Town Board Meeting
October 27, 2015
1. Gay Ridge Road renaming
(See Town Board July 8, 2014.) With the subdivision road ready to be dedicated to the town and officially named, two residents from the new subdivision returned to the board for a decision on their renaming request. Although a memo from the Planning Department cited the town code that said that extensions of an existing street should continue to have the same name, the memo included a caveat that if the board agreed to the name change, the Gay Ridge designation should continue to be used for the short emergency road leading off Gay Ridge Road. Supervisor Grace advised the residents that this could be confusing for first responders but they restated their desire for the name change for the portion of the street where the houses are. No action was taken, pending the submission of the paperwork for the road dedication.
2. Crompond Terraces
Representatives of the development team walked the board through the expanded EAF (Environmental Assessment Form). The project, 80 townhouses, 77,000 SF of retail and commercial space and 16 affordable rental apartments above the commercial space, anticipates a population of 283 persons and 45 school age children. The net tax benefits to the town (including special districts) after taking in projected costs, would be $105,811, and $610,590 for the Yorktown School District.
In response to questions raised at a previous meeting about the demand for additional commercial space, the developer’s planner, Ann Cutignola, explained that vacancies from commercial buildings that are for sale were much lower than vacancies for rent. Overall, she said that the project would add 2% to the town’s commercial space. She anticipated that there would be demand for the space. The EAF also includes a graphic that shows that the commercial buildings will be visible from Route 202 even if the proposed new CVS building across from Staples Plaza is built.
Traffic consultant Philip Grealy reviewed the proposed traffic impact from the development.
The biggest change in the project was the “contribution” the developer was prepared to make to the town in exchange for the rezoning. This contribution would be in addition to the proposed 12,000 SF multi use building on the site that would be donated to the town as part of the project’s required recreation fee which , at $4,000 per unit, would total $320,000. The exact use of the building has not been finalized and awaits more feedback and direction from the town.
The changed contribution, a plan developed by Supervisor Grace, now consists of the developer building a 27,000 SF steel building on Greenwood Street to house the Highway and Parks departments, as well as a recreation center of an undisclosed size at Downing Park once the Parks Department is relocated to Greenwood St (highway garage project.) According Ann Kutter, a member of the development team, there have been preliminary discussions about the building with the Superintendent of Parks & Recreation but no firm plans. Regarding the new highway garage, Supervisor Grace said that the town might incur some costs to “finish” the new building but that the funds would come from the sale of the current highway garage site. He added that a portion of the building could be for “dead storage” and that another part, or possibly a second floor, could be portioned off for other uses.
Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Bernard and Diana strongly supported this new “contribution” as a “great opportunity” that should be a “no brainer.” The Supervisor thanked the developer for his generosity and willingness to give something back to the town. In response to my questions whether a private developer would have to pay prevailing wage if he constructed a building on town property, Supervisor Grace said the answer was no and that a similar type contribution has been done in Dobbs Ferry.
Anticipating that the Planning Board will be able to review the expanded EAF at its November 9th meeting, the board voted 3-2 to reconvene the public hearing on the rezoning request for November 17 and advised the parties to start working on the rezoning approval resolution. Councilmen Patel and I voted no, preferring to have the Planning Board’s recommendations in hand before scheduling the hearing.
3. Landmarks Commission
(See Town Board 6/23/2015) Without any discussion, the board voted to schedule a public hearing for November 17 on a proposed “Buildings of Historic Designation Program.”
4. East Main Street/Jefferson Valley
With a sense of impatience, two residents of the area, Janice Donadio and Julie Duquet, returned to the board asking what was doing done to address the speeding problem along East Main Street, especially from Perry St. to Hill Blvd. Councilman Diana went over some statistics gathered by the Police Department but the residents were more interested in a board commitment to take specific actions that could range from stop signs, blinking stop signs, a light at Hill Blvd, a possible light or stop sign at the other end of East Main St near Jay’s gas station, more police enforcement, or other calming or traffic control devices. They said they were tired of hearing the town say that there was no money for Jefferson Valley improvements.
At my suggestion and to avoid more fruitless discussions that go over the same ground, Supervisor Grace said he would invite Philip Grealy, the town’s traffic consultant, to attend a board meeting and go over the different possible measures, identifying which ones were possible and likely to improve the situation.
5. Sustainable Westchester Community Choice Aggregation program
(See Town Board, 10-20-2015.) Leo Wiegman, Executive Director of Sustainable Westchester (SW) and mayor of Croton-on-Hudson, explained the program to the board. A total of 21 municipalities with an estimated 150,000 households and small businesses have already signed up for the program.
Under the program, Sustainable Westchester will solicit bids from ESCos to provide both electric and natural gas service (the program would start with electric). The Public Service Commission will require that the bid price be at least lower than the monthly average of what Con Ed or NYSEG rates have been and SW anticipates that rates would be 4%-5% lower. Once SW selects the lower bidder, each participating municipality would sign an agreement with the ESCO and all households and eligible small businesses not already signed up with an ESCo would automatically be included the program. Before the program goes into effect, homeowners would have a 20 day period to opt out of the program; they could also opt out any time after that at the beginning of a new billing cycle without incurring a penalty. While the ESCo rate is not guaranteed, it is assumed that it would be less than the Con Ed and/or NYSEG rates. Homeowners would receive their monthly bills from their utility.
SW Westchester anticipates that the program, with its 21 already committed municipaliltaies, will begin sometime in the first quarter of 2016. While it may be possible for additional municipalities to join later, Mr. Wiegman indicated that the later subscribers would likely be charged more.
If the town wanted to join the program, it would have to hold a public hearing on a proposed enabling law and pass a resolution indicating its intent to join the program. The town would not have to commit itself to participating in the program until SW was ready to solicit bids.
Supervisor Grace expressed several concerns about the program: the fact that in the past there have been scams with ESCo contracts entered into by individual homeowners and also that a lower rate from SW’s ESCo could undercut the other existing ESCos that are marketing in Yorktown. He also appeared unhappy with the fact that all homeowners would automatically be included in the program unless they took steps to opt out; I can just hear the phone ringing, he said. I noted that while I might avoid signing up on my own with an ESCo because of concerns about the details of the contract, I would feel more comfortable signing up for an ESCo where the contract details had been vetted by energy experts.
When I suggested that the town schedule a public hearing for November 17 which would explain the program to residents and would not bind the town to anything, Supervisor Grace, joined by Councilmen Bernard and Diana, said that they were not ready to proceed with the public hearing. They gave no indication that they would bring up the issue again.
6. Traffic issues
Proposed signs: Public hearings will be held on November 17 to place no parking signs for 100 feet at Laurel Court at Hallocks Mill Road and at Rochambeau and Underhill Avenue.
Solaris parking: (See Town Board 10/13/2015.) Based on his meeting with representatives of Solaris, Supervisor Grace said the “solution” to the problem would be for Solaris to place cones in the street whenever the weather conditions warranted it. He said: let’s give them a shot at handling the problem.
Park zones: Councilman Bernard said he would work with the town attorney to review the existing code provisions dealing with park zones in an effort to eliminate inconsistencies.
6. Miscellaneous resolutions
Water Department. The board postponed action on two resolutions: the purchase of van for $155,080 and $84,222 for asbestos removal and new roof sheathing on the Old Pump House.
Legal Settlement: The board voted to file a notice of claim against for Yorktown School District for recovery of a $25,000 insurance deductible relating to a settlement of a personal injury claim.