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Planning Board Minutes 05/25/04


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
                                        Joel Klein

                                 ABSENT:        Ted Brumleve
                                        Thomas Burniston

        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.


American Building Technologies (Galena Feit) – Prospect Place and Old Post Road North (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 4 Lot 19) – Application for Preliminary Subdivision Approval for Hudson View Subdivision

Ronald Wegner of Cronin Engineering, P.E., P.C., and Galena Feit, owner of the property, were present for this application.

Chairman Gallelli stated that this application is for a three-lot subdivision on property situated on the corner of Old Post Road North and Prospect Place.  Chairman Gallelli noted that there have been many changes made to this subdivision application since it was first presented to the Planning Board more than two years ago.  She asked the Applicant’s engineer, Ronald Wegner, to make an opening statement to the members of the public present tonight.

Mr. Wegner stated that the Applicant’s parcel, situated on the southern corner of Old Post Road North and Prospect Place, consists of 4.19 acres of land. Proposed Lots #1 and #2 would be accessed from Prospect Place, and Lot #3 from Old Post Road North.  The subdivision lots would be served by the municipal water and sewer system(s).  There would be an easement through Lots #1 and #2 for sewer line access to Lot #3.   

Mr. Wegner described the drainage system being proposed.  He stated that storm water runoff from the property would be reduced to pre-construction conditions with dry wells bisected by an existing shallow drainage course.  This drainage course is under study by the Village.  The Applicant has agreed to provide a storm water management area.  The Applicant would provide drainage channel improvements throughout the site. Curbing would be installed on Old Post Road North to channel the water. An access route would be provided to the detention pond. The storm water management area would be dedicated to the Village, and drainage and access easements would be provided.  

Mr. Wegner stated that this subdivision application is currently before the Water Control Commission (WCC) for construction of the storm water facility and for the sewer connection for Lot #3.  The Applicant is (also) seeking approval from the WCC to build the house on Lot #3 further north in the restricted wetlands buffer area so as to provide greater distance from the houses on High Street.    

John McKeon of 25 Prospect Place was present.  Mr. McKeon stated that, in so far as this subdivision application is concerned, he is impressed by the caliber of the efforts made thus far for the surrounding (neighboring) areas.  He recalled that, at one point in time, the Applicant was proposing a five-lot subdivision, and now, only a three-lot subdivision is being proposed.  Mr. McKeon said that he would not have any objection to this application as long as the Village is comfortable with the drainage system being proposed.  Chairman Gallelli told Mr. McKeon that two years ago the Village hired the consulting firm, Dvirka & Bartilucci, to prepare a drainage study for the Village.  This company identified drainage areas and sub-drainage areas throughout the Village.  The area in question on Old Post Road North and Prospect Place is one of the areas of key importance.  Dvirka & Bartilucci described some possible solutions for drainage, and they have been involved in the design and requirements for the drainage structure in this particular area.  This company (D&B) will be asked to review the Applicant’s drainage proposal.  The WCC will also be involved in the review process.

Barbara Buske, residing at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Prospect Place, was present.  Ms. Buske expressed concern about the stability of the soil in the area surrounding the proposed detention pond. She could not see how anyone from the Village could walk around the pond to inspect it, noting that the soil on the property is clay-like and absorbs water.  Chairman Gallelli told Ms. Buske that this detention pond is meant to be a dry pond.  The only time it would be filled with water is when it rains.  The pond would be designed for water to drain out between 48 and 72 hours.  

Ms. Buske stated that three drainage systems converge on her corner lot.  There is always water running in the drainage ditches.  She expressed concern that when the additional trees are removed for the new houses, there would be no place for the storm water to be absorbed.  The floor of her basement is oftentimes damp because of excess water runoff.  

Ms. Buske expressed concern about cars on Lot #3 trying to back out onto Old Post Road North. She noted that the road is steep at that particular juncture of Old Post Road North, and it would be especially treacherous for cars backing out in the wintertime.  

Ms. Buske wanted to know if the Village would be responsible for the maintenance of the detention pond, to which Chairman Gallelli stated that it would be.

Mr. Klein noted to those members of the public present that the drainage improvement being proposed is not for the convenience of this Applicant.  It is for the Village residents.  If this application were not before the Planning Board, the Village would have had to provide for drainage in this area.  Mr. Klein stated that the intent is to cut the volume of water at peak flows.  The Village wants to prevent flooding down hill during periods of major storms.  

