Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Town Board
August 6, 2013


Note: Supervisor Grace changed the regular order of agenda items and CIY summaries typically follow the discussions as they took place.


1. Appointment of new police officer


2. Selected Resolutions, passed unanimously and without any discussion or explanation

a.  Engineering services: Authorized additional services with WSP Sells for design engineering services for the Baptist Church Road Culvert and Greenwood Street Rehabilitation project.

b.  Budget transfer: Approved budget transfer of $119,181 in highway budget from salt line to  CHIPS program equipment line.

c. Library Children’s Room: Advertised for bids for the renovation of the Children’s Room at the library.

d. SOAC contract: Authorized a $44,000 contract with the Shrub Oak Athletic Club for its 2013 Basketball program.


3. Presentation by Supervisor Grace on Depot Square and Relocation of Highway Garage

The supervisor explained his plan to eliminate the existing sludge composting operation on the Hill and use the site for a new 36,000 square foot highway garage, 20,000 square foot building for the Parks Department and a wash shed.  According to figures compiled by the Town Engineer Robinson, he said that the town could save between $104,000 to $130,000 a year if it trucked out the sludge.  The town is currently awaiting  bids in order to get a firmer  figure on the sludge removal cost.


 Ms. Robinson explained that new regulations governing sludge composting would be more stringent beginning 2014.  She estimated that the sewage treatment plant generates 20 tons of sludge per week; the sludge would be stored in 25 ton dumpsters before being trucked out.


In addition to the sludge savings, the supervisor said the new facilities would save the town money by increasing efficiency and reducing the wear and tear on town vehicles and equipment which could be stored inside. Based on figures he has gathered, he estimates that a large Butler building would cost $140,000-$300,000 and the smaller one for Parks about $140,000. He said there would be additional interior build out costs but he did not identify what those costs would be.


The second part of the presentation dealt with the plan to revitalize the highway garage site and the need for a Phase II environmental study.  He showed the two architectural drawings of what a proposed new building would look like and repeated earlier comments that he has both developers and tenants interested in the site.  He dismissed concerns about the site being contaminated as not a problem, explaining that the site was never continuously used as an industrial site and also because of where the garage was located; if there’s any contamination, he said, it would be further down the street, but that’s not where the town would be digging. (The supervisor also mentioned getting brownfield grants for any needed cleanup, but it wasn’t clear whether he was talking about the town getting the grants, or the developer, or whether the developer would be doing the cleanup.)


The supervisor said that the site had “real value” but did not disclose a number and Councilman Murphy thought the sale of the property could make money for the town. The supervisor also said that any future developer would save on soft costs as the town would get all the necessary approvals.  


After he concluded his presentation, Supervisor Grace asked the Board to vote on resolutions to go out for two RFPS (Requests for proposals):  one to hire an architect to begin planning the new highway garage and parks buildings and a second for the Phase II Environmental Study.


In response to the presentation, Councilman Bianco called the change in the sludge operation a “great idea” but was concerned that the supervisor’s cost figures which he said were too low; he didn’t believe them.   He said he wanted more cost information before voting to hire an architect. He suggested that the Board deal with the sludge issue first, especially as the Board would have firmer cost figures on the sludge trucking alternative once the bids were received in about two weeks.


Councilman Paganelli was concerned that the Board was putting the “cart before the horse” and thought the town should discuss the issue first with DEC and DEP to see if the agencies had any objection  to putting the  garage on the Hill. In response, Supervisor Grace said he couldn’t believe the agencies would be against a plan that would remove the sludge composting operation from the watershed. And, in response to the Councilman’s question as to the future use of the current Parks building at Downing Park, the supervisor said it could be used for recreational programming.  


When Councilman Patel suggested that any decision to move forward on the plan be postponed until a new Board took office in 2014, Supervisor Grace said he was not going to put off the project until January.


When it became apparent that some Board members had questions and were not ready to vote for the RFPs, Supervisor Grace asked the Board to think about the issue and that he would put it on the August 13 work session agenda for a vote.


(At Courtesy of the Floor, which was at the very end of the meeting, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked the Board to either postpone a vote until September 3 when the public would have a chance to comment on the project, or let the public speak at the work session.)


4.Catucci/Fieldstone Manor Flexibility request

Without any discussion, the Board voted unanimously for the revised flexibility request.


5. Greewood Street Bridge/Wetlands Permit

The Board reconvened the hearing and Acting Town Engineer Robinson again explained that the work was being done to comply with state DOT requirements.  The work will fix the “scouring” problem but will not alleviate any future flooding.  The Board unanimously approved the permit.


6. Yeshiva  Public hearing for excavation, tree and stormwater permit

Engineer Dan Ciarcia presented a revised plan that avoids any incursion into the wetland buffer, results in fewer  trees being cut down and less ground disturbance in order to make room for 1,265 solar panels. He said he would prefer that any future approving resolution leave open the possible use of blasting as opposed to hammering as the former would be more efficient and generate less noise over time than the latter option for cutting through the rock on the site.


Russell Secor (sp?) who owns two abutting properties on Illington Road expressed concern over the impact the proposal would have on his property.  He said he had not had a chance to review the new plan as he had just returned from overseas.  He said that his property was higher than the Yeshiva buildings and that in the winter he could see the buildings.


