Town Board Meeting
May 15, 2012
1. Supervisor’s report: Special emergency meeting
Supervisor Grace explained that on Friday, May 11th, while four members of the board were present for the opening of the nutrition center, the board convened a special emergency meeting to approve a $7,200 change order in the Holland Sporting Club asbestos abatement project. The roof of one of the buildings had collapsed, he explained, and that changed the nature of the project. Because the contractor was already mobilized to begin the work, the board had to act quickly in order not to delay the project. A variance was obtained from the Department of Labor.
2. Councilman’s Report
Councilman Bianco announced that the new IHOP/Pizza Hut, located in the former Charlie Brown location, expects to open by the end of June.
3. Award Presentation:
Dan Lefkowitz, a member of the Town’s Utilities Oversight Committee, was recognized for being the recipient of the 2012 EPA Environmental Quality Award for his work exposing PCBs in schools.
4. Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Police Officer Larry Eidelman, the Town’s public safety officer, made a presentation about the new Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) program explaining that although he was trained to coordinate the program in 2005, the program has struggled to get implemented. (See May 5, 2012 CIY notes for an explanation of the program.) Describing the program as “people of Yorktown helping the people of Yorktown,” he stressed that CERT volunteers would supplement, not replace, the Town’s existing first responders who are members of the fire departments and volunteer ambulance corps and that it was likely that they would be seldom utilized. Residents interested in learning more about the program and/or registering for training can contact Officer Eidelman at 962-4141, ext 163, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is hoping to have a kick off meeting in late May or June.
5. Consolidated Funding (Grant) Application/DOT grant for bus
Assistant Planner Lorraine DeSisto explained that this item was on the agenda in error as she expects to attend a meeting about the application sometime in June. But she did refer to a resolution to be passed later in the evening that authorized the Planning Department to submit a grant application to the NYS DOT for a bus to transport elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities. The Town would be responsible for 20% of the cost of the bus. The board passed the resolution.
6. Courtesy of the Floor
a. Energy audit meeting: Paul Moskowitz of Green Yorktown announced that the group will host a meeting on May 21 at 7:30 in Town Hall on NYSERDA energy audits and incentives for home energy upgrades.
b. Dog Park: Jonathan Nettlefield, vice chairman of the Dog Park Committee, asked for a clarification of the status of the Town’s proposed use of Trump Park for the dog park. He said that at a recent meeting with the Recreation Commission, it was said that the Town may only be interested in leasing a small part of the 153 acre park from the state as opposed to the entire park. Supervisor Grace said that the Town was “working on it,” noting that we may be in a better position vis a vis the state now because former Yorktown Supervisor Linda Cooper now works for the state Park’s Department.
c. DPW. Renee Fogarty, speaking on behalf of a new group, Yorktown Citizen’s for a DPW, asked the board to put a referendum on the November ballot that would eliminate the position of highway superintendent and transfer the highway function to a newly created DPW which, she said, would save taxpayers’ money. The current method of delivering services, she noted, is” inefficient, duplicative, costly and outmoded.” She asked the board put the issue on a work session agenda. In response, Supervisor Grace said that, “I’d love to take a look” at the issue, adding that it was “not so simple. Steve Gardner said he supported keeping an elected highway superintendent because an elected official was more accountable, a point that was repeated during the second courtesy of the floor segment by Serafina Mastro. In response, Supervisor Grace and Councilman Paganelli said that the board was acting like a DPW and coordinating the work of different departments. Highway superintendent DiBartolo said, “When you work together, it works.” He thanked the board for its cooperation. (Note: The author of these CIY notes is a member of Yorktown Citizen’s for a DPW.)
d. Public transportation. During the second Courtesy of the Floor, Bill Kellner called on the Town to do more to promote more public transportation opportunities along Route 202.
7. Public hearing : Reconvened hearing on helistop and changes in approval authority for the OB zone.
Supervisor Grace said that the helistop provisions had been redrafted and separated out into a separate local law that would be re-advertised.
