Town Board Special Meeting
June 18, 2014
(A continuation of June 10 meeting that was adjourned due to lack of a quorum)
The board went through a series of agenda items before discussing the main issue, the Spectra/parkland alienation home rule message.
1. Resolutions unanimously approved
a. Cording Road easement paving, as previously discussed
b. Mohegan Manor sewer connection, as previously discussed
c. 37 Croton Dam Road deed acceptance, as previously discussed\
d. Tax certiorari settlement for JV Racquet Club. The amount of the refund was not disclosed.
e. Water Department budget transfers. In response to Councilman Patel’s concern that money should not be taken from the meter project to pay for other expenses, he was assured that the money for the meter project was in tact and that after the budget that listed the “meter” line was approved, separate budget lines were set up for “other” capital projects.
2. Capital budget
Referring to the list of proposed projects to be financed with the $3 million bond issue that was discussed last week, Highway Superintendent Paganellii repeated that there’s a six month lead time to receive the new trucks and town Clerk Roker said that the board couldn’t vote on any financing for the trucks without something in writing from bond counsel. Supervisor Grace said he wasn’t going to pay cash for anything on the list; Councilman Patel said he wanted more time to digest the list of proposed projects and Councilman Bianco noted that the town has low debt. With the board’s approval, Comptroller Caporale said she would get more information from the town’s outside bond counsel. The proposed borrowing assumes a 1% interest rate on the bond anticipation note (BAN), with interest and principal totaling $365,742/year.
3. Legal settlement
The board approved a legal settlement with the town’s two K-9 police officers regarding their claim for time and a half for caring for the police dogs. As part of the settlement, they will receive a total of $24,000. Supervisor Grace said that the litigation costs for the town were not covered by the town’s insurance and that the settlement made sense in terms of what the litigation was costing the town.
4. Spectra pipeline/parkland alienation
After a heated discussion, the board voted 2-2 to send a home rule message to the state senate requesting the alienation. Supervisor Grace and Councilman Murphy voted for the resolution; Councilmen Bianco and Patel against. Because there was no majority, the resolution failed to pass. (Note: without the home rule message, the Senate cannot pass the alienation bill.)
For the benefit of the standing room only audience, Supervisor Grace repeated the different parts of the alienation request and explained that if FERC, after it completes its environmental review of the pipeline expansion plan, grants Spectra a Certificate of Necessity, federal law supersedes local law and the town would have no say over the project. He explained that even if the town refused to alienate the parkland, Spectra could use eminent domain to get access to the land it needed. Spectra would get the controversial “pigs,” he said, but Yorktown wouldn’t get the ball fields. He also said that if Yorktown didn’t approve the alienation for the staging area, the company would go elsewhere.
In an effort to clear up what he called “misinformation,” Supervisor Grace said that the Spectra plan would not involve anything like what happened in Briarcliff and he felt it was irresponsible to create the hyperbole about potential health and safety problems and that the project carried a definite public benefit. He stated emphatically that “no one is putting children in a toxic field.”
When Councilman Patel said he wanted more information about the pigs in writing and asked what the hurry was to get the alienation approved by the state legislature, the representative from Spectra said that all the necessary information would be in FERC’s DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) that will be available in early fall and that the company would be open and fully transparent. He also said that the material that the pigs removed from the pipeline during the cleaning process would be taken off site and processed according to federal and state regulations.
Councilman Bianco said he had no problem with the pipeline expansion and also with allowing Spectra to temporarily use the Granite Knolls site as a staging area. He was opposed, however, to the pigs because of what he said could be a “potential” problem and he didn’t want anything on his conscience. When the Spectra representative said that the company was exploring the possibility of being able to locate the pigs on its own right of way, Councilman Bianco said the town could not stop that, adding that would “be on your conscience, not mine.” According to the Spectra representative, the pigs have to be situated at the end of the 42” line.
At several times during the discussion, Supervisor Grace, as well as Councilman Murphy and a representative of Spectra, reminded Councilmen Bianco and Patel that the home rule message only gave the Town Board permission to alienate at a future date and that passing the home rule message now would only to give the board a future option to alienate. In response, Councilman Bianco said he didn’t trust what future boards might do. When Supervisor Grace took yumbrage at that statement, Councilman Bianco reminded him about what he called a “bait and switch” on the garbage contract. Despite the supervisor’s repeated entreaties, neither councilmen showed any intent to change their vote.
Supervisor Grace and Councilmen Murphy and Bianco said that when the Granite Knolls property was purchased in 2010, it had always been the town’s plans to create an active recreation complex at the site.
After the 2-2 split on the home rule message, Supervisor Grace asked the board to vote on a motion to have the town proceed with the sports complex plan on its own, beginning with doing the SEQRA environmental study. In a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Patel voting no, the board approved proceeding with SEQRA, although Councilman Bianco said he was not giving the supervisor a blank check to proceed.
6. Special election law
At the conclusion of the Spectra discussion, Councilman Bianco asked if the board was going to take up the revised drafts of the special election law that had also been on the June 10 agenda. The answer was no, and there was no discussion.