A meeting of the Comprehensive Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson was held on Thursday, October 4, 2001, at the Municipal Building, One Van Wyck Street, Croton on Hudson, NY 10520.
The following members were present:
Chairperson Ann Gallelli
Also present: Paul Buckhurst and Elana Vatsky of Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 pm.
Discussion of Chapter 4
Chairman Gallelli opened with some general comments on the entire chapter. She would like the chapter to be more specific and also stronger in its recommendations. She would like to change the order of the topics to commercial districts, housing, community services and facilities, and then natural environment, parks and recreation.
Mr. Solymosy disagreed because he felt natural environment and parks and recreation were most important to the residents.
Mr. Doyle made two general comments – he agreed that it needed to be more specific and concrete in its proposals. His second comment was a reminder that the old Master Plan served as a way to say no to certain proposed developments, it gave the Planning Board and Village Board ammunition when it wanted to turn down certain proposals, this comprehensive plan should serve the same function.
He had two specific recommendations: (1) the plan should come out very strongly against additional commercial development outside of existing commercial zone – (2) plan should come out against additional major housing proposals.
Mr. Casson said he didn’t think the Village had enough of the right commercial development.
Mr. Doyle replied that the plan could specifically say what type of commercial was desired in certain areas while still specifying that the overall volume of commercial in the village is sufficient.
Mr. Solymosy agreed and added that appearance of commercial districts could also be improved.
Mr. Carlson was uncomfortable with making blanket negative declarations such as no more commercial. He thought each commercial area needed to be addressed separately since each area exhibits different characteristics.
Mr. Doyle replied that he would like in the plan a statement saying we don’t want another area that is commercially zoned.
Mr. Carlson agreed that might need stating.
Chairman Gallelli asked if the discussion could continue specifically with the first chapter of commercial districts – 4.2
Mr. Buckhurst made a statement addressing the need for the committee to wrap things up as efficiently as possible so that the revisions could be completed in the next two to three weeks.
Chairman Gallelli added that the committee needed to bring this to a conclusion – other things are waiting on it.
Chairman Gallelli said that in the Upper Village section there needs to be more said on the role office uses can play as well as the mixed-use function.
Mr. Casson felt that office use detracts from the upper village as a whole.
Mr. Carlson disagreed – office use doesn’t add traffic – but still makes use of the other retail businesses in the area.
Mr. Solymosy said there is a philosophical difference between those who want to use the upper village as an office zone compared to those who want to revitalize it with retail use. The committee has to come down on one side or the other – he believes the pubic input they received seems to show the residents favor retail. He would be uncomfortable encouraging office use which is contrary to the input they received.
Chairman Gallelli said the plan needs to at least address the issue before it can take a point of view on it – and the plan also needs to acknowledge that the upper floors are residential.
Mr. Casson said that they want to see uses that encourage foot traffic in the upper village.
Mr. Buckhurst replied that is worth adding that to the text.
Mr. Solymosy said he doesn’t see any discussion on how to get certain kinds of businesses into the village that can be successful and enhance the village.
Mr. Doyle said that they all agree that they need to have more diversity of stores in the upper village but they don’t know how to get that.
Chairman Gallelli replied that she didn’t think the comprehensive plan can make those kinds of recommendations – a marketing strategy would be required.
Mr. Doyle suggested saying they we endorse the notion of having a certain mix of shops – and endorse the idea of going forward with the plans for a marketing strategy.
Mr. Carlson said if they want to develop a physical environment which would promote a better mix of retail – they could talk about density – but he doesn’t see how else to address it in the context of the plan.
Chairman Gallelli agreed – the comprehensive plan is about physical characteristics in the village.
Mr. Solymosy asked who is the intended audience of the plan. Mr. Buckhurst replied the Trustees.
Mr. Solymosy said that the plan is loaded with language that conveys things to the committee and other boards but he doesn’t think it conveys a lot to the average person.
Mr. Carlson said he thought it was one of the most well-written plans he has ever read – but thinks it needs to be more specific – with more nuts and bolts.
Mr. Doyle agreed that he would like the plan to have more guidelines on how to implement the recommendations such as burying the utility wires and how to get the desired retail mix.
Mr. Casson asked if there would be anywhere in the document where an outreach program would be set up with existing merchants to work with them on how to implement the plan’s recommendations.
Chairman Gallelli replied that the plan is supposed to address the physical characteristics of the village and be implementable in the code. It is the role of the Village Board to accomplish the implementation. Once the committee is comfortable with a final draft – it will be distributed to all the boards and there will be a public hearing.
Trustee Grant added that the purpose of the public hearing is to get input
Mr. Doyle referred to the paragraph about improving the facade – he would propose putting in specific enforcement recommendations.
Chairman Gallelli replied that that is an important topic on how one goes about enforcing new laws.
