Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Town Board

May 7, 2013


1. Board announcements

a. Ethics. Councilman Bianco disclosed that three people have failed to submit their 2012 annual financial disclosure forms that were due May 15, 2012. (The 2013 forms are due next week and the Town Clerk’s office has sent reminder letters to all those who haven’t submitted their forms yet.) He said that there was no enforcement mechanism in the Ethics Law and that it was up to the volunteer Ethics Board to make a recommendation to the Town Board as to what to do next. (See December 11, 2012 meeting notes.)


Supervisor Grace called the disclosure forms “onerous” and “intrusive” and of no value.


b. Signage. Supervisor Grace said that a small committee (he didn’t indicate who was on the committee) was working with ABACA to review the Town’s sign provisions.  During the Board’s pre-session meeting, there was a brief discussion about allowing organizations to erect banners to promote their upcoming events  According to the Supervisor’s assistant, she has received banner requests from several organizations and she has been researching how other towns handle this type of request.


2. Personnel

a. Resignations. The Board accepted, with regret, the resignation of Robert Agostino. (The Board did not identify the position or department.)


b. Appointment. Caroline McKinley as a librarian at an annual salary of $54,479.


c. Volunteer Boards

  • Mike Byrnes to the Cable Committee
  • Albert J. Durante to the Ethics Board
  • John Meiserich to the Zoning Board (he has been an alternate member)
  • William Gregory to the Zoning Board as an alternate member. This vote was 3-2 with Councilmen Bianco and Patel voting no. Mr. Bianco said he saw a conflict having a former and current building inspector interpreting code issues and he felt that past or present town employees should not be on volunteer advisory boards. Mr. Patel said he preferred having a person with new ideas and giving new people a chance to serve.


3. Courtesy of the Floor

a. Winery. See below for comments by Walt Daniels, speaking on behalf of the Conservation Board and the Advisory Committee on Open Space.


b. Granite Knolls ball fields. Steve Gardner, speaking at the first and second Courtesy, called attention to the fact that the company that did the work to grade and seed the ball fields had not installed proper erosion control measures, such as silt fences, or utilized ground cover to protect the grass seed.  “Why was this allowed to happen?” he asked. Acknowledging that he had submitted a price quote for the job, he said his quote was based on what he knew a proper job would entail and that the Town should have questioned the lowest price. When Supervisor Grace said that about six vendors had submitted quotes ranging from about $16,000 to $6,200, Gardner said that since most of the quotes were at the higher end, the Town should have been cautioned about the lowest price.


In response, Supervisor Grace said that he would check into the site.


Gardner also noted that there is no silt fencing to protect against erosion at the Holland Sporting Club.


c. Speeding issues in Jefferson Valley. Citing traffic accidents, poor sight distances, and stopped school buses, two Jefferson Valley residents spoke passionately requesting speed bumps be installed on East Main Street at Perry Street. In response, Supervisor Grace said that speed bumps would actually exacerbate the problem and be counterproductive but that the Town would consider other possible traffic calming devices.  Councilman Murphy, the Board’s traffic safety liaison said he would meet with Larry Eidelman, the Town’s public safety officer, to review the problem.   Former councilman and current candidate for highway superintendent Greg Bernard suggested that the Town could use the remaining $400,000 in the funds it received from the county several years ago when it took over East Main Street to finance needed improvements. Supervisor Grace wasn’t sure there was $400,000 left but said he would look into the issue.  It was also noted that Putnam County has refused to move forward on legislation that would limit truck weight limits on Wood Street, something that  Yorktown has already done.


d. Downed/dead trees. A resident of Jerome and Starlight Streets complained that seven downed trees from Hurricane Sandy that are in the Town’s right-of-way that had been marked to be removed by the Town were still there. If you marked them, then that told me you’d be removing them, he said. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the matter, and in an aside to Councilman Murphy, he said that he believed the trees were on “paper” roads so might not actually be in the Town’s right-of-way.


In a second tree issue, a resident of Windsor Court complained about unsafe dying trees on town parkland in his neighborhood that are a result of inadequate drainage. He said he had been told by the Parks Department that that department couldn’t handle the problem. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the issue.


e. Hallocks Mill sewers. Shortly after an unsewered resident from Sunrise Street began her comments about her 14 year wait for sewers, Supervisor Grace interrupted her to state that he had met that day with a representative of the DEC and was encouraged that the state agency appeared willing to consider new flow parameters for the plant as part of  the town’s permit renewal process later this year.


