Citizens for an Informed Yorktown


Town Board Meeting

July 17, 2012



1. Holland Sporting Club

Supervisor Grace reported that the buildings had been demolished at a total cost of $29,748.75 and Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo who was in charge of the work reported that the job took 4 or 5 days to complete and that 304 tons of debris were removed. Wood chips were spread over the area of the demolished buildings. Supervisor Grace noted that the low bid on the job was $89,000, resulting in a $60,000 savings for the town by using town staff. Board members praised the staff for their work and dedication. Councilman Patel said that there should be a final written report on the project and that it should include the cost of town labor to do the work.


Commenting on what he called the “next chapter” for the site, Supervisor Grace said that the Parks & Rec Commission and ACOS should do an audit of the town’s open spaces and come up with a plan for the property that he said should not lie fallow for another 20 years. He encouraged area residents to be part of the discussion over the future use of the property.


2. Courtesy of the Floor

a. DPW: More than a half dozen people spoke urging the Board to set a public hearing for the DPW referendum for August 7.  In response, Supervisor Grace said he was flattered that so many people had come out to speak on the issue. He said the Board had an open mind about the issue and that he did not like the shrill rhetoric that the DPW committee had been using. He said that the Board was not blocking democracy.  He said he saw the issue as the abolishment of the highway superintendent position and that the town could generate savings without a DPW.


Councilman Bianco said he hadn’t yet seen the savings that a DPW could generate and that he was waiting until after the June 25 DPW informational meeting scheduled for 6:30pm at town hall. Councilman Patel said that no one on the Board had a P.E. (professional engineer) license and that this type of expertise was needed for many projects. He also said that the people had a right to vote on the issue. Councilman Murphy said the he was open minded and wanted to listen.


b.State audit report. Dave Goldberg asked what the town had done in response to the state audit and asked Supervisor Grace if a new audit could be requested to see if changes had actually been made. Supervisor Grace said some changes had been made during the past administration in response to the audit and that he could request a fresh audit.  Mr. Goldberg also asked why it took the town 6 months to address his concern over the backflow fees, and then, when the town finally acted, it increased the fees.  (Note: The fee increase is the subject of an August 7 public hearing.)


c. Hudson Valley Islamic Center: A resident whose property abuts the Center and said she supported the Center when it bought the property, expressed concern that a portion of the property was being used at night for athletic activity and that the lights and noise from the games is a disturbance for her family.  She said she was especially disturbed that when she called the Supervisor’s office for assistance and was told to take a video of the people playing. Supervisor Grace apologized that someone in his office had given her that advice and said he would look into the issue.


d. Sharon Lane: Three residents from Sharon Lane asked the town to do something about the sink hole on the street that has continued to cause problems despite repeated repairs that the Highway Department has done. Councilman Bianco noted that the area has always had a water problem and Councilman Murphy assured the residents that the Highway Department would take care of the problem this week. Noting the repeated failures of the work that had been done, Councilman Patel said that there needed to be an engineering study to determine the proper solution. Highway Superintendent DiBartolo said that the problem would be addressed by the end of the week.


e. Adjudicated Youth Program. Jane Daniels, speaking on behalf of the town’s trail system and explaining that the youth sentenced to this community service program in lieu of other punishments had done valuable work in maintaining the town’s trail system, asked why no youth had been sentenced to the program this year. The program, which has been in existence for many years, requires the youth to work six hours over four days.  When Supervisor Grace said that the town’s youth were behaving, Ms. Daniels responded that she found that hard to believe.


f. Term limits. John Monocelli, speaking for the United Taxpayers of Yorktown, again asked the board to consider adopting a law that would put a term limits question on a referendum ballot in November. His group wants to limit councilman terms to two 4-year terms and supervisor to three 2-year terms. When he asked for a show of hands who supported him, only Councilman Patel raised his hand. During the second courtesy of the floor, Ed Ciffone asked that his group’s request be treated with the same response afforded the DPW committee. Town Clerk Alice Roker explained legal procedures dealing with referendums.


3. Paving

In a two part discussion, at the beginning and end of the meeting, the Board approved an initial budget transfer giving the Highway Department $313,000 for additional paving that can be done this week and next. $113,000 will come from a FEMA reimbursement for Hurricane Irene and $200,000 will be transferred from the “snow line.”


Initially, in addition to the FEMA and snow line money, Highway Superintendent DiBartol o asked for an additional $200,000 from the Fund Balance. He said he could use the money now while the outside contractor was paving in town, using the roughly $294,000 the town has received from the NYS CHIPS program.  If he had gotten the $538,803 requested,he was planning on paving portions of Hanover, Broad, Lexington, Somerston and Front Streets. 


Mr. DiBartolo said that the Town expects $213,000 from FEMA, $140,000 of which should be a reimbursement to the Highway Department. Comptroller Goldbherg confirmed that the Town had received, to date, $113,000 from FEMA.  It was not clear when the other money would be received and it was noted that the Town is appealing FEMA’s denial of funds for the Macie property on Sherry Drive and the Lexington Avenue bridge. Regarding the snow line, Mr. DiBartolo said that the salt bins were full. Councilman Paganelli noted that the town had not appropriated any moving for paving for the past three years over and above the CHIPS money.


When the discussion resumed at the end of the meeting, Mr. DiBartolo reduced his request for fund balance money to $100,000 from $200,000,and that some streets, or portions of streets, would be removed from the paving list. While Councilmen Bianco and Paganelli appeared ready to vote for the additional $100,000, Supervisor Grace said he wanted that discussion to be postponed to next week’s work session when the Board could look at the larger fund balance policy. The Board agreed, and transferred only the $213,000.


