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Planning Board Minutes 12/02/03
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2003:


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, December 2, 2003 in the Municipal Building.


        MEMBERS PRESENT:        Ann Gallelli, Chair
                                        Fran Allen
Thomas Burniston
                                        Joel Klein      

                        ABSENT: Ted Brumleve
                                              
                 ALSO PRESENT:  Richard Herbek, Village Manager
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.


NEW BUSINESS:

Referral from the Village Board Regarding Land Transactions with Steel Style Development Corp. (Sec. 78.16 Blk. 1 Lots 1 & 3 and a Portion of Sec. 78.12 Blk. 1 Lot 2)

David Plotkin of Steel Style Development Corp., and his two sons, Brian and Steven, and Ralph Mastromonaco, P.E., were present for this application.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board has received a referral from the Village Board regarding proposed land transactions between the Village and Steel Style Development Corporation.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Applicant, David Plotkin, owns a parcel of land at Half Moon Bay where he would like to build a single-family house.  Mr. Plotkin would like to be able to purchase from the Village the triangular piece of land, which is adjacent to this parcel.  In turn, Mr. Plotkin would transfer to the Village Water Parcel #3.  Chairman Gallelli noted that a small portion of Water Parcel #3 (4 acres) has been “cut out” and is no longer being offered to the Village.  Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village Board would also need to know from the Planning Board whether or not the proposed house construction would require a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit.

Mr. Mastromonaco noted that the parcel upon which the house would be built is known as the “restaurant parcel,” referring to its designation under the original Half Moon Bay site plan approval in the late 1980’s.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the house being proposed would be on the same scale as the Yacht Club and the Half Moon Bay Clubhouse building next door.  There would be a first and second floor.  The lower level would be the garage.

Mr. Plotkin stated that the house would be in the Cape Cod style to match the existing clubhouse.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that, according to the Village Engineer, a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit would, indeed, be required.  

The Village Engineer stated that, with respect to the house construction, the proposed disturbance would exceed the slope disturbance threshold in the Steep Slopes Law (10% of slopes over 20%).  There are two code sections under which an applicant can make a special hardship permit application.  He would have to write a letter to the Village Attorney asking his opinion on whether this application would fall into the “one-family lot” category or the “non-residential property” category.  

Mr. Plotkin noted to the Planning Board that he has no intention of ever converting this single-family residence into a restaurant.

Chairman Gallelli stated that this Applicant was before the Planning Board in the winter of 2002 for an Amended Site Plan approval for changes to the configuration of the marina slips.  At that time, the Applicant redrew the lot lines of the water parcels in which the marina is located.  Chairman Gallelli stated that, when Mr. Plotkin came before the Board for an Amended Site Plan, he represented to the Board that he was going to dedicate Water Parcel #3, in its entirety, to the Village.  Now, Mr. Plotkin is proposing to retain that portion of Water Parcel #3 that abuts the shoreline.  Mr. Plotkin noted to Chairman Gallelli that Water Parcel #3 is already being used by the Village as a mooring field for boats.  His intention is to prevent boats from being moored in the area near the shore and possibly blocking the access to the pump-out dock. Mr. Plotkin stated that keeping the underwater land next to the shore would also prevent the Village from ever putting a marina in there someday.

Mr. Burniston asked Mr. Plotkin how (in what way) this underwater land was dedicated to the Village. Mr. Plotkin explained to Mr. Burniston that when his Amended Site Plan for the marina was approved last year, he told the Planning Board that he would be back next year “to dedicate the underwater parcel and to put in the house.”

Mr. Plotkin stated that, with respect to the triangular piece of land adjacent to his property, he would like to purchase this piece and put in some landscaping.  The landscaping would be similar to what Spectrum Skanska has put in next door at their sales office.

Mr. Burniston asked the Village Manager, Richard Herbek, what his position is on the land transaction(s) being proposed, to which Mr. Herbek stated that he did not think that the Village Board would be willing to give up the triangular piece of land. He thought that, perhaps, there might be a way of providing to Mr. Plotkin some form of easement, which would give Mr. Plotkin the right to maintain the land.  Chairman Gallelli noted that the focus/goal of the Village Board is, and has been, to have the Village control its Hudson River waterfront to the maximum extent possible.  She could not imagine that the Village Board would relinquish this piece.  Mr. Plotkin pointed out to the Planning Board that, in return for this parcel, the Village would gain ownership of 28 acres of underwater land.  

