Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board Work Session

February 14, 2012

Absent: Councilman Bianco. Councilman Paganelli was present for a portion of the meeting.

1. KVS online purchase order software.

(See January 25, 2012 meeting notes for background on the software.) Stating that the board was conceptually onboard with moving ahead to install the software but would have to do so in phases due to monetary concerns, the board voted 4-0 to authorize the supervisor to proceed with a contract with KVS for $18,000 that included $13,000 for the software and $5,000 for training to enable a first group of departments to test out the system.  There was no discussion as to which departments would be in Phase 1.  Supervisor Grace said he hoped the new system would speed up payments and Councilman Murphy said the system would help department heads and elected officials know how much money the town was actually spending. Supervisor Grace asked the owner of KVS to “sharpen his pencil” when it came to making the system available for the remaining departments which, based on the initial proposal, would cost an additional $18,000. In response to a question from Councilman Paganelli whether the cost of the software would be any different if purchased all at once or in phases, the KVS representative said there would no difference, and Comptroller Joan Goldberg said that her staff might be able to do some of the training for subsequent phases in order to lower training costs.

In response to a question from Ken Belfer, head of the Mohegan Lake Improvement District as to whether the special park districts would be using the system, Ms. Goldberg said that they would not be hooked into the online system and would have to continue doing their POs manually.

2. Temporary Certificate of Occupancy

The board discussed a proposed amendment to the Zoning Code extending the time for a temporary certificate of occupancy “for a part or all of a structure, upon a finding of good cause” provided all the requirements for the development of the lot or site could be completed with the stated time period.

Supervisor Grace said that when he was town attorney, the town issued a TCO for BJs because the members of the Planning Board were new at the time and weren’t sure what to do. He added that the TCO got “lost in the shuffle” and remained in effect for many years. In general, he said, the TCO was used when the interior of a residential or commercial building met all the building code requirements but that there was remaining site work that had to be done.

While the initial proposal was to allow the building inspector to grant a TCO for 90 days, with an additional 90 day extension, on the suggestion of Councilman Terrence Murphy who thought that 90 days was too short a time, the time limit was changed to 180 days for the original TCO and 90 days for the extension.  Councilman Patel raised the issue of whether there might be safety issues associated with site work and whether the Planning Board should be consulted before a TCO was granted, but the other board members did not respond to his questions.  Town Attorney Koster asked if the board wanted to add language to the proposed law giving the Town Board the ability to rescind a TCO. There was no response.

Speaking of the Winery, which was just granted a TCO. Supervisor Grace said that since Mr. DeChiaro is going for a rezoning, the proposed 180 time limit should “keep his feet to the fire.” And, although TCOs haven’t been used often in Yorktown, he added that they might come into play with future projects on Route 202.

The town attorney will make the changes in the draft local law which will be advertised for a public hearing at the next board meeting.

3. IBM

Representatives from IBM addressed the board on two separate issues: the construction of a helipad and an expansion of the existing parking lot. Although the applications were different, they both raised issues over whether the Planning Board or the Town Board has or should have jurisdiction over approving each application and over the need to change the town’s Zoning Ordinance. The board was supportive of both projects and wanted to push both along, but Planning Director John Tegeder advised the board that the town could not accept applications from IBM until the proper laws existed. The change in the laws had to come first, he said. In the meantime, it was agreed that IBM will continue to work with town staff to perfect its plans (they have been meeting for months on the projects) while town officials decide on the legal issues.

a. Helipad. The company is requesting permission to construct a helipad on the lawn in front of the visitor parking area so that it would no longer need to use the existing ballfield across the road which they said was not a safe location. The new facility, which would consist of a grass paving system that utilized grass growing out of a plastic grid, would be lit only when in use, and would be further from any houses than the existing ballfield. The flight pattern would be from I-684 and with a sharp drop down to the helipad. The IBM spokesman indicated that in the past five years, the ballfield site was used perhaps two to three times a year and that the company estimated that the new use, necessitated by changing  business needs and which was being built to accommodate senior customers and high level officials, might be used for six to eight trips a year. Usage would be during normal business hours.  The company would also make the site available to the town’s emergency services providers.

Building Inspector John Winter called the board’s attention to the fact that the current Zoning Ordinance has no provision for a helipad and that if a use isn’t specifically listed in the Ordinance, then it isn’t permitted. Planning Director John Tegeder then advised the board that it had two options: it could amend the current OB1 zone in which IBM is located to include helipads, or it could establish a special permit for a helipad. Both options raised other issues; if the OB1 zone was amended, then properties in other OB1 zones would be entitled to construct helipads. (Contractor’s Register in Jefferson Valley and the office buildings on Strang Blvd are the only other properties located in an OB1 zone.) If the board preferred the special permit route, than the issue would be which board should be the approving authority: the Town Board or the Planning Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, it appeared that the board preferred making a helipad a secondary use permitted in an OB1 zone and subject to the Town Board’s approval. (See discussion below on transferring approval authority for certain types of projects from the Planning Board to the Town Board.)

b. Expansion of parking lot.