Mr. McKeon asked if there was any archeological work done on the site, to which Mr. Klein replied that a Phase 1A survey was prepared.  The Village has solicited comments from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on the archeological report, which the Applicant prepared.

Jerome Smath of 29 Prospect Place asked if the holding (detention) pond being proposed would require a fence, to which Mr. Wegner said that it would.  He added that the Applicant originally proposed a stone wall for the pond; however, a split rail fence would now be used.  

Stanislaw Kotowski of 55A High Street was present.  He told the Board members that he visited the site, and he saw where the stakes were put in to mark the house location(s). He welcomes the Applicant’s efforts to push the houses farther back from High Street; however, he is still concerned about the visual impacts of the house(s) on his property.  Mr. Kotowski noted that his house is set 30 feet deeper into the property than the other houses on High Street, and he has the least amount of trees. He has the largest amount of window facing the Applicant’s property.  The house on Lot #3 is proposed to be located straight in front of his and is closest in distance to his house.  He would still be concerned about the visual impacts.

Dennis Carroll of 55 High Street expressed concern about the proposal for the driveway, which would empty out onto Old Post Road North.  He noted that the sight distance to the right would be very poor when exiting this driveway.  He suggested that if a house has to be built in this location, the house and the driveway be “flipped” to make it safer for vehicles to exit the property.  

Mr. Carroll stated that a pond was dug illegally on this property (the Feit property).  Even in the driest of times, the pond has water in it.  He thinks that the water is coming from underground.  He noted that there has to be water coming from underground to be flowing down hill in this direction [toward the retention pond].  The water is flowing constantly.  Mr. Carroll was concerned that, if trees were cut down to build the houses in the subdivision, the drainage problem in this area would be exacerbated. He was also concerned that the detention pond on the Applicant’s property would attract mosquitoes. Mr. Carroll told the Planning Board members that (in his view) a detention pond should have been installed at the golf course to alleviate the drainage problems down hill.  

Ms. Allen noted that she was at the site earlier this evening and noticed the phenomenon described by Mr. Carroll.  A stream, designated as “W-7” on the Applicant’s map, is flowing through the property but the entire drainage channel is totally dry including its channel into the retention pond.  Ms. Allen stated that a stream of water is flowing into the side of the detention pond however there is no visible evidence as to where this underground stream originates.  The Village Engineer noted that there are underground springs everywhere.  There could be a natural spring in that location.  Mr. Carroll asked what could be done during heavy rains, to which the Village Engineer replied that there are variations in spring flow rates but, generally, the rate of flow of these underground springs is not going to increase substantially in wet weather.  The Village Engineer stated that when the house is built, the water flow would be diverted around the house through curtain drains and pipes.  Ms. Allen pointed out that the detention pond would not be a dry pond if it has a spring flowing through it at all times, to which the Village Engineer replied that there would be a low flow channel through the detention pond to handle constant stream flows.

Valerie Smath of 29 Prospect Place expressed a concern about the easement being provided for access to the sewer line.  She noted that when she walks near this area of the Feit property, she can smell a sewer odor.  Chairman Gallelli stated that this point has not been raised before, and the Planning Board will look into the matter.

Mr. McKeon raised the issue again of the poor sight distance onto Old Post Road North from the driveway being proposed for Lot #3.  Chairman Gallelli told Mr. McKeon that, with respect to this problem of the driveway, Ms. Feit, the Village Engineer and herself have looked into the possibility of altering the driveway so that it empties out onto the road slightly further to the north.

Daniel Maguire of 17 High Street was present.  He had concerns about potential flooding down hill from the Feit property.  He wondered why the detention pond was not being installed on the opposite side of Old Post Road North, which is where a pond used to be.  He asked how the drainage system/detention pond on the Feit property would work.  The Village Engineer stated that, when the pond fills up, there is a 4” orifice that would let all the water out.  A weir and a catch basin grate would be installed on the top of the outlet structure.  The outlet of the detention pond consists of a 24” pipe and the inlet consists of a 4” pipe. There would be three separate inlets into the outlet structure.  

