June 18, 2019
Personnel: Police, Senior Services
Litigation & negotiations: Town attorney
Supervisor Gilbert gave the following status reports
Roofs: Work is almost completed on new roofs for Police and Court buildings and Town Hall, plus correcting problems in the tunnel between the Police and Court buildings.
Tennis courts. Work has begun on the lower Downing Court. Once completed, work will begin on renovating the Blackberry Woods courts, to be followed by new courts at Shrub Oak.
Pocket parks: Work is almost completed at the town’s three pocket parks.
With regret, the board accepted the resignation of Todd Orlowski, Superintendent of Parks & Recreation effective July 8.
3. Courtesy of the Floor
Solar & Tree laws: In response to a question from Paul Moskowitz, Supervisor Gilbert announced that the public hearings on the two laws, originally scheduled for July 2, has been changed to July 9. Mr. Moskowitz and Grace Caporino spoke in opposition to the law’s provision allowing commercial solar farms in residential neighborhoods. In response, Councilman Lachterman said that destroying the viewshed at Turkey Mountain would be “tragic.” (For more discussion about the Tree and Solar laws, see Work Session below.)
Summit Hill development. Three residents of Jefferson Village spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning to multi family to allow for a 150 unit rental development on Eat Main Street between Hill and Lee Boulevards.
Housing set aside law: Mel Tanzman asked when the board would move forward on the proposed housing set aside law and told the board that county officials have advised him that the town would not get the $40,000 for a new senior van that it was expecting, or any other CDBG money, until the board adopted the county’s model affordable housing law.
Jay Kopstein reminded the board that he had asked for more information about the number of affordable units already existing and that nothing had been provided. After Councilman Lachterman raised the issue, Planning Director Tegeder explained that the board would have to more accurately define exactly what type of housing units it wanted to count. For example, he said that the county did not consider accessory apartments as part of a count of “affordable units.”
In response to Supervisor Gilbert’s question whether the model ordinance was a set aside law, Ken Belfer, chairman of the Community Housing Board said yes it was and that communities were encouraged to tweak the model before adopting it.
In response to comments about having local preferences in a set aside law, Mr. Belfer said that while they were part of the town’s 1988 affordable housing law, current fair housing laws made local preferences problematical.
Councilman Diana said that he preferred to refuse the $40,000 from the county before having a “knee jerk” reaction to the proposed law, adding that he wanted to see something in writing from the county. Councilwoman Roker said that in her opinion, affordable housing was not “transient” housing.
Mr. Tegeder suggested that the board work with the county on any proposed language and Mr. Belfer said the Housing Board wanted to address the board at a future work session.
4. Con Edison, Wetland/Tree Permits/Public hearing
(See Planning Board, 5-20-2019.) The board opened and closed the hearing and okayed the permits. In response to comments from the board, Con Ed agreed to consider some mitigation for the cut trees.
5. 39 Somerston Road/Wetland permit/Public hearing
(See Planning Board, 5-20-2019.) The board opened and closed the hearing and okayed the permit. Although wetland permits are typically not needed for above ground pools, this one was because it was 50 feet from the state wetland.
6. 1550 Journeys End Road/Stormwater and Tree permits/Public hearing
(See Planning Board, 5-20-2019.) The board opened and closed the hearing and okayed the permits. During the hearing, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, questioned why the application, which involved cutting down 30 trees, had not been referred to the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission and why the trees to be cut were not shown on the plan as required by the existing Tree law. She also asked the board to consider mitigation even though under the current law it was optional. When the applicant’s engineer said that adding the trees to the plan would be an unnecessary financial burden on the applicant, Linda Miller noted that without that information it would be difficult for the public to comment on the application even though a plan was shown on the room’s video monitors. The board agreed with the engineer.
7. Selected resolutions
Pinesbridge Monument. In a 4-1 vote, the board approved a $50,000 budget transfer to pay the balance of the bill for the monument. Councilman Patel voted against the resolution because he said he had never been kept informed about the expenditures for the monument. Supervisor Gilbert said he anticipated getting reimbursed for the outlay. (Note: After the meeting, the observer learned that the town had received a commitment of $50,000 from the state for the monument when it was initially proposed to be located in Downing Park. Because the location was subsequently changed, state approval was needed and the observer was advised that Senator Harckham was working on getting the required approval.0
Sewage Treatment Plant: Approved several resolutions related to maintenance contracts for the plant.
Section 8: Set July 16 for a hearing on the Five year Plan for the Section 8 program.
Mr. Tegeder walked the board through how the proposed law changes provisions in the current law: it’s easier to enforce and administer, eliminates ambiguity, sets thresholds that are consistent with other laws and eliminates the need for double permits. Linda Miller, a member of the Tree Committee that drafted the law, explained the provisions governing woodlands and the flexibility in creating mitigation plans. The board decided to continue the current practice of not charging for tree permits.
Amendments to Stormwater Law (Chapter 248) and Wetland Law (Chapter 178)
Because the proposed Tree Law eliminates the need for tree permits if an application for either a stormwater or wetland permit involves the disturbance of a protected woodland, these laws need to be amended to require mitigation in the event that protected woodlands are disturbed.
The main discussion revolved around the law’s provision allowing large scale solar installations in residential zones as a principal, a practice Mr. Tegeder said was not unusual. Both Supervisor Gilbert and Councilwoman Roker said they had no objection to that provision as long as the installation would not be seen; they may be appropriate in some but not all locations. They rejected the option of not allowing solar farms altogether while allowing only solar installations as accessory uses in residential and commercial zones. Mr. Tegeder said the board could modify the existing law to set a larger minimum lot size for solar farms to reduce the potential number as well as adding other requirements. There was concern over the potential visibility of the proposed installation on Underhill Avenue, although a representative of the solar company that want to build the installation said his company was preparing a simulation that would show that the panels would not be visible from Turkey Mountain. Supervisor Gilbert advised the board that the company has indicated its willingness to make contributions to the town for possible projects.
Although not discussed, the July 9 meeting will also have a hearing on a proposed law that would enable to town to enter into PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreements with the owners of large scale solar farms.