September 18, 2012
1. Advisory Boards
The Board unanimously appointed William LaScala to the Conservation Board.
2. Courtesy of the Floor
a.Costco: Eight people spoke on the issue, seven in opposition and one in favor. Those opposing the proposed development noted that while the Planning Board is the approval authority for the project’s site plan, the Town Board had to act on three aspects of the plan: granting a permit for the proposed gas station, creating a sewer district, and modifying parking regulations. They stated that the project is not a “done deal” and advised residents to visit their web site, nocostco.com for more information on what they believe will be the negative impacts of the project. They cited traffic, environmental issues, incompatability with the Comprehensive Plan, the impact on local businesses, and erroneous information about the tax benefits from the project. They urged residents to attend the Planning Board’s public hearing on the DEIS on October 15.
William LaScala, who earlier in the evening was appointed to the Conservation Board, spoke in favor of the project and reminded residents that the JV Mal,l which had opposition many years ago, did not result in the negative impacts that were talked about at the time.
Supervisor Grace said that he had several counter points to the comments and that he welcomed having a discussion with Costco opponents, either at the end of the meeting or at a later date. He invited the group to participate in one of his televised Grace Notes programs. A spokesman for the group said that he would call the supervisor’s office to set up a meeting.
b. Advisory Committee on Open Space: Chairman Walt Daniels announced that there are four vacancies on the committee. Residents interested in learning more about the committee and possibly joining are invited to attend the group’s meetings the second Thursday of every month, 7:30 pm in the small conference room in Town Hall.
c. Dog Park: David Rocco, president of the Dog Park Committee, advised the Board that because the Granite Knolls Barn site was too small to accommodate separate fenced in areas for both large and small dogs, the site was not be acceptable to the group. He asked the Board to look for an alternate location. Supervisor Grace said that it might be possible to create a separate facility on the opposite side of Stony Street where the ball fields are located, but Councilman Bianco said that any additional town usage on the western portion of the Granite Knolls property would need the approval of Phoenix House which is allowing the town to use its driveway as access to the town property. Supervisor Grace added that in the current difficult financial situation the Town was trying to use the resources that it had and that the location of the dog park could be looked at again once the barn was taken down.
d. Granite Knolls Barn: As part of the discussion of the dog park, Supervisor Grace announced that three quotes had been received for the asbestos abatement, ranging from approximately $1900 to $3300, with the lowest quote coming from the first contractor who had been contacted. In a separate action, the Board voted to award a bid to AAA Carting at an estimate cost of $14,862 to supply dumpsters and remove debris for the demolition of the barn. The actual cost will be determined by the amount of debris that will have to be disposed of. In response to Councilman Bianco’s question of who would actually do the demolition, Supervisor Grace he was planning on having the Highway Department do the job but that any final decision would be discussed by the Board once the asbestos job was completed.
e. Tax Certiorari: For the second time, Howard Frank raised the issue of a tax certiorari settlement involving the Shrub Oak A&P. He said that when he made a Freedom of Information request for documents relating to the settlement, he was told that they could not be found. (At the end of the meeting, Deputy Town Clerk Quast showed Mr. Frank copies of correspondence from her office informing Mr. Frank that the documents were available for his review.)
Commenting on the general issue of tax certioraris, Supervisor Grace explained that on a case by case basis the Town makes a judgment as to which cases it should defend in trial and which cases are more appropriate to settle. He noted that in one pending case, the Town had to pay $18,000 for an outside appraisal of the property even though the Town only had a $22,000 potential refund at stake; the potential refund for the Lakeland School District, however, could be $151,000. Because of the way the tax law is written, it is the Town’s obligation to defend the assessment, not the school district’s.
f. Old Granite Springs Road: Don Roberts asked for an update on his earlier suggestion (see Town Board, 4/17/2012) that Old Granite Springs Rd off Route 202 be opened up in order to relieve traffic on Route 202. Supervisor Grace explained that the Public Safety Committee had looked into the suggestion and rejected it because it felt that opening up Old Granite Springs Road would create a dangerous right turn situation onto Granite Springs Road.
