Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Susan's Blog

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.


Town Board

December 2, 2014


1. Shell Station closure

Supervisor Grace explained that the lease had expired and was not being renewed.  He said he anticipated that the station was likely to reopen with a new tenant and that there were some tank issues but did not elaborate.


2. 2015 Budget

During Courtesy of the Floor, Ed Ciffone said he was disappointed that the Preliminary Budget called for a tax increase that was more than in the Tentative Budget. He said he wouldn’t be able to attend the budget hearing, set for December 9, but wanted the board to use more fund balance to lower the proposed tax rate increase.  Supervisor Grace called the fund balances in the water and Yorktown Sewer funds “criminal” and I said I would have more comments about the fund balance issue at the budget hearing.


3. Sober House

First a clarification.  The meeting agenda should have listed the item as “for discussion,” not “decision” as no draft resolution had been prepared and was ready for a vote.


During the discussion, I went through an outline of my reasons for denial. Specifically, I cited issues where I believed the current application did not meet some of the general standards for granting a special permit; most of the issues had been discussed at the November 25 meeting.  In response, Supervisor Grace said that my concerns either had no merit or could be corrected by making the corrections a condition of granting a permit. My position, however, was that, based on the town code, the special permit standards had to be met prior to granting a permit and that any conditions attached to the permit were meant to assure continued compliance with the standards. Town Attorney Koster also said that some of my concerns were not valid.


The discussion ended with Supervisor Grace saying that he would work with the town attorney to prepare a “grant” resolution with conditions and the attorney would also draft a “denial” resolution based on my outline. Asked if she could do both, the attorney said yes, Drafts of both resolutions will be reviewed by the board at a subsequent meeting.


Councilman Murphy, who appears to hold the deciding vote on a potential denial resolution, did not indicate whether he was for or against granting the permit. He did indicate, however, that he was concerned that the current code left the door open to more sober living residences anywhere in town.   This led to a discussion of whether the town should amend the zoning code in two phases to  first eliminate the term “convalescent home” which has proven to be outdated and ambiguous and then, to add a new special permit for sober homes based on additional research as to what would be appropriate standards that would not violate the Fair Housing  and Americans with Disabilities laws.. When Supervisor Grace felt that such a permit would be discriminatory and  unconstitutional, my response was that additional research was needed on possibly creating a broader category for this type of transitional temporary housing.


4. Board vacancies

In an item not on the agenda, I raised the issue of the vacancies on the Town Board. I suggested that in the spirit of cooperation and compromise, and to bring the board up to full strength as soon as possible, that  simultaneously Supervisor Grace appoint one person and Councilman Patel and I appoint the other and that neither side have a veto over the other’s selection. The appointments could be made on January 6 and the new members would serve through the end of the year. 


Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy rejected the suggestion. Supervisor Grace said he was not going to engage in any “horse trading” and Councilman Murphy said that after spending months debating “may” and “shall” versions of the special election law, the voters wanted an election. In response, I reminded him that the recently passed special election law gave the board the option to fill vacancies by appointment for a period of 30 days.


Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy made two separate motions to fill Councilman Bianco’s seat (the only vacancy that currently exists) by special election. The motion died with a 2-2.  


6. Resignations

Ann Kutter resigned as an alternate member of the Planning Board.


7. Granite Knolls Barn

The board tabled a resolution awarding a bid for the demolition of the barn so that it could get more information on why there was a spread of $26,800to $269,000 in the seven bids that were received. 


8. Code review

During courtesy of the floor, Ray Arnold noted that no money had been put in the 2015 budget to proceed with the  proposal  he made in March, 2013 to update the town codes.  He basically was asking the board if it wanted to proceed with the project; if not, he said he would remain quiet and drop the issue.  In response, I agreed with Mr. Arnold that the codes did have to be updated and that the town board had to decide how to approach the issue.


9. Crompond Terraces (Old Crompond Road)

The board set January 20, 2015 as the date for a public hearing on the rezoning request for Crompond Terraces.