VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK
PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2003:
A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 in the Municipal Building.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Ann Gallelli, Chair
ABSENT: Andrew Zelman
ALSO PRESENT: Daniel O’Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
1. Call to Order:
The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Chairman Gallelli.
Velardo Subdivision – Lot #3 (M & A Real Estate Development Corp.) – 214 Albany Post Road (Sec. 67.19 Blk. 1 Lot 4.02) – Application for Amended Site Plan Approval
Ralph Mastromonaco, engineer, was present for this application.
Mr. Mastromonaco asked if, before the discussion on the Velardo Subdivision begins, he could bring up a matter concerning the Exxon Service Station in town. The operator/owner has put solar panels on top of the existing canopy at the service station. He wanted to know if he needed the Planning Board’s approval to put up the solar panels. Mr. Mastromonaco did not think that he needed the Planning Board’s approval. He was not sure if a Building Permit was required. He noted again that the solar panels are up already.
Chairman Gallelli stated that she told Mr. Foley, the operator of the service station, about six months ago that, if there were exterior changes being made, then, he would have to come back before the Planning Board for an Amended Site Plan approval. As a general rule, if there is a change to the outside/exterior of the building in any way, an Applicant has to come back before the Planning Board.
Mr. Mastromonaco stated that he thought this case was different. The Applicant is not building a canopy; he is just putting the solar panels on top of the canopy. He noted that some of these panels would be visible depending on where the person is standing.
Chairman Gallelli stated that, when the canopy was built, there were some concerns expressed by the public about the visual aspects. The solar panels constitute a change to the site plan/exterior of the building. She reiterated that, as she told Mr. Foley some time ago, he has to come back before the Planning Board for an Amended Site Plan approval for the solar panels.
Mr. Mastromonaco thanked the Board for taking the time to discuss this issue. He would pass this information along to the owner of the gas station.
Chairman Gallelli opened the discussion on the Velardo Subdivision – Lot #3. Chairman Gallelli stated that the application is before the Planning Board because the location of the proposed building on Lot #3 has changed from that which was approved on the Preliminary Subdivision Plat. The building now cuts across the limited disturbance line that was drawn on the original (approved) plan. Chairman Gallelli noted that one of the conditions of the Planning Board’s preliminary plat approval was that, before a house could be built on this lot, the owner of this lot would have to go before the Water Control Commission (WCC) for a Wetlands Permit. The present owner has been before the WCC. The WCC granted the Wetlands Permit on condition that the house be relocated. The revised plan, showing the
new location for the house, is the plan (which is) before the Planning Board tonight. Chairman Gallelli noted to the others that the WCC resolution is in the Planning Board’s packets for tonight’s meeting.
Chairman Gallelli stated that she thinks the Planning Board should treat this change to the building envelope as it has treated changes to the building envelope in other subdivisions, i.e., by a resolution of the Planning Board incorporated into the minutes.
Mr. Klein noted that the original plan calls for a smaller house footprint. Mr. Mastromonaco stated that the house is not that much bigger than the one that was originally proposed. He noted that the overall disturbance is not any greater with the new house.
Mr. Klein stated that the elevation of the new house is 4’ lower than the original house. The new plan shows more grading. Mr. Klein wanted to know where the cut and fill is going to go.
Mr. Mastromonaco noted to the Planning Board that, on the original plan that was shown to the WCC, the house faced North Riverside Avenue. After the meeting with the WCC, the house was turned in the way it is presently being shown.
Mr. Klein reiterated that the new plan shows more grading than the original plan.
Chairman Gallelli stated that, from the very beginning, it was known that the current owner/Applicant, in order to be able to build a house on Lot #3, would have to go before the WCC for a Wetlands Permit. The house on Lot #3 was shown on the original (approved) plan to encroach on the regulated wetlands area(s).
Mr. Mastromonaco told the Board members that the house on Lot #3 has been moved about 30’.
Mr. Mastromonaco stated that it was a surprise to his client that he needed a Wetlands Permit. This is not the original owner. The present owner purchased the property from Antonio Velardo, after which he was beset with approvals that he did not know he needed. Chairman Gallelli stated that the preliminary resolution of approval states that a Wetlands Permit must be obtained for Lot #3. Mr. Mastromonaco stated that, to his knowledge, the owner of the property is only bound to covenants or the plat itself. Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board sought the advice of Seymour Waldman, the Village Attorney, on this matter. Mr. Waldman’s opinion was that the Applicant would have to come back before the Planning Board because of what it said on the preliminary plat.
Mr. Klein wanted to know what the size of the original building envelope was. Mr. Mastromonaco said that there is no relationship between the building limit line and the line of disturbance. The building envelope could be greater than it is now and there is (still) the same level of disturbance.
