Note: As of December 2, 2014, the summaries of open Town Board meetings that appear on this site are copies of Susan's Blog, a blog written by Susan Siegel in her capacity as a town councilwoman and which appear elsewhere on the Internet.
December 19, 2014
1.Costco/gas station permit
The special permit for the gasoline fueling station was approved in a 4-0 vote. While the approval resolution includes variances to some of the code’s provisions on road width, canopy height and the height of lighting poles, the Planning Board will have final site plan review for the entire project.
Supervisor Grace went through the additional correspondence that had been received after the close of the hearing on December 16 and addressed the arguments that had been offered to deny the permit, noting that many of the comments were against Costco in general. He explained that a special permit was akin to an “as of right” use and that there was no basis for denying the permit.
In explaining why I voted for the permit, I said that when the Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2010 (as supervisor, I voted for the Plan) the existing C-3 zoning for the proposed Costco site was left in place. Acknowledging that there are pros and cons associated with the plan, on balance I said I felt that the project had more pluses than minuses and that there will be mitigation measures to lessen the impact of the increased traffic.
With the plan now returning to the Planning Board for site plan review, I suggested that interested residents attend the Board’s work sessions which are not televised.
2.BJs rezoning and gas station permit
In three unanimous votes, the board approved a SEQRA negative declaration (meaning no significant adverse impacts), the rezoning, leaving the area behind the BJs building and abutting a residential zone as C-1, and the special permit for the gasoline fueling station . The special permit included variances on the canopy size and signage. The applicant will now return to the Planning Board for approval on an amended site plan.
3. 2015 Budget
Prior to a 3-1 vote adopting the budget, with Councilman Murphy voting no (without any explanation), the board defeated, in 2-2 votes, with Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy voting no, three budget changes that I proposed:
To eliminate the 5% salary increase for elected officials (the board voted itself a 3% increase beginning in 2013.)
To remove eliminate $60,000 for a movie project for the YCCC
To eliminate $15,000 to the Town Board equipment line to buy or build a new board room table. (Supervisor Grace said the $15,000 was for “equipment,” not specifically a table.)
In a 3-1 vote with Councilman Murphy voting no, the board agreed to my motion to spend an additional $5,000 in the “professional cable services” line to explore the feasibility of televising work sessions. Supervisor Grace said that in general, he had no problem with televising work sessions but that the board needed to discuss this further, including setting up some rules for the work sessions. He was concerned about people grandstanding and that things that we said could be misrepresented.
On the suggestion of Comptroller Pat Caporale, in order to avoid having to redo the entire budget for just a $5,000 addition, if the town proceeds with the taping, the funds simply be taken from some other part of the budget.
When I proposed changes in the Water and Yorktown Sewer district budgets in order to use the unused portion of the allowed tax levy rather than “losing the money” in 2016 (the 2016 tax levy cap will be based on the 2015 levy), Supervisor Grace repeated his position in support of lowering the levy and Councilman Patel and I held to our positions that fund balance should be used to pay for needed capital projects.
When it was clear that my suggestions for changes to the Water and Yorktown Sewer budgets did not have the support of three members, I decided to drop the proposal and postpone the discussion on the use of fund balance and borrowing to a future date.
4. Reducing the volume of paper
In an unexpected discussion that arose during the Costco discussion, Supervisor Grace and I agreed that something should be done to cut down on the amount of paper and copy toner involved in making copies of all the documents and correspondence associated with many applications such as Costco. I suggested that it may be cost effective to provide board members with tablets so that all documents could be sent digitally.
Supervisor Grace also suggested that certain presentations be made available to the public in a digital format. (When the board room was rewired for the new audio visual equipment in 2011, wiring was added for future screens in the front of the room.) Supervisor Grace said he would look into both suggestions.
5. Miscellaneous resolutions
Holland Sporting Club. The board approved up to $10,000, to be taken from fund balance, to pay for the tipping fee (disposal fee) for the materials being removed from the site. An outside vendor is screening the material.
Sherry Drive pipe replacement. The bids for the project came in higher than the amount of money the town has received from FEMA. The board agreed to proceed with the project with the needed funds being taken from fund balance.