Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board Work Session

December 11, 2012


Closed Session

1. Personnel

2. Advice of counsel on ATT&T cell tower clock (also, see below)


Open Session

1. Ethics Board: Financial Disclosure Statements

(Initially listed on the agenda for a closed session, the discussion took place in an open session.)

Ethics Board members Richard Rubenstein and Laurie Noonan advised the Town Board that 16 people who were supposed to complete Financial Disclosure forms pursuant to the 2010 Town Ethics Law have not done so, despite reminders from the Town Clerk’s office. Twelve of the 16 are members of volunteer boards; the remaining four are employees. (Note: the law identifies  the positions that are required to submit the form.)  


The issue before the Town Board was whether it wanted to enforce the requirement, and if so, how.   Mr. Rubenstein said that disclosure form was designed to identify potential conflicts and that if the Town doesn’t intend or want to enforce the requirement, then it should repeal it. He added that there was no purpose for having an Ethics Board if the Town was not going to enforce the requirement.  Both he and Ms. Noonan said that the disclosure form was based on models used elsewhere and that it had been scaled back and was much less intrusive than forms used elsewhere.


Calling the requirement intrusive, Supervisor Grace said the law was the “cause de jure” and said it prevented nothing.  He said that the Town shouldn’t have a kangaroo court and that like the current talk about the garbage contract, the disclosure form is subject to innuendo, adding that it a person didn’t want to complete the form, it would appear that he or she was unethical and “set the plate for criticism.”  Councilman Paganelli  said he took issue with only the two questions on the form that dealt with money owed or money owed to the person completing the form.  


Supervisor Grace also said that he took exception to the “revolving door” provision in the Ethics Law that placed restrictions on former employees representing clients before town bodies. The problem isn’t the ex-employee, he said, but the board member who can’t muster the courage to do the right thing. The law puts the punishment in the wrong place, he said.


On the suggestion of Councilman Murphy, the Town Board will send a letter to the 16 people reminding them of the law’s requirement and giving them until January 15 to submit the disclosure forms.   If they fail to submit the form, the recommendation of the Ethics Board to theTown Board would be to suspend anyone who is a town employee and remove any of the volunteers from their boards. (After reviewing the names of the people who hadn’t submitted the form, Supervisor Grace noted that all the members of one board were on the list, adding that he’d have no problem disbanding the entire board.)


The Town Board also gave its approval to a set of procedures the Ethics Board has developed and which will be posted online, and it asked the Ethics Board to proceed with its plans to bring in an outside person to conduct an ethics training session.  Minutes of past Ethics Board meeting are also available online and more recent ones are slated to be uploaded.


Mr. Rubenstein also advised the Ethics Board that there is one vacancy on the Board. And, the Town Board said it wanted to reappoint Mr. Rubenstein whose term was expiring.


2. Outside auditor services

(Initially listed on the agenda for a closed session, the discussion was in an open session.)

The Town received four proposals in response to its RFP for outside auditing services. The prices ranged from about $25,000 to $55,000 per year. Without discussing the individual proposals, the Board decided to bring in three of the companies for interviews and not ask back the firm it has used for the past three years in light of the fact that  the firm made a “big error” in one of the numbers in the 2011 audit.  (Initially the Board was only going to interview two companies with $45,000 and $55,000 proposals, but added the third with the $25,000 proposal at the request of Councilman Paganelli.)


Deputy Comptroller Caporale said that one of her concerns in evaluating the companies was how much time they would actually spend in Yorktown as opposed to how much information the company would ask Town staff to gather up and email to them. Two of the three companies that will be called in for interviews are located in the Albany area; one, O’Connor Davies, the Town’s outside auditor for many years until 2008, is based in Harrison and some of its partners live in Yorktown.


3. Amendment to zoning code relating to self storage facilities in C-1 district

In a brief discussion, Planning Director Tegeder explained that the text of the proposed amendment that has already been advertised for a December 18 public hearing will have to be revised  so that it cross references requirements governing self storage facilities in industrial zones.  The content of the changes was not discussed.  The Board will consider the additional changes at the public hearing and after revisions to the amendment are drafted, the revised version will be circulated to the Board for a later vote.


4. Amendment to zoning code relating to parking requirements in the regional shopping center zone (JV Mall) and other commercial districts

Also slated for a December 18 public hearing, these changes will reduce parking requirements at the JV Mall to 4.25 spaces per square feet of gross leasable space and  from 5 to 4 spaces per square feet in other commercial zones.  Councilman Bianco noted that given the rise of online shopping, not as many parking spaces are needed today as in the past.


Planning Director Tegeder said that representatives of the JV Mall have been asked to present additional information about parking at the December 17 Planning Board meeting and that that information will be included in the Planning Board’s recommendations for the December 18 hearing.


5. AT&T cell tower

(This was discussed in closed session at the beginning of the meeting.)

Without any discussion or explanation of what was in the resolution, the Board passed a resolution dealing with the cell tower. The only comment from Supervisor Grace was that in future leases, there should be a bond dealing with the demolition of towers.


6. Request to be included in the Hunterbrook Sewer District

The Board referred out added the request for this 4-family house in an R-3 (multi family) zone off Garden Lane to be added to the Hunterbrook  Sewer District.  Supervisor Grace said that the Town should add up the other requests it has received to be added to the district, including Costco and Fox Den Estates.


7. Creative Living (Navajo Fields)

Representing the applicant, attorney Al Capellini and environmental consultant Steve Marino explained changes in the existing plan that will require an amended wetlands and erosion control permit, and possibly other permits and reviews.


