July 24, 2018
(Note: Councilman Patel participated in only a portion of the meeting.)
Interviews for Economic and Business Revitalization Committee, plus personnel for HR and Water Departments, and litigation and negotiations for Police, Building and Legal Departments
1. Tree Nursery proposal
Ann Kutter and Bill Kellner, Chairman of the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission appeared before the board to get a sense of the board’s interest in their proceeding with a concept they have developed, in consultation with Hilltop Hanover Farm, to establish a tree nursery at the farm. The concept includes setting aside a 1,000 Sf plot (32’ x 32’) where the town could grow tree stock that could be used for future planting elsewhere in town, such as street trees, in parks and other beautification projects. The nursery would start with four seedlings provided by school children as part of the Arbor Day celebration and a $600 donation from the Rotary that could pay for 20 trees. Additional funds could come from the $2,500 currently in the Tree Fund, with future funds coming as part of mitigation requirements in the Tree law. They explained that the town could save money by using tree stock in the nursery instead of having to buy stock.
They explained that because it’s the farm’s policy that each component at the farm has to make a profit, it would be necessary for the nursery to make some kind of contribution to the farm, although this could possibly be an in-kind contribution.
Their plan would include establishing a “management committee” made up of representatives of various town departments that would provide oversight for the nursery, although they noted that once the stock was planted, there would be minimal maintenance needs and that scouts could possibly handle whatever ongoing maintenance was needed.
Seeing no downside to the idea, the board appeared to support the plan which gave the plan’s proponents the green light to continue discussions with the farm on the details.
2. Proposed Local Law to amend Country Commercial zoning district to allow for multi family housing
(See Town Board 6/13/2017.) Mr. Tegeder explained that the proposed law would allow multi family housing in an existing C2-R (country commercial) zone as a special permit. The current law allows apartments above stores, but not as a main use. He said this option was preferable to rezoning the site to R-3 (multi family) as it gave the property owner flexibility to revert back to all commercial in the future if that was desired.
The board voted to refer out the draft law.
3. Proposed local law for solar generation systems and facilities.
With minimal discussion, the board referred out a draft of the local law that would regulate solar installations. In response to Councilwoman Roker’s question how the proposed Clean Energy Collective plan differed from the solar array installed at the Yeshiva site, Mr. Tegeder explained that the Yeshiva use was an accessory use to the site’s main use; the Clean Energy proposal was to be the main use for the parcel. In response to Councilman Diana’s question how the facility would be taxed, Mr. Tegeder said he did not know but suggested that the town assessor should address this question. Councilman Lachterman asked Mr. Tegeder to look into this. The company is currently building similar facilities in Orange County.
The board voted to refer out the draft.
4. Cultural Arts and Photography Center (Zino Barn)
(See Town Board 8/8/17, 12/19/17, 6/19/18.) A group of residents that included three architects presented a concept plan to use and name the reconstructed barn as the Robert Capa Cultural Arts and Photography Center. A well known photographer, Mr. Capa is buried in the Quaker Church Cemetery in Amawalk. While the reconstructed barn could be used for a multitude of programs for residents of all ages and interests, the use of the name Capa was designed to increase the building’s draw as a destination that would be an economic plus for the town as well as an amenity for Railroad Park. While the board, in general, liked the idea, a sticky issue that needed to be worked out was two different visions for barn by two different community groups: the Capa idea or the still-to-be-worked out ideas of theLlandmarks Commission that was instrumental in saving portions of the barn. Speaking for the Commission, Lynn Briggs said that her group was currently in the process of gathering information about how other barns had been preserved; she was concerned about limiting the use to photography or why other noted Yorktown artists were not being commemorated. Speaking on behalf of the Capa group, Elise Graham explained that only a portion of the space would be dedicated to Mr. Capa and that most of the barn’s open space would be available for other uses, including music events, exhibits by local residents, photography classes, etc. Depending on how the barn is used, it could be a three or four season facility. (See Town Board, 8/8/17.)
Mr. Tegeder said the boad ad two consider two separate issues: programing once the barn was rebuilt and how to get the building up, which boils down to money. The town has saved the frame of the old barn, and one of the architects in the group said he has worked on reconstructing other barns. The group said that they are prepared to explore multiple potential funding sources, from photography related companies to grants, but didn’t want to proceed until they had the support of the board for their concept..
The board appeared to like the concept but urged the two groups to work together.
