April 10, 2018
Refuse and recycling contract and legal department
1. Lowes update
Representatives of Lowes and department heads provided the board with a status report. The work is on schedule and Lowes anticipates opening in Nov/Dec of this year. No tenants have been signed yet for the three additional spaces and marketing the sites continues. The upgrades to Route 202, which will proceed from west to east, are expected to be completed by September. Regarding the water supply loop, the site plan will identify which parts of the line are owned by the town and which by Lowes.(The loop agreement is close to being finalized.) It was suggested that department heads and representatives of Lowes meet on a regular basis to coordinate the work’s progress. An inspector, hired by the town and paid for by Lowes, has been submitting regular reports.
2. Hallocks Mill sewer updates
The low bid to upgrade the three pump stations is $1,995,000 for the general contractor and $350,000 for the electrical work. However, the total cost will be reduced by about $500,000 if the Jefferson Park pump station is rerouted to the Peekskill system which would eliminate the need for the pump station.
The money for the project could come from the sewer district’s fund balance, currently at $5.5 M, or it could be bonded, or a combination of both. Councilwoman Roker cautioned that if the project was financed from the fund balance, funds might not be available to finance the upgrade of other pump stations in the sewer district. Mr. Quinn advised the board that there is state grant money for this type of project but that the town’s application last year was rejected. Both Mr. Quinn and the town’s bond counsel agreed that given the town’s demographics, it was not likely that the town would receive state money in future grant rounds. Bond counsel estimated that the going interest rate for a 30 year bond would be 4-4.25%.
Jefferson Park pump station: Regarding the Jefferson Park pump station, Mr. Quinn advised the board that the original resolution to switch the neighborhood to the Peekskill system that was approved by the board last year stated that 21 houses were involved while additional information indicates that the correct number is 37. The board will have to send an amended resolution to the county. He estimated that since the county has already started its review of the switchover request, the issue could be resolved in 3-4 months.
How the rerouting would be financed remains to be determined. The 37 homeowners would have to pay a $90,000 buy in to the Peekskill district over a 10 year period. It was also not clear if any money in the Hallocks Mill fund balance could be used to finance the project, and if so, how much. The town’s bond s counsel will look into this issue, along with projected costs of bonding and the amount of the lost revenue to the Hallocks Mill district once 37 properties are removed from the district. The switch would be subject to a permissive referendum although it was not clear if the referendum would only be for the 37 houses or the entire sewer district.
Sewer extension project
While the recently completed engineering study focused on 670 parcels in several neighborhoods, Supervisor Gilbert noted that given the current excess flow capacity in the treatment plant, there would only be capacity to have about 350 additional houses hook up. Councilwoman Roker said that the unsewered homes that potentially would be part of the project needed to be kept informed as early as possible about the planning. Financing for the project was not clear. Mr. Quinn added that the DEC is concerned about the need to address the aging pipes in the system and that he would be suggesting an aggressive infiltration and inflow plan.
3. Hill Blvd/Veterans Rd bridge and culvert update
(See Town Board 10-17-2017.) Mr. Quinn reported that based on the latest estimates, the Hill Blvd project is $400,000 less than original estimates. The DOT will pay 95% of the cost, while the estimate for the Veterans Rd project is $47,000 over the original estimate. Although the state will pay 100% of the cost for the latter project, the town may have to pick up the difference between the original and final costs. The goal is to have bid specs ready by the end of the year.
The town’s consulting engineer has developed detour plans for both projects and a meeting will likely be held in May for a public review of the plans. The town engineer stated that while the Hill Blvd detour is easy, the Veterans Road detour presented more issues, both for pedestrians and vehicles.
4. Highway Department/ truck purchase
Mr. Paganelli advised the board that he needsto purchase 3 new trucks for a total cost of $624,000. He said the department’s fund balance had sufficient funds to cover the cost. From the time the trucks are ordered, it will take 6-7 months for them to arrive.
As a follow up to previous discussions about the pros and cons of buying separate chassis and stainless steel bodies that typically have a longer life span than the chassis, Mr. Paganelli said that going forward, even though a 20 year old body might still be in good condition, given changes in chassis design and specifications, it might not be possible to use a 20 year old body on a new chassis.
5. Storm damage/fallen trees
Mr. Paganelli advised that board that under Highway Law, his department, that is financed by a separate budget fund, could only do work on town roads and right of ways. This presents a problem, for example, when a tree on town owned land falls on a private property; if his department is asked to remove the tree, the town’s General Fund would have to reimburse the Highway Fund; if not, highway’s cost would be a “gift of public funds.” He advised the board that going forward, the town should consider budgeting for tree work. Councilwoman Roker said she would seek the advice of a forester she knew.
6. Granite Knolls Sports Complex, Update
Joe Riina, the consulting engineer in charge of the project, gave a status report. Due to the weather and the wet conditions on the ground, some construction has been delayed; the anticipated opening date is now early June.
After a presentation from members of the Recreation Commission and Parks Superintendent Orlowski on lighting options for the fields and walkways and the need to have the lighting installed before the tur is installed, the board authorized the purchase of lighting; the cost was not identified. Comptroller Caporale advised the board that, to date, costs are approximately $152,000 in excess of the $6.370 M the town received from Spectra but that there might be additional costs. She will prepare budget transfer resolutions for next week’s board meeting to cover already authorized costs. The Commission is still reviewing plans to purchase the necessary buildings off state contract.
7. Tree Law
In a follow up to the board’s earlier discussion on the need to strengthen the 2016 Tree Law, Linda Miller, speaking for Advocates for a Better Yorktown, went over several policy issues the group believed needed to be changed, including more expansive language for the legislative intent and findings sections of the law as well as the need for more defintions in order to eliminate future uncertainty as to what certain words meant. For example, she noted that the 2016 law exempted agricultural activities from needing permits, but there was no definition of what constituted an agricultural activity. Councilwoman Roker agreed with the group’s section to return to a two tier system of permits, one issued by the town engineer, and the other issued by either the Planning Board or the Town Board, with separate requirements for homeowners and developers.
