Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov
ZBA Referral ZBA #26/13
Location: 340 Illington Road
Contact: David A. Tetro Architect P.C.
Description: Proposal to construct a new two-story single family dwelling to replace existing damaged due to fire. New dwelling to be relocated on site. Proposal to install a 378KW ground-mount solar array field.
Town Board, 8-13-2013
Environmental consultant Bruce Barber explained the mitigation requirements under the Tree Law and suggested that a suitable mitigation measure would be constructing deer fencing either on-site or off-site, such as Turkey Mountain, to assist in the regeneration of the forest area. The Board agreed with the concept and added as a condition of approval that the applicant install up to three acres of fencing in areas determined to be appropriate by the town engineer. An alternate mitigation measure that was suggested by Ron Buehl, a member of the Tree Commission, was for the applicant to do a Forest Management Plan. He explained that there would be no cost for preparing the plan and that the property owner would not be required to implement any of the planís recommendations. However, Councilman Murphy objected to the idea explaining that he didnít want to tell property owners what they should do on their property.
In a related issue having to do with a neighborís concern about runoff of fecal coliform into Dream Lake, Dan Ciarcia advised the Board that the applicant will take care of a failing septic system on the site and would comply with all Department of Health requirements. Supervisor Grace noted that the county agency, not the town, had jurisdiction over the issue.
The Board voted to declare itself lead agency, adopt a negative SEQRA declaration and approve the excavation permit. The permit will not go into effect until after the Zoning Board approves the special permit next month. It was noted that the applicant can excavate up to 5,000 square feet without the permit. This would only become an issue if the applicant needs to demonstrate to NYSERDA that work had begun on the project prior to the next Zoning Board meeting.
Town Board, 8-6-2013
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. Secorís claim about the likelihood that there would be sun reflection from the panels.
Over Mr. Secorís 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 Boardís only role was to approve the excavation, tree and stormwater permits.
The Board did vote unanimously to declare itself lead agency for SEQRA purposes.
Town Board, 7-23-2013
The projectís engineer, Dan Ciarcia, explained that based on the tree survey he had received only hours earlier, he wants to reposition one of the two arrays to move it out of the wetland area that had not previously been identified. Councilman Bianco said he would do a site visit.
Although the Board has already set an August 6 public hearing on the stormwater and tree permits, Mr. Ciarcia explained that because of the summer meeting schedule for some of the other boards, it may not be possible to have the Zoning Board approve the special permit in time to meet the NYSERDA deadline that requires some work to begin by some time in September. He suggested that one option may be for the Town Board to approve the permits at its September 3meeting so that excavation work can begin pending the Zoning Boardís approval on the special permit later in the month.
Supervisor Grace noted that the application involved energy savings vs cutting trees. Until the location of the two arrays is determined, the applicant wonít know how many of the 573 trees identified on the survey will need to be removed.
Planning Board, 7-15-2013
In a referral from the Town Board, the applicantís engineer, Dan Ciarcia, presented a plan showing two groupings of solar panels but said that the actual location of the panels was subject to change pending the completion of a tree survey that should be completed in about two weeks. Until thatís done, he was unable to answer questions about how much fill would be needed, the number of trees to be cut, whether there would be any blasting, and where an access road to the panels would be located. The presence of wetlands on the site also has to be evaluated.
In the absence of a more definitive plan, Mr. Flynn said that it was hard for the Planning Board to comment on the planning aspects of the application by the Town Boardís July 25th comment deadline but the Board did direct Mr. Tegeder to send a memo to the Town Board of a more generic nature. The Town Board has scheduled a public hearing on the excavation permit for August 6.
Town Board, 6-25-2013
Architect David Tetro and engineer Dan Ciarcia explained that because the proposed land disturbance will be more than one acre, an excavation permit and stormwater plan will be needed, but tbecause the law does not allow the ZBA to issue this type of permit, the Town Board will be the approving authority.
The applicant faces a critical timing issue. First, the applicant will lose its NYSERDA grant if it cannot start the project by September, and after this weekís meeting, the ZBA will not meet again until August.
But Mr. Ciarcia explained that the applicant still does not have a site plan for how or where the panels will be situated and there are key site issues that will need to be worked out between the engineer and the solar panel company. Locating the panels will involve considerable grading and tree removal as the site is heavily wooded. The plan will also have to be reviewed by the DEP.
Given the time constraints and SEQRA requirements that require as least a 30 day review period, the Board voted to advertise the excavation permit for August 6 if the applicant files an application by July 5 that can be referred out to the appropriate boards in time to meet the 30 day requirement. If a site plan is not available by July 5, the application will include only the conceptual aerial map with additional information being supplied later.
Supervisor Grace anticipated a fight over the application between various environmental groups as the panels will require the cutting of a significant number of trees.
Planning Board, 6-10-2013
On a referral from the ZBA, the Board reviewed plans for a combined special permit application involving the construction of a single family house and the installation of a 378KW solar array field. The two unrelated issues were grouped together in order to meet an October deadline related to the solar project.
The 4,300 square foot, two story single family house will replace an 1,800 square foot house that burned down. The new structure, which is 30% larger, will be in a new location and will connect to the schoolís new sewer system. The Board had no problem with this aspect of the application.
However, the Board did have questions about the solar array field. While supportive of the solar concept, Board members felt they could not comment on the location of the proposed installation in the absence of more information regarding grading, the number of trees that will have to be taken down, views from the Taconic Parkway, and stormwater implications for nearby Dream Lake. They also cautioned the applicant that he may not be able to meet the October deadline as the solar project will have to be approved by DEC because of the extent of the site disturbance.
The Board suggested that when the applicant returns to the ZBA, it ask that Board if it could separate out the house project from the solar array field so that the former could proceed while the applicant gathered more information on the latter project.