Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board

June 5, 2012


1. Personnel

a. Library: Kathleen Scanlon was appointed Librarian II at an annual salary of $64,412.

b. Central garage: Auto mechanic David Doherty was promoted to senior auto mechanic. (His salary was not discussed.)


2. Courtesy of the Floor

a. Water meters. Howard Frank was critical of how the new water meter in his house was installed and expressed concern that he was not given anything in writing that would include the accuracy of his old meter in the event he wanted to dispute his new bill.  In response to his concerns that the Town may be undercharging Cortlandt for the water it purchases from Yorktown, Supervisor Grace and Councilman Paganelli both said that they were looking into the issue.


b. Department of Public Works (DPW). Aaron Bock, speaking on behalf of Yorktown Citizens for a DPW repeated his group’s request to meet with the Town Board to discuss the steps leading up to a November referendum that would give residents the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted to establish a DPW. He gave the Board copies of a petition signed by over 160 people who supported holding the referendum.  In response, Supervisor Grace said “we’ll look at it.” During the second Courtesy of the Floor, when Jane Daniels, another member of the Committee, asked the Board to place the item on the June 12th work session agenda, both Supervisor Grace and Councilman Paganelli said that an afternoon informational meeting to which all the players could be invited, and similar to the Route 202 corridor meeting that had been held in January, would be more appropriate. Supervisor Grace said that Yorktown was different from other towns because it has sewer and water districts and that there were also issues as to whether the engineering department should be part of a DPW, adding that he had an “open mind” on the issue.  William LaScala spoke against a DPW, saying that he never heard of a scheme that saved money. He said the people proposing the DPW had a personal agenda and were citing junk science.


c. Backflow. In response to Mr. Bonano’s request for an update on the issue, Supervisor Grace said that a law had been drafted and would be advertised at a future meeting. He said that the law would include an increase in the Town’s price for doing the backflow inspections and a list of vendors.  Local plumber David Goldberg again asked why Yorktown took on this task and what it was costing. Supervisor Grace said that one reason for the Town’s doing the inspections was to assure compliance with the law.


d. Fleet maintenance. In response to David Goldberg’s repeated suggestion that the Town purchase fleet maintenance software, Supervisor Grace said that the Town had applied for a grant for a fuel monitoring system. He also explained that one of the reasons for the shorter life span of the bodies of the Town’s trucks was that they were not being washed on a regular basis. While cars could be sent to a local car wash, he said that there were no facilities for truck washing.


e. Accessory structures. Nick Witkowich asked the Board how it planned to deal with the new building permit application from his neighbor to construct a pole barn as an addition to his existing house as opposed to being a separate accessory structure. He said that the new plan violated the spirit of an earlier court decision and the accessory structure amendments to the zoning code that the Town passed in 2011in response to the court decision. Councilman Bianco said he would look into the matter and Supervisor Grace said he hadn’t had a chance to review Mr. Witkowich’s earlier email.


f. Recognition for service to the Town. Chris Sciarra said that it would be nice if the Town acknowledged $2,000 worth of work he had done for the library.  He also suggested that instead of the Yorktown Events signs being blank from time to time (his firm donated the services to construct the signs) businesses like the Winery should  be able to post something  on the signs.


g. Miscellaneous. Mr. Oliveri raised several concerns including improper snow plowing in cul d’sacs, how the Town could save money by following Cortlandt’s example of doing away with a police department, the cost for flashing lights on Route 132 when there was no school, and the pedestrian bridge over the Taconic.  In response to his comments about the concept of a Route 202 median, Supervisor Grace said that he was planning to set up a meeting with officials from Cortlandt, Peekskill and Somers to discuss regional water, sewer and traffic issues. Regarding Route 202 Improvements, he said the Town had a better chance of getting something done if it worked on a regional basis.