Mr. DiBartolo reported that $446,000 remained in the special road maintenance fund created several years ago when the county gave Yorktown money in exchange for taking over certain county roads. He said he will be using some of those funds to pave East Main Street  in the Jefferson Valley area and that the remaining $130,000 would be kept in the fund for possible future work that may be needed on Seven Bridges Road. There is no time limit on when the funds have to be used.


4. Baptist Church Eminent Domain & Wetlands public hearing

In order to gain access to a culvert across Baptist Church Road that needs to be repaired, and because the owners of the property on the north and south side of the road refused to grant access to the Town or accept a negotiated amount of money for two temporary and one permanent easements, the Town has found it necessary to use the eminent domain law to gain access to the culvert.


According to Town Attorney Koster, the two temporary easements were appraised at $1,383 and the permanent easement was $2,815. 


The owner of one property spoke at the hearing and expressed concern that the town had caused siltation problems in the pond on his property.  He also charged that the town’s outside engineering consultant had trespassed on his property. During the wetlands hearing, Supervisor Grace raised the issue of whether the Town could do something to clean the pond.


Two area residents spoke about the dangerous conditions that existed on the road and the need to repair the culvert.


Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson explained that the work will take four months to complete, but only three months for substantial work. She was hoping that during the construction phase, the road could stay open, but in the event it had to be closed, a detour plan had been worked out.  She said that if the work could progress faster if the road could be closed for a brief period, that that would be preferred to prolonging the job.


The board closed  the eminent domain hearing but has to wait up to 90 days to make a finding that the taking is in the public interest. The separate hearing on the wetlands permit  was closed and the Board voted to grant the permit subject to the acquisition of the property.


5. Fire lanes at the Police/Court complex public hearing

The Board opened and closed a hearing to designate fire lanes on both sides of the road leading into the complex in order to assure access for emergency vehicles. Currently, because there is no such designation, cars park on either side of the road due to the limited available parking spaces.


Fire Inspector Ed Kolisz explained that both the Police Department and the Fire Advisory Board had reviewed the plan and supported it. Ed Ciffone, the only member of the public who spoke during the hearing, suggested that the parking restriction be placed on only one side of the road. In response, Mr. Kolisz explained that that would not allow sufficient room for emergency vehicles.


S7upervisor Grace said the Town is looking into how additional parking spaces can be made available at the complex.


The board approved the law.


 6. Landmarks Preservation Law public hearing

The Board opened and closed a public hearing on two changes to the existing law. One would eliminate the requirement that the Landmarks Preservation Commission include an architect and a person with knowledge of historic preservation. The second amendment deleted the requirement that the property could be landmarked without the owner’s consent.


Speaking on the first issue, Supervisor Grace said that he didn’t want the Commission to be unable to function in the absence of people with those skills and that interested residents with life experience should be able to participate in the Commission.


Bill Primavera, a resident and owner of a historic property who has asked to be appointed to the Commission, suggested that owners of historic properties be given a 10 year tax incentive to offset some of the cost involved in maintaining an historic property.  Supervisor Grace suggested that that discussion be deferred to a future date and that in the meantime the Commission concentrate on activities related to preserving our historic heritage, such as the historic cemeteries in town.


Public comments during the hearing did not focus on the amendments but rather the future of the Bernstein House.


Ed Ciffone ad Nick DiTomaso raised questions about the Bernstein property and where the proceeds from the anticipated sale of the property would go: to town coffers or to the Museum Board. Both argued in favor of the latter. Mr. DiTomaso said that the property had once been valued by the Museum Board at $4 million and he was distressed to learn that the town would be selling it for $150,000.


Supervisor Grace explained that by the terms of the deed to the Town, after the museum used the property for 10 years, there were no restrictions on what the Town did with the property.


The Board approved the amendments.


7. Temporary Building Permit law public hearing (Fieldhome)

(See Fieldhome discussion under Planning Board summaries.)

The proposed amendment eliminates a 1,5000 sf limit on the size of a temporary structure and instead leaves the size of the structure up to the discretion of the Town Board to determine on a case by case basis.  The permit has to be renewed on a yearly basis and there are provisions in the law for the town to remove the structure if the applicant fails to do so.


Joe Riina of Site Deisgn Consultants, the engineer for the expansion of the Fieldhome, explained the proposed plan to erect a temporary 3,000 sf sales office. 


Building Inspector John Winter explained that the temporary sales office at Trump Park was not authorized by this section of the code but instead was part of an approved site plan.


The Board closed the hearing and approved the amendments.  In an action later in the meeting, it approved the permit for the Fieldhome.


8. Building permit renewal fees public hearing

The Board opened and closed the hearing and voted to approve the proposed amendments to the Town Code as previously discussed.


9.Unsafe structure, 1482 Maiden lane, public hearing

The Board opened and closed the hearing and voted to proceed to have the Town demolish the unsafe half burned-out structure and put a lien on the property to recover costs.  The property was damaged in October, 2011 and the owner has disregarded numerous notices to take down the structure.


10. Resolutions

The Board unanimously approved a list of resolutions identified on the Finial Agenda, with the exception of pulling a proposed IMA with Town of Greenburgh  relating to tax grievances.


One resolution authorized the sale of surplus town vehicles by auction.