Mr. Klein noted that, if the Planning Board had not specified a building envelope, the Applicant would be free to put the house anywhere. Chairman Gallelli added that, because a limited disturbance line was drawn on the original (approved) plan, the Planning Board is now in the position of having to make a “yes or no” decision on the new house location.
Ms. Allen wanted to know where the original building limit line was, to which Mr. Mastromonaco indicated on the Applicant’s latest plan the old (original) building limit line.
Mr. Mastromonaco noted to the Board members that the wetlands disturbance line was shown on the original plan, and that has not changed.
Ms. Allen wanted to know what effect this change in the house location would have on the trees and plantings that were factored into the Planning Board’s original decision. Mr. Klein added that the only area of concern is (would be) the area that has changed. Mr. Mastromonaco told the Planning Board that his engineering firm did a tree plan/survey.
Mr. Brumleve stated that he counted the trees, and he has come up with 20 to be removed in the new plan. There are a few that are being preserved as a result of the new house footprint/location; however, there are a significant number of trees to the west that are being taken out. Mr. Brumleve noted that it is difficult to know how many trees are being removed as compared to the number of trees that were being removed before. He thought that there might be a few more. Mr. Brumleve stated that the house is farther away from the road, which he finds favorable.
Mr. Mastromonaco noted to the members that on the original (approved) plan the house on Lot #3, as it was situated on the property, did, indeed, require a Wetlands Permit. When the current owner purchased the property, the house was made somewhat wider. The new (wider) house being proposed encroached somewhat more into the regulated wetlands area(s). The owner/Applicant went before the WCC and, after tough negotiations, the WCC suggested that a permit could be granted if the house were moved. Mr. Mastromonaco pointed to the new house location on the map. He noted that, now, the house is more parallel to the wetlands than it was before.
Mr. Klein noted that, because the current owners are building a bigger house, they have to go further beyond the limit of disturbance. Chairman Gallelli pointed out that, when this subdivision was originally approved, the key issue for Lot #3 was the wetlands issue. She recalled that the discussion on the house was not about a minimum or maximum size. She noted to the others that the WCC has taken the matter of encroachment into the wetlands very seriously and has suggested a different house location.
Mr. Klein wanted to know how much bigger the area within the limits of disturbance is (would be) with the new plan as opposed to the old plan.
Mr. Klein pointed to the latest plan and asked what the dark line is, to which Chairman Gallelli stated that this is the old building limit line. Mr. Klein wanted to know where the new building limit line is, to which Mr. Mastromonaco replied that both the old and the new lines are on the map. It was noted by one of the Board members that the Village Engineer provided, for tonight’s meeting, a copy of that portion of the Applicant’s plan showing the original building limit line and the proposed new building limit line, respectively.
Mr. Klein wanted to know about the trees being removed/preserved in the Applicant’s latest proposal. Mr. Mastromonaco stated that the Applicant hired Tim Miller Consultants to go out and look at the buffer area. Tim Miller Consultants made some recommendations as to what to do in that buffer area. Mr. Klein noted that, unfortunately, the consultants did not specify the quantity of trees to be removed/preserved, to which Mr. Mastromonaco added that they did not specify the number(s). Chairman Gallelli noted that a few more trees are being removed; however, because the house is further from the road, some trees are being preserved.
Mr. Brumleve wanted to know the number of trees that would be removed for the installation of the retaining wall. Mr. Mastromonaco stated that, when the house was moved to the new location, that wall became necessary. Mr. Brumleve stated that his concern with the new plan is the number of trees that have to be removed.
Mr. Mastromonaco stated that he does not want the Planning Board to lose sight of the fact that this is a ten-acre parcel that was divided into (only) three lots.
Chairman Gallelli reminded the Board members that the only issue before the Planning Board tonight is whether the Planning Board would wish, by resolution, to alter the building limit line.
Ms. Allen stated that, in her view, the Planning Board should take a closer look at this. She did not think that the Planning Board should rush into a decision at tonight’s meeting.
The Village Engineer referred to the latest set of plans and stated that the Applicant is proposing a new building limit line right next to the house, which would limit expansion.
Mr. Brumleve asked if the adjacent house is shown on the Applicant’s plan(s), to which Mr. Mastromonaco replied that the adjacent house is similar to the one being proposed. Mr. Brumleve asked if the house to the south is shown, to which Mr. Mastromonaco pointed to this house on the plan.
Mr. Brumleve asked if the septic system remains the same, to which Mr. Mastromonaco said that it does.
Mr. Brumleve noted to the others that moving the house toward North Riverside Avenue would intensify the WCC’s concerns. Mr. Klein added that from their (the WCC’s) perspective, the current plan is, indeed, a better one. Mr. Klein raised the issue about the trees, stating that the Planning Board might prefer to have more of the wetlands buffer encroached upon to save more trees. Chairman Gallelli stated that she does not think the Planning Board has an option to say what it would prefer in this instance. Encroachment into the wetlands area(s) is the concern/jurisdiction of the WCC. Mr. Klein noted that, should the Planning Board decide not to approve this change in the house location, the Applicant would, then, have to go back before the WCC.