g. Con Ed gas service. Don Roberts asked for an update on his earlier request that the Town take a more active role in urging Con Ed to extend gas service. Councilman Bianco noted that the utility company is extending service in the Shrub Oak area but that parts of Yorktown were served by NYSEG which did not offer any gas service.
h. Citizens Budget Committee: Don Roberts asked for an update on the status of the proposed Citizens Budget Committee. Supervisor Grace said that he hoped to appoint people to the committee once the Board hired a new comptroller.
i. Fire District Finances: Don Roberts reminded the Board the fire districts are supposed to provide the Town with financial audits. He said that none had been received from the Yorktown Heights Fire District. He reminded residents that both the Yorktown Heights and Mohegan Fire Districts will be discussing their 2013 budgets on October 16th.
j. Emergency Notification System: Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) asked for an update on whether the Town was renewing the contract with Deltalert for the emergency notification system. Supervisor Grace said he knew that that contract was up for renewal but that before any decision was made he was waiting for the Emergency Management Committee to complete its review of the system’s value, adding that he expected a report from the Committee in about two weeks.
k. Town vehicles: After Howard Frank brought to the Board’s attention a dirty town vehicle with no plates parked at the YCCC, Supervisor Grace said he has asked all department heads to take photos of the cars used by their department in an effort to get a better handle on exactly how many vehicles the Town possesses. Councilman Bianco noted that in the past, there have been different counts, especially for police vehicles.
3. Public hearing on Lyhus wetlands permit: (See Town Board meeting of June 19, 2012). The applicant explained that in order to resolve a flooding problem on the abutting property to his north, he was willing to enlarge a portion of the stream on his property and continue the enlargement on the abutting property if the property owner was willing. The property owner informed the applicant that she needs time to review his offer. The applicant explained that if the owner does not consent to the work, there is no need to enlarge the stream on his property as the enlargement was for the benefit of the abutting property and not his. After some discussion over whether the Board should wait to grant the wetlands permit until after the owner gave consent, the Board decided to grant the permit and encourage the owner to permit the stream enlargement on her property which would resolve the flooding on her property as well as other properties abutting her parcel.
4. Public hearing on Church of the Latter Day Saints. (See Town Board 8/14/2012 and Planning Board 9/10/2012). The Board approved the erosion and sediment control permit for the upgrade of the existing parking lot.
5. Public hearing on NYCDEP siphon chamber. (See Town Board 7/10/2012). The Board approved the erosion and sediment control permit so that the NYCDEP can improve approximately 400 feet of the existing road leading to the chamber. In addition to installing new asphalt on the roadway, the project will include trenches and swales to carry stormwater runoff from the site. In response to concerns from area residents, the permit includes conditions requiring the agency to install a break-away fence to control access to the site from ATVs and motor bikes and also to clean up debris on the site.
Public hearing on request to use flexibility standards for proposed Fieldstone Manor subdivision. The Board unanimously approved the use of flexibility standards for the subdivision with a recommendation to the Planning Board that as part of the subdivision approval a conservation easement be placed on the site’s open space. An earlier suggestion by Councilman Bianco that the approving resolution require the conservation easement was deemed not practical in that it would tie the hands of the Planning Board.
Prior to the vote, Supervisor Grace expressed concern that over time the planned 16-member homeowner association might not be able to maintain the portion of the mansion that was slated to become a community center for the association. He said he feared that the association would default on the taxes and that the town would have to take over the building as part of a foreclosure proceeding. He suggested that a better way to preserve a building that should be preserved was that instead of converting the two ends of the building into townhouse units, two additional single homes should be built on the ball field site. He said that if the Planning Board took money instead of the fields as part of the subdivision’s recreation fee, the money could be used to make improvements at the Holland Sporting Club.
