Town Board Meeting
November 17, 2015
1.Reports from the Town Board
Comments by Councilwoman Siegel
SPDES permit for Yorktown Sewage Treatment Plant. I reported that the town has received its new permit but that the rolling average used to calculate the flow’s 1.5 million mgd limit will be based on data from November 1, 2015 through October 31, 2016 and that DEC will not permit any sewer district extensions into currently unsewered neighborhoods until the one year period has elapsed. I suggested to the board that it use the 12 month period to begin planning the extensions for the streets where homeowners are interested in begin sewered and that as a first step the board start discussions on the allocation of the East of Hudson funds so that homeowners have some idea as to what sewers will cost them. There was no comment from the other board members.
Police presence at pipeline work sites. In response to queries from residents, I noted that the police officers are off duty officers who are being paid directly by Spectra. However, Spectra is not paying the town for the use of the police cars. I noted that another Westchester town charges utility companies when their vehicles are being used for special projects like traffic control.
Spectra pipeline/Atlantic Bridge. I noted that a proposed resolution authorzing the supervisor to submit a “Notice to Intervene” petition to FERC for the Atlantic Bridge project had been removed from the agenda at the request of three board members. I explained the reason why I believed filing the motion, which had no costs associated with it, would be in the town’s interest. There were no comments from the other board members. At the end of the meeting, I made a motion to approve the resolution; it was defeated by a 2-3 vote, with only Councilman Patel and me voting for it. The other members did not explain why they voted against it.
Comments from Councilman Bernard
Hilltop Service Station: He reported that the new owner of the Hilltop Service Station on East Main Street at Strawberry Road has been served a violation notice for violating conditions of the property’s site plan. He said he felt “violated” after the owner had continued to make changes to the site after he had been told not to. Supervisor Grace said the owner had spoken to him and that he would be coming back to the board with a new site plan. I indicated that in addition to site plan issues (trees, fences, etc.) the existing zoning specifically did not permit used car sales on the site and that this issue also had to be addressed.
During Courtesy of the Floor, resident Jim Heller outlined some the changes made to the site, including the cutting down of several large trees, among them a 75’ black birch tree, which he felt resulted in a “devastation” for Shrub Oak and which only benefited one person. He asked that all property owners be required to “play by the rules.” In response, Supervisor Grace said “we take the issue seriously” and will work with the owner on mitigation. I suggested that since no mitigation plan could replace the cut trees, the property owner should be fined for what he had done. Supervisor Grace said this was up to the court.
Comments from Councilman Diana
Heroin Task Force. He indicated that the group was looking into the possibility of establish as Drug Court in Yorktown.
2. Library appointment
Patricia Hallinan was appointed Library Director.
3. Courtesy of the floor
Traffic/Hallocks Mill Rd. Mara Ziedins thanked the board for the additional speed bump at Laurel Court but asked that one be placed on Hallocks Mill Rd at Gerard Court. (See public hearing notes below.) She added that something had to be done to control traffic in the Heights area. In response, Councilman Bernard explained that although he wished there could be more traffic control, something he called a quality of life issue, he recognized that the police are short staffed and unable to assign officers exclusively to traffic control issues.
YCCC bathrooms: In response to Gil Kaufmann’s question when the bathrooms at the YCCC will be renovated, Supervisor Grace said that the work will be done in 2016. Mr. Kaufmann also noted the improved maintenance at the YCCC.
4. Homes of Historic Distinction/Public Hearing
(See Town Board, June 23, 2015.) The hearing was to amend the Landmarks Preservation law to add provisions for the program. Lynn Briggs, a member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission explained the purpose of the law. Brochures will be mailed to the 200+ possible homeowners whose property might be eligible for the plaques and Commission members will follow up with each property owner. Ms. Briggs displayed a sample plaque that will be displayed on her historic house. Supervisor Grace said the program would be a middle ground that helped recognize the town’s rich history without having property owners incur the difficulties and costs associated with a property being officially landmarked.
There were no public comments. The hearing was closed and the board voted unanimously to adopt the local law.
5. No Parking signs/ Public Hearing
The proposed law would establish a 100 feet no parking zone on Laurel Court at the intersection of Hallocks Mill Road and on Rochambeau Drive at Underhill Ave.
The homeowner at Hallocks Mill and Laurel suggested that the distance be only 50 feet and two residents from Woods Lane suggested that the Rochambeau sign, instead of being a fixed number of feet, should be from the southern curb of Woods Lane/Woods View to Underhill and that the law should also prohibit “no standing” as the safety issue is the parked cars waiting for children to be picked up or departing from the school bus stop.
The hearing was closed and Supervisor Grace said the board would take another look at the proposed law and “fine tune” both locations.
6. Crompond Terraces/Rezoning Public Hearing
The board reconvened the hearing originally opened on January 20, 2015 now that the applicant has submitted an Expanded Environmental Assessment Form.
Gary Ajello repeated the essence of comments he made at the first hearing: from the town’s first master plan in 1955 up to the 2010 plan, the land was always master planned for commercial use. He said the town should not give up 26 acres of potential prime commercial development without finding an alternate 26 acres that could be zoned commercial. Why spend money and time on plans if the plan isn’t followed, he asked. In response, I noted that master plans are not set in stone and that the 2010 master plan took into account the fact that for the previous 55 years, there had been no interest in developing the site commercially. At some point in time, I suggested, the town has to deal with the reality of who wants to do what with the site.
