Town Board Work Session
June 9, 2015
Personnel and cell tower lease negotiations
1. Water Meter Project
Water Superintendent David Rambo and Catherine Paget, Business Director for the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works, made a presentation to the board on why the town should proceed with Phase II of the water meter project. Based on the tests that were done on the old meters replaced in Phase I (2,711 meters were replaced and 1,693 were tested) Mr. Rambo told the board that the Water District is losing an estimated $750,000 a year in revenue because the average accuracy of the “old” meters was only 85%/ In addition, he said that once all 10,000 water accounts had the new “smart” meters, the District could save an additional $150,000 a year by eliminating two meter reader positions by attrition.
Supervisor Grace questioned whether replacing the remaining 7,500 meters that were installed beginning in 1998 would generate that much savings. He also questioned whether the money to install the new meters, that would come from fund balance, would be better spent on other projects which he did not identify.
Councilman Patel and I strongly supported moving ahead with the project. Financially, we saw it as a “no brainer” that was well worth the investment. We believed that homeowners would also benefit from the new technology which would save them money by the early identification of leaks. As explained by Mr. Rambo, when the computer operator who monitors the system sees a spike in usage, he contacts the homeowner and leaks or running toilets can be remedied immediately. Under the current system, a leak may not be detected until the end of the four month billing cycle.
Councilmen Bernard and Diana did not express any opinion about the issue.
At the supervisor’s request, Mr. Rambo will gather more data and return to the board.
For copies of the information Mr. Rambo provided the Town Board, click here.
2. Sober Living Home Special Permit
In response to the supervisor’s earlier comments about not limiting the special permit to “sober living residences,” I presented the board with a revised definition for a “community care facility” that included any illness, infirmity or sickness but left in that the facility was for temporary housing, didn’t provide any on-site medical services and was not licensed. The supervisor took exception to the new definition, however, and repeated his position that the current code is adequate and that he saw no need for any new permit section, no matter what it was called. He felt that even with a broader definition, the permit was aimed at sober living residences which he did not appear to want to regulate beyond what is already in the code.
Although I tried to proceed to review specific provisions of the draft dealing with parking, site plans, buffering and other land use issues, the supervisor kept coming back to his basic belief that the current code adequately addressed these issues. The result was that there was no substantive discussion about the other provisions in the draft code.
I explained to the board that my ultimate goal was to draft a local law that would be referred out to the town’s advisory boards and then be subject to a public hearing. But that if the board never got to the point of agreement on what the law should say, we could never get to a public hearing and get input from the community. I finally said that rather than waste the board’s time on additional fruitless meetings, I would proceed only if I determined that at least three board members were ready to proceed to a local law stage.
In very general terms, Supervisor Grace advised the board that the Planning Department was exploring submitting grant applications under a NYS Consolidated Funding Application program for the highway garage/Depot Square project, relocating the Pines Bridge Monument to the Depot Square area in order to add a cultural component to the project, plus grants for sidewalks and trails. He did not provide any specifics about the sidewalk or trails grants although I added that the Yorktown Trail Committee had learned that the trail grant would be for the proposed trail between Downing Drive and Baldwin Place that would link up to the trail network to FDR park.
The supervisor talked mostly about the highway garage/Depot Square application, advising the board that in his opinion the project was likely to score well in several criteria used to evaluate the grant application.
In response to my question whether any of the grants required a town match or outlay of town funds, the supervisor said no.
I requested that before any application reaches the final stage, the Planning Department submit drafts to the Town Board for review.
4. Sewer back up.
A Tulip Drive homeowner who experienced a sewer back-up that did damage to the lower level of her house asked the town to reimburse her for the roughly $11,000 clean-up cost. The town’s insurance company declined to cover the expense.
Supervisor Grace explained to the distraught homeowner that before the town paid out any money, the law required there be evidence that the town was responsible for the backup; absent that evidence, he said the town could do nothing. The supervisor did offer to review the homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it could reimburse her.
5. Lakeshore Drive wetlands permit
The board referred out an application for a wetlands permit to build a single family house on a vacant lot in the wetlands buffer at 3211 Lakeshore Drive. A public hearing will be held on July 21st.
6. Generator at Mobil Gas Station/Route 202
As part of the state program to have generators installed at gas stations, the applicant would like to amend the gas station’s existing special permit to permit the installation of a generator. The board had no problem with the request, but advised the station owner that a formal application has to be made first and that an amended site plan may be needed because of questions about possible setback issues.
As a side issue, Supervisor Grace suggested that in the future requests such as these be handled administratively. He made a similar suggestion about signage at gas stations which also require Town Board approval. Any such change would require a change in the existing zoning code.
7. Gulf Station signage (Routes 202 & 118)
(See Town Board, 4/28/2015.) Although not on the published agenda, the board reviewed a revised signage plan for the gas station that showed three signs; a monument sign, pole sign, and a logo on the canopy. Both Supervisor Grace and Councilman Bernard reminded the applicant that at the previous meeting, he had been advised that the board only wanted the monument sign, not the pole sign, and that it did not want a logo on the canopy, although they would consider painting the fascia part of the canopy in the Gulf colors. We gave you direction last time but you didn’t listen, Councilman Bernard told the applicant. And then you wonder why there’s a delay getting your approval.
Councilman Bernard and I suggested that instead of the words “Food Mart” on the monument sign, the applicant put the Gulf name and logo.
The applicant was not happy with the board’s comments and said he would think about his next steps.
8. Holland Sporting Club
The board approved the expenditures of up to $10,850 to haul away remaining construction debris from the Holland Sporting Club. At my suggestion, the funds will come from the General Fund fund balance and not, as originally proposed, the separate Trust and Agency account for use only for park improvements. (Since the demolition project started several years ago, funds were taken from both accounts.) My point was that the demolition project was always meant to eliminate a neighborhood nuisance and liability and while there are ideas for converting the site into a park, to date, there are no active plans to translate those ideas into reality.
9. Mohegan Lake procurement issue
(See Town Board, 5/12/2015) In another item not on the agenda, the board gave the Mohegan Lake Improvement District the ability to hire a vendor to apply copper sulfate to the lake. The Procurement Policy requires at least three quotes but MLID was unable to get three quotes due to a variety of circumstances and the application was time sensitive.