3. Winery at St. George

Supervisor Grace reconvened the hearing by reading a letter from the Recreation Commission in support of the plan to create a wetlands park on the town-owned land for all to enjo, as well as other correspondence supporting the rezoning. He also clarified the following points:  The Town will remain the owner of the entire 14 acre parcel, the proposed plan will provide access to town-owned property, allowing a business to use the parking lot was not an alienation of parkland, and the parking area for the 12 spaces will be gravel, not blacktop. He also again rejected the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Open Space (ACOS) to seek a legal opinion on the alienation issue from the state Attorney General’s office and the Park & Historic Preservation Office.


Supervisor Grace also explained that the Town’s wetlands law regulates activities in a wetland or a wetland buffer pursuant to a permit; it does not prohibit building in a wetland or wetland buffer.


ACOS member and a retired 33 year Parks Department employee, John Schroeder  said that while it would be nice to see the parcel become a wetlands park, he felt that the Recreation Commission’s has always been focused on active recreation.


After closing the hearing, the board reviewed and approved, in a 5-0 vote, a lengthy approval resolution with a list of conditions, including that the Winery will be responsible for maintaining the parking lot and that final landscape plans will have to be approved by the Town Board with input from the Conservation Board and ABACA.  The Winery will also have to obtain a Town wetlands permit and agree to any additional conditions associated with that permit.


Regarding the plantings, the Winery’s engineer, Jeff Econom,  stated that the plantings recommended by the Conservation Board  for the Route 6 swale (see earlier notes) were not suitable because of road salt. He said the plantings for the rear of the parcel will be detailed on the site plan.


After the vote, Councilman Bianco said that the Town was not giving away town land and he stressed that the Town would continue to own the parcel. He gave the example of a business improving the road in front of its store. The improvements benefit the business, but also the public, he said.


4. IBM Helistop

The board opened a public hearing on a revised text that would permit helistops in OB zones by special permit. Two area residents spoke in opposition to the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance, stating that the helistop wasn’t necessary, that it put area residents at risk, and that the standards in the law were too easy to meet. It was also pointed out that in the past, requests from residents for helistops on private property had been denied.


In response to comments that a considerable number of planes already fly over the area, Councilman Bianco noted that the area is an alternate flight path to Westchester County Airport. He also cited a concern about morning fog in the area. When Supervisor Grace noted that IBM already uses  the site across Route 134 for helicopters, one resident said “shame on the town” for not putting a stop to the practice. In response, Supervisor Grace said that sometimes we have to live with something and all we can do is is regulate it, which is what the proposed law would do. Councilman Paganelli expressed some concern that the helistop would be between a day care center and a glass building.


Before voting 5-0 to adopt the law, the board made one change:  the special permit will be issued by the Planning Board, not the Town Board. It was explained that the Planning Board will be able to put conditions on the permit governing hours and intensity of use. 


5. Industrial zone/Indoor Recreation zoning amendments

The board opened and closed a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow indoor recreation uses in I-1 zones. Planning Director John Tegeder explained that outdoor recreation was currently allowed in the zone and he saw no reason why indoor recreation could not also be permitted.  There were no comments from the public and the law was adopted 5-0.


6. Affordable housing  zoning amendments

The board opened and closed a public hearing on amendments to sec ton 300-39 of the zoning c ode that governs 11 affordable housing units that were built many years ago. Ken Belfer and Maura Gregory of the Community Housing Board explained  that the amendment that deleted local preferences for the 11 units was mandated by the consent decree that resolved a lawsuit involving the Town’s Section 8 program. The other amendments updated the law to conform to current guidelines and to conform to the Affordable Housing Law passed in 2011 that governs any new units.  The law was passed 5-0.


7. Procurement of Goods and Services Law

At the start of the public hearing, Councilman Murphy took issue with an unspecified item that appeared in an unspecified publication that was critical of the Town for not fulfilling its financial responsibilities. Supervisor Grace also said he resented an editorial that appeared in a local paper that criticized his handling of an emergency board meeting that the public was not informed about, adding that he was not hiding anything from the public. 


