June 12, 2018
Absent: Councilman Lachterman
Litigation and negotiations
(Note: Over the objection of Councilman Diana, the meeting was videoed and can be viewed on the town web site)
1. White Oak Farm, Excavation/Stormwater Permit
After a brief discussion, the board accepted the recommendation of the town engineer that the excavation permit needed to build a single family house on the property be handled administratively by the Engineering Department.
2. Proposed local law amending Chapter 300, Multi family dwelling units in a country commercial zone district.
Without any explanation, the board voted to refer out the draft local law.
3. Proposed Hallocks Mill Sewer extension district
Town Engineer Quinn and a representative of GHD, the outside engineering firm that is handling the issue, presented the latest plan for sewering approximately 660 existing houses on septic systems in six neighborhoods: Sunrise Street, Sparkle Lake, Birch Street area, Ridge Street area, Broadview Street and Carolina Road. It was explained, however, that based on the flow limitations in treatment plant’s current DEC SPEDES operating permit and current flows, only about 450 of the 660 houses could be sewered in a Phase 1. While the 450 include the first three neighborhoods, if some of those homeowners don’t want sewers, the town could reach out to the other three neighborhoods to reach a total of 450 connections.
GHD also explained that as part of the plan, both the aging Crystal Lake pump station would have to be upgraded and some of the existing sewer truck lines need to be upgraded as flows exceed their capacity during period of heavy rains, causing potential undesirable backflows.
Pending several decisions the board has to make, it was not possible to give the affected homeowners a sense of what sewers would cost. The town’s bond counsel did say, however, that a financing plan proposed last year (see meeting summary for 5/17/2017 below) was “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore not feasible. Councilwoman Roker said that the homeowners needed to know what sewers would cost them before they decided to petition the town to be included in a sewer district.
The decisions the board will have to make include.
--Whether to proceed now with the available $10M from the East of Hudson fund or wait until more outside funding can possibly be secured that would lower the cost to the homeowners.
--How to allocate the $10M among the homeowners that would be part of the district.
--How to handle the anticipated $10,000-$17,000 one time hook up cost for approximately 200 homeowners who would have to tie in to a low pressure system as opposed to a gravity system that would service most of the houses.
--How to handle to cost aspects of the project within the confines of the tax cap.
No decisions were made at the meeting, but the board was urged to prepare cost estimates so that homeowner interest in being sewered could be determined. Supervisor Gilbert appeared inclined to proceed with the $10M available now and not wait for more possible funding. He advised the board that Yorktown ran the risk of losing the funds if it did not act to use them soon.
4. Hallocks Mill pump stations
In a reversal of a previous decision, the board decided to keep the Jefferson Park pump station in the Hallocks Mill sewer district and award the bid to build a new pump station. The vote came after the town’s bond counsel said that in the absence of state legislation needed to take the 37 homes out of the Hallocks Mill district – which could take a year to enact – the homeowners would have to pay taxes to both the Hallocks Mill and the Peekskill districts. Ed Mahoney, the sewer superintendent, explained that the existing pump station is so outdated that parts aren’t even available and that something had to be done soon.
5. Proposed revised Tree Law
The board heard comments from Bill Kellner, chairman of the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission, Planning Director John Tegeder and resident Jay Kopestein on several provisions of the draft law proposed by Advocates for a Better Yorktown (ABY). Supervisor Gilbert advised the board that the town engineer had asked for an additional 30 days to comment on the draft. Mr. Te3geder’s comments were delivered verbally as he said he had not yet finished his review.
Much of the discussion focused on the provision that would regulate the cutting of a “specimen tree” defined as any tree greater than 18” in diameter. Councilwoman Roker was uneasy about regulating the removal of a single tree while Supervisor Gilbert said he preferred the Cortlandt definition of a “specimen tree” that was open ended and based on the tree’s age and cultural and historical significance. He said there were other features he liked in the Cortlandt law but he did not specify what they were.
Councilwoman Roker also expressed concern about the notification requirement that would require applicants for tree permits to notify their abutting property owners.
Councilman Diana talked about the need homeowners have to cut down diseased and dying trees in advance of storms in order to avoid downed power line problems.
Mr. Tegeder pointed out inconsistences between how the draft law treated trees in wetlands and the existing Wetlands Law, adding that he felt that the Planning Board was already doing an adequate job of protecting trees. He did not think it fair for applicants to pay for multiple permits.
Mr. Tegeder also questioned the proposed mitigation feature that would allow the town to assess a $100 fee for every tree cut down if no other alternative mitigation measures, such as planting new trees, was feasible or practical. In a hypothetical example of a development that could involve removing 1,000 trees, he said the $100,000 fee would be unreasonable. How would the mney be used, he asked.
ABY member Linda Miller acknowledged that some of the provisions should be tweaked but reminded the board that in drafting a stronger tree law, ABY’s goal was to recognize that trees have different functions and that a meaningful tree law should be able to address those different functions.
Calling work on a revised law a “work in progress,” Supervisor Gilbert did not indicate when the next board discussion would take place. Ms. Miller asked the council members to send any additional comments they had to her so that ABY could address them.
6. Emergency Generators for Sewage Treatment Plant
The board approved a resolution authorizing advertising an RFP to purchase an emergency generator for the sewage treatment plant; the existing generator failed during the March storms. According to the plant superintendent, the DEP will cover all or most of the cost.