July 1, 2014
1. Courtesy of the Floor
Mohegan Manor sewer connection
Jay Kopstein asked the town not vote on this agreement that would permit the adult home to hook up to the town’s Clover Road sewer district (See Town Board 1/28/14 and 4/8/2014). He said he wasn’t against the concept, but was concerned about what might happen if the home experienced financial difficulties. He suggested that the agreement should be with the Town of Cortlandt, not Mohegan Manor. Adding that Cortlandt has “screwed” the town in the past, he said he didn’t believe that the proposed Cortlandt sewer project would ever come to fruition and that the temporary agreement would, in effect, become a permanent hook up.
Later in the meeting, Supervisor Grace explained that the home’s septic system was failing, that the proposed agreement had to be with Mohegan Manor, not the Town of Cortlandt, and that the agreement did provide for an IMA (intermunicipal agreement) whereby Cortlandt would place a lien on the property in the event the home experienced financial difficulties. He added that the addition of an out-of-district taxpayer to the Clover Road district would actually be a financial benefit to the Yorktown taxpayers in the district. (In addition to a buy in cost, the home will pay twice the normal sewer charge which will be based on its water usage.)
The board voted unanimously to authorize the supervisor to sign the agreement.
Spectra/Granite Knolls parkland alienation
Paul Moskowitz explained the science behind how the “pigs” cleaned out deposits on the walls of the pipeline and why the black powder, which is the end product of the cleaning process, is contaminated with radioactive material. When Supervisor Grace responded, saying that Mr. Moskowitz had made some “good points” that should be made known to FERC, Mr. Moskowitz said he didn’t trust FERC and that the Cortlandt Town Board had gone on record as opposing the pipeline. Councilman Patel shared Mr. Moskowit6z’s concern.
Jonathan Hyman, representing the Koppel family who own property on Stoney Street across from the existing pipeline, said he was pleased that Supervisor Grace was starting to think differently about the pigging station, noting that at a previous meeting he had said that the pigs weren’t a problem. He suggested that the town should submit its own comments to FERC and not rely just on citizens. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the plan never compromised the safety of town residents, that there was some misinformation and hyperbole surrounding the health and safety issue but that the environmental issues needed to be vetted, but that if FERC okayed the project there was nothing the town could do about it. He said it was up to the board to decide if it wanted to send any comments. Councilman Patel said he wanted to see more information about the pigs in writing.
Sparkle Lake Dam
Howard Frank raised questions about a $41,000 study by an outside consultant that had assessed the safety of the dam which has been classified as a Class C-High Hazard dam by the DEC. He asked why the town was spending money on the dam when the consultant’s 4-page report said there were no problems with the dam, although he did note that a metal overflow pipe containing bottles and other debris should be cleaned out In response, Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson explained that based on new DEC dam safety requirements, the town had to analyze several aspects of the dam, including its structural integrity as well as what would happen to downstream properties in the even the dam failed. She said the dam’s high hazard classification was based on a hydraulic analysis which showed potential downstream damage. She said the $41,000 study, which constituted considerably more than four pages, had to be done in order to satisfy the DEC regulations, a requirement Councilman Bianco called an unfunded state mandate.
2.Public hearing on proposed law about keeping fowl on residential properties
(See below for a summary of the proposed law.)
Councilman Bianco summarized letters that had been sent to the town in support and opposition to the law. He also cited earlier comments from the Planning Board, Zoning Board, Westchester County and the town’ s environmental consultant, all of which he said had been incorporated into the latest version of the law.
Steven and Janelle Robbins , who currently keep chickens on a lot less than 40,000 square feet, spoke in opposition to the law. It was their contention that they had been acting in good faith after reading the Zoning Ordinance that permits a private noncommercial garden in which produce is raised for personal use only. It was their contention that the definition of the word “produce” included raising chickens, which meant that they had an “as of right” use to raise chickens, a point rejected by the board and the town attorney. They said that the proposed law the limited raising chickens to lots of at least 40,000 square feet, and only after obtaining a special permit from the Zoning Board imposed undue and unnecessary restrictions on the use of their property and constituted an “uncompensated taking.” The Robbins also objected to the proposed law’s setback requirements which they felt were excessive (and more stringent than setback requirements for dogs) and which, they said, limited raising chickens to only wealthy homeowners with larger lots, a restriction they considered an economic injustice.
In the event the law was passed, the Robbins asked if homeowners with existing coops that did not meet the new requirements could be grandfathered.
Based on his experience with a neighbor who used to raise chickens, Kevin Murphy suggested that the law include provisions for how waste products from the coop would be handled. And Town Attorney Jeannette Koster advised the board that growing up on Long Island, her father had raised chickens, on a lot less than 40,000 square feet, and there were no problems. The law’s intent, she said, was to liberalize the requirements for raising chickens, not to make them more restrictive.
The board voted to close the hearing, and based on comments made during the hearing, the board voted unanimously to adopt the law with the following modifications.
1. The law will retain the 40,000 square foot requirement -- but added a provision that will allow the Zoning Board to vary the lot size and setback requirements on a case by case basis.
2. The homeowner will have to provide a waste removal plan.
3. The initial special permit will be for one year to make sure the homeowner is complying with any conditions set by the Zoning Board. The length of subsequent renewals will be determined by the Zoning Board.
4. Existing homeowners will not be grandfathered. (Supervisor Grace explained that grandfathering occurs when a zoning change makes a legal use no longer legal. In the case of chickens, the use is currently not legal, so it can’t be grandfathered.)
5. The 50 feet setback from an existing house will pertain only to houses in existence at the time the permit is issued. This will avoid possible future issues if a house is added on to.
In voting for the law, Supervisor Grace took notice of the town’s agricultural heritage but added that the town is now a suburban community that requires certain issues to be looked at differently. Both he and Councilman Bianco also cited the need to consider the concerns of neighboring property owners.
3. Selected resolutions passed unanimously
Fluoridation: The board approved an IMA with the Northern Westchester Joint Water Works to move forward with the design and development of a new fluoridation system at the Catskill treatment plant. The work will be carried out by the Water Works but Yorktown will pay for the work as it is the only member of the Water Works that will benefit from the project.
Appointment: Sharon Kullberg was hired as a librarian at an annual salary of $52,446.
Resignation: Denise Savage resigned as a member of the Board of Assessment and Review.
Trail Side Café: The board authorized the supervisor to sign a license agreement with the café to permit chairs on the sidewalk which is town property, and also to allow an awning over the entrance that will overhang the sidewalk. The board considered the awning more a desirable sign than one on the building.
Police cars: The board okayed the purchase of two cars not to exceed $50,100.
Textile recovery program: Will advertise an RFP for a program that will give residents options for disposing of unwanted textiles.
Amendments to tax installment law; Set August 5 for a public hearing on amendments to the law.