Town Board

March 28, 2017



Volunteer board discussions and negotiations



1. The Weyant

As an outgrowth of a meeting with Hamblyn Street residents, the applicant presented an alternate plan with access directly onto Route 202 instead of Hamblyn.  Supervisor Grace that both plans would be considered, along with a third option that would make the proposed emergency exit onto Route 202 located closer to the Roma Building into a full access point although Councilman Bernard suggested that this third option might be too close to the intersection. Supervisor  Grace also suggested that it might be time to consider making Hallocks Mill Rd a one way street.


Supervisor Grace indicated that he didn’t think the traffic impact would be as great as some people think, suggesting that they consider the traffic entering and leaving the New Chalet complex on Lexington Avenue.


In response to a question from a resident as to whether the developer was considering a change in the number of units, an issue that had been brought up at the meeting with residents, Mr. Capellini said that no change was planned.   The supervisor also defended the proposed rezoning to a “transitional zone” that gives the Town Board the ability to custom design a zone from scratch without regard to existing setback and other requirements.


With a general consensus in support of the concept plan from the Town Board , Planning Board and Planning Department,, the supervisor advised the applicant to submit a formal application. He advised the neighborhood residents at the meeting that they would have ample opportunity to comment on the plan during the review process.


2. Tompkins Garage, Route 129

The applicant is seeking an amended special use permit in order to install a new gas tank and also to erect a canopy over the pumps. The action is precipitated by the need to make changes to the site after a spill was cleaned up.  Although a gas station has been on the site for a very long time, the town engineer explained that new regulations control the distance the pumps can be from the existing building.


3. Brookdale Avenue wetlands permit

(See Town Board, 3-21-2017.) Although the board approved the wetlands permit at its previous meeting, Mr. Riina and Mr. Capellini told the board that they hadn’t had an opportunity to read the approving resolution prior to its adoption and that they now had objections to two provisions that they called “loose ends.”  Their major concern was the provision that would require the property owner to maintain the drainage swale on his property that was part of the mitigation plan. They argued that the swale was in the town’s right of way and that it was the town’s responsibility to maintain it; Mr. Quinn disagreed and argued that even if it was in the grassed right of way, it was still the property owner’s responsibility. Mr. Paganelli said that even if Mr. Quinn was correct, the provision was unenforceable and cited other areas of town where similar situations have arisen. He noted that these types of arrangement can be a catch-22 situation; the homeowner may technically be responsible for maintaining the swale, but if he doesn’t, the town doesn’t have the legal right to go on private property to maintain it.


The second “loose end” was a notation on the plan dealing with filling in 860 square feet of wetland. Mr. Quinn said that if this wasn’t needed to site the house, then it should be removed from the plan. Mr. Riina argued that filling in the wetland was part of the agreed on mitigation plan.


The board sided with Messrs. Riina and Capellini with Supervisor Grace noting that the drainage improvement was not needed for the property owner to build the house but was a public improvement.


4. Mailing requirements for ZBA notification

Mr. McDermott presented the text of a proposed law that would modify the current notification requirements. The major change would be requiring that the notification letters be sent via first class mail with a certificate of mailing from the post office as opposed to the current requirement that the letter be sent by certified mail.  According to ZBA chairman Gordon Fine who supports the change, the difference in cost is $7 for certified versus $1 for first class.


The board supported the change but on Supervisor Grace’s suggestion the draft law will be modified so that it applies to all required notifications. In support of the change, the supervisor noted that if a certified letter was sent to his house, there would be no one to sign for it.


A second change involves condos and multi-tenant commercial properties. The draft says that a single letter can be sent to the owner of the commercial property or the condo manager. At the board’s suggestion, the draft will be modified to give the appropriate board the option to require, on a case by case basis, whether letters should also be sent to all tenants or condo owners.