Ms. Allen noted that, initially, when the Velardo Subdivision application came before the Planning Board, the Board members spent a great deal of time visiting the site and reviewing the application materials. She recalled that the Planning Board looked closely at a variety of issues including preserving the significant trees; preserving the rock (glacial erratic); etc. As a result of the Board’s deliberations, the proposed road on the Velardo property had to be moved to a different location. Ms. Allen told Mr. Mastromonaco that she felt she was not prepared to make a decision on this Amended Site Plan application tonight. She would want more information on the impact to the trees. She asked Mr. Mastromonaco what the change in the house location would do to the trees in the outer parameters, which, she
recalled, the Planning Board had to carefully consider when it put the original disturbance line in place.
Chairman Gallelli suggested that, to move forward, Mr. Mastromonaco could do another tree survey. The Planning Board members could also make another site visit to Lot #3.
Ms. Allen stated that, before making a decision, she would like to have an opportunity to review the following plans: 1) the last plan that the WCC worked with; 2) the plan being presented tonight; and 3) the original (approved) plan.
Mr. Mastromonaco noted to the Planning Board that the trees on Lot #3 have already been tagged.
Chairman Gallelli suggested that Mr. Mastromonaco could prepare another tree survey for the next meeting to be held on Tuesday, June 3rd. The Planning Board would want to know how the proposed change in the house location would affect the trees. Chairman Gallelli noted that, when the subdivision was being reviewed, the Planning Board asked that all the trees be identified. The location of the trees had a great deal to do with the Planning Board’s decision on where the building limit line should be placed. Now, the location of the building limit line has changed. She thought that the Board members would be more comfortable, and in a better position to make a decision, if this additional information about the trees were provided.
Mr. Brumleve suggested that a possible way to save more trees might be to move the retaining wall 12’ to the east and relocate the driveway.
Mr. Brumleve noted that there is a large quantity of trees that now have to come down that were outside the building limit line before.
Chairman Gallelli reiterated that the main issue for this lot (Lot #3) was the impact on the wetlands, to which Mr. Klein noted that the Planning Board was also concerned about the trees on Lot #3.
Chairman Gallelli told Mr. Mastromonaco that, if the tree survey could be ready by the meeting next week, the Planning Board would be willing to put this item on the agenda again. She thought that the tree survey would require a gathering of information from different plans.
Mr. Brumleve stated that the house now being proposed is lower in elevation, which is positive.
Mr. Klein stated that, for the tree survey, he would want to see a list of which trees would (potentially) have to come down within the following three scenarios: 1) the original (approved) plan; 2) the plan prepared for the WCC; and 3) the final plan being presented tonight.
The Village Engineer pointed out that the new building limit line could, basically, be the foundation of the house.
Mr. Brumleve noted to those present that the number of trees to be removed in the current plan is actually 21. The old (approved) plan showed 16 trees to be removed.
Mr. Brumleve mentioned the positive aspects of the new (current) plan, i.e., the house is lower in elevation; the house is situated farther away from the road; and there are less wetlands being disturbed.
Mr. Brumleve referred to the documentation on this application, prepared by the Village Engineer, and stated that he thought it would be a good idea to have a week to review this information.
Ms. Allen stated that she would also like to see the WCC minutes on this application.
Chairman Gallelli noted again that the WCC based their decision on this application on the potential impacts to the wetlands. As a result of the WCC’s review and ultimate decision on this application, the house has been moved beyond what was originally established by the Planning Board as the building limit line. Mr. Klein pointed out again that the house on the current plan is bigger than the house that was originally proposed.
Ms. Allen thought that it might be worthwhile to look at the procedure/process by which this application was reviewed. She expressed her concern that the approvals granted by the WCC and Planning Board do not seem to support each other.
The Village Engineer noted that the WCC granted a Wetlands Permit on the condition that the Planning Board would approve the modification of the Applicant’s building limit line.
Chairman Gallelli pointed out to the other members that the Applicant’s engineer worked on, and ultimately modified the plan to achieve what the WCC was asking for.
Chairman Gallelli noted to Mr. Mastromonaco that the Planning Board has been put in a position of having to approve a change to the building limit line, due to the fact that the current house being proposed is bigger than that which was being proposed before. The Board is (simply) asking the Applicant to provide some additional information, especially on the impact to the trees, which would support a decision to approve this application.
Mr. Mastromonaco expressed his concerns about the legal basis for this application. He questioned why this Applicant had to come before the Planning Board for an Amended Site Plan approval, to which the Village Engineer pointed out to Mr. Mastromonaco that, if the Applicant feels strongly about this matter, the Applicant always has an option to hire an attorney. The Applicant’s attorney would have to discuss this matter with the Village Attorney. A decision would have to be rendered on whether or not a Building Permit could be issued without an Amended Site Plan being approved.
