Town Board Work Session
April 28, 2015
1. Gulf Station signage (Routes 202/118 intersection)
(See Planning Board, 4/20/2015.)At issue is whether to allow signs on the canopy in addition to both a pole and monument sign. Commenting on the need to clean up the existing clutter of signs at the intersection while at the same time not wanting to hurt businesses, Supervisor Grace said that he supported only one sign, a monument sign, but was okay with a canopy sign. Councilman Bernard and I supported only the monument sign, no additional freestanding signs, and no canopy signs. The applicant said he was no longer interested in additional signs on the building.
The applicant was asked to take a second look at what he needed and come back to the board at a future work session with new drawings for a LED monument sign and revised canopy sign.
The applicant, Henry Steenack, again complained about the fact that the Mobil station across the street had erected a new sign that exceeded town guidelines without permission. (Note: The Mobil station currently has an application under review.)
2. Winery at St. George/Wetland Permit
Supervisor Grace explained that in 2012 when the Town Board approved the transitional zoning for the site, the site plan included parking in the wetland buffer on adjoining town property and it was understood at the time that the applicant would be applying for a wetlands permit. However, the following year, in a 3-2 vote, the board declined to hold the required public hearing for the permit. The result was that no changes to the wetland buffer were made and technically the Winery is in violation of its approved site plan.
The applicant is returning to the board with the same wetlands permit application (an expired DEC wetlands permit has been reissued) but without the earlier plan for a wetlands park (see 2013 discussion below). The applicant also offered to make a land swap with the town: in exchange for the town’s approximately 4,000 sq. ft. parcel which is littered with debris and would be cleaned up by the applicant. In exchange, the applicant would give the town a more important and valuable wetland area of about the same size on the west side of its property that contained the outlet to Mohegan Lake.
In connection with the potential land swap, Supervisor Grace asked if the applicant would contact the abutting property owner (DeVito) and permit the construction of a bridge over the wetland that would enable the town to link the shopping center with the Winery and possibly continue the sidewalk. According to the Winery’s engineer, while the property owner wasn’t interested in the arrangement in the past, now that the Winery is up and running, his interest may have changed.
The wetlands application was referred out and a public hearing set for June 2. In the meantime, the town attorney will research the legal issues associated with the land swap and whether a swap would require following the formal alienation of parkland process.
3. Senior Citizen Issues
Members of the Senior Advisory Committee, led by chairman Gil Kuafmann, discussed a variety of security concerns at the YCCC building. Last year, at the committee’s request, Public Safety Officer Larry Eidelman took a look at the building and in a draft 5-page report outlined some safety concerns, including a recommendation that some doors into the building be locked at certain hours, that an intercom system and ssecurity cameras be installed, and that doors to tenant rooms be capable of being locked.
During the presentation the group also supported the idea that an exterior door be constructed leading to the existing bathrooms in the theater lobby so that people using the track and in need of a rest room would not have to enter the building. Funds for the construction would come from the $200,000 in state money the town received last year from an old grant obtained by former state senator Vincent Leibell which never materialized. Planning Director Tegeder said he would develop cost estimates for the plan which was drawn up by an outside architect. Earlier plans were to use the state grant to renovate bathrooms inside the building.
As part of the discussion, the board was informed that the building had received a $500 grant from Verizon for some communication equipment and Supervisor Grace said that planning for a new town phone system was “on the radar” with the head of building maintenance.
Mr. Kaufmann will stay in touch with Supervisor Grace about the progress on these issues.
4. Solaris Parking
(See Town Board 3/24/2015). Highway Superintendent Paganelli presented the Board with two options for widening Veterans Road – by 6ft and 10 ft – in order to allow 12-13 parallel parking spaces on the street. Assuming the work was done by the Highway Department, costs would range from roughly $17,000 to $21,000.
(In response to comments from Supervisor Grace as to why Mr. Paganelli included $8,000 in Highway Department labor costs, the superintendent explained that there was an “opportunity cost” associated with the town doing the job; time spent to widen the road to accommodate Solaris needs meant that staff would not be available to perform other highway jobs.
While acknowledging that the widening could be done, Mr. Paganelli wanted to know where the money would come from, adding that he was following the board’s need to “tighten one’s belt.” In response, Supervisor Grace said that the need for additional parking was a good sense that businesses were doing well in Yorktown.
After some back and for the discussion with Chris Sciarra, representing Solaris, Mr. Paganelli said he would review his figures and also determine whether the widening would involve the need to take some private property as no one was certain what the town’s existing right of way was. Councilman Bernard suggested that if the town was going to do the job, then it should do it right and spend the extra money for concrete curbs instead of asphalt ones.
In response to my question whether Solaris had ever explored the possibility of using the parking lot in the medical building across the street during off hours, Mr. Sciarra said that issue had been explored but was rejected due to liability issues.
In the meantime, the town attorney will draft a local law eliminating the No Parking designation in front of Solaris with the hope that the road widening issue will be resolved before next winter.
5. Croton Heights Bridge/Baptist Church Road culvert
As part of this discussion, Highway Superintendent Paganelli called attention to the fact that within one year, the town has had to declare emergency situations for three bridge/culvert projects: Lexington Avenue, Croton Heights Rd and Baptist Church Rd. (Note: when a capital project is done as an “emergency” there is no competitive bidding.)
Croton Heights Rd: The board passed a resolution that retroactively declared an emergency as of April 25th and approved spending $300,000 to replace the collapsed culvert and rebuild the stone wall. In response to Councilman Bernard’s question as to whether the Highway Department could do the job in house, Mr. Paganelli said it could, at a possible savings of about $15,000, but he added that he’d have to borrow some equipment from another town to do the job and the project could be delayed if the other town needed its equipment. Supervisor Grace explained that what failed were the parapet walls that held up the culvert, not the stone wall. (Note: As discussed at the April 25 meeting, the town was aware of the decaying culvert situation for at least a year.)