Bill Kellner, chairman of the Tree Advisory Commission said he was glad that the new plan reduced the number of trees that would be removed but reminded the Board that the current Tree Law requires mitigation to offset the loss of trees. The mitigation, he explained, could either be planting new trees elsewhere on site or contributing money to a tree fund.


Howard Frank suggested that a balloon test be done to assess the visibility of the panels from the Taconic Parkway. In response, architect David Tetro said that in the winter, a car going at 55 mph would see the buildings or panels for 2-3 seconds. He also disputed Mr. Secor’s claim about the likelihood that there would be sun reflection from the panels.


Over Mr. Secor’s objection, the Board closed the hearing but left open until Monday a written comment period so that Mr. Secor could review and comment on the plan.  Mr. Grace also advised him that he should bring up the siting issue before the ZBA which would be meeting on the application on Thursday; the Town Board’s only role was to approve the excavation, tree and stormwater permits.


The Board did vote unanimously to declare itself lead agency for SEQRA purposes.


7. Dog Park/Public hearing on wetlands permit

Al Avitable, vice chairman of the Recreation Commission led off the hearing stating that the one acre dog park at the 162 acre Sylvan Glen Nature Preserve would be a win-win situation for all. He said that three prior Town Boards had promised a dog park, that the current proposal wouldn’t cost the town anything, that the neighbors supported the plan (as a way to discourage teenagers from visiting the site) and that the Dog Park Committee would maintain the facility. He also stated that the DEC had already issued a wetlands permit for the project with few restrictions.


Of the 15 people who spoke at the hearing, all but three opposed locating the park at Sylvan Glen – although most went out of their way to support the concept of a dog park, just not at Sylvan Glen which they felt was the wrong location. Speaking in favor were David Rocco, president of the Dog Park Committee and his wife, and Al Morales who described himself as a nature lover and dog lover and thought that the two groups could share the space. Mr. Rocco also read a letter from Jonathan Nettlefield, vice chair of the Dog Park Committee who was unable to attend the meeting.


Most of the arguments against the park focused on environmental concerns, inadequate parking, its out-of-the-way location and the danger to the nature preserve’s animal habit.  Walt Daniels, a member of both the Conservation Board and the Advisory Committee on Open Space  (ACOS) and John Schroeder of the Yorktown Land Trust and ACOS were both critical of the process. Mr. Daniels noted that the town’s submission was poorly written and didn’t come up to the same standards as the town would require of a developer. Mr. Schroeder noted that the submission didn’t properly address many critical environmental issues and that a long form EAF (Environmental Assessment Form) should be completed that dealt with the impact of the fencing, vegetation removal, and impact on endangered species.


After listening to the comments, Councilman Bianco said that he didn’t think the two sides were far apart and he urged them to get together.   He noted that over the nine years, 32 different sites had been looked at and he didn’t see the need to look for other sites.  He added that Bruce Barber, the town’s environmental consultant, has addressed any need for mitigation.


Mr. Schroeder invited members of the Dog Park Committee to this week’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on Open Space so that together the groups could go over the inventory of town owned land.


The hearing was adjourned.


8. Sanctuary Golf Course public hearing

Although the applicant had nothing new to say, John Schroeder said that there were still many open issues involving this 15-20 year old project.  Noting that the tennis court area, the subject of the most recent site plan, was only Phase I of a 4-phase project, he asked: “What is the project?”   He suggested that the Board should visit the site and get answers to many questions.


Paul Moskowitz said he had visited the site as a member of the Advisory Committee on Open Space and also wondered if there was a plan.


Howard Frank said that as a past member of the Conservation Board he remembered constant discussions about problems with the site.


In response to Councilman Bianco’s question about the status of the project, Planning Director Tegeder said that all the applicant’s technical requirements have been met but that  some review work still needs to be done, such as certification of the retaining wall.


In response to Mr. Schroeder’s criticism about the unmowed and unsuitable grass on the renovated 9 hole course, Mr. Capellini said that the only work that needed to be done was to mow the grass.  He said that no work has been done on the site recently because for 1 ˝ years the site has been under a stop work order.


The Board closed the public hearing but left a comment period open. A September decision is anticipated.


9. Landmarks Designation Public Hearing

The owner of 3438 Old Yorktown Road advised the Board that she supports landmarking her property. There were no other comments. The Board closed the hearing and voted unanimously to grant landmark status to the building.


10. Courtesy of the Floor

a. FDR Trail. Jane Daniels said she had learned that a Board resolution was not needed for the Friends’ grant application but she did request a letter of support. The Board had no problem with the request and asked her to draft a letter.

b. Granite Knolls herbicide. Ms. Daniels asked the Board to waive its policy of not using herbicides on town owned land in order to eliminate an invasive species in the area around the barn that cannot be removed simply by cutting back the plant. The Board asked her to put her request in writing. In response to her question as to when the barn would be demolished, Suipervisor Grace answered "soon."

c. Water loss. Howard Frank asked the Board to look at the report of water loss resulting in lost revenue from 33 Cortlandt subdivisions that draw water from Yorktown.