August 12, 2014
“For discussions on a particular person”
1. Salary increases and resignation
Note. Although the agenda indicated that the open session would start at 7:30pm, when the observer arrived at Town Hall at 7:14, the open portion of the meeting was already in progress and the clerk indicated, without any discussion, that four resolutions had already been passed.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the observer asked the clerk what the resolutions were about. Although they were not in written form, the observer was told they were:
a. To grant raises to all elected officials, as per the CSEA contract, retroactive to 2012. (A 3-1 vote with Councilman Patel voting no.)
b. To grant raises to all department heads, as per the CSEA contract, retroactive to 2012. (A 3-1 vote with Councilman Murphy voting no.)
c. To grant a $5,494 stipend to Sandy Serrano in the Finance Department for doing out-of-title work. (A 4-0 vote.)
d. To accept the retirement of Lorraine DeSisto of the Planning Department and okay her vacation and sick leave payout. A 4-0 vote.)
In response to a question from the observer about the amounts of the CSEA raises, the observer was told they were:
2012: 1.5% lump sum
2013: 1.5% on base
2014: 1.75% on base
The items on the rest of the agenda were discussed in a different order.
2. Auction update
Town Clerk Roker gave the board an update on the status of the planned auction of town-owned properties taken in foreclosure (in-rem). She said that given the fact that there were no established protocols for handling in-rem properties, Bob Killeen, the former assessor who is currently working as a consultant in the Assessor’s office and who the board had previously authorized to handle the auction, was preparing a book setting up a protocol for handling the properties. The book would detail what projects had to go to town staff for review and how to manage the properties once the town took ownership. She said the properties should be subject to the town’s Property Maintenance law.
Ms. Roker also advised the board that now that more properties were involved, Mr. Killeen wanted to be paid $300/hour for his efforts instead of the previously agreed to $2,000. When Councilman Bianco objected to an open ended amount, and after some discussion, it was agreed that Mr. Killeen would be paid $300/hour up to a maximum of $5,000.
Part of the reason for the increase is that Mr. Killeen wants to show two of the four houses on the auction list prior to the auction. Supervisor Grace felt this was not necessary, arguing that three of the houses were in knock down condition, a fact that others disputed. A fourth house is currently occupied but the town attorney said she expected the occupant to be evicted by September.
Ms. Roker explained that unlike Cortlandt, the auction would be advertised on the town’s web site and people would be able to submit sealed bids, which would then be opened during the live auction. Although there were differences of opinion on the issue, the board accepted Supervisor Grace’s position that there will be no minimum bids placed on the parcels. The supervisor argued that the four houses had no market value because they could not get title insurance although other board members felt the properties had value, if not for the houses then the land.
3. Disposition of town-owned parcel
The board voted 4-0 to take a 1.17 acre parcel at the end of Navajo Street that had been taken in-rem off the auction list and instead declared the parcel to be used for town drainage purposes. Ms. Roker explained that the original site plan for the industrial park had marked the parcel for drainage purposes and that the site was unbuildable. By not declaring the parcel “parkland,” the board preserved the ability to use the parcel for other purposes.
4. Shallow Creek
After the supervisor’s assistant gave the board copies of the latest version of the two license agreements for Shallow Creek, the board voted unanimously to authorize the supervisor the sign them. The only change from the previous draft was the inclusion of performance bond requirements in the agreement for the golf course. Both licenses will be for 10 years, with an option for the town to renew them for two 5-year periods. Both are revocable.
Councilman Patel expressed concern that if the operator went out of business or otherwise walked away from the project, the town would be liable to reimburse him for improvements he had made. He wanted to know what protections there were for the town. In response, Supervisor Grace explained that the town would only be subject to reimbursement costs if the town arbitrarily and without reason revoked the license. He explained that if the operator didn’t complete the required improvements, then the town would be able to use the performance bond money to complete the project.
Supervisor Grace said the operator was ready to start “today,” adding that the clubhouse building had been vandalized the previous week.
