Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board

June 7, 2016


1. Hallocks Mill Sewer District – Extensions for unsewered neighborhoods

Supervisor Grace explained that under the terms of the town’s current  DEC issued SPEDES permit for the sewage treatment plant, if flows to the plant do not exceed 1.5 million gallons per day (mgd) based on a 12 month average  beginning November, 2015, it should be possible to create new sewer districts for some of the unsewered neighborhoods. He estimated that there might be about 500 parcels that could be sewered. With current flows averaging 1.2 mgd, he said that would allow for additional flows of 300,000-400,000 mdg that could accommodate the additional homes.


The supervisor said he would be traveling to Albany next week with other northern Westchester supervisors to explore possible state funds for sewer projects that would supplement the $10 million already available to Yorktown for watershed projects.  A report concerning Hallocks Mills sewers has been prepared, but the supervisor did not elaborate on the contents. “We’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, advising residents to “stay tuned.”


2. Hallocks Mill Pump Station Rehabilitation

A representative of GHD, the  consulting engineering firm hired to design the rehabilitation of three aging pump stations, Jefferson Park, Walden Woods, and Jefferson Valley, made a presentation on the plans that are almost, but not 100% complete project.


The project will be paid for by taxpayers in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District (aka Yorktown Sewer District) with a combination of cash of borrowing.  In response to a question as to what the estimated cost of the project will be, Town Engineer Michael Quinn said he didn’t want to publicly discuss costs as doing so might impact the bids.


The Department of Health is currently reviewing the plans. Once that review and the SEQRA review is completed, the town will advertise for bids.


For the two smaller pump stations, Jefferson Park that services 26 houses, and Walden Woods that services 120 houses, the existing buildings housing the pump station will be demolished and new ones erected.  The buildings will have vinyl siding and shingle roofs and the supervisor said that neighborhood residents could have input on the colors. The plans include new pumps, electrical and HVAC systems, emergency generators and other upgrades.  Two residents living next to and across the street from the Jefferson Park pump station had issues with the size of the new building and objected to the proposed fence that was being planned as a security measure.  Supervisor Grace said that the fence would be eliminated and the new building surrounded only by shrubs.  He doubted, however, the feasibility of the residents’ suggestion that the pump station could be eliminated by rerouting the collection system. But, Supervisor Grace said he was willing to meet with the residents on site to review their idea.


The rehabilitation of the Jefferson Valley station that services 630 houses will make interior changes to the existing building, plus exterior changes.


3. Personnel

Police: Lt. Robert Noble was appointed temporary Chief of Police effective June 11, 2016 through august 29, 2016.

Resignation: David Rambo, Water Distribution Superintendent

Retirement: Julio Sista (Engineering) and George Routis (Water)


4. 3574 Lexington Avenue Rezoning

In a unanimous vote, the board approved the rezoning to R-3 (multi family) from R1-20 (half acre). Supervisor Grace summarized some of the conditions in the approving resolution, including the limitation of 8 units, the open space buffer as the development’s recreation requirement, and the condition that the Planning Board consider the architectural and landscaping treatment of any future site plan.


Before the vote, Councilman Patel expressed concern that the rezoning could be considered spot zoning, but Supervisor Grace rejected the idea. He said that the rezoning was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and pointed out that while the proposed multi family use was more intense than the current half acre zoning, it was less intense than the surroundingt uses, including a school, nursing home, pre school center day care, and Islamic Center.  He said the proposed two rows of town houses were akin to two oversize homes.


Councilman Bernard explained that the application had been thoroughly vetted, that compromises had been made and that the board had given the neighbors ample opportunity to express their concern.


Prior to the vote, Supervisor Grace indicated that he had received three similar letters from area residents indicating their intention to sue in the event the rezoning was approved. He also noted that in a phone call, Evan Bray advised him that some area residents may be applying for rezoning their property. 


5. Dumpster Law Public Hearing

Town Attorney Michael McDermott explained that the purpose of the proposed amendments to the Solid Waste chapter of the Town Code was to set some standards and uniform procedures governing dumpsters and compactors in an effort to control an apparent ” visual litter” problem.  Supervisor Grace explained that where once a commercial development typically had a single dumpster per tenant, now that businesses must recycle, each tenant must have three dumpsters.


After the supervisor expressed disappointment that the proposed law had not generated more public input, the board agreed to adjourn the hearing and seek more input, especially from the Chamber of Commerce and owners of some of the older commercial buildings that, the supervisor said, might have problems complying with the new law.  To date, the board has received comments only from the Planning Board and Engineering and Refuse & Recycling Departments.


In response to a comment from the Planning Board, it was explained that in order to comply with the new law  the property owner may only have to apply to the Planning Board for an administrative permit instead of an amended site plan.  The board may consider a revision that would extend the period of time property owners have  to comply with the law so that the Building Department and the Planning Department are not overwhelmed with permit applications and/or site plan reviews. The board will also have to consider how to handle the required number of parking spaces if complying with the new dumpster law would eliminate some parking spaces.