On the approval authority issue, he thanked those who attended the May `1st hearing and said their comments were “instructive” and “enlightening.” Going forward, he said the board will consider approving a resolution that will mandate the Planning Board to refer certain development applications to the Town Board. When Councilman Bianco said that the Town Board already has the ability to do that, Supervisor Grace said that a resolution would make it clearer.
Based on the above discussion, the board voted unanimously to close the public hearing and reject the proposed local law.
8. Public hearing: Special Use Permit for Mid Valley Oil Co (BP Station on Commerce St.)
The applicant explained that the company wants to replace three outdated single walled tanks with new double walled tanks and add a fire suppression system as a safety feature. Howard Frank raised several issues, including whether a piece of the property was actually on town land (an urban renewal parcel), why the applicant doesn’t install an emergency generator and bring gas service to the site (which would replace an existing fuel tank) and what could be done to improve the appearance of the building. Supervisor Grace explained that ABACA, the Planning Board and the Building inspector had no problem with the application, although theTown is looking intothe question of the town owned land. The applicant said that his engineer had modified the plan to eliminate any encroachment on town land. Supervisor Grace said that as the application is only to replace the existing tanks, the board could not require the applicant to make changes to the building.
Howard Orneck asked the board to look into the size of the tanks and an old ZBA permit. In response, Supervisor Grace said that approval authority for gas station tanks had been transferred from the ZBA to the Town Board several years ago.
The Board approved the special use permit.
9. Public hearing: Winery rezoning.
Supervisor Grace opened the hearing, attended by a standing room only crowd, by explaining the origins of the transitional zone which was designed to customize the site plan requirements for properties that were between residential and commercial zones. Jeff Econom, the project engineer, described the site plan and how it would improve traffic circulation on the site, clean up the existing wetland, and provide stormwater treatment for the site as well as Route 6. He explained that by using the Town’s property (aka the Ardizzone site) for 12 spaces (note that later in the hearing, board members said it would be 9 spaces)at night, the Town would be able to use the site during the day to educate school children and the public about wetlands.
While the purpose of the hearing was the rezoning to a transitional zone, the discussion focused on the site plan which would have permitted the Winery to use town owned land for its parking and whether there was a benefit to the town of a private/public partnership that resulted in cleaning up the wetland. Supervisor Grace clearly saw the benefits of the proposed project.
Responding to earlier discussions about whether or not the Ardizzone parcel was “parkland,” Supervisor reviewed the history of how the Town had acquired the site and said that the board was going on the assumption that it was parkland. That opened up the issue of whether Town parkland always had to have public access and be used for a public recreational or educational purpose, or whether parkland could just exist for environmental reasons. There is no current access to the site.
Those opposed to allowing the Winery to use the town-owned parcel , including the Advisory Committee on Open Space and the Yorktown Land Trust questioned the legality of such a use and suggested that the Town get a legal opinion from the state before approving the rezoning and plan. Speaking for the Trust, John Schroeder said it was a “slippery slope” to let parkland be used for non-park purposes, especially as the Winery proposal would only affect a small portion of the Ardizzone site and was being considered without the benefit of a master plan for the entire parcel. The Town Attorney said she did not see any legal obstacles to the Winery’s use of the site.
Councilman Bianco raised several questions about the site plan and wanted more details about the wetland mitigation plan and suggested that the board follow a two-step process: first approve the rezoning and then approve the site plan. Phyllis Bock, chairman of the Conservation Board said her board hadn’t seen the latest revised plan and suggested to the applicant that he attend the Conservation Board meeting the following evening. In general, Councilman Bianco supported the concept behind the plan.
Several people spoke in support of the project and were critical of more delay, citing “the paralysis of analysis.” When one supporter suggested that an elephant can be eaten one bite at a time, an opponent cautioned that one bite could be harmful.
The board adjourned the hearing to tie up some loose ends, including SEQRA. Supervisor Grace said he anticipated that the hearing would be reconvened on June 5th.