He then proceeded to talk about the “significant progress” that had been made in his talks with neighboring towns regarding his plan to divert 650 currently sewered taxpayers in the town-owned Hallocks Mill sewer district to the county operated Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District. He added, though, that the diversion would result in a 16% drop in the value of the Hallocks Mill district and that this would mean that the remaining Hallocks Mill taxpayers would see a tax increase. That increase would, however, be lessened over 5-15 years as currently unsewered homeowners were able to connect to the system. He added that because of the sensitive nature of the talks with the other municipalities, he couldn’t discuss the details of the plan. “Trust me on this,” he said.


4. Public hearing on amendments to Zoning Ordinance relating to light industrial districts

Without any public comment, the Board adopted the textual amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that will allow Funtime Amusements to serve liquor. (See previous meeting summaries.)


5. Advertise public hearings

a. Two local laws. Without any discussion the Board voted unamimously to advertise public hearings for May 21 on proposed local laws that would require digital filing of development applications and modifications in how street opening permits can be paid for.


b. Winery. In a separate 3-2 vote, with Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy voting no, the Board declined to advertise a public hearing on an application from the Winery for a wetlands permit.  (Note: the permit was to permit work in the wetlands buffer on both the Winery’s parcel and the abutting town-owned parcel.  It had previously been decided that the two actions could be consolidated into one permit and that Mr. DeChiaro would be responsible for obtaining the permit.) Explaining his vote, Councilmen Bianco said that the Board had the right to decide what it wanted to do with the town owned parcel. Both he and Councilman Paganelli based their decision not to allow the Winery to use the town-owned land for parking on advisory opinions from the Conservation Board and the Advisory Committee on Open Space. Both groups opposed the plan.  Mr. DeChiaro could apply for a wetlands permit for his parcel.


Supervisor Grace said that the Board couldn’t deny a citizen the right to a public hearing and Town Attorney Koster said she would research the issue and get back to the Board next week. When she said she would give her advice in a closed session, the Board said it wanted the information in an open session. Supervisor Grace said that he had no problem with a Board member voting against issuing the permit, and he agreed that the Board had the right to decide what to do about a town-owned property,  but he felt that any decision not to issue a wetlands permit for the town owned parcel should be done in the context of a public hearing and not by preventing the public hearing from taking place.  By denying the applicant a public hearing, he said the Town was opening itself to legal action.  Councilman Murphy also felt that the Board should listen to what constituents had to say on the issue.


At a later point in the agenda, the Board voted to refund the wetlands application fee to Mr. DeChiaro. Although some Board members did not verbally indicate either a yea or nay vote, it appeared that the resolution may have been carried unanimously.


During the first Courtesy of the Floor, and before the vote, Walt Daniels, speaking for both the Conservation Baord and the Advisory Committee on Open Space, said that as the Winery had not complied with a 16 item punch list from the June 5, 2012 rezoning resolution, the approval process should start over again. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the only hold up in meeting the conditions of the approval resolution was the town’s wetlands permit and that without the permit, Mr. DeChiaro was in a catch-22. Councilman Bianco said that it was up to the Town to decide if it wanted him to give him the permit.


During the second Courtesy of the Floor, Brendan Tully, co-chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, thanked the Board for its vote and asked that Supervisor Grace recuse himself from future votes dealing with the Winery in order to prevent “potential conflicts” stemming from certain “unique circumstances” which included the Supervisor being endorsedby Mr. DeChairo, having held fundraisers at the Winery and having received campaign contributions from Mr. DeChiaro or his PAC (this comment was not completely clear). In response, Supervisor Grace denied that he had ever received even a nickel contribution from Mr. DeChiaro.


6. Selected other resolutions

a. Section 8 program. In a 2-3 vote, with Councilmen Patel and Paganelli voting yes, the Board declined to waive the fees the Town charges the Section 8 program for rent, utilities and the services of the town attorney.  Commenting on the vote during the second Courtesy of the Floor, Karren Perez, the Section 8 Program Director, expressed disappointment at the vote, noting that Boards in 2005 and 2007 had suspended the fee but that the fee had been instituted in 2012. She said that 65% of the program’s recipients lived in Yorktown and that 50% of them were elderly or disabled. She also noted that the Board had waived rental fees for other groups meeting in the YCCC. Councilman Bianco agreed with her about the importance of the program but said that Town taxpayers should not have to make up for the federal funding cuts resulting from sequestration.


b. Web site. In an item not on the agenda, the Board agreed with the request from Town Clerk Roker to purchase a more expensive web site hosting package so that it could upgrade the site.  She did not specify what the additional cost would be or what additional features the upgraded site would be able to offer.


 c. Web site stipend.  The Board approved a $5,000 stipend for Robyn Steinberg of the Planning Department for additional website maintenance work.