5. Water Department
NY Catskill Aqueduct Building: Water Superintendent Rambo explained his department’s plans to decommission the existing building that is no longer needed. In order to do this, he needed to submit a land use permit application to the DEP and before doing that he needed permission from the board – which was granted.
Excess water bill: In an item not on the agenda, there was a brief discussion about a resident who had received an unusually large water bill. Mr. Rambo explained that when the usage had increased from 35,000 gallons to 58,000, a red flag went up and the property owner was sent a letter that was ignored. The usage then increased to 143,000 gallons. The problem was a leak that sent the water into the ground. What followed was a discussion of whether the letter was sent certified (it was not) and whether department staff had tried to make a personal contact with the property owner (which it had done.) No action was taken.
6. Plastic bag ban
Citing environmental concerns, resident Scott Reing asked the board to consider banning the use of plastic bag in all retail establishments. He gave the board copies of similar legislation in effect in Rye, Mamaroneck (it was not clear if this was the town or village) and Larchmont. He suggested that the law could include a fine for stores that violated the ban which could become a revenue stream for the town. He said that since the ban would affect all stores, it would not create a competitive disadvantage to local retailers.
Councilman Patel talked about the need to do more recycling but did not specifically address the proposed ban. Councilman Bianco questioned the need for the ban and both Councilman Murphy and Supervisor Grace expressed concern for small businesses. The supervisor added that he had no problem with educating and encouraging consumers to recycle but was opposed to any additional government intrusion.
Although there was no consensus on the issue, Councilman Bianco advised Mr. Reing that the board would look over his proposal and get back to him.
7. Barry Court wetlands permit
The homeowner at the end of Barry Court is requesting a wetlands permit in order to build a pool in a wetlands buffer. Councilman Bianco raised the issue of the area having a history of flooding but the homeowner responded that her neighbors, who also had pools, did not have a problem. The application was referred out to the advisory boards and a public hearing will be held on September 16.
In a related discussion, Bruce Barber, the town’s environmental consultant, suggested that the board may want to consider amending the town’s Wetlands Law to allow permits such as this be handled administratively instead of requiring Town Board approval. The board appeared to support the change and he will work with the town attorney to draw up the appropriate legislation which possibly could be ready for a public hearing on the same date as the wetlands permit application.
8. Illington Road/Disposition of parkland
(See Town Board, 5-27-14) The board was advised that the Conservation Board opposed alienating the property and selling it to the abutting property owner. The Yorktown Land Trust made two suggestions: a) a possible land swap for a more ecologically valuable parcel, or b) keeping the parcel in town hands but letting the abutting property owner become its steward.
Councilman Bianco said he was opposed to giving away any parkland, especially if there was a possibility that the parcel could be added to another parcel and create a buildable lot. Supervisor Grace said he would consider a land swap, but needed more information about what parcel/s the Land Trust had in mind. He said he would follow up with Aaron Bock who wrote the Land Trust memo. He did not see the value to the landowner of taking care of the land as simply a “steward.” The board asked Paul Moskowitz, as a member of the Advisory Committee on Open Space to submit a written memo with its recommendations.
9. Greenwood Street Organic Recycling Facility
Highway Superintendent Paganelli advised the board that the 90-day license for R&S Waste Services to clean up the backlog had expired on July 28 but that the situation is “not what we want it to be” due to equipment breakdowns. Given the fact that the RFP for a long term solution has not yet been prepared, and that the RFP process would take at least two months before a new vendor could be selected, he recommended, and the board agreed, to a 90-day extension of the R&S contract to run through October 28. He said that commercial operators had been prohibited from depositing material on the site for the past six weeks.
On the positive side, Mr. Paganelli said that the quality of the mulch, which is the end project of the grinding, was very high and that currently there is no mulch left.