In order to accommodate approximately 455 new employees who will be relocating to the Kitchawan facility from the company’s current Hawthorne location some time after Labor Day, the company needs to expand its existing parking facilities. The plan calls for converting a location adjacent to the current parking lot that previously housed modulars to be converted into a 247 space lot, although only 100 spaces would be constructed initially.  Also, as part of the plan, the existing lot would be restriped and an abutting satellite lot would be repaved and stripped. Because workers come and go at different hours, the additional cars were not expected to create traffic problems.

Several issues were raised as part of the discussion without any resolution. First, environmental consultant Bruce Barber advised the board that both the helipad and parking lot applications would have to be reviewed by the NYC DEP because the property is in the Croton Watershed. While the town may look at the applications as two distinct projects, he said that DEP might look at them as one and that the combined size of both might trigger a more significant DEP involvement in both projects.

Mr. Barber also explained that the project required an erosion control permit and that raised the issue of which board, the Planning Board of the Town Board would be the approving authority. Mr. Tegeder stated that because the application was for an amendment to a site plan, the erosion permit should be handled by the Planning Board. Supervisor Grace appeared to disagree. No final determination was made. (See discussion below on transferring approval authority for certain types of projects from the Planning Board to the Town Board.)

Concerns were also raised about how IBM would handle drainage from the site. The company’s preferred plan called for a drainage swap that involved diverting drainage from the building’s roof to an unused and open 250,00 gallon storage tank near the site’s treatment plan. Supervisor Grace indicated that he had some concerns about the safety of this type of use. Mr. Barber stated that he needed more information about water volumes, phosphorous removal, and other technical issues before offering an opinion.

4. Review of major development plans: Town Board or Planning Board

While not a specific item on the agenda, the discussion with IBM over two proposed projects on its current site, which is zoned OB1, led to a discussion of whether the authority for approving major projects should be taken away from the Planning Board and given to the Town Board.

Supervisor Grace said he favored giving the Town Board the authority for “critical” projects. Past boards, he said, gave up that responsibility because they didn’t want to deal with politically controversial projects. Councilman Paganelli expressed concern that moving approval authority to the Town Board would politicize the process. He feared that a Town Board might favor a project today but that two years from now a new board might quash a project. The Planning Board, he said, doesn’t have a political agenda.

All board members agreed to discuss the issue further when a full board was present.

5. Building Permit Fees

The board discussed the need for amendments to the current law regarding renewals for building permits. Building Inspector John Winter explained that when the law governing building permits was changed in 2010, one of the new provisions required permit holders to pay a renewal fee when their permits expired. While permits under the previous law were also issued for a year, in practice, they were allowed to continue forever. The problem, Mr. Winter explained, was that there was no transition period, or grace period, between when the permit expired and when a renewal fee was charged. Also, the change in the law had not been explained and so some people weren’t aware that they had to renew their permits.

A second issue Mr. Winter raised was that the previous law had a provision requiring that work be started on the project within six months of the date the permit was issued. This provision was omitted from the new law and should be added, he said.

The third issue was the fee to be charged for a renewal. There was general agreement that the current charge of 25% of the original permit fee was unreasonable and that an administrative fee, based on what it cost the building department in staff time to issue the renewal should be charged. Supervisor Grace asked Mr. Winter to come up with suggestions for an administrative fee that was “rationale and reasonable based on the services provided.” Fees, he said, should not be seen as a source of revenue.

When Town Attorney Koster said she would not be able to have some draft language on the proposed changes for the board to review until its February 28th work session, Supervisor Grace indicated that he would draft the necessary changes himself in 15 minutes. Attorney Koster then said she would work with Mr. Winter to have something sooner.

In the interim, Mr. Winter has been advising residents with expired permits but with work still to be done that they should wait until the board makes the necessary changes.

6. Emergency Generators

Dan Ciarcia, a local engineer, went over a plan he had drawn for the location of a generator at the YCCC. His suggested location was at the rear of the building near the garage entrance.  He said the front of the building would not be a good location because of the noise from the generator.  There was some discussion, but no definitive decision, about what size generator was needed.  Councilman Patel raised several technical issues about the generator and said he was planning on having a meeting tomorrow regarding the generator although he did not indicate with who he would be meeting. There was also a discussion of whether the purchase would include the labor involved to install it, as well as the labor involved in bringing the gas and electrical lines to the generator location and which option would avoid the need to pay prevailing wage.

Supervisor Grace asked Mr. Ciarcia to prepare a proposal for his services for moving the project forward.

There was a brief discussion about also purchasing a generator for Town Hall but Supervisor Grace stated that the YCCC which acts as an emergency shelter should be given priority.

7. Baptist  Church Road Project

Without any discussion, and with some board members already gone, Town Attorney Koster advised Supervisor Grace that at next week’s meeting, the board should declare itself lead agency under SEQRA in order to proceed with the condemnation required for the Baptist Church Road project.

8. Collateral loan broker license

Without any discussion, and with some board members already gone, Supervisor Grace said that the town wasn’t interested in permitting a pawn shop but that as a request had been made, the item had been put on the agenda.  No further action was indicated.