Mr. Burniston noted that, when the Applicant was before the Planning Board in 2002, the Applicant stated that he would dedicate 32 acres of underwater land to the Village.  Now, the Applicant proposes to “take back” 4 of the 32 acres originally being offered.  Mr. Burniston stated that it seems to him that, the Applicant is proposing tonight to “give us back what he gave us before.” The underwater parcel was (already) promised in 2002.   

Mr. Mastromonaco asked if it was one of the conditions of the Amended Site Plan approval that this land be dedicated to the Village, to which Chairman Gallelli stated that it was not a condition of the approval.  It was, instead, a representation that Mr. Plotkin made to the Planning Board that this underwater parcel would be dedicated.  Mr. Plotkin agreed and stated that, indeed, it is written in the Discovery Cove at Half Moon Bay prospectus that “we intend to dedicate this underwater land (Water Parcel #3) to the Village.”  Mr. Plotkin told those present that there is, now, some concern on his part, and on the part of the Half Moon Bay homeowners that, should the Village take control of this underwater land, the Village might put a marina in there.  

Mr. Herbek asked what the reasoning was for not providing the Village with the underwater land adjacent to the shoreline.  Mr. Plotkin said that the Village might decide, later on, to put in a boardwalk and ramps, and they would want to prevent this from happening.   

Chairman Gallelli told Mr. Plotkin that the Village would like all of Water Parcel #3, including the strip next to the shoreline, dedicated to the Village.  She stated that the Planning Board would probably not recommend to the Village Board that the Village turn over ownership of the triangular parcel of land.  She did think that the Village might consider an easement for the use of this land.  

Mr. Plotkin told the Planning Board members that some of the underwater land along the shore would have to “go with” the piece of property where the proposed single-family house is being built.  Mr. Plotkin noted that, at some point, if this house were put on the market, it would sound better, from a marketing perspective, to say that the property is two or three acres rather than one-half acre.  The underwater land next to the shore would increase the overall acreage.  Mr. Plotkin noted further that this offering for sale of underwater land is rare today and dates back to the time of the early Van Cortlandt family.

Chairman Gallelli stated that she spoke earlier today with Ted Brumleve about this application.  One of Mr. Brumleve’s comments was that, over the years, the Village has made a significant effort to have maximum control of its Hudson River waterfront.  The Village would want to have control over the visual aspects of its waterfront properties.  The triangular piece of property in question would be key in defining the entry to the Village’s waterfront areas and should not be given up.    

Chairman Gallelli reiterated that, perhaps, the Village and the Applicant, Mr. Plotkin, could come to an agreement on the landscaping of this piece.  

Mr. Burniston suggested that an agreement between Mr. Plotkin and the Village could possibly be reached whereby Mr. Plotkin could use this land but the Village would continue to hold title over it.

Ms. Allen noted to Mr. Plotkin that the area in question is in a Critical Environmental Area (CEA), and it is covered under the New York State Coastal Zone Management Program.

Ms. Allen stated that she was under the assumption that this whole area, known as Water Parcel #3, would be dedicated to the Village in exchange for some compromises, such as the number and location of personal watercraft, that the Planning Board made when the marina slips/dockominiums were approved.  

Mr. Burniston said that it seems to him that when the dockominiums were approved, the dedication of the water parcel to the Village was a “quid pro quo.” Now, the Applicant is back before the Planning Board with conditions for this dedication of land.  Mr. Burniston thought that, if the dedication of the underwater parcel were a “quid pro quo,” then it should be honored.  Mr. Burniston stated that he would not recommend transferring title of the triangular parcel of land.  It should remain Village property.

Chairman Gallelli told Mr. Plotkin that, with respect to the triangular piece of land, the Planning Board would not recommend that it be turned over or sold to anyone, and the Village should retain it.  

Mr. Plotkin suggested that, perhaps, the Village would be willing to offer a 99-year lease on the property.  Mr. Burniston said that he would say “no” to that.  He would recommend, instead, that an easement agreement be drawn up for the Applicant’s use of this land.  He thought that this arrangement (an easement) would serve both the Applicant’s and the Village’s purposes.

