Town Board Work Session
May 12, 2015
Discussion of various litigation issues and advice of counsel
CEO John Ahearn explained that the foundation’s original plan for the independent living facilityare being changed because the independent living plan failed to attract buyers. The group is now hoping to sell the skilled nursing home to a for profit company and then sell the vacant land to a developer. The foundation would keep the Seabury Assisted Living facility. If the nursing home sale goes through, then the site plan approved by the Planning Board will have to be changed as it included shared facilities between the independent living facility and a proposed new skilled nursing home. Also, because Fieldhome hopes to sell the vacant land, it wants to keep the temporary sales office for future sales efforts. The only immediate action required of the Town Board is to renew the approval for the temporary sales office which the board will do at its next regular meeting.
2. Crompond Terraces
Ann Kutter met with the board seeking guidance on the board’s preference/s for how the project’s recreation fee should be paid (cash or a specific facility), plus what additional compensation the developer was prepared to give in exchange for the rezoning. As explained by Supervisor Grace, when a property owner is seeking a rezoning from the town, that gives the town leverage to ask the property owner for something for the town.
Based on the current conceptual plan to build 80 units, the recreation fee, at $4,000 per unit, would generate $320,000 in lieu of any active recreation.
Based on previous discussions, Ms. Kutter advised the board that she has gotten a variety of feedback from various town staff and residents as to what they would like to see if the project included a possible new municipal building. Based on preliminary discussions, the developer is prepared to build a 12,000 sq. ft. building and make a monetary contribution to the town . The developer may also provide some outside maintenance services for the building such as snow plowing and lawn care.
Suggestions for the new building include: a senior center, municipal offices for the Planning Department and Parks & Recreation Department, a gym for indoor basketball, an arts center, classrooms and a mixed use building that incorporates several of the other options. Opinions differed as to whether this was a good location for a senior center. Supervisor Grace indicated his support for a building saying that it would be much cheaper for a developer to construct the building than for the town do to it. He also said having a new building would eliminate the town’s need to rent gym and recreational spaces from the school districts. In response to Councilman Bernard and my concerns about maintenance costs, Ms. Kutter said that she will provide estimated costs in the EAF (Environmental Assessment) based on current maintenance costs at the YCCC.
Ms. Kutter also expressed concern that whatever the Town Board decided it wanted as part of the rezoning approval could be changed when the Planning Board had site plan approval at a later date. Most board members didn’t see this as a problem, however. The discussion ended with the consensus that the 12,000 sq, ft, building footprint should be included on the rezoning plan with the use of the building to be determined at a later date.
3. Mohegan Lake Improvement District
Representatives of several of the homeowner groups around the lake, and Ken Belfer, speaking on behalf of the Mohegan Lake Improvement District, discussed the group’s plans to obtain a permit from the DEC to treat the lake with copper sulfate in an effort to kill off the blue algae that has closed the beach in recent summers. The group needs a town wetlands permit in conjunction with the DEC permit.
In a general discussion about the long term needs of the lake, Mr. Belfer explained that the key problem is the need to reduce the amount of phosphorous that enters the lake, with one major source being the discharge from the town’s storm drains. The group is also trying to get the DEC to allow the chemical alum to be used to control the phosphorous. Mr. Belfer explained that while other states allow the use of alum, NYS classifies the chemical as a pesticide and prohibits its use. Supervisor Grace suggested that one way to handle the lake’s problems over the long run was to form a special drainage improvement district, borrow the needed money and have taxpayers within the district pay off the bond.
The board agreed to pass a resolution at its next meeting that will enable MLID to get an administrative wetlands permit which would eliminate the need for a public hearing.
4. Zoning amendments for sober living residents
In a continuation of an earlier discussion (see Town Board, April 14, 2015), Supervisor Grace repeated his position that the current code is adequate, no changes are needed, a sober living home could not open as a family and that the term convalescent home is still a valid term. He said that if an applicant wanted to make exterior changes to the property, the board could regulate the changes. Councilman Bernard said that while he wasn’t ready to consider any changes in the definition of the term “family” he favored a new special permit section for a sober living home in order to preserve the character of a residential neighborhood. He noted that unlike a family, a SLR would have deliveries and staff coming and going. Councilman Diana did not appear interested in moving forward on the special permit legislation. Councilman Patel and I support the need for the amendments.
Town attorney Koster advised the board that before it made a decision whether or not to proceed, she had some legal advice to give the board but she would only do so in a closed session. Because Councilman Bernard wanted to hear her advice, the discussion was tabled so that Ms. Koster could give her advice in closed session after the conclusion of the closed session negotiations with Spectra (see below). After Ms. Koster gave her advice, the board then went back into open session and Councilman Bernard said he was ready to proceed with the special permit amendment.
It was agreed that Councilman Bernard and I would meet with the building inspector to go over my draft amendments. After that review, we would return to the board for a follow up discussion and if there was a majority on the board to move forward, the new draft would be referred out to various boards and agencies for comment.
5. PEG money
(Note: as part of their franchise agreements with the town, both Cablevision and FIOS pay the town a set sum of money that goes into a special PEG fund [public, educatational and government] . The funds are to be used for the audio visual equipment that tapes town meetings and other functions.)
After being told that there was $75,000 in this account, with another $15,000 expected in November, I asked the board to consider purchasing two monitors for the board room so that maps and other graphics displayed during meetings could be viewed by people in the room. (The cameras are already able to display the graphics for those watching on tv.)
After double checking the account, Comptroller Caporale said that there was only $43,000 left, but there was a consensus on the board to purchase the monitors. Town Clerk Roker will investigate the costs.
As a related side discussion, the suggestion was made to “go modern” and provide board members with tablets so that they could get all their documents electronically. It was pointed out that in the long run this would save the cost of making copies. All agreed this was a good idea (the subject had come up before but had not been followed up on). The comptroller will check out prices (there’s no provision in the 2015 budget for the expense) and Supervisor Grace will review whether the tablets should also be made available to other boards. He suggested that board members might be asked to pay for a tablets when their term ends as the tablets would be obsolete by the time the officials left town service.
6. Use of board room public address system
(See Town Board, 4/21/2015.) For a second time, I raised the issue of turning on the room’s PA system for work sessions so that people in the audience could hear what was being discussed at the board table. I was advised by our AV technician that the task involved flipping a few switches in the control room on and off in addition to hooking up the mikes. Councilman Patel and I were the only board members supporting the idea. The other board members said that if people wanted to hear what was being said, they could move closer to the board table.
Although on the agenda for the open session, this was not discussed. However, there was a discussion about certain aspects of the foreclosure process in the earlier closed session.
8. Water Department
The board agreed to re-advertise for a new boiler and to permit the department to hire seasonal help, using money in its budget. Earlier advertisements failed to generate any bids.
YCCC: In unanimous votes, the board waived the rental fee for use of the YCCC for the Yorktown Historical Society and Relay for Life.
Highway: Voted to advertise for bids for asphalt for paving and equipment parts
10. Spectra Energy
Negotiations related to Spectra’s use of temporary work space at Sylvan Glen and Granite Knolls during the AIM project and an off-site wetlands mitigation plan at Junior Lake Park.