5. Grease Trap Inspections/proposed local law

In response to perennial problems, especially in the Route 6 area, of accumulated grease creating blockages in main sewer lines, the town is proposing a law that will require commercial establishments such as restaurants to conduct twice yearly inspections of their grease traps and provide documentation to the town. Failure to comply could result in fines: $2,500 for the first offense and more for a second offense.  (When blockages occur, the town gets fined. Part of the problem appears to be the inadequate pitch of the sewer line.)


Councilman Lachterman, who works in the restaurant industry, suggested that as part of an educational program, restaurant owners be advised of the benefits of using a bacterial additive to their grease traps that dissolves the grease.


The town attorney will make some modifications to the proposed law before scheduling a public hearing.


6. Update on Mohegan Avenue Retaining Wall/ Old Crompond Road culvert

Mohegan wall: After a first look at a preliminary plan to replace 600 feet of the retaining wall at an estimated cost of $800,000 Mr. Paganelli and Mr. Quinn suggested to the board that instead of doing the project this summer, as originally planned, the town submit the project for the second round of state grants for bridge and culvert repairs. Based on the assessment of the outside engineering firm that prepared the plan, the wall is not in imminent danger of collapse. There was a question, though,  that remained unanswered as to whether the wall would qualify for the state program.


Old Crompond Rd: Mr. Paganelli advised the board that replacing the culvert on Old Crompond Road behind McDonalds was a higher priority (actually priority #1 on the state grant application, even though the state awarded the town money for priority #2.) If this project is put off until next year’s round of state funding the town might have to plate the road and/or consider a weight limit where none currently exists.


Both projects will be included in a capital plan that is being developed.


7. Hallocks Mill Pump Station Rehabilitation

Mr. Quinn advised the board that he has made some minor modifications to the bid specs that were advertised last year and suggested that for $16,000, the consulting engineer could prepare a new set of bid specs, adding that if the town wanted to get the project done in 2017, it had to begin soon. The bids on the previous specs that were advertised last September came in at $1.9 million but the board never awarded a bid.


Supervisor Grace said rather than proceed with a bid for just the two pump stations, he preferred to wait until the town had a financial plan and timetable for how it was going to deal with 11 pump stations. He said that the town had made representations to the DEC that it would rehabilitate its pumps stations in exchange for the DEC renewing the sewage treatment plant’s SPEDES operating permit. The only other plant that the supervisor specifically mentioned by name was the Chelsea pump station on Farm Walk Road that has a history of problems and that the DEC wants replaced. 


A reference was made to a May 2nd meeting dealing with sewer issues with the supervisor indicating that by that time the town  should have a budget in place that   would cover everyting.



8. Cell Towers/Woodland Avenue

Both AT&T and Verizon have plans to modify the equipment on the existing tower by the Mohegan water tank.  The board had no issues with either company’s plans and advised them to proceed.


9. Proposed new Wetlands Law

A public hearing will be held on April 18th. A copy of the proposed law will be uploaded to the town’s web site.


Mr. McDermott explained that draft #3, the latest draft, contained mostly structural changes that made the law flow better. He said in preparing the draft he had reviewed the comments received from the DEC, DEP and Susan Siege,l the person writing this summary. Supervisor Grace stated that the DEP comments were not substantive and Mr. McDermott categorized the comments as dealing mostly with language. Mr. Tegeder had no comments on draft #3 and Councilman Bernard stated that the town had been working on the revised law for two years. Councilman Patel was the only board member who had concerns about the draft, including what environmental expert would be evaluating potential impacts on the environment (see  related discussion below about environmental consulting services) and also the fact that the draft exempted town-owned wetlands.  The supervisor rejected the latter comment saying that it didn’t make sense for the town to grant itself a permit He insisted that everything the town does is vetted and meets the standards that are as high or even higher than the standards that others are held to.


At another point in the discussion, when Councilman Patel said he wanted the town to request the county to review the new draft, Supervisor Grace appeared to agree that this would be done, but it was not clear how this request would be made/phrased. (Note: Although Councilman Diana stated that the county had vetted the earlier draft, the county declined to review the draft on the grounds that according to the law it had no jurisdiction to review the proposed law because it wasn’t part of the Zoning Code.)