Chairman Gallelli noted that this piece of property (the triangular piece) could not be landscaped by anyone before the construction of the new road takes place.  The landscaping would probably not survive the road construction.  It should be done after the road is completed.

Mr. Mastromonaco pointed out that, after this road is constructed, another problem might be that the Village would use this parcel for traffic signs, to which Mr. Burniston replied that there might be a way to prohibit stop signs and other traffic devices from being placed there.  The Village could look into this matter.

Mr. Mastromonaco asked if the granting of a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit would fall under the Planning Board’s jurisdiction, to which Chairman Gallelli replied that it would not.  The granting of this permit falls under the Village Board’s jurisdiction.  However, the Village Board must refer a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit application to the Planning Board for a recommendation.

Chairman Gallelli noted that, with respect to the dedication of the water parcel, there are handwritten notes in the Village’s files, which state that this underwater parcel of land is going to be dedicated.  Mr. Plotkin told Chairman Gallelli that the intent was that “we would come back and revisit this.”  Mr. Burniston stated that the question to be answered should be whether or not there was a “quid pro quo.”  Mr. Plotkin stated that, when the Amended Site Plan application was approved in 2002, the only matter that was finalized with the Village was the fireboat issue.  The placement of the slips was changed, and a spot for the fireboat was provided.  

Chairman Gallelli said that she thinks that, in terms of protecting the waterfront properties in this area, the maximum protection is already provided in the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), the Waterfront Master Plan and in the current Comprehensive Plan.  All three documents emphasize the protection of the waterfront.  

Mr. Plotkin noted again that, for marketing reasons, his company would be looking at ways to increase the bulk acreage of this small parcel to make it sound more attractive to a potential buyer.    

Chairman Gallelli stated again that the Planning Board is being asked tonight to comment on whether or not it would recommend the proposed transfer of land and whether or not a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit is required.

Mr. Mastromonaco pointed out that, theoretically, the Applicant could go through with the dedication of the underwater parcel of land to the Village and still be denied the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit.

Chairman Gallelli stated that perhaps the Applicant would prefer that the Planning Board not make a recommendation right now.  She noted some of the issues that the Applicant might want to have resolved before a recommendation is made.  Chairman Gallelli stated that it is (fairly) clear that the Planning Board would not want to transfer the triangular parcel of land to the Applicant although, as pointed out tonight, there may be a way of providing an easement for the use of this land.  Furthermore, the Planning Board would want the Village to have ownership of the entire Water Parcel #3 including the shoreline strip.  Chairman Gallelli reiterated that the Applicant might prefer to have the Planning Board wait until these issues are resolved before making a recommendation

Ms. Allen noted that, in the process of reviewing this application, the Planning Board would have to look closely at the language of, and take into careful consideration, the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the New York State Coastal Zone Management Plan.  

Ms. Allen stated that, with respect to the market value of the Applicant’s “house” property, she would think that it would be better for the Applicant, and for the potential buyer of this property, to have the Village own the underwater land “next door.”  It would have maximum protection under Village ownership.  Ms. Allen said that she, personally, would rather buy something next to a Village-protected area than to own it and have to put restrictions on it.  Mr. Plotkin told Ms. Allen that his firm’s biggest concern is how to market it, and two acres sounds better that one-half acre.

Mr. Plotkin suggested that, with respect to the triangular parcel, perhaps, they could be granted a permit to landscape this property and/or be given the right to maintain it, to which Mr. Burniston noted again that the Village could grant an easement.  Chairman Gallelli reiterated that she thought that an agreement between the Village and the Applicant could, indeed, be drawn up.  

Mr. Klein wondered if the Planning Board was under a time constraint for making a recommendation to the Village Board.

Mr. Burniston suggested that the Applicant could withdraw its request to the Village Board and ask the Village Board not to refer this application to the Planning Board at this time.  The Applicant could then come back with a different proposal.

Chairman Gallelli noted that this is not a Special Permit application before the Village Board. The matter before the Village Board is whether or not to accept the Applicant’s proposal for the transfer of land(s). The Applicant would also have to go before the Village Board for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit to construct the single-family house.

Mr. Plotkin stated that, when the single-family house is constructed, he would have to go to the Village for permission to have a driveway, to which the Village Engineer stated that he thought the Village could provide an easement for a driveway.

