Town Board Meeting
June 16, 2015
Hallocks Mill sewers
Supervisor Grace announced that the DEP has lifted the moratorium on sewer hook-ups to the Yorktown plant and that 1 or 2 sewer permits have been issued. He said he expected the DEC to approve a new SPEDES permit for 2.5 mgd in the next month or so. In response to the good news, I suggested that the town should now begin to discuss how to allocate the $10 million in East of Hudson funds that was earmarked many years ago to help defray the cost of new sewer laterals. I noted that homeowners on septic systems need to know the estimated cost of hooking up before they commit to wanting sewers.
(Additional information. The lifting of the DEP moratorium is based on the town not having a “flow violation” going forward. To date, there’s nothing in writing about the renewed DEC SPEDES permit, but the town is cautiously optimistic, based on meetings with DEC, that at least one neighborhood could be sewered. Plans for other neighborhoods will depend on the actual language of new permit.)
2. Public Safety report
Councilman Bernard read a report dealing with the following traffic issues. The recommendations in the report will be discussed at next week’s work session.
· Stop sign at Summit and Underhill
· Drainage issue on Gay Ridge Road was referred to the Highway Department
· Ivy Road: installation of a 25mph Park Safety Zone sign
· Gomer Street truck traffic: Recommendation is that a weight limit not be put on the street
· East Main Street at Lakeland High School: Install a school zone sign and clarify crosswalk signs
· Muir Court: refer drag racing complaint at Curry & Poplar to the Police Department
3. Volunteer board openings
I reminded residents that there are openings on many of the town’s advisory boards and that interested residents should send their resumes to the supervisor’s assistant, Mary Capoccia at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a description of the many boards, visit yorktownny.org
4. Courtesy of the Floor
Status of Yorktown. Calling Yorktown a “ghost town,” Lisa Morales-Hellebo reported on the findings of 263 responses to her online survey asking what types of new businesses Yorktown residents wanted. Just under 50% wanted big box stores. She suggested that a citizen’s downtown development committee be created. She also expressed concern that an influx of sober living homes would turn Yorktown into another Peekskill. Several residents, Supervisor Grace and I took exception to her reference to Yorktown as a ghost town with one person saying, “If you don’t like it here, leave.” I advised Ms. Morales-Hellebo to submit her resume for some of the advisory boards.
Water meters: Referring to the town’s 2014 Annual Water Report, which noted a 21% water loss, Howard Frank said that continuing with the installation of the new water maters would reduce the loss. Supervisor Grace disagreed and said that the money that would go to the meter project could be better used on other unspecifir3ed projects. I agreed with Mr. Frank noting that the town was losing money due to inaccurate meters that weren’t recording all the water some homeowners were using. Calling the completion of the water meter project a “no brainer,” I said that the town could gain an estimated $500,000-$750,000 a year in additional revenue once new meters, that were guaranteed to be 99.9% accurate for 10- years. were installed.
5. Public hearing: Chestnut Petroleum/Mobil station (Saw Mill River Road) sign
(See Town Board, 5-26-2015.) After a brief public hearing during which it was noted that the applicant had made modifications to the existing sign before applying for the required sign permit, the board voted unanimously to approve the new sign.
6. Public hearing: Junior Lake wetlands mitigation plan
(See Spectra Energy.) After Spectra’s environmental consultant explained the project, long time Junior Lake resident Brian Amico expressed dismay over what he considered to be years of neglect regarding the lake, including the increased amount of sediment at one end of the lake, plus the fact that many homeowners who bought property in the neighborhood based on a view of the lake could no longer see the lake from their property. He wanted the lake restored to what it once was. He wasn’t against the proposed Spectra project; he just wanted to see more work done to restore the lake. Two other neighborhood residents expressed similar concerns.
Supervisor Grace and Councilman Bernard explained that the plan, which involved creating a forested wetland of trees and shrubs along the perimeter of a portion of the lake, was a benefit to Yorktown and actually a “gift” that had nothing to do with the pipeline expansion through Sylvan Glen or Granite Knolls. Supervisor Grace said that any lake restoration project above and beyond what Spectra would be doing would be a major town investment that would have to be considered along with other town projects.
Bruce Barber explained that there was no single magic bullet that would restore the lake. He said the Spectra project would add to the area’s biodiversity and that some pending East of Hudson stormwater projects would improve water quality which would reduce the phosphorous entering the lake. The new plantings, he said, were only one piece of what could be done.
The hearing was closed and the wetlands permit granted.
7. Winery permits and license
Following up on the 3-2 vote after the June 6 public hearing, the board voted 3-2 to approve the following documents. As we did on June 6, Councilman Patel and I voted no.
· A SEQRA negative declaration
· A resolution granting the Winery a wetlands/stormwater/tree removal permit. (The Winery will also have to get an administrative flood plain permit from the building inspector.)
· A license giving the Winery permission to create additional parking on town parkland.
All three documents make reference the Winery and the town proceeding with the land swap through the alienation process. Between the June 6 public hearing and the vote, the amount of town parkland involved in the license and eventual swap increased to 6,226 SF from an original 4.025 SF. No explanation for the increase was given.
Councilman Patel and I voted against the three documents because we believe that granting a license for the commercial use of town parkland is not legal. Instead, we supported the land swap and proceeding directly, and as quickly as possible, with the alienation process. Explaining my vote, I noted that the license agreement was for an indeterminate period of time, did not compensate the town for the use of town land,and had no guarantees that the alienation swap would ever proceed.
I also disagreed with Supervisor Grace’s statement that alienation would require the vote of two consecutive state legislatures or that alienation legislation could only be passed in June. I also added that much of the delay associated with the Winery was due to the owner’s actions (or inactions) and not the town. (For a nine year history of the Winery project, visit http://yorktownbettergovernment.org/user/image/the-winery_final_7-8-2013.pdf)
The board also voted, 3-2, to have the supervisor proceed to draw up contracts for the land swap. I asked that copies of the documents be made available to the board prior to their being signed.
Noreen Driscoll, currently an intermediate clerk in the Senior Nutrition Center, was provisionally appointed Nutrition Center Manager to replace retiring Mary DeSilva. The appointment is provisional pending the results of a civil service test.
9. Tax Certiorari settlement
The board approved a settlement with Oster Realty, owner of the Yorktown Green Shopping Center, for the years 2011-2014. The town will refund Oster $14,452 and the school district $38,256.
10. Tax Liens
The town erased approximately $110,000 in unpaid taxes on 15properties that were taken in-rem or permanently removed from the tax rolls.