And in what at times became a contentious discussion, Supervisor Grace took issue with Councilman Patel’s comments that the proposed law was designed to help developers.


In defending the changes in the draft law, Supervisor Grace was critical of the quantitative as opposed to qualitative approach in the current law, adding that the current law didn’t do what it was supposed to do. He said there was no scientific basis for the 100 foot buffer and that a functional approach would be more honest. He was also critical of an onsite mitigation plan for a new development.


Mohegan Lake resident Ken Belfer asked for clarification about the 100 foot buffer zone, noting that there was a separate regulation that defined the buffer in Mohegan as 150 feet. Supervisor Grace said this would not be a problem. (This point was not completely clear to the CIY observer.)


10. Development and environmental issues

Citing a March 7th memo from Mr. Tegeder to the Town Board that outlined a series of tasks that required the services of an environmental professional, Councilman Patel asked how these services would be provided after the board decided not to renew the conract with Bruce Barber that expired at the end of February. He said that the town planner and town engineer did not necessarily have the level of environmental expertise needed to take on the tasks. Supervisor Grace disagreed, and while acknowledging that there might be “some holes,” said that with some additional training, some in house staff could take on some of the responsibilities and that when necessary an outside consultant could be used on a case by case basis.  He said that the funds freed up by not having an annual contract with an environmental consultant would be made available to the Planning Department that has a budget line for “professional services.”


Mr. Quinn said that he had heard about the March 7th memo but hadn’t read it or talked to Mr. Tegeder about it.


Councilman Bernard said that all this had been discussed in an earlier closed executive session in the context of a personnel discussion and he didn’t understand why Councilman Patel was bringing up the issue now.


11. Master Fee Schedule

(See Town Board 2/28/2017). Mr. McDermott appeared closer to having a local law ready that would make the required changes in existing laws that would place fees in the Master Fee schedule.   For the first time since this issue was discussed, Supervisor Grace said that he preferred to have changes in fee made by local law that would be subject to a public hearing instead of by resolution that didn’t require a public hearing.  He said that this way, the public would not be blind sighted by a change that they otherwise might not have known about.  Mr. McDermott said he would modify the existing lawthat established the concept of the Master Fee Schedule so that any changes in fees would need to be made by local law instead of resolution.


In a related part of the discussion, Supervisor Grace said that the proposed new law would substitute a flat fee that would be included in the Master Fee Schedule as opposed to an escrow fee in the event the town needed to hire an outside professional to review an aspect of a development application. He said that not every application required the services of an outside professional. He said that the current escrow fee had an inherent conflict of interest, using as an example a former client of his before he was supervisor.


12. Jefferson Valley Mall

In an item not on the agenda, Supervisor Grace advised the board that the mall has made three requests for additional uses in its parking lot.

  1. A Saturday farmer’s market from mid April to mid September.

  2. 4 food trucks, plus some entertainment for a Thursday evening “fun night” from 5-9pm/

  3. A U-Haul rental facility in the southeast corner of the parking lot along the fence. In addition to the trucks, there would be

      a shed.


The board had no problem with the first two requests but members were not enthusiastic about the U-Haul use.


13.Miscellaneous issues

April 11th board meeting was cancelled due to the Passover holiday. The board is reviewing alternate dates that may be announced at the April 4th meeting.


Dogs: Acting on a suggestion from Town Clerk Quast, the town will advertise a Request for Proposals (RFP) for taking impounded dogs. The service is currently being provided by the SPCA on an annual contract.

Peddling: Town Clerk Quast said she wanted to work with the town attorney to review the existing law covering peddling and also the possibility of creating a “No Knock” registry whereby licensed peddlers would be given the addressed of houses they should not contact.


SPARC: The board waived the rent fee for SPARCs use of the YCCC for providing recreational services for the disabled. The supervisor noted that more discussions were needed to resolve the funding issues involving Norwest and SPARC, the two groups that serve the same population.