Town Board Work Session
1, Pinesbridge Monument
Michael Kahn, the lead spokesman for the monument, and a second gentleman, requested town funds to get the long delayed project started. First conceived in 2009, Mr. Kahn explained that the winning design was selected in late 2011. The monument is expected to cost $225,000, Since then, the monument committee has raised $48,683 in donations and has a commitment for an additional $50,000 from the state.
After a brief discussion, the board gave its support to spend $67,500 from the fund balance to move the project forward. A resolution will be voted on at the next board meeting. Supervisor Grace said that the remaining funds would come either from pledged donations or additional fund raising once the project got started. He said that the project was not likely to happen without the infusion of town funds. Once built, the monument will be located in either Downing Park of somewhere in the revitalized downtown park area that is part of the supervisor’s overall downtown revitalization plan.
Update: 7/29/2016: The agenda for the 8/2/2106 board meeting indicates that the funds will be taken from the budget's "Contingency" line and transferred into the Planning Department's "Special Projects Line."
2. Curry Chevrolet (Kia dealership) 3805 Crompond Road
The applicant is seeking permission to place three temporary trailers on the site so that the dealership can open for business while the existing building is renovated and the Planning Board reviews the application for an amended site plan.
The board had no objection to the request and the town attorney will prepare a resolution for the next board meeting. After a brief discussion, it was decided that a public hearing on the request was not required. The applicant said he anticipates that could take 8-11 months to get Planning Board approval.
Hilltop Hanover Gas Station, East Main Street, Shrub Oak
Joe Riina of Site Design Consultants showed the board a concept plan for the renovated station that would include an area for the sale of used cars. His recommendation to the board was that two parcels that currently comprise the site, one residential and one transitional, be considered as one and that a new transitional zone be applied to the entire site so that there could be a uniform site plan. The board agreed with the idea and advised the applicant to submit the rezoning application.
Calling the parcel the “gateway to Shrub Oak,” Supervisor Grace said that the key issue in reviewing the plan would be the aesthetics, including lighting, landscaping, a possible canopy and signage. He said he while he has been harangued by some people about changes that have been made to the station, others have praised the changes that have been made.
The board’s preference is for suitable screening along Route 6, although the supervisor did note that the trench along Route 6 was DOT property and the owner would have to consult with that agency about any landscaping plans. The board would also like to see the station retain a “1950s era” appearance if possible. An earlier idea to have a canopy extend from the building was dismissed as not being physically possible.
Reminding the owner that he had made changes to the site without town approval, Councilman Bernard cautioned the owner not to make any additional changes until the new plan and rezoning was approved.
The next step is for the owner to submit a formal application for rezoning.
4. Courtesy of the Floor request
Citing his disability that he said limited the amount of time he could be away from home, Gregory Kravstov asked the board to be able to speak at Courtesy of the Floor at the behinning of the meeting instead of having to wait until the end of the meeting. Pointing out that Courtesy was a courtesy and not a right, the board rejected the request and Councilman Bernard suggested that in order to limit his time out of the house Mr. Kravstov could watch the meeting on television and leave his house as the meeting was ending and return as soon as he spoke. It was unclear to the board exactly what Mr. Kravstov wanted to speak about at Courtesy, but Supervisor Grace noted that comments designed to promote a business were not appropriate.
5. Tree ordinance
Bruce Barber advised the board that he had prepared a red line version of the draft law that incorporated comments from the Conservation Board, Tree Conservation Advisory Commission (TCAC) and Planning Board. He then led the board through a series of issues where he said Town Board policy decisions needed to be made. Ann Kutter, one of the co-authors of the 2010 law and Bill Kellner, chairman of TCAC participated in the discussion. The discussion focused on the following points.
Pemits for homeowners: Calling restrictions on tree removal on private property unconstitutional, Supervisor Grace was very firm about homeowners not needing permits . However, he appeared willing to accept restrictions that involved removing more than 10 trees on 10,000 sf, removal on slopes, and removing trees that were at least 24’ in diameter. In general he saw little value to having a permit requirement when he said that the town had never denied a permit.
Town forests. While acknowledging that the town owned 4,000 acres, Supervisor Grace did not think that the town should be required to get a permit to remove trees on town land. (The current law has this requirement; the draft does not.) He said that the town needs to be a better steward of its forests, including implementing the recommendations in the two Forest Management Plans that have been done and which he said were gathering dust and also preparing additional plans for other forested areas. In the draft law, these tasks would be given to the TCAC. Ms. Kutter noted, however, that if the all-volunteer TCAC was to be given these responsibilities, it also needed to be given some resources.
Appeal process. In response to the Planning Board’s comment that any appeal of a Planning Board decision should be by an Article 78 lawsuit and that the Town Board should not be given the authority to override a Planning Board permit, Supervisor Grace said that law required a local appeal process.
May vs shall requirements:
Whereas the current law says “shall” in many places, such as the requirement to prepare a mitigation plan, the draft law says “may.” Supervisor Grace said he preferred the “may” language because it gave the town more flexibility so that the town could get as much as possible as part of the development process. However, Mr. Barber pointed out the potential problem that applying different standards to different applications could appear arbitrary.
Overriding goal: Ms. Kutter expressed concern that the draft law addressed the “how” issue instead of focusing on the WHY – why the town felt it needed a tree law. In response, Mr. Barber cited the “purpose” section of the draft law that talked about why trees and forests needed to be protected and Supervisor Grace said that the WHY could be addressed in a board policy statement and didn’t have to be spelled out in a law. Ms. Kutter expressed concern that it was easier to change a policy statement than a law.
Fee: Supervisor Grace opposed charging a fee for a permit. He said homeowners would not apply for a permit if there was a fee and that placing an additional fee on developers would be onerous. Instead he repeated his goal of redesigning all development related fees.
Based on the discussion, Mr. Barber will prepare a revised draft that will be reviewed again by the board before being set up for a public hearing. It was not clear whether the revised law would be referred out to advisory boards.
6. Proposed law to change Taxable Status Date
With only a brief discussion, the board directed the town attorney to prepare a local law that would standardize the taxable status date in different local laws. A public hearing will be held in September.
7. Competition Carting
The board voted to renew the contract. It appeared to be a one year renewal , but there was no documentation. The contract price remains unchanged.
8. Seasonal help
In an item not on the agenda, the board voted to allow the Refuse & Recyclng Department to hire seasonal help. No documentation on cost was available but it was stated that the money was in the budget.
9. Town Hall roof
In an item not on the agenda, Supervisor Grace stated that after Monday’s heavy rain, he inspected the roof over the board room with Dan Ciarcia and Martin McGannon, an employee in the Sewer Department. They determined that the poured concrete roof was in good shape and that only a few pitch pockets had to be re-tarred. Also a drain had to be cleaned out.
To discuss personnel