Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Town Board

April 1, 2014


1. Courtesy of the Floor

Trump Park sales building:  Lou D’Amico, a resident at Trump Park and speaking on behalf of other condo owners, asked the town to stop interfering in the issue, adding that whatever issues there are, they are between the condo owners , the contractors and the condo board. (It was noted that there was a 4-1 vote by the condo board but it was not explained what the vote was for.) Calling the actions of the developer “deceptive,” he said that it appeared that the developer’s goal was to continue litigating the issue with the Westchester Land Trust and that the condo owners would “get stuck” with the bill. Kathy Quinn, a homeowner in the nearby subdivision, also supported the demolition, calling the issue one of trust and faith. 


In response, Supervisor Grace said that while the Westchester Land Trust and the Yorktown Land Trust each had easements to the underlying land, both easements were subservient to a Town of Yorktown recreation easement and that he thought that a municipal use, such as an arts center, would be consistent with a recreation easement.  Adding that it was his duty to do what was best for the entire town, he said that the building was an asset that should be shared by the entire community. 


Councilman Bianco, the only current board member who was on the Town Board when the development was approved, said the town’s word would mean nothing if future boards changed the conditions of an approval.  If we renege on our word, then our word means nothing, he said, adding that “this should end the subject.”


Planning Board member John Flynn stated that when the Planning Board approved the development, with the easements and plans for a gazebo and walking trail, it was considering the whole town.


Mohegan Lake: Ken Belfer and Laura Kobar (sp?) of the Mohegan Lake Improvement District advised the board that the group has applied to the DEC for a permit to add alum (aluminum sulfate) to the lake in an effort to control the existing phosphorous problem in the lake bed, which, in turn, creates the algae bloom problem that has closed the lake to swimming for the past two seasons.  They explained that the last time alum was added , in 2002, it helped the lake. They explained  that the alum would bind with the phosphorous and prevent its release. While sewers and fertilizer restrictions have helped reduce the introduction of “new” phosphorous into the lake, they explained that the limnologists who have studied the lake believe that the problem is the phosphorous already in the lake.   Because MLID will also need a town wetlands permit, or an amendment to its existing permit, the speakers asked to be put on a board work session as soon as possible so that their request could be processed as quickly as possible. They explained that in order to be effective, the alum had to be added to the lake in the spring before the algae had a chance to grow.


 2. Public hearing scheduled for stop signs

The board voted to hold a public hearing  on April 15 to consider stop signs at various intersections  on Oslo Drive, Loder Road and two on Northridge Road.


3. Appointments

Maureen Connelly was appointed Librarian at a salary of $66,522.


4. Selected Resolutions passed unanimously

$1.1 million budget transfer from fund balance. Before voting on the resolution that would transfer $1,097,594 dollars from the general fund fund balance to various other budget lines, Councilman Patel asked why most of the transfer ($971,881) was for the police retirement and state retirement systems. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the town had been notified that the retirement systems made miscalculation in its 2011 warrant (bill) to the town and rebilled the town for the deficiency. He added that the town was lucky that it had a healthy fund balance that could deal with the unanticipated expense, adding that the 2013 fund balance had grown by 10%.  Councilman Bianco said that the should have been told about the deficiency earlier.

Vehicle sale:  An unneeded Sewer Department vehicle will be put up for auction.

Vehicle purchase: Bids are requested for the purchase of a new truck for the Refuse and Recycling Department.

IBM:  In support of the request that IBM to be added to the Ossining Sewer District.

Urban Renewal:  The town will execute a “Certificate of Completion” for an agreement that dates back to 1977. (No explanation was given as to why the Certificate was needed, or for which property it dealt with.)


