Town Board Meeting
March 6, 2012
1. Supervisor’s Report
a. Bulk Trash pick up begins next week. Check the post card that was mailed to each household for the schedule.
b. March 11th: Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK) is sponsoring Save A Life, a series of forums for young adults, teens and adults. YCCC, 3-6pm.
c. Meeting with DOT: The Supervisor and Councilman Murphy met with DOT officials in Albany to discuss Route 202 and the area around the JV Mall.
d. March 22nd: The next Community Affairs meeting, 7pm at Copper Beech Middle School.
2. Councilman’s Report
a. Tax installment agreements. Councilman Bianco, responding to a question asked at the last board meeting, said that seven out of 45 tax installment agreements were in default. He said that initially he was told there was only one default, but that he later learned that the actual number was higher.
b. Discount pool passes. On a motion by Councilman Paganelli, the board voted unanimously to offer discount pool passes to active members of the town’s emergency services groups such as the fire company and ambulance corps in recognition of their services to the community. The fees will be $100 for a family and $50 for single passes. It is estimated that the discounts will costs the town about $650. Councilman Paganellil explained that members of volunteer boards already get a discount.
3. Courtesy of the Floor
a. Senior club trips. Rhoda Sussman, representing Senior Clubs 1 & 2, asked for clarification about the availability of the town’s senior vans to take club members to four special luncheons scheduled this year at the Cortlandt Colonial Restaurant. Councilman Bianco said he thought that this issue had been resolved earlier and that the drivers would work flexible schedules on those days. Supervisor Grace said he would work it out.
b. Backflow issues. Local plumber David Goldberg and Joe Bonano of J&J Backflow repeated their concerns, made at a previous meeting, about the town operating its own black flow business. Mr. Bonano said it was “inappropriate and unethical” for the Water Department to send a letter to commercial users telling them that they needed to have their backflow devices inspected and then, in the same letter, have them call the Water Department to set up an appointment for the test. At a minimum, he wanted his company’s name included in the letter. Since the town started the backflow program in 2009, which is required by the county Health Department, he said he has been losing business. He also said that the town’s charge of $65 undercut the private contractors. He said that in White Plains, private companies did the testing but that the city charged $50 for a city employee to witness the test. In Yonkers, the city charges a $25 fee to file the test results.
In response, Supervisor Grace said that he had spoken to Water Distribution Superintendent David Rambo after Mr. Bonano’s first appearance and that the department was looking into its fee structure and that if it didn’t reflect the town’s actual cost, then the fee would be raised. He said he would have another talk with Mr. Rambo. Talking about fees in general, Supervisor Grace said that the town was looking into all of them and whether they were too low or too high.
c. Farmers’ Market. Representatives of Meadows Farm, Wilkens Farm and Stuart’s Farm expressed their concern about news reports that there would be a Farmers’ Market coming to Yorktown. They all said that no one had contacted them about the planned market. All stated that the market would hurt their local businesses. Randy Pratt of Wilkens farm said that his farm realized 85% of its yearly revenue in 18 days and that a Farmers’ Market that ran for 28 days would negatively impact on the farm’s revenue. Bob Stuart told the board that the vendors at these markets were truckers, not farmers , and that there was no way to enforce a rule that the vendors had to be farmers.
In response, Supervisor Grace explained that the idea for a Farmers’ Market came out of the first community affairs outreach meeting as a way to help local non-profit groups and charities and help recreate a sense of community and promote local businesses. The town, he said, is not involved in the implementation of the idea. Both he and Councilman Murphy said that the intent of the market was not to hurt local businesses. The farmers were urged to come to the next community affairs meeting on March 22nd.
d. Bids. Referring to an agenda item to extend the bid for body repair on town cars and trucks for an additional year, Fred Gulitz asked why the town did not rebid the service. While praising the work of Tompkins Garage, the vendor that had the winning bid in 2009, he said there were 11 auto body shops within a 10 mile radius and that the town might be able to save money if it solicited new bids.
Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue and, as there was no rush to extend the contract, the item was pulled from the agenda. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo, who has taken over the responsibility for this bid after the retirement of Pat Lofaro, said that it was typical to do bids that gave the town the option to extend the bid for three additional one year periods. He said that Tompkins charged $27 an hour which was a “terrific number.”
e. Trail system. Tim O’Connell of the Westchester Mountain Bike Association gave the board a report of the status of the town’s growing trail system, used by both hikers and mountain bike users. Fifteen miles of new trails have been added in the Sylvan Glen, Woodlands Legacy and Granite Knolls trail systems. (Note: The bridge over the Taconic links the three trails.) Citing the need for additional parking, he asked the board to do something to demolish the deteriorated barn along Stoney Street that was part of the Granite Knolls acquisition. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said that his department is currently working on the tennis courts at the Granite Knolls site and that possibly the site’s old basketball court could be used for parking. Supervisor Grace said that as there were many issues that needed to be discussed, he would ask Mr. O‘Connell to come to a work session.
In response to comments from Fred Gulitz about the value of the wood in the barn, Mr. O’Connell said that he had contacted several potential buyers but that no one was interested. Councilman Bianco noted that the town had been trying to work with local churches to dispose of religious artifacts located in the barn which was previously owned by the Jesuits.