Supervisor Grace explained that new state enabling legislation gave the Town the ability to award bids based on “best value” as opposed to “the lowest responsible bidder. Sometimes, he said, the lowest bidder isn’t the best, and the state has finally recognized that.  He also said that sometimes it was not cost effective to go out to bid.


Comptroller Joan Goldberg explained that the Town has always been following “best value” guidelines but that the state has finally caught up to what Yorktown and other towns are doing.  This is nothing new, she said.  She also corrected Councilman Paganelli’s statement that staff had to travel to Home Depot to save a few pennies instead of buying at Mitchell Hardware.  Not true, she said.  


Commenting on the process leading up to the hearing, Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) said that because the board had not discussed drafts of the law at prior open meetings, the public had  no idea what the law contained , why it was needed and how it would impact on taxes.  In response to her comments asking the board to explain why the price threshold for bids had was being increased, Ms. Goldberg explained that the thresholds in the existing Procurement Policy (adopted by resolution, not a local law) were not being changed and that the best value law only applied to bids that exceeded the state price thresholds. Ms. Siegel also questioned the subjectiveness of how best value could be determined.


The board approved the law 5-0.


8. Advertising

a. Public hearings were advertised for June 19 for: an eminent domain proceeding and wetlands permit involving  the rehabilitation of Baptist Church Road; amendments to the local law regulating barking dogs; a special permit for Westchester Restorative Care;  and a wetlands permit for a Hanover Street parcel.


b. Bids for computer upgrades (approximately worth $50,000-$60,000) and two stainless steel multi task body packages (trucks) for the highway department.


9, Selected Resolutions (all passed unanimously)

a. Capital projects funds: separate funds were set up for Open Space Acquisition ($2 million remaining that can be borrowed), Granite Knolls ball fields ($25,000) and Holland Sporting Club ($125,000)


b. YCCC boiler repair. Authorized the supervisor to sign an agreement with Sundance Energy Contractors d/b/a Markley Mechanical for the repair of the Skidmore Brand vacuum condensate boiler feed pump. Howard Frank commented that the resolution didn’t indicate exactly what was wrong with the existing equipment.


b. Bernstein House. Authorized the supervisor to a contract with William Primavera to market the property. It was noted that the sale will be subject to a roughly five acre conservation easement that will be placed on the parcel.


c. Senior Center change orders.  The board approved $3,412.50 in change orders for Sullivan Architects. In response to questions from Gil Kaufmann, chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee, as to what necessitated the additional charges, Planning Director John Tegeder explained that they involved changes in the moveable partition and also the new exit door that were required by the building department. In a correction to the resolution printed in the agenda, Comptroller Goldberg said that the money will come from the senior reserve fund and not from the general fund.


d. Shrub Oak Pool.  The board approved a change order for an additional $2,050 to replace the underlayment of the pool tiles that was rotted, bringing the total cost of the proj3ect to $18,360.


e. Ethics Board procedures. Adopted the procedures developed by the Ethics Board for dealing with ethics complaints.


f. Possible litigation: Authorize the town attorney to explore options, including legal action, against Cassidy Excavation in connection with a dispute on White Hill Road. (The nature of the dispute was not revealed.)


g. Procurement: Authorized the supervisor to sign an application with Inter Active Procurement Technologies to participate with the Hudson Valley Bid Group. Comptroller Goldberg said that this had been in the works for nine months and that she anticipated that it could lead to increased competition on town bids.


h. Board meeting schedule: The June 19th meeting will take place in Town Hall and the  June 26th work session has been cancelled due to federal primaries. 


i. GPS tracking software. Authorized the supervisorer  to sign an annual renewal of the water department’s GPS tracking software for $18,400.


9. Budget/Audit Committee

Supervisor Grace said that people interested in serving on an advisory budget committee should send resumes to his office. Experience in financial affairs is not a requirement for membership.