Ken Belfer, speaking for the Community Housing Board, supported the plan which he said would provide a diversity of housing types as well as affordable rental units.
Tony Grasso, speaking for the Chamber of Commerce said the group supported the plan and that he was updating his 2013 survey that indicated that commercial properties and utilities accounted for only 14% of the town’s total assessments.
Vincent Scotto, a resident of Mill Pond Road, expressed concern that the development could exacerbate flooding problems in the Hunter Brook behind his house. He questioned Supervisor Grace over why the stream had not been dredged. Supervisor Grace noted that sometimes development actually positively addresses a stormwater issue and Dan Ciarcia, the project’s engineer, explained that under currently DEC regulations, after development, there will be no increase in runoff from the site and that runoff may actually be reduced. I noted my concern that the stormwater issue would not be addressed until the site plan stage,
Ed Ciffone questioned the impact the project’s 45 children would have on the Yorktown School District and wanted to know more about any “deal” that had been agreed to between the town and the developer in exchange for the rezoning. For the applicant, Ann Cutignola, explained that the anticipated 45 additional children that would be generated by the development would not be an inordinate increase for the school district and that the development would be a net financial benefit to the district. A memo from the Planning Department and the town’s environmental consultant (Tegeder/Barber memo) indicated the need to review the school impact numbers.
Supervisor Grace took exception to Mr. Ciffone’s comment that the he had been “bought” (Mr. Ciffone said he meant the “town” and not a particular person”) and explained that it was standard procedure and “smart governance” to ask an applicant seeking a rezoning to make a “contribution” to the town to offset certain impacts from the proposed development. Such contributions, he noted, save the taxpayers money. As an example, he noted the $3 million in improvements Costo will be making. I noted that in 2011, the applicant for the Croton Overlook rezoning agreed to contribute $650,000 to the town for unspecified purposes.
On the issue of the 16 affordable rental units, Mr. Ciffone asked the supervisor about his earlier comments stating that he opposed the town’s affordable housing law. The supervisor did not respond to this comment.
On the question of whether deferring a more in depth SEQRA review to the site plan stage constituted segmentation, an issue raised in the Tegeder/Barber memo, Supervisor Grace said there was no segmentation because the issue before the board was only a rezoning and that there was no significant impact to the rezoning by itself; the impacts would only occur once there was a site plan. The only issue before the board, he said, was whether the rezoning request was compatible with the master plan. Mr. Tegeder said he agreed 90%-95% with the supervisor’s comments but that the segmentation issue had to be cleared -up in any approving resolution. I noted that in both the Crompond Crossing and Croton Overlook rezonings, the rezoning was done in conjunction with a site plan that had been reviewed by the Planning Board.
Both the Tegeder/Barber and a separate Planning Board memo asked for more time to review the Expanded Environmental Assessment Form.
In response to the applicant’s request to close the hearing and leave open a written comment period, there was a 3-2 vote to close the hearing and leave open first a 10 day comment period, which was later changed to comments to be received by December 1st. Councilmen Patel and I voted against both motions. I questioned whether the Expanded EAF had been referred to the 28 boards and agencies that had received the shorter EAF back in December; I said more time was needed to hear back from these agencies, especially the DEP and the town’s Conservation Board. Councilman Patel asked, “why the hurry.” Speaking for the applicant, Ann Kutter said that copies of the Expanded EAF had been sent to these agencies in October but Town Clerk Roker had no record that the referral included a reply date, a standard practice for such referrals.
While expressing my support for the mixed use concept for the site, I indicated my concern that there had to be a balance between the desire to be more “business friendly” and expedite applications and the need for the town to follow long established procedures designed to protect the town and its residents. I also expressed concern over the proposed density of the project, a concern shared by the Planning Board.
The supervisor then directed staff to “tweak” both the initial SEQRA negative declaration resolution and the resolution approving the rezoning that had been prepared by the applicant. He asked that revised drafts be ready for the December 1st meeting with the anticipation that the board would vote on the rezoning application on December 8th. He said that in fairness to the applicant, the rezoning request should move head and that he was comfortable with the rezoning. Mr. Tegeder said he was providing the Planning Board with more information on the density of existing multi family projects.
7. Miscellaneous resolutions
Tax Certiorari: The board approved a settlement for the former Curry Chevrolet building on Route 202 at Garden Lane.
SPCA: The board renewed a one year contract for $22,715.
Police cars: The board authorized the Police Department to solicit bids to purchase seven used unmarked cars for use by detectives. The expense is not include in either the 2015 or 2016 budgets, and at this time, the department is only seeking bids without any commitment to purchase. Supervisor Grace indicated that if the purchase was to proceed, the funds might be taken proceeds of the 2015 bond.
Ivy Knolls Park: (See Town Board, 5/26/2015.) The board authorized the expenditu8re of up to $25,000 from the Park Department’s Trust and Agency Fund to replace playground equipment at the park.
Water District vehicle. The board awarded a bid for $155,080 for the purchase of a specially equipped van for use by the department.