Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Town Board Work Session

October 9, 2012


Closed Session

Department heads – discussion on benefits

Volunteer Board interviews for reappointment

Negotiations regarding professional services contract


Open Session

1. Sign request from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School

The school is requesting permission to erect two signs on public property at the intersection of Kamhi Drive and Route 132 identifying the location of the school. A representative of the school gave Board members a photo of the proposed sign and Supervisor Grace asked the school to submit a map showing the exact proposed location for the signs. The Board referred the request to ABACA and the Public Safety Committee to make sure that the signs did not create sight line problems. (It was not clear from the discussion whether there had been identification signs in the past.)


2. YCCC bathrooms

Three representatives of the Senior Advisory Committee asked the Board to begin preliminary planning for the renovation of the bathrooms pending the receipt of the state grant funds for the project recently announced by Senator Greg Ball. According to Gil Kaufmann, the committee’s chairman, $28,000 remains in the senior fund and can be used for the plans. Supervisor Grace said he had no problem with proceeding with the preliminary plans but that the Town would have to make sure it gets the state money before starting any actual work. State grants, he said, can be like “yo yos.”   Mr. Kaufmann added that when he saw Senator Ball recently, the senator assured him that the money was coming and Planning Director Tegeder said his office would follow up on the paperwork associated with getting state grant money; to date, he wasn’t aware of any paperwork had been requested or submitted.


Supervisor Grace also suggested that in order to save money, Mr. Tegeder, who is by training an architect, work on the preliminary plans. Mr. Tegeder agreed to help out on the project.


In order to comply with state regulations, the renovated bathrooms will have to include a baby changing station. It was unclear whether showers would be required.


3. Emergency Generator

As part of the discussion of the YCCC bathroom renovation project, Supervisor Grace said he has learned that the generator for the YCCC would cost $80,000.


4. Yorktown Volunteer Ambulance Corps

Two members of the Corps, speaking on behalf of the Advanced Life Support district, the district that provides the paramedic flycar, explained that sometime this year the Town had discontinued paying the Yorktown Ambulance Corps $950 a month to house the flycar, a practice that has been in effect for the past 20 years.


Town Attorney Koster explained that the reason the Town stopped making the monthly payments was because there was no current agreement between the Town and  YVAC regarding the lease; the only document she had was for the initial one year lease. This information came to light, she said, as a result of a lawsuit involving YCAC.

In order to remedy the situation, Ms. Koster said a new agreement had to be signed, but after some back and forth it was not clear who would draft the agreement, Ms. Koster or YVAC . On the suggestion of Supervisor Grace, it was decided, however, that the agreement should be for two years so that it could be renewed by each new Town Board.


5. Open Space Acquisitions

Members of the Advisory Committee on Open Space (ACOS) discussed potential acquisitions of three parcels:

a. Kelderhouse property  off Inspiration Drive in Mohegan Lake.  The owner is interested in donating two acres of a six acre parcel for tax purposes. Although he has plans to develop the remaining four acres, there are no current plans and the owner is not asking for any “quid pro quo.”   A portion of the site is wetlands. According to ACOS member John  Schroeder, the parcel  has value to the town because it abuts existing town-owned parkland and could become a link in a long planned east-west trail system linking  FDR Park to the Hudson River.  The only structures currently on the site include a foundation and a cement water trough (the parcel was formerly part of the Mohegan Dairy).  


Councilman Bianco said that if the Town wanted to help Mohegan Lake than it should acquire the property so that it remained open space. He noted that even though there are wetlands on the site, the Town’s wetlands law is permissive and does allow development in wetlands.


Supervisor Grace said that before the Board made any decision, he wanted an audit of what was on the site, more information about drainage, especially, whether drainage from the site might negatively iimpact other property owners and possibly create liabilities for the Town, and also information about the existing vegetation.