Several board members expressed concern over the provision that would require a homeowner to have an arborist certify that a tree was dead or dying before it could be removed without a permit.
It was the board’s consensus that Ms. Miller work with the town attorney on the draft law prepared by the group and that the draft be referred out for comment.
(Note: Susan Siegel, the observer writing this summary, is a member of Advocates for an Informed Yorktown.)
8. Mohegan lake Improvement District/Wetlands permit
The group is seeking a new permit to continue the annual introduction of chemicals into the lake in order to reduce/eliminate the growth of blue green algae that from time to time has closed the lake for swimming . Ken Belfer, head of MLID explained that the group plans to use DEC approved copper sulfate but that it hopes to be approved for a pilot project to use alum which he explained would be a more long term solution to the lake’s phosphorus problem. The group is hoping to make the first of several required copper sulfate applications in early June. The chemical application will be done by a licensed applicator.
Mr. Quinn recommended that MLID hire a professional person to oversee the applicator. The board rejected the suggestion and expressed its support for the continued work and expertise of MLID volunteers. Mr. Belfer advised the board that through a Cornell University intern working on his master’s degree in lake management, the group has had access, at no cost, to the services, of the university’s experts.
9. Affordable Housing Set Aside Law
Ken Belfer and Maura Gregory of the Community Housing Board asked the board to reinstate Chapter 102 of the town code that called for developers to set aside affordably priced units in single family or multi family developments based on a sliding scale. He suggested that the requirement begin at 10 units, compared to the 8 unit threshold in the earlier law.
In response to Councilman Lachterman’s challenge of the constitutionality of the set aside requirement, Mr. Belfer cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision that refused to invalidate a set aside law upheld by a lower court. He also noted that 30 other Westchester municipalities had similar laws and that they have not been challenged and that developers accept the requirement as a “cost of doing business.”
Concern was expressed over the fact that that based on current law, the town could not limit the affordable units to town residents or people employed in the town. And Jay Kopstein noted that because the affordable units were assessed at a lower value than regular units because their deeds restricted future resale prices, the town would receive less revenue, resulting in town taxpayers paying more to provide housing to non town residents.
When Mr. Tegeder stated that a set aside law was not a panacea for dealing with the need for more diverse housing and that the issue of affordably was more a question of product than a set aside requirement, Mr. Belfer cited the Weyant proposal where a more expensive 22 unit townhouse development was substituted for a 36 unit apartment project in response to neighborhood opposition.
Councilwoman Roker said she would like to invite Judith Reardon, a lawyer and former member of the Planning Board and a member of the county’s Housing Task Force, to address the board. It was noted that both women opposed the 2016 repeal of Chapter 102.
Councilman Lachterman said he favored a density bonus to a set aside requirement, adding that a set aside requirement could scare potential developers like the Weyant, away. Supervisor Gilbert said that on balance he was in favor of bringing back the set aside law. When Councilman Diana wanted to know if the presence of an affordable unit in an otherwise market priced development would lower the property values of the other houses, Mr. Tegeder responded that it would be difficult to identify the affordable units as the features as the features that lowered the cost of the unit were on the inside of the unit.
10. Con Edison street opening plans
(See Town Board, 12-19-2017.) In anticipation of resuming work on its 5-year gas pipeline project, Con Ed is requesting both a wetlands permit and a street opening permit based on the law that was passed last year. While the utility will be working only in the road and not in a wetland or wetland buffer, because the road is 100 feet from a wetland, a wetland permit is required.
Pursuant to last year’s law, Mr. Tegeder and Mr. Quinn prepared a draft of the required new street opening permit. The draft requires the applicant to submit plans to the engineering office, but it became clear during the discussion that the law required the application to go to the building department. Councilwoman Roker noted that the new building inspectors felt that he was being side stepped. The application form will be changed.
The company will be required to complete the work on roughly1,000 feet of trnech before proceeding to the next cut. The completed trench will be backfilled and covered with a binder coat but final curb to curb paving will not be done until all the construction is completed for the season. Con Ed acknowledged problems with the binder coat used in 2017 and said that the new inspection requirement in place for this year should resolve the issue. It remains to be determined how many hours a town employee will have to be on site to inspect the work and what the cost, to be paid for by Con Ed, will be.
An issue that remains to be resolved is where Con Ed will store equipment and supplies during the work. Mr. Paganelli pointed out that Con Ed could be allowed to use the right of way along the road even though homeowners generally consider that area to be “their” property. Another possible location for some supplies could be the Greenwood Street Hill. Because of its wide width, Sterling Place was suggested as a possible overnight location for supplied and/or the excavator as it would be impractical to continually move the large piece of equipment.
Representatives of Con Ed were asked to make a presentation of their construction plans for 2018, plus their overall 5-year plan at next week’s televised board meeting. Construction will resume on Gomer Street at London Road. It was not clear what other streets are slated for work this year.
11. Gulf gas station/Route 202
(See Town Board 3-20-2018 and Planning Board 2-26-2018.) The project’s architect said he is still working on new plans and Mr. Tegeder advised the board that the Planning Board needed a lot more information before it could send a recommendation to the Town Board which is the approving authority for the gas station’s special permit. The architect said he disagreed with ABACA over the site’s proposed new signage: what he called an “architectural treatment,” ABACAA considered a sign that exceeded the law’s square footage signage guides. The architect said that the latest plan for upgrading the site is to continue the combination convenience store and garage.
Legal Department (resumption of earlier discussion.)