As part of the discussion Mr. Tegeder said that the bid specs for the restoration of the old railroad station would be ready by next month. He said that a use for the building would be determined after it was restored, but current thinking is to use the small waiting room for small displays while the larger ticket/baggage room could be used as a 3-seaon concession for dry/prepared food. The restoration plan does not include a bathroom.
5. Mobil station, Saw Mill River Road
(See Planning Board, 6-25-2018.)The applicant updated the board on changes made to the plan during discussions with the Planning Board regarding reducing the light coming from the canopy and the height of the light poles, landscaping around the site and plans to redo the sidewalk. In response to Supervisor Gilbert’s question whether the town ever requires a maintenance plan to insure that the landscaping is maintained, Mr. Tegeder explained that the town has laws that make it a violation if the landscaping provisions of a site plan approval are not adhered to.
The board’s concern focused on the canopy and whether changes could be made to “soften” it’s appearance. The station’s owner explained that any redesign options are limited by Mobil requrements as well as the structural integrity of the existing canopy. He said he would look into what could possibly be done. Revised plans will be submitted in August for a likely September public hearing.
6. Rezoning Request: 1943/1947 East Main Street, Mohegan Lake
Located next to the Tom Thumb Nursery School, the owners want to rezone the 5.6 acre site, currently zoned C-2 commercial to C2-R to allow for a 10,000 SF retail building fronting on East Main Street with 12 apartments above the stores, and 32 2 and 3-bedroom units residential units in 16 duplex buildings in the rear of the site. The residential units would be rental. The owners indicated that the design of the rear units was flexible. They were also not committed to a total of 44 residents units, explaining that they are still trying to figure out their “tipping point.”
While the board, in general, seemed supportive of the idea, some members had questions. Councilwoman Roker wanted to know how many school children would the plan generate; Mr. Riina said that while this information typically became available later in the review process, he would try to get some figures. She also wanted to visit the site. Councilman Lachterman and Supervisor Gilbert were concerned about existing traffic in the area. Councilman Diana thought that anything would brighten up the site.
It was not clear if the owners had already submitted a formal rezoning request (it was stated that rezoning requests had been submitted in the past, but no details were provided) or were simply asking the board for a sense of the board as to whether they should proceed.
7. Roma Building
Representatives of the owner returned to the board with the same plan that had been presented before, except that the plan now showed the dedication of land along Saw Mill River Road for the future road widening as envisioned in the mini master plan. The applicant said that with a current 40% vacancy rate and holding back on improvements, such as paving the parking lot, the owner was anxious to proceed with the plan.
The two issues that were the focus of the discussion were the number of units and the physical appearance of the building. The representative said that after making concessions for the road widening (that involves losing 17 parking spaces), the owner needed 42 units to make the plan work. She noted that the plan started with 53/54 units and as a result of discussions the number has been brought down. Supervisor Gilbert said he didn’t like the apparent lack of flexibility on the number of units and Councilman Lachterman said it all came down to dollars and cents. Councilman Roker said the plan would improve the area, especially the closing off of some of the current access points to the building that created traffic problems.
Supervisor Gilbert also expressed concern about what he considered the “incredibly massive” size of the proposed structure and board members had different opinions on the aesthetics of the “spires” on the rendering. The architect said he could make some adjustments to the plan that would lessen its visual impact, but all agreed that everyone was so used to the existing building, that it was difficult to envision something totally new.
In response to Supervisor Gilbert’s question about what control the Town Board would have over the plan once it approved the rezoning, Councilwoman Roker and Mr. Tegeder explained that the rezoning resolution could stipulate the number of units and other conditions of the rezoning.
The owner’s representative said that the anticipated rental rates for the 2-bedroom units would be $2,200-$2,400. She also explained that the owner would provide financial assistance to existing tenants, such as Oscar’s, that had to temporarily relocate.
In response to Mr. Riina’s comment that the plan would require a parking variance because it did not meet the zoning code’s requirements, there was a brief discussion about the current lack of adequate parking. Jay Kopstein also expressed concern about the safety of making left turns from either of the two proposed access points, especially the continued use of the existing driveway on Saw Mill River Road that will lead to the underground parking garage.
Based on the board’s general consensus in favor of the concept, the owner will now submit a formal rezoning request.
In an item not on the agenda, the board voted to appoint a new police officer.
(See Town Board, 3-27-2018.) In an item not on the agenda, and in what appeared to be a side conversation with some board members, Supervisor Gilbert explained to the CIY observer after the meeting was adjounred that the discussion involved implementing a 3/27/2018 resolution to re-establish the E-panel.