Mr. Mastromonaco asked if the Applicant would need to go before the Planning Board for site plan approval for the proposed house.  Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board would have to go through the “site plan process” to make its recommendation on the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit, and under the Waterfront Development District, the house would require site plan approval.  

Mr. Plotkin said that, as a result of the discussion tonight, he thinks they have to go back to the Village Board one more time.  

The Village Engineer noted to the Applicant that the Village has a water main that runs through the Applicant’s property and the Village’s triangular piece of property.  Any landscaping of this triangular parcel would have to fit into the (existing) utilities.

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board should not make a recommendation now on the transfer of land (i.e., Water Parcel #3).  She would, however, write a letter to the Village Board regarding the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit. Chairman Gallelli noted that, with respect to the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit, the Planning Board or the Village Engineer needs to contact the Village Attorney regarding the issue of residential versus commercial property.

Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that, regardless of what happens, it is the Planning Board’s understanding that, when the Amended Site Plan was approved for the marina, the Applicant told the Planning Board that the underwater land (Parcel #3) was going to be dedicated to the Village.  There was never any mention of withholding the strip along the shoreline, and this dedication of underwater land was not tied, in any way, to the building of a house.  Mr. Plotkin acknowledged that, indeed, he did make that statement about the dedication of this land many times.  However, the new proposal being offered is to withhold the four-acre strip of underwater land along the shore.  

Mr. Plotkin’s sons, Brian and Steven, expressed frustration to the Planning Board members about this impasse over the strip of land along the shoreline.  They reminded the Board members that the Village has been using their father’s underwater parcel as a mooring field for boats.  They indicated that they felt this use was dangerous and that the Village’s use of the area could be discontinued.  Mr. Klein expressed his dissatisfaction with the tone of the comments being made and stated it was the closest thing to a threat he had heard in his tenure on the Planning Board.  He said he did not want to discuss the issue while being threatened, and made a motion to adjourn the Planning Board meeting.  Ms. Allen seconded the motion.  Chairman Gallelli and Mr. Burniston voted “nay.”  The Planning Board meeting stayed in session.

Mr. Burniston suggested that the Applicant could come back before the Planning Board with a different proposal for the transfer of land(s) for both Water Parcel #3 and the triangular piece of land.  Mr. Plotkin stated that, with respect to the triangular piece, he would hope that some language could be created so that, “we can lease without a lease.”  Chairman Galellli stated that the main difference of opinion is on the actual Hudson River waterfront property.  This issue regarding the strip of underwater land next to the shoreline has to be resolved.

Mr. Plotkin and has two sons left the Planning Board meeting.

The Planning Board discussed what should be put in the Planning Board’s letter to the Village Board.  Chairman Gallelli stated that the letter should say that a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit is required. On the issue of transferring ownership of the triangular piece of Village-owned property, the letter should state that the Planning Board would not recommend that this occur. She asked if the letter should include that, perhaps, arrangements could be made for the Applicant’s use of the triangular parcel.  Mr. Klein thought that some consideration could, indeed, be given to an easement or some form of maintenance agreement.  Mr. Burniston said that this letter should state that, at the time the marina dockominiums were approved, the Applicant represented to both the Village Board and the Planning Board that Water Parcel #3 would be dedicated to the Village.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she would say in the letter that it was the Planning Board’s understanding that this parcel would be dedicated in its entirety. Mr. Klein noted that the letter should say that Mr. Plotkin has acknowledged that he intended to dedicate this parcel.   

The Village Engineer stated that, for the proposed house, the Applicant would not only need a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit, but would also need Site Plan Approval.

The Village Engineer stated that it should be mentioned that the proposed house project is a Type 1 action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), as the property in question is in a Critical Environmental Area (CEA).  This action would also need to be reviewed by the Waterfront Advisory Committee (WAC), the Water Control Commission (WCC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  The DEC would have to issue to the Applicant a Protection of Waters Permit.