Supervisor Grace assured area resident Denis Horbatuk that no more than 16 units could be built on the site, although Al Capellini, attorney for the applicant, advised the Board that while the current plans calls for the preservation of the tower as a separate lot, if that plan proves not to be feasible, the applicant may come back to the Town to request that the tower lot be converted into a building lot.
In response to questions from Ed Ciffone on taxes from the property, there was a brief exchange between Supervisor Grace and Councilman Bianco about the tax impact of adding more children to the Lakeland School District.
Supervisor Grace also called attention to the fact that because the subdivision will have to comply with the Town’s Affordable Housing law, two of the planned 16 units will have to meet the law’s affordable guidelines. He said that he would like to see the law repealed.
6. Public hearing on Mohegan Lake Improvement District wetlands permit. (See Town Board, 7-24-2012) While the hearing was for the purpose of issuing a new wetlands permit for ongoing lake maintenance, MLID chairman Ken Belfer used the opportunity to discuss the ongoing problems with the lake; because of a major blue green algae bloom this summer, the lake was closed from mid-July on through the end of the swimming season. Another MLID board member noted that this year was the worst year the lake has had in ten years.
Mr. Belfer cited three problems: the lake’s blocked outflow culvert under Route 6 which doesn’t permit sufficient “flushing” of the lake; excessive phosphorus which causes the algae bloom; and the need to replace an old weed cutter currently being held together with “bubble gum.” On the culvert issue, Town officials explained that they have been unsuccessful, despite numerous attempts, to get NYSDOT to address the problem. MLID representatives have also started a dialogue with state officials. Resolving the two other problems, he noted, will require an expenditure of money. Lake experts have suggested that an application of alum (aluminum sulfate), at an estimated cost of $100,000, would be able to resolve the algae problem for a 3-5 year period. A new weed wacker would cost an estimated $100,000 to $125,000. Adding that MLID currently has a $160,000 fund balance which is used in part to supplement taxes in its annual budget, Mr. Belfer said that he hoped that the Town would work with the district on these expensive issues. He noted that the Town has a stake in the lake as it owns the Holland Sporting Club property as well as access to the lake off Mohegan Avenue.
Supervisor Grace commended MLID representatives for the work they had done to upgrade the lake and said he wanted to work with them going forward. One possibility he suggested is bonding for the weed wacker. He also suggested that there might be savings if the individual lake park districts merged, although Mr. Belfer said that all properties with lake rights already paid into MLID as part of their taxes.
Regarding the phosphorous problem, it was noted that some residents have not hooked up to sewers even though they are available. It was also noted that under the Town’s Septic Law, septic tanks have to be pumped at least once every five years and Bruce Barber, the Town’s environmental consultant, stated that it was the Town’s obligation under its stormwater permit to report malfunctioning septic systems to the county Department of Health.
The Board approved a five year general wetlands permit for MLID so that it can continue its maintenance activities.
7. Public hearing on IBM wetlands and erosion and sedmiment permit for a fiber optic line. The Board approved the permit request so that IBM can install a second, redundant fiber optic line. The new underground line will come off Route 134.
The Board accepted the resignation of Comptroller Joan Goldberg effective September 21, 2012.
9. Selected resolutions passed unanimously
Paving: Okayed budget transfers totaling $170,144 to the Highway Department for the paving of East Main Street. The money is from the fund set aside when Yorktown took over certain county roads as part of the Legacy Ball Fields agreement.
b. Telecommunications. Okayed an IMA with the county to piggy back on the county’s contract with Cablevision Lightpath for telecommunications services.
10. YCCC generators. In response to a question from Councilman Patel on the status of the generators for the YCCC and Town Hall, Supervisor Grace said that he was holding off on proceeding with the project until budget time. Councilman Bianco reminded him, however, that the Board had already decided to expend the money for the generators and Councilman Patel called attention to the unsafe transfer switch situation at Town Hall.