5. Convalescent Home Public Hearing

Additional arguments were heard for and against the proposed special permit. At approximately 11pm, having given all persons who had signed up at the previous meeting an opportunity to speak, the hearing was adjourned to  May 6  at which time the clerk will read a 10 page letter from someone who said they wanted the letter read into the record and to give the applicant an opportunity to speak.  (Earlier in the evening, the applicant had asked, as a point of order, for an opportunity to speak, but the clerk continued to call on people who had signed up to speak.) 


Some of the issues raised included:

Not allowing a commercial operation in a residential zone.  Several  speakers addressed this issue. John Flynn, a Planning Board member and resident in the neighborhood of the proposed home, noted that the zoning ordinance, while separating  residential and commercial uses, was flexible and allowed some commercial uses in residential zones, such as churches, day care facilities and doctor offices. He said possible uses for the house , which he called a “white elephant,” included converting it into a hotel, restaurant, daycare facility or permitting  multi family housing, adding that each of these possible uses would have its own set of impacts on the neighborhood.


Residents opposed to the permit stated that it was one thing for a person to buy a home knowing that there was a pre-existing non-residential use in the neighborhood, e.g.,  Four Winds in Lewisboro and the Bedford Hills prison,  but different for those who bought homes in residential areas and then a commercial use was proposed after they had moved in.


Need for a sober living home.  Both speakers in support of the application, including Lisa Mackay and Tricy Cusher, as well as those who spoke against it, agreed on the extent of the drug/addiction problem and that something had to be done about it and all supported the concept of a sober living residence. Where they differed, however, was Yorktown’s responsibility to address the problem which, it was said, would not necessarily serve Yorktown residents.  At issue was Yorktown's role as a caring community in dealing with the crisis. Ms. Cusher asked residents not to be afraid of change.


Legal issues. Michael Sirignano, the attorney for the homeowners opposed to the permit, repeated the major point he had made at the ZBA hearing that under the existing code, a convalescent home was synonymous with a nursing home and that the sober living residence did not meet the code’s requirements for a nursing home.  He advised the board members to arrive at their own determination about the meaning of the code independent of the ZBA determination. However, Mr. Capellini advised the board that it was bound by the ZBA’s decision. Mr. Sirignano said he had reviewed the video of the 1997 Town Board meeting (see ZBA meeting below) and noted that the amendments to the zoning code had been drafted by Supervisor Grace acting as town attorney at the time and that at the meeting, Mr. Grace had said that a convalescent home and a nursing home were one and the same. Supervisor Grace said that whether there was a difference between the two types of facilities was still an open issue.


In response to the applicant’s contention that he could open a sober living residence “as of right” as a “family,”  Mr. Sirignano said he welcomed the applicant’s dropping the special permit request and  trying to come in as a family but that a sober living residence did not meet the code’s definition of “family.” He said that if the Town Board saw the need for a sober living residence, it should add that type of facility to the zoning code as a permitted use by special permit.


In response to comments that referenced group homes, Supervisor Grace explained that the sober living residence was not a group home and that procedures that applied to group homes were not applicable to the current application.


Process. Several residents questioned the process, particularly the changed dates on a Building Department memo, and Robert Gironda questioned the credibility of the applicant and what he called inconsistencies in the applicant’s statements.   Mr. Gironda also questioned the 19 conditions the applicant said he was willing to put on the permit, adding that he thought it was the town’s  prerogative to put conditions on a permit.


Grace recusal.  Several residents asked Supervisor Grace to recuse himself based on past comments he had made about his personal family experience with addiction.  In response, the supervisor made a full disclosure about his personal involvement in the issue which, he said,  gave him more understanding about the issue, adding that he felt his eventual decision on the issue would not be tainted by this experience and he saw no need to recuse himself. Later in the evening, he apologized to his family member for having singled him out publically for having an addiction problem.


Alternate use for the site. John Clark suggested that the town purchase the historic house and under the aegis of a not-for-profit entity and operate it as a community facility.


Mr. Capellini said that the applicant has submitted additional documents in support of the application and Mr. Sirignano’s 18 page memo to the ZBA was entered into the Town Board record.