Mr. Maguire stated that he was (still) concerned about the potential for flooding down hill. He has had severe problems with flooding in the past, and he does not want the problems to become worse.  The Village Engineer told Mr. Maguire that he would be willing to look into his drainage problem.  He would schedule a time to come to his property and take a look at his drainage pipe(s).    

Sharon Lazarov of 19 Hillside Avenue expressed concern about the increase in water runoff down hill from the Applicant’s property.  She told the Board that when she first moved to this area, there was a quiet trickle of water flowing down hill.  Now, this trickle has become a cataract.  She has lost three or four huge trees due to excess water undermining the tree roots.  Ms. Lazarov was afraid that building these houses up hill would make the situation worse down hill.  Mr. Klein stated that it is his understanding that by allowing the new drainage structure to be constructed, the situation would be improved down hill even with this new development being proposed.  The Village Engineer stated that this would, indeed, be the case for lower frequency storms.  Ms. Lazarov stated that the neighbors are more concerned about the really major storms.  

Ms. Lazarov expressed frustration that the proposed drainage system would be maintained for these new properties but not for existing residences downstream.  The Village Engineer told Ms. Lazarov that, if the Village decides to make improvements downstream to handle larger flows, then, the drainage could also be maintained on existing properties.  Easements could be granted to the Village for maintenance purposes.

Ms. Buske stated that she would like to ask the Village Engineer to check the drain on Prospect Place and Hillside Avenue.

Eleanor Soderlund of 57 High Street asked how far below ground the basements of the new houses would be. Mr. Wegner stated that some basements would be below ground and others would have doors to the outside.

Ms. Soderlund stated that she had the same concerns as her neighbors about drainage and potential flooding down hill. She would want the Village to make sure that these problems would not be exacerbated. She would also want to make sure that the houses on High Street were properly screened from the new houses.  

Chairman Gallelli thanked those members of the public present for their suggestions/comments. She noted that there were several items discussed tonight that the Planning Board would need to follow up on.  She would close the public hearing if there were no more comments.

Mr. Carroll asked if the neighbors would be notified when (or if) this application were approved.  Chairman Gallelli stated that there would be no more official notices sent to the neighbors. The neighbors could (always) call the Village Engineer’s office to ask if this item is going to be on the agenda.  Also, the agendas are posted on the Village’s web site. The Planning Board meetings are held on the first and fourth Tuesday of each month.

Mr. Carroll asked if the Board would address the neighbors’ issues at another meeting or if the Planning Board members would discuss these issues amongst themselves, to which Chairman Gallelli responded that the Board would discuss these issues at a regularly scheduled meeting. She noted that some of the issues brought up tonight would also be addressed at the WCC meeting(s).  This Applicant still has to go before the WCC for a Wetlands Activity Permit.

The Village Engineer stated that he wants to answer the question (address the issue) about the pond being dug illegally. He told those present that even if this pond had not been dug at all, the topography of the land in this area is suitable for this type of detention pond.

Mr. Swath asked if the Village would own the parcel of land that the detention pond is on, to which Chairman Gallelli replied that the Village would not own this parcel.  There would be an easement granted by the property owner(s).  She added that most of the detention pond would be on Lot #2.  A small portion would be on Lot #1.

Mr. Klein asked how long the Planning Board would have to make a decision after the public hearing is closed, to which Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board would have 60 days.  Mr. Klein noted that there might be some additional research required for the archeological study.  The Planning Board would also want to know the results of the WCC hearing. Chairman Gallelli noted that the Planning Board has 60 days to make a decision from the time the plan is complete, and the Planning Board has not yet stated that the plan is complete.  Ms. Allen suggested that the Planning Board could keep the public hearing open until these issues raised by Mr. Klein tonight are resolved.  The Planning Board decided to adjourn the public hearing rather than to close it.

Chairman Gallelli asked the Village Engineer to review for the Applicant the issues that were discussed at the Applicant’s site yesterday (Monday).  The Village Engineer stated that the Applicant should mark all the trees that are being removed.  There are some trees along the perimeter of the detention pond that the Planning Board would like to have saved.  Also, the Planning Board would like to have an arborist take a look at the 36” maple tree.  The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant could adjust the lot line for Lot #2 to give Lot #3 a bigger back yard.  Mr. Klein did not think that the lot line should be changed.  He noted that if the land were part of Lot #2, it would remain “open space” and if it becomes part of Lot #3, it would probably be developed.   He thought that the Planning Board should take more time to discuss this matter, to which the others agreed.