The applicant wants to install a 330’ x 210’ inflated dome over one of the existing grass fields, replace the grass under the dome with turf and add batting cages around the periphery of the dome. The dome would be 86’ feet high, or 8.5 stories tall and would be taken down in the spring.  The applicant also needs a revised permit that recognizes the fact that one of the dugouts built pursuant to an earlier permit was not constructed according to the plan and intrudes more into the wetlands than specified in the permit. (When asked how far off the actual construction was from what was approved, the applicant’s representatives couldn’t say.)


As an aside, Supervisor Grace noted that the applicant had never submitted a signed plan as he was requested to do several months ago and Acting Town Engineer Robinson noted that the plan the Board had before it was not the plan that the applicant had previously submitted. She also had some questions about what had been done to the stream crossing on the site.


Two key issues that need to be decided are whether the dome is considered a structure under the town code and also whether, if the dome requires a building permit, that that triggers the need for a site plan review by the Planning Board. (Note: see earlier discussions about the site plan issue and the role of the Planning Board.)


In response to Councilman Paganelli’s concern over whether the dome would be seen from the homes on Gay Ridge Rd, Mr. Marino said the applicant would be willing to put up test balloons after the other issues about permits and site plans had been ironed out. Everyone agreed that the dome raised a number of questions, both legal, and technical that would have to be reviewed before proceeding with what Councilman Paganelli called an “ever evolving plan.”


8. Kelderhouse property

After a brief discussion, the Board took no action on this proposed donation, pending the receipt of additional information. Councilman Paganelli, noting that he didn’t want to acquire another property like the deteriorated Granite Knolls barn that would become an attractive nuisance, said that he was initially told there were no structures on the site. However, a memo from the Advisory Committee on Open Space noted that there are remnants of old structures on the site.


9. Water bill adjustments

The Board approved two adjustments to water bills. While one dealt with the installation of a new water meter and meter discrepancies, the second, which involved  700,000 gallons of water, was the result of a leak in the meter pit on the property. Following an impromptu  phone conversation with Water Distribution Superintendent Rambo, Councilman Paganelli reported to the Board that the property owner wasn’t aware of the leak until after he got the bill because the water from the underground leak flowed to a ravine and then into a stream. Had the property had one of the new meters, the leak, and unusually high consumption, would have been discovered within days.


10. Contract for broadcasting services

Over the objection of Councilman Patel, the Board voted 4-1 to extend the one year contract for Cary Vigilante to provide broadcasting services for Channels 20 and 33 at a rate of $500/month. Councilman Patel said that the new equipment for broadcasting meeting videos should be more automated and that someone in house should be trained to do this job.


Councilman Patel also expressed concern that the $10,000 budgeted increase for cable services in the 2013 budget would pay for an additional person. In response, Councilman Paganelli said that there had been some discussion during the time some Board members met during the Hurricane Sandy emergency meetings about asking the town’s audio visual volunteer consultant to submit a proposal for him to be compensated for providing additional services to the town. owe ver, he addedx, o action had been taken to hireany


11. Garbage contract

Jeff Buss, the attorney representing Competition Carting said that the company was ready to go to begin picking up garbage and recyclables on January 1.


He informed the Board that the company had 11 trucks and 23 employees on staff, including a dispatcher who would handle complaint calls, uniforms for its workers, that 100 containers for town buildings and multi family residences have been ordered to replace existing CRP containers, and that the trucks would be tagged and ready for inspection by the county by Friday.  (The trucks have to be tagged so that the county knows they’re from Yorktown.) He said the company would be located in Yorktown but he did not know the location.


In response to a question from Ms. Angliss-Gage, the interim head of the Department of Environmental Conservation as to what name the carter would be using, Frontline Waste Management or Competition Carting, Mr. Buss said Competition Carting, noting that the latter was a registered d.b.a. for Frontline.  And, in response to a second question about the relationship between Competition Carting and R&S Waste Services, Mr. Buss said that R&S would have an equity position in Competition Carting and would be able to provide Competition with back up trucks if and when the need arose.  R&S, he said, provided Mr. Amico with the financing it needed.  It was noted that the bid specs included a provision that the contract could not be subcontracted out without the Town Board’s approval but that it was common for businesses to be sold and/or do business using dbas.


Ms. Angliss-Gage advised Mr. Buss that the Town needed to pin down the holiday service days with Competition as soon as possible as the schedule had to be printed in January. She also reminded Mr. Buss that the contract stated that Competition had to give the Town 60 days notice before making any changes to the pick-up schedule. Mr. Buss told her he would have Mr. Amico get in touch with her the next day. (Mr. Amico had previously met with Supervisor Grace.)


In response to Councilman Bianco’s question of what would the Town do in the event Competition Carting did not pick-up the garbage,  Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Murphy and Paganelli didn’t see a problem and felt that the Town could step in, renting trucks if necessary.  This is a safety issue, Councilman Paganelli said, and we need a provisionary plan in place. Councilman Patel said he was against town employees picking up the garbage. Town Attorney Koster suggested that the Town might want to go out to bid for the rental of packer trucks so that it would be ready, just in case, the need arose. Based on a call she made to one supplier, Ms. Angliss-Gage noted that rental trucks might not always be available exactly when the Town needed them.


12. Selected other resolutions approved unanimously

a. Bid award for ultraviolet lamp replacement. Two bids were received, and on the recommendation of Acting Town Engineer Robinson, the Board awarded the bid to the second lowest bidder because the low bidder was not able to verify, as required in the bid specs, that his project would work.

b. Extended  for one year the contract for the printing of the Parks & Recreation brochure

c. Raised prices for recycle bins and leaf bags.