Chairman Gallelli stated that, when the Velardo Subdivision application came before the Planning Board, the significant trees on this lot (Lot #3) were identified. The lot line was drawn to minimize the disturbance to the trees. The building parameters were drawn to save as many trees as possible. Now, the building limit line has (been) changed. For the next meeting, the Planning Board would want to know which trees would be affected by this change, i.e., the trees that would be saved and the trees that would be removed.
Marino Spagnoli and Angelo Cipriano of M & A Real Estate Development Corp. were present. Mr. Cipriano told the Board members that he, personally, did not have a problem waiting one more week for the Planning Board’s decision on this application. He explained that they (M & A Real Estate) have already had to wait much longer than expected (about 4 months longer) for approval of their Building Permit application because they had to go before the WCC. One more week would not make any difference.
Chairman Gallelli stated that, for the next meeting, she would like to know the answers to the questions about the trees, raised by Planning Board members, Joel Klein and Fran Allen. Chairman Gallelli suggested that, if Mr. Mastromonaco has any questions about how to prepare for the next meeting, he could contact the Planning Board Secretary. The Planning Board Secretary could provide him with tonight’s minutes.
The application was scheduled for the meeting of June 3rd.
Mr. Mastromonaco and the owners, Messrs. Spagnoli and Cipriano, left the Planning Board meeting.
The discussion on this application continued. The Village Engineer told the Board members that, when the new owners applied for a Building Permit, they were unaware of the fact that they had to pay a $5,000 Recreation Fee. The previous owner, Antonio Velardo, did not the pay the Recreation Fee when the subdivision was approved, and he apparently did not inform the new owners that such a fee would be required.
The Village Engineer told the Planning Board members that Charles Kane of the WCC wanted to attend the meeting tonight; however, something personal came up, and he was unable to attend. He suggested that the Planning Board could ask Mr. Kane to attend the next meeting.
Ms. Allen expressed her concern again about the approval process. She did not think that the process worked out well in this particular instance. Her main concern was that the WCC approval was contingent upon a change in the building limit line. Mr. Klein noted to Ms. Allen that there was (at least) a condition in the WCC resolution that the Planning Board must approve this change. Chairman Gallelli noted to the others that it would have been easier for the Planning Board to review this application if Mr. Mastromonaco had sent the Board members the old (approved) plans. Mr. Brumleve thanked the Village Engineer for the documentation that he provided to the Board.
Chairman Gallelli stated that, with respect to the issue of approvals by various boards, the same situation could arise with the ZBA. Different boards have different powers. It can, sometimes, happen that decisions are made by various boards that do not support one another.
The Village Engineer noted to the Board members that most property owners would prefer not to (arbitrarily) cut down trees because of the value of trees to a piece of property.
Mr. Klein stated that the Planning Board needs to see the WCC’s minutes to understand what they discussed with respect to the limit lines and the buffer. Mr. Brumleve thought that it might be important to let the WCC know that, when they are forwarding an application to the Planning Board, they should include the minutes of their meeting so that the Planning Board can understand what led to their action(s). He made a suggestion that providing the minutes could become a matter of procedure.
Chairman Gallelli stated that Stuart Cohen of Environmental & Turf Services (ETS) has sent in his recommendations for revisions to the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the Hudson National Golf Course. This item will be on the agenda for the second meeting in June. Chairman Gallelli noted that she would print out the relevant sections in the final EMP so that the Planning Board members could see what the proposed changes are going to be.
Chairman Gallelli told the Board members that the Village Attorney has written an opinion on the DiVitto/Puff Steep Slopes Hardship Exemption application. The Village Attorney was asked by the Village Board to address the issue of ownership of the property at the time that the Steep Slopes Law was enacted (1989). The Village Attorney rendered the opinion that, in order to correct the situation the Applicant’s attorney would have to write a letter to the Village Board requesting an amendment to the requirement in the Steep Slopes Law about ownership. Chairman Gallelli added that, in order for the Applicant to contend with the Small Lots provisions, which also pertain to this application, the Applicant would have to seek a variance from the ZBA.
Ms. Allen stated that Zoller’s is using their roof for storage and advertising purposes. They have their skis (jet skis) displayed on the roof. She asked if this was a legal use, to which the Village Engineer stated that he would look into this matter.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
The minutes of the Tuesday, March 25, 2003 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Brumleve, seconded by Mr. Klein and carried by a vote of 3 to 0. Ms. Allen abstained. Mr. Klein noted for the record that the March 25th minutes were approved without revisions from the draft.
The minutes of the Tuesday, April 22, 2003 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Klein, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 3 to 0. Mr. Brumleve abstained.
There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:06 P.M.