The Board referred the matter to various advisory boards.


b. Boniello property. This 18 acre site is located off Quarry Rd.  The parcel, which lies between  two town-owed parkland sites – Sylvan Glen and Granite Knolls – is landlocked but has an easement across town-owned land   for access to Stony Street, although the easement goes through a wetland.   The site contains remnants of the old quarry operation.


Based on preliminary discussions with the property owner, ACOS suggested to the Board that the Town and the property owner split the cost of an appraisal and title search so that once  the value of the land was determined, negotiations  could continue.   Supervisor Grace saw no need to spend money on an appraisal because he felt that the site’s environmental and zoning constraints meant that the parcel wasn’t worth anything.  Although the parcel is zoned  4 acre, he said that at best  two or three lots could be built but that the infrastructure costs would be considerable.  In response, Councilman Bianco said that if the developer clustered the homes, he could get more units.


Supervisor  Grace added that he  was“totally uninterested” in acquiring the piece, that the Town already had a considerable amount of open space and that money should be spent taking care of the open space we already have rather than acquiring more. When it was pointed out that the property owner owes back taxes, estimated at $6,000, Councilman Bianco withdrew his interest in buying the parcel.


On the suggestion of Councilman Paganellil, the Board advised ACOS to go back to the property owner and advise him that a potential sale is off the table but that the Town might consider acceptinig the land as a donation which would provide the owner with a tax write off.


c. Bostinto property

ACOS advised the Board that there was no value to the Town in accepting the site, located on Route 35 near Willoway, as a donation. Councilman Paganelli noted that the site is wet and runoff from it creates flooding problems for an abutting property owner. Supervisor Grace stated that the Town shouldn’t take property where it involves the Town taking on a liability.


6. Zoning amendment relating to self storage use

On the suggestion of architect Anthony Romano, the Town will look to put back into the permitted uses for a C-1 zone, a self storage facility.  While the Town, earlier this year, amended the zoning code to allow warehouse use in a C-1 zone, according to Planning Director Tegeder, there’s a difference between warehouse use and self storage use.   The change would apply to the Staples Shopping Center.


If the Town Board approves the change, the owner of the Staples building would like to convert the unused portion of the lower floor to a self storage use. The Planning Board is currently reviewing a site plan to convert a portion of the lower level for warehouse use.


6. Zoning amendment relating to self storage use

On the suggestion of architect Anthony Romano, the Town will look to put back into the permitted uses for a C-1 zone, a self storage facility.  While the Town, earlier this year, amended the zoning code to allow warehouse use in a C-1 zone, according to Planning Director Tegeder, there’s a difference between warehouse use and self storage use.   The change would apply to the Staples Shopping Center.


If the Town Board approves the change, the owner of the Staples building would like to convert the unused portion of the lower floor to a self storage use. The Planning Board is currently reviewing a site plan to convert a portion of the lower level for warehouse use.


The Board referred out the proposed zoning change. 

7. Jefferson Valley Issues

Although a representative of Jefferson Valley homeowners did not appear at the meeting, Councilman Bianco advised the Board that the homeowners had issues regarding trees along Wood Street and parking along Wood St. and East Main Street, and that they had been told by the police department that, in the absence of any No Parking signs, the department could do nothing about the parking problem.

Councilman Paganelli said that he looked into the residents’ concerns and was told that the highway department had cut trees in the area 14 times since January. However, he added, some of the trees that residents are concerned about may not be on Town property.  Regarding the parking issue, the Board referred the matter to the Public Safety Committee to consider whether No Parking signs were needed.


8. Baptist Church Road culvert  project

In an update, Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson advised the Board that the project has not been bid out yet. Town Attorney Koster explained that the hold-up was that after the July 25 eminent domain hearing, she had not published, as required by law, the follow up Findings statement  until about a week or so ago and that the property owners now had 30 days to challenge the findings.