OTHER BUSINESS:

The Village Engineer told the Planning Board members that Dvirka and Bartilucci Consulting Engineers have sent him their proposal for reviewing the drainage issues pertaining to the Hudson National Golf Course ‘practice hole’ project.  They are offering the Village two options. The first option would be to set up their own models for the drainage flow(s) and perform their own analysis to confirm or refute the conclusions drawn by the Applicant’s consultant. This would involve performing all of the tasks outlined in their proposal (Tasks 1 through 6) and would cost an estimated $9,500.00.  The second option, which would involve performing Tasks 2, 3, and 6, would be to do a “check” review of the approach and assumptions used by the Applicant’s consultant and then do a “check” review of the conclusions drawn.  The estimated cost of this approach would be $5,500.00.  

Mr. Klein wondered if there was any reason to think that Dvirka and Bartilucci would arrive at a different conclusion from the one arrived at by Ralph Mastromonaco, the Applicant’s consultant.  

Ms. Allen thought that it would be useful to double-check Mr. Mastromonaco’s calculations.  She pointed out that Mr. Mastromonaco’s office may have used outdated materials (e.g., an old tree survey) to perform analyses.  She would want to make sure that they had not done so in this instance.  Ms. Allen stated that she would like to have a determination made of whether the Applicant would be able to maintain the same volume and rate of off-site flow.  The volume and flow rate in the stream could directly impact the viability of the Finney Farm swimming pool.  She noted that some water from the golf course feeds into the Finney Farm swimming pool.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she thinks Ms. Allen’s concerns would be addressed in Task 3 of the Dvirka and Bartilucci proposal.

Mr. Burniston thought that the second option, which would involve performing Tasks 2, 3, and 6, would be sufficient. Chairman Gallelli also thought that it would be sufficient. She stated that she would want to be certain, however, that in performing Tasks 2 and 3, the Village’s consultants address the problem of post-construction flow.  She would want the same level of off-site flow as exists now to be maintained after the ‘practice hole’ is built so as not to increase or diminish the flow.

Chairman Gallelli stated that, in reviewing Mr. Mastromonaco’s drainage and hydrology report, Dvirka and Bartilucci should do a careful analysis of the modeling used.  The factors used in the modeling must take into consideration the peculiarities associated with golf course turf.  Ms. Allen noted that one of the problems with the Hudson National Golf Course is the geology of the land. The construction of this golf course was complicated by geological factors. She noted that it would be much less complicated to construct a golf course on Long Island, for example, where the soil would be composed mostly of sand.

Mr. Klein thought that Dvirka and Bartilucci should be able to give an estimate for each task being performed.  Chairman Gallelli agreed that they should provide itemized rates of the tasks being performed.  They should also include the hourly billing rates of their professional staff.

Ms. Allen wanted to know if the Applicant’s drainage and hydrology report dated October 7th contains an analysis of the drainage condition(s) before and after construction, to which the Village Engineer said that he thinks it does.  He told Ms. Allen that the Applicant’s report models the current state of the drainage flow, as it is.  Ms. Allen noted that the people living on Finney Farm Road are concerned about extreme conditions (flooding and drought) that might be caused by changes in the drainage flow(s).     

The Village Engineer asked if Task 1, which is a site visit to Hudson National, should be left up to the consultants.  Ms. Allen thought that a site visit should be made.  Chairman Gallelli thought that the site visit should be left as an option, if needed.  Mr. Klein suggested leaving it up to the consultants to decide.  He pointed out that the site visit would be the most expensive part of the proposal because it would involve paying the hourly rate of (two) professionals to visit the site. Chairman Gallelli thought that if the site visit were deemed necessary to accomplish a detailed, in-depth review, then it should be included.  

The Village Engineer said that he would write a letter to Dvirka and Bartilucci outlining the Planning Board’s comments discussed tonight.

Chairman Gallelli brought up the matter of the 18-wheeler truck deliveries at the Van Wyck II shopping center. Mr. Giordano, owner of the shopping center, was supposed to come back before the Planning Board with additional information on the possibility of discontinuing the use of 18-wheeler trucks for deliveries.  She suggested that she should write a letter to Mark Giordano reminding him that this was a condition of the recently approved Amended Site Plan, and he should come back before the Planning Board to discuss this situation.  Mr. Giordano had three months to comply, and the three months will be up in a month or so.  The members agreed that it would be proper to write a “reminder” letter to Mr. Giordano.

Chairman Gallelli stated that, because of the holidays, the next Planning Board meeting will take place a week earlier, on Tuesday, December 16th.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, November 4, 2003 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Klein and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  


ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:37 P.M.

Sincerely,


Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY