April 25, 2017
Closed Executive Session (contract negotiations)
1. Rezoning request for 712 Kitchawan Road (Route 134)
Tracer Imaging, a North White Plains based digital printing company, wants to purchase the property that houses an unoccupied building that formerly housed a laboratory/office and was originally owned by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The site is currently zoned residential and the previous use existed prior to the enactment of the Zoning Ordinance. It was stated that the property has been off the tax rolls for 80 years. Tracer plans to repurpose the existing building without making any changes to its footprint to house its current 12 employees (which might expand to no more than 20) but wants the property rezoned to office use to avoid future complications over the office use. The property currently has an agreement with the county to provide access over the site to the Kitchawan Preserve Trails. The agreement would remain in place and access would be for the company’s use as well as trail users. The company has a manufacturing facility in Chicago; the Kitchawan site would be for creative and corporate use.
Supervisor Grace suggested that rezoning to office use (zone “O”) would open up the site to other potential uses allowed in the “O” zone and suggested instead rezoning to a transitional zone that would be specifically, and only, for the Tracer use. Tracer’s attorney said that although an application has already been made for the “O” rezoning, his client would consider the transitional zone. The board agreed to refer out the application for comment.
2. Water Department
Water Superintendent Rundle reported that the company that operates the Flexnet system that digitally reads water meters for some users will relocate one of its two antenna towers in order to get readings from certain parts of town. The company will pay the cost of the relocation.
Mr. Rundle also reported that as a result of many factors, the town’s water loss ratio declined to 16% in 2016 from 25.8% in 2015. He added that the reduction resulted in a savings of $372,960.
3.Turus Lane wetlands permit
As the property has relocated the planned house on the property and will no longer need a wetlands permit, the board voted to no longer consider the wetlands permit application However, the applicant will still need a Tree Permit and a Stormwater Permit. Although the threshold for soil removal for the latter permit would normally make the Town Board the approving authority for the permit, on the suggestion of the town engineer, the board voted to let the engineer issue the permit. This led to a discussion of whether the Town Code should be changed to allow the engineer to issue permits for single family houses, leaving other applications to the Town Board.
4. Faraway Farms, Baptist Church Road, wetlands permit
The property owners want to dredge a pond on the property and restore it to its original condition. The soil from the dredging will be dispersed on the property and the flow into the pond will be diverted during the project. The board referred out the application and will schedule a public hearing at a future date; the owner wants to complete the dredging during the dry season. In general, the board had no problem with the dredging plan; if anything it was \ supportive of the owner’s desire to restore the pond.
5. Crystal Court
Although the item was pulled from the agenda, the town engineer explained that the issue was a conflict between a notation of a paper road on the town map and a subdivision map. The issue will be referred to the Planning Board for clarification.
6. Shrub Oak International School, Stony Street
In an item not on the agenda, and after the board took a break so that Councilman Patel could read the agreement which he said he hadn’t received earlier, the board voted 4-1 with Council Patel voting no, to authorize the supervisor to sign a six year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with the school. (A resolution to authorize the PILOT was pulled from the April 18, 2016 agenda without any discussion.)
The agreement is based on the town assessor’s judgement that the market value for the school, when compared to three other schools, would be $12 million. The agreement affects both town and Lakeland School District taxes. Supervisor Grace explained that the school’s owners needed the PILOT agreement as part of their application to the county IDA (Industrial Development Authority) and that the agreement had to be in place by May 1st, the town’s “taxable status date.” The agreement sets the property’s assessed value for taxing purposes for six years and avoids any legal challenges, i.e., tax certiorari lawsuits.
Supervisor Grace said that the property needs an enormous amount of money for upgrading the building. He said the agreement had nothing to do with discussions the town is having with the school’s owner about using the southern driveway that the owner plans to enlarge as the entrance to the town’s planned Granite Knolls Sports Complex.
Note: While the details of the agreement were not discussed during the meeting, after the meeting, the CIY observer obtained a copy of the agreement and learned the following:
The property went on the tax rolls in 2016 once it was no longer in use by Phoenix House. For taxing purposes (as distinguished from a market price value) the property is currently assessed at $280,000. According to the agreement, the property will be assessed at $61,100 beginning with the 2017 assessment roll and increase 20% a year until the full assessed value of $305,600 is reached in 2023.