9. Electrical bid

What would normally have been either a routine bid award to the lowest bidder, or alternately, a one year extension of an existing bid award that was good for three years, became contentious  when it was determined that there was a problem with both the original 2010 bid specs and the more recent 2012 specs.   At issue was

why the Board voted, on August 14, to advertise for new bids instead of extending the current award, and then, once it had advertised for new bids,  whether it could or should extend the existing bid which had a lower labor cost than the lowest new bidder.  The problem became more complicated, however, due to confusion over how the bid specs showed the cost of materials.


Prior to 2010, the bid specs stated that the contractor, who was to supply the required materials for the job, would be entitled to 10% above cost, cost being the discounted price the contractor usually was charged. In 2010, the bid specs were changed to read: 10% above list price. (According to Town Attorney Koster, the change was requested by a former department head who has since retired; she did not know the reason he requested the change.)  The difference in wording: 10% above cost versus 10% below list, could amount to as much as 30%.


As an example of why the materials issue was important, the Board noted that it had a preliminary cost figure of $80,000 for the new emergency generator at the YCCC and that 30% would be a significant cost difference.


According to Mike Dubovsky of P&M Electric, the company that has been awarded the Town’s electrical work for about 20 years, he has always charged the Town 10% above cost and, in fact, had not realized that his 2010 and 2011 contracts were supposed to be 10% below list. In effect, he said, he was short changing himself.  If the Town extended the P&M contract for another year, the labor rate would have been 50 cents lower than the lowest bidder on the new specs.  But, since the 2010 bid spec  said 10% below list, if P&M were to be given the contract for another year, it would have to abide by the specs (as distinct from its practice over the past two years) and charge 10% below list, in effect, raising the cost to the town.  While Councilman Paganelli initially supported extending the P&M bid based on the lower labor rate, he later withdrew his support for the extension stating that he could not justify the higher cost to the taxpayers.  Supervisor Grace said it would be a violation of the law for him to renegotiate the terms of a third year extension with P&M and that any such extension had to be based on the 2010 bid specs. He apologized to Mr. Dubovsky but said he couldn’t do anything about the issue.


Instead, the Board voted 4-1, with Councilman Paganelli voting no, to go out for a new bid, this time specifying that the materials charge would be 10% above cost.  Supervisor Grace initially wanted the contractor to write in his own percentage but Ms. Koster pointed out that with two variables, labor cost and materials cost, it would be difficult to determine who was the low bidder.


10. Wetlands issue/Journey’s End Road

A homeowner needs to remove silt from a pond on his property. Because the pond is located in a DEC designated wetland, he needs both a DEC and Town wetland permit and, according to the Town code, the property meets the threshold requiring a Town Board approved  wetlands permit instead of a simpler administrative permit.  Councilman Bianco said that the original intent of the wetlands  law was to encourage property owners to maintain their ponds without the need for a Town Board approved permit and Supervisor Grace noted that the homeowner was being “tormented” for doing the right thing.


At the suggestion of the Town’s environmental consultant Bruce Barber, the property owner will begin the DEC permitting process while the Town drafts amendments to its wetlands law that would make maintenance issues like this subject to an administrative permit.


11. Tax certiorari settlements

Assessor Kim Penner presented the Board with proposed settlements for the Yorktown Business Center on Front Street, Coach ‘n Four Apartments and four condo sections at Jefferson Village (2,5, 7 and a fourth.)


After Councilman Bianco remarked that the discussion should be in closed session, subsequent comments, including the refund information, were not audible to the public. The settlements will, however, be voted on during next week’s regular session. Supervisor Grace noted that the reduced assessments for Jefferson Village, about $300,000 for each condo section, would lower the Town’s overall assessment roll. Councilman Bianco asked whether individual condo owners who did not pay any school taxes because of their STAR exemption would be getting a refund; Ms. Penner said that that would be up to the school district.


12. Old Crompond Road rezoning

Dan Ciarica, representing the owners of two properties on the portion of Old Crompond Road known as the Bear Mountain Triangle initiated a discussion about the future development of the area and the possibility of rezoning two, and possibly more, properties on the road to multi family, with a possible commercial zoning fronting on Old Crompond Road.  Based on a very preliminary concept, he showed 68 townhouses and some commercial development on nine acres (2 adjoining parcels) and said that an additional 10 acres might be added.


