Town Board Work Session
April 14, 2015
1. Spectra pipeline information meeting
In a 2 ½ hour session, representatives of Spectra made an initial presentation of the plans for both the AIM and Atlantic Bridge pipeline expansion projects, and then answered written questions that had been submitted by residents, as well as oral questions posed during the meeting, mostly from Councilman Patel.
Supervisor Grace also announced that FERC has scheduled a scoping session for the Atlantic Bridge project on May 11 at the YCCC. The time was not available.
A video of the meeting is available on the town’s web site, http://www.yorktownny.org/townboard/meeting-videos.
Questions and answers included
Disposal of old pipeline sections
New value regulator at Stoney Street and noise impact
Protection of the lime kiln and trails at Sylvan Glen and Granite Knolls
How the Atlantic Bridge project will impact Legacy Fields
Whether the projects are to replace old pipes or for an expansion
Whether Spectra will obtain town permits
Junior Park wetlands mitigation plan
2. Rezoning request for Hickory Street
No action was taken on Primavera's request to rezone his sinigle family house to allow it to be used for commercial offices as Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Bernard and myself made it clear that before any application can be referred out to advisory boards for review (standard procedure), a formal application will have to be made.
Mr. Primavera explained that he has four employees in his public relations business, that he sometimes sleeps in the house, and that he has built a television studio which he plans to make available to the public. He said he needs the commercial designation in order to qualify for economic development assistance funds available through the county. He also wanted to make changes to the driveway access point. He said he has a tenant living in a portion of the house.
Supervisor Grace set out three options for a new use for the historic house that he called a “white elephant”:
a special permit that would allow two family or multiple family or a restaurant. (I added that a permit could also be obtained for “limited office use”)
or rezoning to either a country commercial zone that has specific re bulk requirements or the transitional zone that is custom tailored to the specific property and proposed new use.
Supervisor Grace clearly favored the transitional rezoning arguing that it would improve the property; he said the existing fence was unattractive and ideally should be replaced with some landscaping; a point Mr. Primavera agreed with.
Other than commenting on the referral issue, Councilman Bernard did not give any sense of his position on the transitional zoning. Councilman Diana was silent and Councilman Patel remains opposed to the rezoning.
When I pointed out that the parcel did not appear to meet the requirements for the transitional zone, Mr. Primavera said I was ‘stretching” the language of the zoning code. I suggested he might want to consider applying for a special permit for “limited office use.”
3. Zoning amendments relating to sober living residences
I presented a slightly modified draft of suggested changes to the zoning code, including a new definition of the word “family” and text for a new special permit that would encompass, but not be limited to, sober living residences.
Supervisor Grace repeated his position that there’s nothing wrong with the existing code requirements for a convalescent home and that an SLR would not be allowed to open as a family but would have to apply for a special permit as a convalescent home. I disagreed with both points, pointing out that under the existing definition of family I could open an SLR in my house and by not calling it a convalescent home, not be required to get a special permit.
Both Supervisor Grace and Town Attorney Koster said that the draft new definition of family I was suggesting that required unrelated individuals living as a single housekeeping unit to qualify as the “functional equivalent of a family” was unconstitutional. Ms. Koster also said the definition was geared to living arrangements such as fraternity houses (which Councilman Diana, in his only comment during the discussion, referred to an “animal houses,” ) and wasn’t relevant for Yorktown. I cited a legal memorandum from the NYS Department of State on the definition of family that was the basis for my draft definition but Ms. Koster dismissed the memorandum as “only advisory.”
In response to Councilman Bernard’s concerns about the ability to issue special permits with conditions, Ms. Koster advised that any special permit requirements had to be based on land use issues such as parking requirements and setbacks, a point I did not dispute because those were the type of provisions I included in my draft.
Councilman Bernard also raised the issue of whether SLRs should be allowed in residential zones that typically are on small lots. When he suggested that future SLR applicants follow the group home procedure that provides for a town committee to suggest alternate locations, Supervisor Grace indicated his disapproval of the bill currently in the state legislature that would set up a task force to study the need for possible legislation regulating SLRs. He warned that any such legislation was likely to be modeled after the Padavan law that regulated group homes and which would leave the town with no option but to accept more SLRs.
At my suggestion, Ms. Koster will prepare a legal memo outlining why she believes my proposed amendments are either unconstitutional or not necessary. While Supervisor Grace said the memo was not needed, Councilman Bernard said he wanted one. Ms. Koster said the memo could take at least a month to prepare.
4. Water department issues
Cement lining. Water Superintendent Rambo explained that an additional segment of unlined pipe was identified on Front Street and that this will be added to the three mile project, estimated to cost $1.6 million. The Strawberry Road and Baldwin Rd relining will be done next summer.
Backhoe: When the board previously authorized the department to purchase a new backhoe e, using funds in its 2015 budget, the suggestion was made that the existing backhoe be “sold” to the Parks Department. Mr. Rambo advised the board, however, that the Parks Department has said it did not have the $16,000-$$20,000 in its budget to purchase the backhoe and that given the backhoe’s 25 year history, it might be a financial drain in terms of ongoing repair costs. (Because the two departments are financed by different budget funds, the water district has to be made whole for any sale of equipment to another budget fund. ) Instead, Mr. Rambo suggested auctioning off the backhoe. Supervisor Grace said he still felt that the Parks Department could use the backhoe but agreed to put the equipment up for auction to see how much it might fetch.
Part time cleaner: Mr. Rambo requested permission to use some of seasonal/part time money in his budget to hire a person for 16 hours/week to clean the department’s offices. The work is currently being done by the department’s labor staff but Mr. Rambo felt the work wasn’t being done properly as the men were more used to doing outside work. Supervisor Grace opposed the idea and advised Mr. Rambo to direct his men to do a better cleaning job.
5. Use of PA system in board room
In a brief discussion, I asked that the room’s PA (public address) system be used during work sessions so that people in the room could hear what was being discussed at the board table. The PA system is totally separate from the system that televises the meetings. All that would be required is plugging in the microphones and flipping a switch in the control room. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue and get back to the board.
6. Other discussions/ actions
SPARC: The board waived YCCC room rental fees in the amount of $1,795 for the group that provides social, therapeutic and recreational services to disabled teens and adults.
Tax Certiorari Settlements: Approved settlements for Grandma’s Restaurant (town refund of $4,360) and Jefferson Woods Apartments (town refund $3,596). Additional refunds will be paid by the Yorktown and Lakeland School Districts and Westchester County.
Budget transfers: Approved a series of budget transfer closing out old capital projects and also for the reserve fund for accrued vacation time for employees.
Votes on other resolutions were postponed until the next regular board meeting after Councilman Bernard and I said that with the exception of time sensitive issues, we wanted all resolutions to be voted on at regular meetings and not at work sessions.