In response to a question from Gil Kaufmann during the second Courtesy of the Floor about what types of bikes used the Woodlands Legacy trail, it was explained that mountain bikes were permitted. Mr. Kaufmann said that something should be done about bike riders who may be creating safety problems for those using the fields.
f. Bernstein House. Ed Ciffone raised the issue of a realtor having been engaged to sell the Bernstein House. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the issue had been reported incorrectly and that there had been no board resolution to engage Mr. Primavera. “We were careful what we did. It was reported incorrectly.” During the second Courtesy of the Floor, Mr. Ciffone reminded the board that the proceeds from last year’s auction of the Bernstein House (when the high bidder reneged on his bid, he lost his deposit) were supposed to go to the museum and not into the general fund. Both Supervisor Grace and Town Attorney Koster disagreed with his legal interpretation of the deed that gave the property to the town.
g. Yorktown Events sign. Chris Sciara said that the two downed Events signs were being stored in his shop and that he would donate the labor to repair them. He suggested that rather than have empty spaces on the signs, local businesses should be able to advertise on them.
4. Public hearing on proposed law relating to Temporary Certificates of Occupancy
Supervisor Grace explained that the purpose of the proposed local law was to extend the period of time for a temporary certification of occupancy (TCO) from the current 90 days to 180 days.
Susan Siegel (the person writing these notes) spoke in opposition to the proposal law and expressed concern that 180 days, plus a 90 day extension, plus the possibility of indefinite extensions, gave the property owner legal cover to indefinitely postpone making site plan improvements that might compromise public safety issues. She said the proposed law had no criteria or standards for judging what constituted “good cause” for the town approving the issuance of a TCO.
Supervisor Grace said that in this difficult economy, a one to three month delay in a business being able to open could mean the difference between success and failure and that the town had to do something to help fill up the town’s empty stores. He said that the town would not compromise on safety issues and that the decision to issue a TCO would be made on a case by case basis making sure that all safeguards were in place. He said that in some instances more time was needed to deal with site plan issues. He cited the example of a business that has been trying to get a CO for four months for a planned change of use for an existing commercial space but was having difficulty because of a parking issue. The business is paying out rent but not getting income, he said. The longer period for a TCO would, he said, give the town another “tool in its arsenal” and allow the town to be a partner with business instead of an adversary. The town could always put conditions on the TCO or shorten the period of time, he added.
Speaking in favor of the proposed change, Councilman Paganelli said that public safety would be a primary concern and Councilman Murphy said that delays in opening were another obstacle for businesses.
Councilman Bianco said he thought a 90 day TCO was sufficient and agreed with some of the public safety concerns raised by Ms. Siegel. He wanted to add language to the law about public safety concerns but Supervisor Grace said that the proposed language about showing “good cause” was sufficient. Councilman Bianco also expressed concern that giving the board discretion to approve the TCOs could lead to decisions being made for political reasons instead of public safety, a point rejected by Councilman Paganelli.
Councilman Bianco said that what was needed to help business were changes in the Building Department and the inability of property owners to sometimes get straight answers from the department.
In response to question from Ed Ciffone about the taxes paid by the Winery at St. George which recently was granted a TCO, Supervisor Grace said that a property’s assessment was changed when a CO for the property is issued.
The board voted 4-1, with Councilman Bianco voting no, to approve the proposed new law.
5. Bid awards.
Holland Sporting Club: The board awarded the bid for the rental of containers and disposal of debris for the demolition of the Holland Sporting Club buildings to CRP for a total estimated cost (based on 40 containers and a fixed tonnage) of $30,650. Supervisor Grace said, however, that the town had not decided whether the job should be done by an outside contractor or the Highway Department and that awarding the bid simply locked in the price but gave the board future options.
The board also awarded the bid for athletic equipment and games.
6. Broadcast Services Agreement. On the initiative of Councilman Bianco, the board voted 5-0 to extend the contract for Cary Vigilanate for one year instead of six months at the cost of $500 per month. Ms. Vigilante assists in the broadcast programming for the government channel.
a. Park & Recreation Department. The board voted unanimously to promote Brian Gray, currently assistant superintendent to superintendent to replace Jennifer Fava at a salary of $89,000 and Todd Orlowski, currently recreation supervisor to assistant superintendent at a salary of $85.433.
b. Court. The board accepted the resignation of JoAnn McCallister, a part time clerk in the court. There are now three vacancies at the court, 1 full time and 2 part time.
8. Referral of legislation
The board voted to refer proposed changes in the Zoning Ordinance relating to the OB zone and a special permit for helipads in an OB zone to the appropriate agencies and boards for their review. For a copy of the proposed legislation, go to: http://www.yorktownny.org/townclerk/pending-legislation
With the exception of a proposed resolution to auction four police cars which Supervisor Grace pulled because he had not received any documentation on the proposed cars to be auctioned, the board unanimously approved the resolutions on the agenda, some of which included:
a. Reserved two spots in the Orange County Police Academy scheduled to begin on March 19th at a cost of $4,000 for the two new police officers to be hired. The next Westchester academy doesn’t start until August.
b. Extended the bid for the concession stands at Junior lake and Shrub Oak pools.
c. Extended the contract for Ingrid O’Sullivan, Esq. to serve as town prosecutor for another year under the same terms. (The town prosecutor handles state traffic tickets and town code violations in the town Justice Court.)
After adjoining the meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss personnel issues.