April 21, 2015
1. Upcoming dates
April 29: Forum on heroin & opiate use, 7:30pm, Elks Club
May 1: Arbor Day Celebration, 4pm, Patriot Garden
May 11: Scoping session on Spectra Atlantic Bridge pipeline expansion, 5:30pm, YCCC
1. Courtesy of the floor
Sober living residences: Jay Kopstein asked about the status of changes to the zoning code relating to the definition of family and convalescent home. In response, I said that the board had an inconclusive discussion on possible amendments at its April 14th meeting and that more information on the issue would be available on my personal web site, www.yorktownbettergovenrment.org.
Spectra pipeline: Paul Moskowitz accused Spectra representatives of lying at the April 14th work session when they minimized what he said was the danger from radioactive waste products in the pipeline. He also noted that as a limited liability company, the amount of insurance available to cover potential damages would be limited.
Taxes; Repeating comments she made at the April 7 meeting, Rose Marie Panio said that Councilmen Patel and I were responsible for the tax increases in the April tax bill. She also wanted to know what the town was doing to raise more revenue. In response, I reminded her that Supervisor Grace and former Councilman Murphy had also voted for $1.2 million worth of changes to the budget that resulted in the tax increase. I added that while the Comprehensive Plan included provisions to encourage new businesses, ultimately it was up to the private sector and the economy in general to actually build something. In response to her hope that there would be a zero percent tax increase in 2016, I posed the question: How could the board address the conflicting demands to spend more money on road paving but at the same time not increase taxes? Wherewould the money come from, I asked.
PA System: (See Town Board, 4/14/2015) Dan Lefkowitz asked about the use of the room’s PA system during work sessions so that people could hear what was being discussed at the board table. In response Supervisor Grace said he didn’t see this as a problem although when I brought the issue up at last week’s work session after hearing from members of the public that they could not hear what the board was discussing, the supervisor said he would look into it.
2.Special permit fee for keeping chickens/public hearing
Several people spoke passionately in opposition to the proposed fee (which some called a tax) for keeping chickens: $200 for an initial permit and $100 for a renewal. Many also spoke in opposition to the need for a permit and highlighting the benefits of keeping chickens, arguing that homeowners should be allowed to raise chickens “as of right.” When Supervisor Grace reminded them that only the negative aspects of raising chickens were raised at the 2014 public hearing that led to the adoption of the current law, several speakers challenged that statement reminding him that several people did speak in favor of raising chickens at the hearing.
Supervisor Grace explained that the fee was not a tax but a fee to cover the administrative costs associated with processing the permit application, adding that when the law requiring the permit was approved in 2014, the board did not realize that the fee for a special permit was $625; once they realized the omission, the decision was made to lower the fee. The $200 fee had been suggested by the building inspector and was comparable to the permit fee charged for an accessory apartment or a variance request. The supervisor said he was open to considering a lower fee.
After the hearing was closed, the board voted unanimously to reduce the fee to $75 for an initial permit and $35 for a renewal. A discussion of whether the law should be changed to allow raising chickens “as of right” was put off for a future discussion.
3. Appointments & Promotions
New appointments: a police officer and a laborer for maintenance at the Police/Court complex.
Promotion: Al Pisano, a maintenance worker in the Parks Department was promoted to Lead Maintenance Man for town buildings.