(To see a video tape of the entire discussion, visit http://www.yorktownny.org/generalpage/meeting-videos)
10. Public Hearing: Section 8 Administrative Plan
Kaaren Perez, the director of the Town’s Section 8 program explained that this was the first phase in revising and updating the Administrative Plan that governs the Town’s Section 8 rent subsidy program. The revised plan includes changes in local policies, eliminates local preferences, explains waiting list procedures, and explains the Town’s anti discrimination policies. The changes are being made pursuant to a settlement of a lawsuit.
There were no additional comments. The board closed the hearing and approved the revised plan.
11. Advertise future public hearings for June 5, 2012
a. amend the Zoning Code to allow indoor recreation in an I-1 (light industrial zone). This is to allow the batting cage site at Lexington Ave and Route 202 to construct a dome.
b. amend sections of Article VII the Zoning Code to remove residency requirements for certain affordable housing units to conform to the requirements of Chapter 102 of the Code.
c. a new procurement law that would change requirements for competitive bidding and allow the Board to award bids based on “best value” instead of to the “lowest responsible bidder.”
d. adding helistops in an OB zone. (the revised text.)
e. An excavation permit to remove tree stumps at Granite Knolls.
12. Advertise bids for services
For preventative maintenance of generator systems.
13. Awarded bids
a. Busses for summer camp programs. Awarded to different companies for different types of trips.
b. Cummins Engine parts for highway department: To Cummins Power Systems, the lower of two bids.
c. John Deere OEW Parts for highway department: To Jesco, Inc., the only bidder.
`14. Resolutions. All passed unanimously
a. Hudson Valley Islamic Center. Accepted a performance bond and fee.
b. Authorized the Supervisor to sign a contract with the county for reimbursement of $2,427 for repairs and maintenance for the vans that transport seniors.
c. Authorized the Supervisor to sign an agreement with Northern Westchester Internal Medicine for hepatitis shots for certain town employees.
d. Reduced the retainage on the YCCC senior project to $5,000 from $10,000.
e. Approved retroactive pay for Brian Gray for 2009-2011 prior to his becoming Superintendent of Parks & Recreation
The board went into executive session to discuss several personnel issues and then returned to open session and approved the following personnel issues.
a. PBA contract. Approved a 5-year contract, covering 2010-2014,that grants raises of 2% for the first three years, followed by 2.35% and 2.5% raises in the last two years of the contract. A new third tier covering new employees will require a higher percentage employee payment for medical benefits (the exact amount was not clear), plus current employees also paying more for their medical benefits.
Councilman Bianco said the retroactive payments for 2010-2012 would cost the Town $374,480 and would come from the Fund Balance. Next year, the increase will result in a 2.88% increase in the tax rate. He said that the comptroller felt comfortable that even with the increase, the Town would still be able to come within the 2% tax levy cap. While the Town does expects to save about $20,000 this year as a result of the higher medical insurance payments, most of that savings will come in the future as new hires are brought into the department.
Supervisor Grace said the contract was a “fair deal” and said it was in the Town’s interest to settle with the PBA rather than have an arbitrator set the terms of the new contract.
b. Town Comptroller. Saying that “we need to go in a different direction,” and that “processes should have been done a long time ago,” Supervisor Grace made a motion, seconded by Councilman Murphy, not to reappoint Comptroller Joan Goldberg and ask her to submit her resignation. Councilman Patel voted for the resolution and Councilmen Bianco and Paganelli voted against it. When Supervisor Grace said they would be interviewing candidates for the job, Councilman Bianco asked that Ms. Goldberg, who has been in the position for 16 years, be interviewed and said that the board would realize that the best person for the job is the one the Town already has.
c. Water Distribution Superintendent. The board unanimously voted to make David Rambo’s position permanent.
d. Real property assessor. The board approved the appointed of Sarah Seaboldt to the position.
e. Tax Receiver. The board approved the reappointment of Elfrieda Schmidt to the position.