April 18, 2017
1. Creation of Hunterbrook Sewer District Extension/Public hearing
The board opened and closed a public hearing on the proposed sewer district extension for the proposed 6 lot Featherbed (Colangelo) subdivision on Jacob Road. There were no public comments. The board approved the request which will now be sent to the county for approval into the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District.
2. Granite Knolls Sports Complex/Advertise for bids
The board voted to advertise bids for the sports complex. In response to Councilman’s Patel’s question what the estimated cost of the project would be, Supervisor Grace said we wouldn’t know the cost until the bids come in, which is why we’re going out to bid. He added that he’s in negotiation with the new owner of the pipeline company for them to pay the entire cost of the project, but that the negotiations couldn’t be completed until he knew the price of the project. He said the project would be built with no cost to the town and he dismissed any discussion of the ongoing costs to maintain the complex once built explaining that the two multi purpose fields will be artificial turf and won’t have to be mowed. However, later in the discussion, the supervisor said the project was worth between $3 million to $5 million.
The supervisor said he anticipated the project would be built in 2018 before Legacy Fields was closed during the construction of the Atlantic Bridge portion of the pipeline project. He also defended the new project saying that the town was in “desperate need” of more athletic fields and that many of our existing fields were substandard, adding that while the town is the lacrosse capital of the country, we didn’t even have a lacrosse field. A member of the Yorktown Athletic Club spoke in support of the project saying that Yorktown did not have what he called a “showcase field.”
Supervisor Grace also clarified what he called “fake news” about the project, now in progress, to rehabilitate the Route 202 ballfields. He said that the town was saving about $150,000 by redesigning the project so that the $150,000 state grant would cover the entire cost of the project without the need to add town funds to complete the project that he said originally going to cost about $250,000.
3. Proposed new Wetlands Law/public hearing
After a hearing that lasted over 3 hours, the board voted to close the hearing and reject the new law. Supervisor Grace indicated that the board would go back to the drawing board based on comments it had heard at the hearing. It wasn’t clear whether changes would be made to the rejected law or whether the current law would be amended.
Supervisor Grace opened the hearing with a statement defending the proposed law on the grounds that it was stronger than the current law. He characterized some of the information in opposition to the proposed law as being misinformed and with a healthy dose of “the sky is falling” hyperbole. But then he went on to say that the hearing was only a “draft” and that the purpose of the hearing was to get public input for future drafts.
More than 30 people spoke during the hearing, almost all of them town residents. All were opposed to the proposed law. Other than Supervisor Grace, Councilman Bernard and the town attorney, no one spoke in support. Statements ranged from general comments about why wetlands are important to problems with specific provisions in the law.
The entire hearing can be viewed on the town’s website, http://www.yorktownny.org/townboard/meeting-videos.
At the end of the hearing, Supervisor Grace summed up the following unresolved issues.
-- the threshold size of wetlands to be regulated. He implied that he would consider keeping the 1,000 sf threshold in the current law but wanted a narrow definition of what constituted a wetland that was based on the site’s functionality. There was general agreement that function was an important factor in regulating wetlands, but it was not clear who or how functionality would be determined and at what stage in the permit review process.
-- the need to have a “legislative intent” section that set out the town’s goals relating to wetland protection and preservation
-- the need to balance the comments of those who spoke with other property owners who, the supervisor said, view the regulations as burdensome.
Supervisor Grace stated several times that town owned land was covered in the proposed law and would be covered in any future version of the law. This led some speakers to ask that the Tree law be revisited so that town owned land would no longer be exempt from that law.
One theme addressed by many speakers was that residents should be more involved in the drafting of any new law, whether it was a new version of the rejected one, or amendments to the existing law. The two co-chairman of the Conservation Board also asked to be more involved in any future legislative drafting.
4. PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the Shrub Oak International School
A resolution that would have authorized the supervisor to sign a PILOT agreement was withdrawn. Supervisor Grace said it would be discussed at the next work session.
The Board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, May 3rd to discuss “contract negotiations.” The entire meeting will be a closed executive session.