he voted for the bid specs that eliminated the experience requirement, adding that, “Our hides are in the game” and that “it’s a risk we took.”
Councilman Murphy said that the vote was no reflection on CRP but that the Board had to do what it could to keep taxes down.
Supervisor Grace said the savings would be about a 30% reduction in taxes (Councilman Bianco said this worked out to a $70/year savings per taxpayer), but he did suggest earlier in the discussion that the Board might want to put aside some of the savings in the event there was a problem with the bid, and/or to build up a surplus that could be used to purchase automated collection equipment that could reduce future collection costs. He cited the savings as an important factor in keeping within the 2% tax levy cap. He said he was proud of the Board for awarding the bid and that it was natural for people to fear change. He said that there was no legal basis for rejecting the lowest bid. He added that sometimes the Board had to make tough decisions and that the Board showed good faith in being willing to try a “new guy.” Our primary responsibility, he said, is to the taxpayers.
Councilman Patel said he was following the advice of counsel when he voted for the bid award.
Councilman Paganelli said he had no problem with the changed experience specs but thought that the specs should have included a bonding requirement.
After Board members explained their vote, Supervisor Grace gave members of the audience an opportunity to speak. One Town resident, a mason, said that when he bid on Town jobs, he had to get perforance bonds and that he couldn't bid for certain jobs because the specs had higher bond requirments. He wanted to know if, in the future, the Board would reduce its bonding requirements for future bids. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the Town might consider reducing future bond requirements if it opened up more competition which could lead to lower prices for taxpayers.
A resolution to appoint Paul Colarusso as a laborer in the Building Maintenance Department was withdrawn from the agenda after Councilman Patel raised concerns about how Mr. Colarusso was selected. (The exact nature of his concerns was not clear to the CIY observer.) There was some concern, however, that the draft appointing resolution stated that Mr. Colarusso was to be hired effective October 23rd which would have meant that he started work prior to any Board vote. Councilman Bianco said that if, indeed, Mr. Colarusso did work on the 23rd, then he should be paid for the day, pending any future decision on his hiring.
10. Contract for Town Prosecutor
The agenda listed a resolution to be passed at the November 20 meeting regarding the Town Prosecutor , the outside attorney who handles code violation cases and state traffic tickets in the Town Justice Court. The Board went into executive session to discuss the issue, and when it returned to open session, there was no discussion about the contract or the position.
11. Other resolutions
The Board unanimously approved resolutions to advertise for bids for a portable generator for the sewer department, for budget transfers and bond releases, for an RFP for independent audit services, for bids for welding and consumables and parts for the highway department, and to extend the copier maintenance contract for three months.