Councilman Bianco said he was opposed to any rezoning to multi family use because it would cost the school district an estimated $3.4 million. He did, however, agree with Supervisor Grace who said that the Town would benefit financially from the additional residential units.   The Supervisor added that it’s families and children who drive the local economy. Councilman Bianco also questioned why people would want to live next to Costco and across the street from BJs.  He suggested that the area might be rezoned all commercial. (It is currently zoned half acre residential.)   The question of whether the residential units would be affordable, low income, or senior housing was asked but the plan was too preliminary for any answers to be forthcoming.


Supervisors Grace noted that the Comprehensive Plan calls for a mixed use of the site, a concept he said is supported by Yorktown Smart Growth.


Because the properties along Old Crompond Road are scheduled to be included in the Costco sewer district, the discussion then turned to the issue of the Peekskill sewage plant and efforts by Supervisor Grace to have the remaining capacity at the plant reallocated so that Yorktown could divert some Hallocks Mill sewage to Peekskill.  He said that because the Peekskill plant is a county plant, the reallocation decision is a county decision, not a Peekskill decision. He is planning to meet with Cortlandt and Peekskill to discuss the sewer allocation issue.


The Board voted 4-1, with Councilman Bianco voting no, to refer out the rezoning issue. One of the issues still to be decided is whether other properties along the road are interested in being part of the rezoning request.


13. Route 202/Pine Grove improvements

The Board authorized the Supervisor to sign an agreement with the state DOT regarding any disruption to underground utilities during construction work. The state is expected to go out to bid for the work in December.


14. Halloween parade overtime

Without any discussion, the Board authorized police overtime for the parade. The anticipated cost of the overtime was inaudible to the observer.


15. Lake Mohegan Outlet

After Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson relayed to the Board comments from a state DOT representative that repairing the culvert was not a high priority for the department,  on the recommendation of Supervisor Grace, the Board voted to direct the town attorney to send a letter to the DOT putting the department on notice that it will be held responsible for any damage claims resulting for the damaged culvert and that if the DOT does not repair the culvert ASAP, the Town will consider the issue an emergency, perform the work itself and then bill the state.


16. Granite Knolls Barn

Supervisor Grace  reported that the asbestos abatement company has changed its mind again and will do the work at the barn.  He also said that he will ask the Highway Department to demolish the barn.  While Councilmen Bianco and Patel said they were opposed to the department doing the work, the issue was never put to a vote.


17. Holland Sporting Club transformer

Supervisor Grace informed the Board that an inactive transformer  on a telephone pole on the Holland Sporting Club property was damaged by a tree and needs to come down ASAP.  Con Ed will dispose of the transformer once it has been taken down. He said that he has been in touch with a county employee who, working on his own, has agreed to take down the transformer at a cost of $1,499, which is below the $1500 threshold that would trigger the need for prevailing wage.  After Councilman Bianco asked if this was an emergency, and the Supervisor said it was, it was agreed that the  Supervisor did not have to get other quotes.


18. Garbage contract

Supervisor Grace informed the Board that based on a preliminary review, he did not see any problems with awarding the bid to the lowest bidder which would result in an $800,000 savings.  He said the bidder has all the equipment and is ready to go.  Councilman Paganelli said he spoke to a solid waste person who said he knew of no problem with the company.  The town is considering a two year contract.  No action was taken to award the bid.


Supervisor Grace said that looking ahead for the long term, the Town may want to consider using some of the savings to save up for the automated pick up containers that could reduce future contract costs as they require only one-man trucks. Councilman Bianco said that the Town had looked into this in the past but that there wasn’t much of a savings.


19.  Miscellaneous resolutions

The Board approved the Town Attorney attending a Bar Association meeting. The cost was not identified.