Baptist Church Rd. The board declared the collapse of the culvert under the road an emergency and authorized $20,000 for the outside engineering consultant to prepare the repair specs. The project, which has been on the town’s project list for many years, was two weeks away from being advertised for bids to reline the existing culvert. Now that the culvert has collapsed, the project has to be redesigned and will be more costly. Supervisor Grace said there were reasons why the project was delayed.
The money for both projects will come from the $1.45 million road repair bond issue that board approved in December.
6. Public Safety Assessment
Councilman Bernard reviewed some recommendations from the Public Safety Committee that included:
Installation of a third speed bump on Hallocks Mill Road in the vicinity of Laurel Court. When I suggested that the town’s traffic consultant be consulted on the placement of the new bump, the consensus was that unlike earlier bumps that were put in improperly, town staff had sufficient expertise to place them. Indications were that a majority of the homeowners on the street supported the plan
Installation of new stop sign at intersection of McKeel & Rutledge Dr. The town attorney will draft the legislation needed for a local law.
Intersection of Maple Hill Street at Saw Mill River Road. The Highway Department can reconfigure the existing road to provide for dedicated right and left turns onto Saw Mill River Road
Wildwood Street and Suncrest Ave. Repositioning the existing stop sign, painting stop bars on the road and adding two new “stop ahead” signs.
7. Yorktown Small Business Association/Parking on Front and Kear Streets
(See Town Board, 10/28/2014) Councilmen Bernard and Diana, working with Mr. Paganelli and Bob Giordano representing the YSBA, developed a plan that would expand the existing parking lot adjacent to the highway garage onto the grassed area in front of the highway garage in order to add about 13 additional spaces.
After some discussion, the plan was scraped for the following reasons:
1. The uncertainty as to whether the grassed area was a veterans’ park
2. The fact that the town could not prohibit employees from nearby businesses on Front St parking in the spots,, the purpose of which was to provide parking for local businesses
3. The site is within a special NYSDEP area and any work would involve DEP approval and more involved stormwater measures.
Mr. Paganelli said he would explore restriping the parking area for his employees behind the garage.
As part of the discussion, Supervisor Grace said the town was looking into repaving and striping the commuter lot next to Town Hall which he said had empty spots. This led Mr. Paganelli to comment that the Front Street parking issue was the same of the Solaris issue that had been discussed earlier: people don’t want to walk.
Left unresolved was Mr. Girodano’s suggestion that six spaces on town owned property next to Yorktown Glass could be cleaned up and striped for parking. Mr. Tegeder noted that doing this was a condition of the building’s site plan approval when a second story was added to the building.
8. Broad Street/wetlands concern
Homeowner Gregory Kravstov wants the town to clean a culvert that runs across his property. He says that the channel leading to the culvert as well as the culvert are clogged, creating what he calls an “ice dam” on his property. The supervisor, highway superintendent and town attorney all explained that the culvert was a shared one between about 10 homeowners, that it was the homeowners’ responsibility to maintain the culvert and that town staff could not go on private property without the permission of the homeowners.
9. Atlantic Bridge Scoping Session/AIM
I reviewed a list of 19 possible issues that I thought the town should include in its oral and written comments for the May 11th Atlantic Bridge DEIS scoping session. The list included requiring Spectra to provide more details about how the project will impact town properties, including Legacy Fields and the Willow Pond area as well as stsormwater and road issues. I acknowledged that while FERC might not accept all the town’s “suggestions,” if we didn’t ask for anything, we wouldn’t get anything and that by asking, we might at least get some of what we wanted to see included in the DEIS.
At my suggestion, either the clerk’s office or the supervisor will ask department heads for input on what else should be included in the town’s comments. Bruce Barber will coordinate the comments. I also suggested that the supervisor’s office notify the Lakeland School District of the scoping session as the project will impact Copper Beach and Thomas Jefferson schools.
In response to my question about the status of the town’s review of the AIM stormwater plan (SWPP), Mr. Barber said he was meeting with Spectra representatives regarding the need for additional information. Supervisor Grace indicated that he thought the DEC would issue the air and water quality permits by the end of May.
In a separate issue, I advised the board that I was researching options for a future board discussion on how the town’s roads could be protected during construction.
10. C-3 Parking Regulations (Costco)
At Supervisor Grace’s suggestion, the town attorney will draft a local law that will remove the C-3 exception from the local law passed in 2013 that reduced parking requirements for all commercial zones, except C-3, from 5 parking spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. to 4 spaces. He said the exception, which shouldn’t have been in the law in the first place, was included in 2013 in order to get one councilman’s vote. If the local law is passed, it would have no effect on the current Costco site plan that already provides for 4.04 parking spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. (For details about the original legislation, see the Jefferson Valley Mall page.)
11. Volunteer Advisory Boards/Board liaisons
Mary Capoccia, the supervisor’ assistant, said that there were several vacancies on the town’s many volunteer advisory boards and that interested residents should send their resumes to her (email@example.com); the Town Board will then interview interested residents. As part of the review, the Town Board will also consider whether to reappoint members whose terms have expired but these members will not have to interviewed.
In response to an issue I had raised earlier about how Town Board liaisons to the volunteer boards were selected, by consensus of the board or by the supervisor, she said she had documents that showed that past supervisors had made appointments to boards and also that non town Board members had served as liaisons. A list of current liaisons that reflected the two new board members was not available.
The board approved a resolution to hire a moving company to remove the personal contents of a resident from a house that has been the subject of a foreclosure action and court decisions giving the town the right to evict the person.