In April, 2017, the property paid $44,948 in town taxes. Assuming the same tax rate for April, 2018, the tax bill will be $9,794. The September, 2017 Lakeland School District tax will be based on the current assessed value of $280,400; in September,2018, the property’s school taxes will be based on the $61,100 assessed value.
7. Potential Open Space Acquisition, Route 118
In an item not on the agenda, Supervisor Grace advised the board that he had been approached by the Westchester Land Trust that the organization has been in negotiations with the owner of a 25 acre parcel with frontage on Route 118 that abutts Turkey Mountain Park for the possible sale to the town for $200,000. The Trust wants the town to pay for the land while the Trust would provide $50,000 towards an endowment for the upkeep of the property.
The key issue for the town was the extent to which the parcel, which is “wet” along the Route 118 frontage, was developable in the rear as that would determine the parcel’s value. There was a general sense that the $200,00 was excessive and the board agreed to have the planning director assess its potential for development. Councilman Bernard indicated he thought the $200,000 price tag was based on the public knowledge that that was the amount of money available in the Open Space Fund.
When Councilman Patel suggested that the issue be referred to the town’s Advisory Committee on Open Space (ACOS), Supervisor Grace said the referral wasn’t necessary because he knew the group would say that the town should buy the land.
8. DOT infrastructure grants
The board authorized the supervisor to sign the agreements with the state DOT for two grants: the bridge replacement on Hill Blvd and culvert replacement on Veterans Road. In both cases, the town has to lay out the money and be reimbursed once the work is completed.
9. Grease Trap law
(See Town Board 3/28/2017). The board set a public hearing for June20th on the law that was revised to add some additional Best Management Practices information for property owners.
10. Master Fee Law
(See Town Board, 2/28/2017) A revised copy of the law that will now require local laws, as opposed to resolutions, for changing fees, will be referred to department heads to make sure the revised fee schedule is accurate.
11. Sewer permit policy
In an item not on the agenda, the board discussed changes in the existing sewer permit policy. As currently written, once a sewer permit is issued, it never expires, even if the permit is never used. (The permit is to allow hook up to the town’s sewer system.) Mr. Quinn said the town has open permits dating back to the 1960s. One of the problems with open permits is that town has no way of knowing how many potential hook ups there might be the town’s treatment plant that has a fixed capacity. Under the proposed new law, permits will only be good for one year. (Note; it actually wasn’t clear from the discussion whether the new policy is already in effect or whether an exiting law has to be amended.) Councilman Lachterman suggested that while a one year period might be sufficient for a single single family house, it might create problems for a subdivision where the project might not be completed for more than a year but the developer would need to be assured access to the plant.
12. Double Utility Poles
(See Town Board, 4-4-2017.) Representatives of Con Ed, NYSEG, Verizon and Altice met with the board to review their progress on removing double poles. The Board indicated its appreciation for the work they have been doing since the town first broached the issue. Highway Superintendent Paganelli provided everyone with a spread sheet prepared by his department identifying the location of 407 double poles throughout town.
The utility explained the procedure for how and when each of the users on a pole needs to move its equipment to a new pole once it has been determined that a damaged pole needs to be taken down. In general, it is the responsibility of the last user on the pole to take down the pole once its equipment has been moved. The Altice representative acknowledged that for all practical purposes, his company was the one responsible for taking down the damaged poles. He explained that given the company’s work load, this is best done during the winter months.
In general, the representatives said they wanted to cooperate with the town and asked the town not to pass the proposed legislation. Councilman Lachterman suggested that the town could proceed to pass the proposed law but with a grandfather clause that gave the companies a fixed period of time to remove the poles that have already been identified. No decision was made on the suggestion; the board will take it under advisement.
12. JV Mall
(See Town Board, 3-28-2017.) In a brief discussion that took place with other conversations were in progress and appeared to be repeat of the March discussion, Supervisor Grace advised the board that the Mall was requesting to have an outdoor food truck area and also a permanent area for U Haul rentals. Although it was difficult to follow the discussion, it appeared that the board was not in favor of the U Haul operation. The CIY observer could not ascertain whether the board reached agreement on the food trucks or what the details of that plan were.
Note: The board will hold a special meeting May 3rd to discuss contract negotiations. Once convened, the board will go into executive session for the entire meeting.