Citizens for an Informed Yorktown



Town Board Work Session

August 9, 2016



Personnel and volunteer board interviews



1. 1545 Baptist Church Road

The property owner needs a wetlands permit in order to demolish an existing house and replace it, on the same footprint, with what the architect called a “gate house” or a “man cave.”  The board voted to have the permit handled administratively by the town engineer instead of by the Town Board which would have required a public hearing.


2. Mohansic Trailway

Mark Linehan, co-chairman of the Yorktown Trail Town Committee (YTTC), gave the board an update on the plans to construct a dirt trail on the old railroad spur between Route 118 at Downing Drive and Baldwin Road where it would link up with the trail across Baldwin Road that is currently being built by the Friends of FDR State Park. The trail would connect the North County Trailway to FDR Park and to other town trails.


Mr. Linehan advised the board that the YTTC would be applying for a $16,800 grant from the Hudson Valley Greenway to supplement the $7,500 Greenway grant the town has already received for the project. The project’s total budget is $48,600, with $20,850 coming from volunteer labor,. The town’s cash outlay would be between $3,450 - $20,250 depending on the size of the YTTC grant. Any money the YTTC received would be turned over to the town.


Supervisor Grace said that although he supported the project, he wasn’t ready to authorize any town funds for the project because a variety of issues still had to be clarified. The board did, however, approve a resolution of support for the project that directed town staff  to work with the YTTC on preparing the necessary SEQRA forms and wetlands permit.


Mr. Linehan will work with town staff to address the outstanding issues that were raised and the town attorney will send a letter to abutting property owners notifying them of plans to proceed with the trail.


3. Wood II Condominiums/Rochambeau Drive

Geri Schwalb and Isabel Cavanagh, representing the condominium association, raised questions about the ownership of a retaining wall along Underhill Avenue, and responsibility for fixing the sidewalk and sidewalk snow removal along Underhill Avenue. Although the condominium received a letter from the town saying that it had 30 days to repair the wall, Supervisor Grace advised the women not to worry about the deadline. However,  after reviewing old site plans of developments on Rochanbeau Drive,  he said that the retaining wall was on the boundary line between  Woods II and the town and as such it was the condo’s responsibility to repair the wall. Both  the supervisor and Highway Superintendent Paganelli said it was the town’s responsibility to fix the sidewalk.


On the issue of snow removal, the supervisor advised the women “to let sleeping dogs lie.”  He said that legally snow removal was the condo’s responsibility even if in practice the town had been plowing the sidewalk.  He questioned the legality of the town’s 2011 law that regulated snow removal in residential zones.


4. 3017 Old Yorktown Road/Stormwater permit

(See Planning Board, 12/7/2015) Dan Ciarcia, the property owner’s engineer, explained that the owner wants to demolish the existing house and build a new one . (It appeared he was not able to get the easement discussed in December.) Because the amount of soil that will be disturbed meets a certain threshold, the owner must obtain a stormwater permit. Mr. Ciarcia explained that the permit requirements are geared towards subdivisions, not single houses and asked that the Town Board, that would be approval authority for the permit, vote to allow the permit to be handled on an administrative level by the town engineer. He noted that a Town Board permit application would cost $1,500, but an administrative permit would cost only $300. He advised the board that the town engineer had some concerns about the application but that he was working with the engineer to resolve them.


The board approved the request that the permit be handled administratively.


5. 2200 Saw Mill River Road/Wetlands Permit

On behalf of the owner of several adjoining properties on Saw Mill River Road between Broad and Ridge Streets, a representative of PW Scott Engineers and Architects  explained plans to dredge an existing pond on the property that as filled in with muck over the years and can no longer be used for swimming as it once was.  The muck will be deposited on site in bags and over time will be dewatered. When that process is completed, the residue, which will be like an enhanced top soil, will be spread over the site and seeded.  No soil will be removed from the site.


The representative would not disclose the cost of the work, but stated that the benefit to the property owner was that the pond would no longer have to be maintained.  Because of the volume of soil involved, the permit needs to be issued by the Town Board.


Bruce Barber will check into the pond’s dam classification. The applicant will return to the board on September 2nd, at which time to board will start the SEQRA process which will involve the Army Corps of Engineers and the DEC; the DEP has advised the applicant that  he will not need a DEP permit.  A public hearing will be scheduled in October.


