Town Board

November 1, 2016


1. Personnel

·         In the Highway Department, Nicholas DeVito and Scott Mills were promoted to Foreman.

·         Rescinded the May 17, 2016 reappointment of Richard Rubenstein to the Ethics Board on the grounds that the law says a person can’t serve more than two consecutive terms.


2. Mohegan Auto & Tire (Hilltop Service Station) Rezoning public hearing

The hearing was adjourned for two reasons.

1) By not displaying signs that the property was before a town board, the property owner may not have complied with the Public Notice requirements of the town code.  Supervisor Grace said that the sign requirement was a “gray area” that needed to be looked at.  However, the property owner did send out the required certified letters to abutting  property owners.


2) The Planning Board plans to visit the site on November 5th and asked for more time to comment on the rezoning request.


Mr. Riina explained the proposed rezoning from R1-20 (half acre) to a new transitional zone was only for the gas station parcel, even though the site plan was for the overall site that included two parcels.  No zoning change is proposed for the rear parcel abutting Route 6 where the used cars for sale are currently being parked.  The plan includes a “Welcome to Shrub Oak” monument sign on the corner close to Route 6 that included gas prices, upgrading the two existing standalone signs on East Main Street, plus signs on the front and back of the existing building, and new landscaping.


Mr. Tegeder said that the Planning Board planned to visit the site this coming Saturday and would discuss the plan at its November 7th meeting.  Although he advised the Town Board that the Planning Board’s interim memo contained “general comments,” James Heller, a frequent critic of the plan who attended the Planning Board meeting, said that the Planning Board was critical of several aspects of the plan.


When several speakers called attention to what they said were code violations on the site that the town had ignored, Supervisor Grace admonished them that it was not the Town Board’s responsibility to fine or otherwise punish code violators; that job, he said, belonged to the courts, under our “separation of powers” concept of government.  He added that the hearing was on a land use issue and not on the character of the current owner.


Several people spoke in opposition to the plan citing traffic problems and the undesirability of seeing a used car lot from Route 6 when the Comprehensive Plan called for a greenbelt along Route 6. Others spoke in favor of “helping a local business” and one speaker said that in Peekskill businesses were allowed to proceed with their plans even before the appropriate town departments and boards had issued the necessary approvals.


Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, reminded the board that the existing transitional zone specifically prohibited the sale of used cars, a point Supervisor Grace disputed. She also stated that the proposed rezoning of the gas station parcel did not meet the criteria for a transitional zone.


Councilman Diana said he wanted to keep the “quaint” look of Shrub Oak and noted how the current owner had cleaned up the site. He said the town needed car repair shops that were disappearing.


3. Affordable Housing public hearings

Four hearings were opened and held simultaneously as the issues overlapped.

1. Reconvened the May hearing to abolish Chapter 102, the Affordable Housing Law, that mandated developers to set aside 10% of the units as affordable in developments of more than 7 units.

2. Repeal 300-39 that regulated existing affordable units built more than two decades ago and create a new voluntary density bonus incentive program to create affordable units

3. Create a new Chapter 102 that dealt only with the administration of the affordable units

4. Established membership criteria for and the powers of the Community Housing Board .


After closing the hearings, the board voted 4-1, with Councilman Patel voting no, to repeal the existing Chapter 102 and voted unanimously to adjourn the other three hearings pending some possible revisions. Supervisor Grace said that if the changes were significant, the revised law would be re-advertised for a new public hearing.


Supervisor Grace repeated his belief that the current law that mandates an affordable housing set aside is unconstitutional, a point that several speakers, including a representative from HUD disagreed with. In response to a question from one speaker, the supervisor acknowledged that there have been no legal challenges to similar laws in New York State and that no developer has filed a lawsuit in Yorktown challenging the town or has complained about the law which currently would apply to 3 developments in the pipeline.


Ken Belfer, chairman of the Community Housing Board summarized many of the comments he had previously sent to the board relating to all four issues.  In response to his suggested technical changes to the new Chapter 102, Supervisor Grace asked him to work with town staff.  Mr. Belfer, as well as other speakers, asked that more standards be included in what development plans would qualify for an added density bonus, including adding a minimum size lot the bonus could be used on as well as a cap on the percentage increase in density. He pointed out that a lot that would, under current zoning, permit one house, could become a 3-lot subdivision under the added density bonus provisions. Cheryl Gajowski called the provisions of the density bonus plan “loosy goosey” noting that they would permit the Town Board to do anything it wanted.


Several speakers said that if the current Chapter 102 wasn’t broken, they saw no need to repeal it.  Presenting an opposite view,  Jay Kopstein said he supported repealing Chapter 102 because the affordable units couldn’t be restricted to only Yorktown residents. But, he also opposed the density bonus plan because it increased density.


Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked if the density bonus provisions could be applied to properties that had already been given a density bonus as a result of rezoning, like Crompond Terraces and the Lexington Avenue rezoning. She suggested that the town continue the 10% mandate requirement for all developments and apply the density bonus idea to parcels that were rezoned.


When Vincent Scotto asked if the current Chapter 102 would benefit Yorktown seniors, Supervisor Grace said he didn’t see any benefits for any affordable housing law, calling them “utter nonsense” and “feel good ribbon cutting laws.”  He said the real issue of affordable housing was the taxes and that was something that was up to the state.


4. Miscellaneous resolutions

·         Approved a Tax Certiorari settlement for RGW Group, LLC, owners of 1974 Maple Hill Street.

·         Authorized the purchase of three different scanners as part of the digitization project.

·         Authorized the expenditure of $28,000 to erect a fence around the stormwater project at Railroad Park, the funds to be reimbursed by the East of Hudson Corporation

·         Scheduled a special Town Board meeting for Monday, November 14th. Supervisor Grace explained that the meeting would be entirely in closed executive session to discuss personnel and conduct interviews.

·         Authorized an agreement to convert  the Police Departmentment’s computerized information to new software. The cost of the agreement was not included in the agenda.


5. Courtesy of the floor

·         Sparkle Lake. Ed Ciffone suggested that for safety reasons a fence was needed along the path abutting the newly constructed dam. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue.

·         Highway Garage: Ed Ciffone said that the United Taxpayers of Yorktown has requested to be on the next Town Board work session agenda to present its petitions in opposition to the proposed highway garage relocation plan.

·         Dumpster law: Dan Strauss asked about the status of the adjourned hearing on the proposed new Dumpster Law. Supervisor Grace said that he was waiting for input from local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce before reconvening the hearing.