Dan Strauss, the only resident who spoke at the hearing, said he strongly supported the idea behind the proposed law. He noted, however, that he had spoken to the manager of TJ Marx who advised him that corporate would not allow the store to have another dumpster despite what a town law might require.


6. Roma Building

(See Town Board, 3/15/16 and 5/17/16.) The board voted to direct the town attorney to file a lawsuit against the building owner, the DEC and the County of Westchester. As explained by the town attorney, to goal of the lawsuit is to get a court order directing the property owner to 1) remediate the visual effect of the hole, and 2) remediate the underlying oil spill problem.


Mr. McDermott explained that because the problem is on private property, in the absence of a court order, the town cannot simply go in and fill in the hole with item 4; if it did, it would create problems with the DEC because no action had been taken to remediate the underlying spill problem.  However, armed with a court order, the town would be insulated and could act.


Mr.  McDermott detailed the town’s efforts, dating back to February, to work with the landlord to correct the problem but added that the landlord had not lived up to his promises to act on the remediation plans that had been drawn up. In April, sensing that nothing might happen, the town issued a Notice of Violation, a precursor to the eventual lawsuit.


7. Courtesy of the Floor

Senior Center. Gil Kaufmann, vice chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee, expressed concern about the damage being done in Room 16, used by the senior clubs, to the carpet and furniture. Supervisor Grace said he would look into the matter.  He also suggested that the  $1,267 donation (see Miscellaneous below) be used to install security cameras, which he said were desperately needed,  in the YCCC.


Courtesy of the Floor. (See Town Board, 5-24-2016.) Noting that this was the third time in 15 months that she has spoken in defense of the privilege of public comment at Courtesy of the Floor, an issue, she said, that was dear to her heart, Miriam Curtin took issue with the comment made at the last board meeting  (and subsequently called a joke)  that the proposed new Qualify of Life Committee could mean that Courtesy of the Floor was no longer needed. She asked the board to affirm its commitment to allow the public to address the board at televised meetings, adding that she hoped the board would turn on the microphones at work sessions and also televise those meetings so that the public could be a participant in the work sessions..


In response. Councilman Bernard stated that the board had no intention of changing the Courtesy policy. He defended his comment, repeating that it was joke and that board members speak more freely at informal work sessions. He also took issue with the person who repeated his comment in her blog (the person who is writing this meeting summary), stating that it was the opposition that was coming forward with falsehoods and innuendos.


Supervisor Grace defended the proposed Quality of Life Committee saying it would be a more effective in addressing resident concerns so that they don’t have to wait until the end of a board meeting to address the board at Courtesy of the Floor. He added that he continued to be against televising work sessions because board members needed an opportunity to be frank with each other without someone waiting for a “gotcha” moment or who didn’t have a sense of humor. He said that some of the applicants who meet with the board at work sessions are shy and don’t want to be on camera.  


Sober home (482 Underhill Avenue). Referring to the meeting residents had with the Town Board last December after the death of a resident at Compass Westchester, Nick Toumanios reminded the board that at the meeting, the board agreed to meet with residents to review whether the facility was complying with the conditions of its special permit.  To date, he said, no meeting has taken place.


In a related issue, Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) urged the board to take action to support pending legislation in Albany that would establish standards for the operation of sober homes which are currently unregulated. She reminded the board that last year the board passed a resolution urging Senator Murphy and Assemblyman Katz to support the legislation and she asked them to adopt a second resolution this year while the legislature was still in session


Unpaid taxes. Ed Ciffone again brought up the issue of unpaid taxes, noting the as of June 2nd, the town was owed $5.4 million, up from $4.3 million only a month ago.  He specifically asked what the board was going to do about the Sultana Pool that currently owed $94,964. There was no response from the board.



8. Miscellaneous

Bids: The board authorized going out to bid for unmarked vehicles for the Police Department.


Public hearing: Set a public hearing for June 21 on a request to change the sign at the Hess station on Route 202 to Sunoco.


Senior Donation: Accepted a donation of $1,267.18 from the dissolved Chapter 2 senior club to be used only for the Senior Center.


Vehicle purchase: Approved the purchase of three police cars for a total cost of approximately $87,000.

Funds for equipment. In an item not on the agenda, the board authorized  the expense of up to $35,000 to pay added costs associated with the repair and return of  “the beast,”  a piece of equipment used at the recycling facility to grind branches into wood chips. The machine has been out of commission since late 2013 when it was damaged in a fire. Supervisor Grace explained that insurance will cover  $83,000 of the $94,000 bill, but there are additional costs to bring the machine back from Michigan where it has been repaired, plus $8,000 worth of general maintenance work. While he anticipated that insurance would cover some of these additional expenses, he wanted to get the machine back as soon as possible and work out the insurance issue later.