As an aside, Supervisor Grace mentioned the need to dredge some unspecified town sites.


6. Tree law

Bruce Barber walked the board through a revised draft of the new law that incorporated the comments made at the previous meeting. Some of the changes from the first draft were:

·         The definition of a protected tree was changed to 8” dbh instead of 12”

·         A permit will be required to remove a specimen tree, how defined as a tree with a 24” dbh.

·         The requirement that the removal of protected trees within a buffer area surrounding a house would need a permit was eliminated entirely in line with the board’s philosophy that it shouldn’t second guess that property owners want to do with their property. (For most homeowners, this will mean that they won’t need a permit to remove trees on their property.)

·         Permits  will be required for removing 10 or more trees in an area 10,000 sf or more, or in 2,000 sf if the slope is 15% or greater.

·         The law specifically exempts the town from needing a permit to remove trees on town owned property, about 4,000 acres. Supervisor Grace said such a requirement didn’t make any sense and was “symbolic.”

·         Referral of permit applications to the Tree Conservation Advisory Commission (TCAC) and the Conservation  Board will be optional, not required.

·         Contrary to the recommendation of the Planning Board, the revised draft retains the provision that Planning Board tree permit decisions can be appealed to the Town Board.  Supervisor Grace and the town attorney say this is required.

·         The requirement for mitigation measures remains optional and the list of possible mitigation measures was expanded


Although the town engineer, who is responsible for issuing some tree permits, recommended that a fee be charged for the permit, the board rejected the recommendation on the theory that requiring a fee would discourage people from applying for a permit.


A significant part of the discussion focused on the role of the TCAC and the requirement in the law that the advisory board develop a Forest Management Plan for town owned property, including a priority list of town owned sites that could be the recipient of off site mitigation measures.  As explained by Supervisor Grace, the goal of the law was to “empower” the TCAC to be able to achieve the goal of doing a better job of maintaining the town’s forested areas. In his view, the current tree  law “doesn’t achieve anything.”


William LaScala asked the board to add a provision making it a penalty for property owners who did not take down dead trees on their property.


A public hearing on the new law will be held on September 20th.   


7. $175,000 grant funds

(See Town Board, 8-2-2016) In an item not on the agenda, Highway Superintendent Paganelli  asked the board to consider using the money to purchase either a demonstration street sweeper for $198,000 (new, it would cost $265,000) or the vactor truck used to clean out catch basins owned by the sewer district that he said was “ gathering moss.”  Highway has used the truck in the past and paid for some of its repairs.


Mr. Paganelli said that the machine was in good condition, but he did not know what the value would be.  Supervisor Grace noted that if the grant money was used to purchase the vactor truck from the sewer district, the town could get a double benefit as the money would stay within the town.


Mr. Paganelli explained that the town must clean 20% of its 5,700 catch basins, or 1,140, each year; if contracted out, the cost would be about $60 per basin.  Contracting out street sweeping would cost $40,000/year.  He said he needed guidance from the board on how to handle these costs as he works on his 2017 budget. Bruce Barber told the board that the town could be subject to a $37,500/day fine if it failed to meet its stormwater requirements.


Supervisor Grace said that the board was vetting other potential uses for the $175,000  and said more information was needed before any decisions were made.  Mr. Barber has asked the county staffer who manages the grant program whether the money could be used for a wash station or for a cover for equipment.


8. Selected miscellaneous resolutions

Highway: 4 laborers were promoted to MEOs (machine equipment operators) and two new laborers hired.

Police: a new police officer was hired and the term for Acting P9olice Chief Noble was extended.

Traffic lights: Awarded a bid to the sole bidder for traffic light repair.

Yorktown Fire District: Waived 53% of the $12,000 building permit fee for the district’s new building on Route134. Supervisor Grace said that since the permit fee went into the General Fund for the benefit of ALL taxpayers,  property owners in the Mohegan Fire District shouldn’t have to pay for this fee.


Note:  Although this was the last scheduled meeting for August, Supervisor Grace indicated that the board might meet one more time in August for the purpose of interviewing people interested in serving on the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board.  No date was set.  While the interview portion of the meeting would be in closed executive session, the board could return to an open session mode and pass resolutions.