Municipal Place/Croton Commons
Mr. Solymosy thought there was a conceptual problem with what the plan is proposing for Muncipal Place – how would this be accomplished without destroying the upper village – if what is conceptualized for municipal place happens – then the upper village is dead through market forces – that would be contrary to the public input the committee received. There is a need to re-fashion municipal place without losing upper village
Mr. Buckhurst replied that the Municipal place uses are very different uses from the upper village. Municipal Place stores would be drawing car traffic – not foot traffic – the idea is trying to improve the streetscape without changing the scale of what exists.
Mr. Solymosy replied that he thought that needed to be made more clear in the plan.
Mr. Carlson said the committee has addressed all the areas individually but seems to be lacking an overall strategy about how each recommendation affects the other areas of the village – he believes the plan needs to articulate why a particular area is being enhanced. Is the plan trying to say that the commercial center will shift from the upper village to municipal place – or is it actually saying that municipal place is foreseen as a different use than the upper village.
Chairman Gallelli added that the maps need to define the specific gateway areas.
Chairman Gallelli said that the North Riverside section should mention its relationship to the waterfront – need to talk about protecting the visual aspects from both directions. The commercially zoned properties could obstruct the views of the houses up the hill from North Riverside and also obstruct the view from the river.
Chairman Gallelli said she had nothing substantive to add to this section.
North End Office District
Mr. Solymosy recommended making garden centers a permitted use in the north end office district.
Paul Doyle suggested Mr. Solymosy write a sentence to say that garden centers would be appropriate for this area and have it added to this section.
Natural Resources, Open Space and Trails
Chairman Gallelli mentioned that the Feasibility Study on the Seprieo property had not yet arrived.
Mr. Carlson suggested making title consistent with the title listed in the table of contents.
Mr. Doyle said that under section (b) trails and links would rather use the word sidewalks.
Mr. Casson asked if the plan should mention certain areas in the Village where sidewalks should be added
Trustee Grant said that a list of had been prepared and could be added to the plan.
Mr. Carlson asked if underwater properties should be mentioned and recommend that they should be left in their undeveloped state.
Chairman Gallelli replied that there is underwater land as part of Senasqua and Seprieo and Half Moon Bay also owns some of it. The zoning districts are either waterfront development and waterfront commercial and both zoning districts deal with marinas.
Mr. Doyle asked where the idea for a new pedestrian bridge came from.
Chairman Gallelli replied that this was never a plan and should be taken out of the report.
Mr. Solymosy said he didn’t think there should be a separate paragraph on enforcing sidewalk maintenance.
It was decided to take out this separate paragraph and instead the existing sidewalk law would be mentioned under the sidewalk improvement program.
Mr. Carlson asked how should the plan address dangerous traffic patterns – how do uses encourage great volumes of traffic that may be dangerous – maybe should be addressed in zoning. How does putting a heavy usage item on the end of the street affect traffic usage.
Chairman Gallelli said that needs to be uppermost in the Boards’ mind when looking at a new proposal.
Mr. Doyle asked if they really wanted to recommend the shuttle service.
Mr. Buckhurst replied that it could be mentioned as a suggestion or as a study.
Chairman Gallelli said it should be mentioned that the committee was against building a decked parking lot at the train station because of the increase in the traffic through the Village.
Residential Neighborhoods and Housing
The committee was not happy with the section on affordable housing and felt they needed to address it further among themselves before coming up with further recommendations for Mr. Buckhurst. In addition, such issues as home offices, parking requirements, tear-downs and setbacks also needed to be addressed under the residential housing section. It was agreed that the committee would meet on their own to discuss residential housing before scheduling another meeting with Mr. Buckhurst.
Mr. Solymosy left the meeting at 9:30 pm.
Community Facilities and Services
Under the section (a) Community Center – it was agreed to drop the phrase “particularly senior citizens”.
Chairman Gallelli asked if the Katz property should be identified as a site for a community center.
Mr. Doyle said he thought it should be mentioned as a recommendation.
Mr. Szoboszlai, who attended the meeting, said that he thought residents were not satisfied with existing recreational facilities – and the village is not meeting the needs of its residents.
Greenway Compact Plan
Chairman Gallelli said that the Village Board has asked the committee to make a recommendation regarding the Westchester County Greenway Compact Plan. She felt there were advantages to being associated with other communities – and the Village could be given preference in certain grant situations.
The committee members agreed to recommend to the Board that it adopt the Compact Plan. Chairman Gallelli said she would write a memo stating that the committee endorses the village board adopting the local law adopting the Compact Plan.
The next meetings were set for October 17, 2001 and November 1, 2001.
On October 17th the committee will meet to talk about residential issues and any remaining outstanding items to be discussed. Chairman Gallelli mentioned that she wanted to recommend no more gated communities. Mr. Casson said he wanted to continue the discussion on amortization. On November 1st there will be another meeting with Paul Buckhurst to discuss the next draft of the plan.
The minutes of July 10, 2001 were approved as corrected.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 pm.
Janine King, Secretary