10. Senior Living Center (East Main Street, Mohegan Lake)
The applicant returned to the board with a map showing the proposed bypass road that had been discussed at the previous meeting and identified several issues with this possible plan that still needed to be worked out:
a. a grading analysis and the need for retaining walls
b. crossing a state wetlands (the site planner ruled out a bridge as not being cost effective)
c. how the development would work with the abutting Catucci single family home development.
In addition to working out the above issues, which the applicant said would be costly and would benefit the town, not his specific project, the question remained whether doing the bypass in Yorktown made any sense if it ended at Lexington Ave. Mr. Tegeder noted that the 14 lot subdivision in Cortlandt on the other side of Lexington Avenue did not set aside land for the bypass and that while Cortlandt said it wanted a bypass, it did so only on its terms. The board seemed in agreement that while the bypass could take traffic off Strawberry Rd, it might not make sense if the bypass didn’t continue into Cortlandt.
Although the board appeared to support the general plan concept, the fundamental issue that needed to be resolved was the access points and the ability to make right and left turns from and onto Route 6. Supervisor Grace added that even though the actual traffic generation from the site would be limited, area residents were still likely to be concerned about the mass of the proposed buildings.
Two suggestions from board members for getting better accessto Route 6 involved the applicant acquiring additional properties in the area, one of which was identified as a group home at Strawberry Road.
Given the board’s generally positive feelings about the project concept, the applicant said he felt comfortable investing in the additional studies that would be needed to prepare three possible options to bring back to the board for additional discussion at a subsequent meeting.
Mr. Cassidy also advised the board that he would be working with Mercy College which was proceeding with its plan to create a Senior Living Center on campus but that when this proposed project went through, the onsite senior living center would include both shared rooms and rooms rented by the college.
Mr. Cassidy also gave the board additional information it had requested about his background.
11 Computers for Planning Department
At the end of the meeting, in an item not on the agenda, Councilman Patel asked the board to purchase new computers for the Planning Department, explaining that the department’s existing computers could not perform what he called simulations. Councilman Murphy said he had no doubt that the department needed new computers but he wanted to talk to Mr. Tegeder first before authorizing their purchase. Comptroller Caporale advised the board that the 2014 budgeted amount for new computers had already been spent. As Mr. Tegeder had already left the building, Councilman Bianco contacted him by phone and relayed Mr. Tegeder’s comments that he could wait until 2015 for the new computers.
12. Special Park Districts
The board approved two resolutions permitting the Amazon Park District to pay for an architect (who had already been hired and done the work) to repair the clubhouse and to go out to bid on the repair documents. The request sparked a discussion and disagreement between the supervisor and town attorney about the Town Board's responsibility vis a vis the special park districts. Supervisor Grace said that because the Town Board was not the Board of Commissioners for the park district, he wanted a written request first from the commisioners, even through the comptroller explained that there hadn't been any board meetings and that some residents had stepped forward to begin the needed repair. The supervisor agreed that the special districts had to abide by the town procureent policy for their purchasing, but he said their property did not belong to the town and the town was not responsible for it. The town attorney disagreed and the two parties said they would discuss this later.
13. Miscellaneous items and resolutions passed unanimously
Downed trees on London Rd: In response to a question from Councilman Bianco, Mr. Paganelli said that the downed trees in the vicinity of London Rd and Ponderosa would be taken care of as his department’s work schedule permitted. He said the trees would be left in woods but that the guardrail would be repaired.
Street paving. In response to a question from Councilman Bianco about whether the Planning Board ever required the developers of commercial projects to pave the roads leading to their development, Planning Director Tegeder said that sometimes the Planning Board does make this request. Mr. Paganelli explained that he made a last minute decision not to pave a portion of Hill Blvd because a new development is pending next to the bowling alley.
Police Department: A 1991 GMC utility vehicle will be auctioned off
Water Department: The board approved $3,250 for asbestos abatement and roof replacement specifications for a department building.
YCCC: The board approved a lease for room 227 to Manetoo Dance Ensemble for the remainder of the year at monthly rate of $843.52.