Chairman Gallelli stated that, at the site visit yesterday, they also talked about shifting the driveway on Lot #3.  Mr. Wegner noted that the Applicant would have to go before the WCC to discuss this matter.  If the driveway were shifted in this way (to the north), there would be a further incursion into the wetlands areas. Mr. Wegner asked if the Planning Board could make a recommendation to the WCC regarding the shifting of the driveway.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she would be willing to write a letter to the WCC.  She asked the other members if they were in agreement that the house and driveway on Lot #3 should be moved further into the wetlands setback area, to which the other members said that they were in agreement.

Ms. Allen stated that it should be noted on the Applicant’s plan, and on the key, which (of the) markers are for the wetlands.

Ms. Allen stated that she was concerned about the drainage onto the driveway(s).  She thought that, given the way the curbs are situated, there might be a potential drainage problem.  Chairman Gallelli agreed and suggested that, for the next meeting, Mr. Wegner could come back with a possible solution.

The Board members summarized for the Applicant the items that needed further resolution, including the concerns/issues raised tonight about the drainage, tree removal, etc.  The Applicant should provide a plan showing the trees to be removed and to be saved.  Mr. Klein noted that the Applicant should save as many trees as possible.  Even scruffy trees and shrubs could act as a buffer for the existing houses.  

Chairman Gallelli suggested that Ms. Feit could let the Planning Board secretary know when she is ready to be placed on a future meeting agenda.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board would check into the matter of the sewer locations in this area and find out who is connected to the municipal sewer line.  The Planning Board (or Village Engineer) would also look into the matter of the storm water on the corner of Prospect Place and Hillside Avenue.

Ms. Allen wondered if there could be a test conducted to find the location of the underground spring.  The Village Engineer said that such a test could, indeed, be conducted.  Now would be a good time to do it.  A hole would need to be dug.

Chairman Gallelli reminded the Applicant that, for the next meeting, curb cut plans for the driveways should be provided.


Referral from the Village Board for a Request for a Special Permit from Something Good in the World School

Barbara Sarbin and Guy Felixbrodt of Something Good in the World school and Danny Oks, owner of the property, were present.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board has received a request from the Village Board for a recommendation on a Special Permit for Something Good in the World school.

Chairman Gallelli noted that the Village Board and the Planning Board had a joint site visit(s) to the school.  She asked Barbara Sarbin, the president of the school, if she would like to make a presentation.

Ms. Sarbin stated that the school is applying to the Village Board for a Special Permit to be allowed to operate a pre-school/kindergarten on the premises.  Mr. Felixbrodt is the director of Garden Road, which is the pre-school.  Something Good in the World went before the Zoning Board of Appeals and was granted a variance to operate a pre-school/kindergarten.  The two conditions of the ZBA were that (1) the number of children cannot not exceed 24 and (2) the school must be operated by Something Good in the World, Inc.  

Ms. Sarbin stated that a Special Permit is needed because their license is for a “group family day care home,” which limits them to only 14 children.  She noted that the interest in the community exceeds that number.  Ms. Sarbin stated that 24 children would be “doable” in their space.  

Ms. Sarbin stated that the purpose of the site visits was to show the board members the school facilities, parking, etc.  Most of the ZBA issues had to do with safety.  Ms. Sarbin stated that they looked at the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, and they feel that what they are doing at the school is consistent with that plan.  The drop-off and pick-up times for the children are staggered throughout the day, so parking and traffic is (would not be) a problem.  

Mr. Klein stated that he was unable to attend the site visit.  He asked how the pick-up and drop-off of the school children works.  Ms. Sarbin stated that the parents have to drive up to the curb.  They have to take their children by the hand and walk them 60 feet to the gate.  The parents have to bring the children into the school.  They park their cars on Maple Street.  Mr. Oks stated that his child attends the school and, to date, he has had no problem parking his car on Maple Street.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she made a point, after the site visit, of going back to the site between 8:30 A.M. and 9:15 A.M. to look at the parking situation.  She discovered that there were virtually no cars parked on Maple Street at that time.  

Mr. Klein wanted to know if there were any records of complaints at the Village of parents dropping their children off at the school and using the neighbors’ driveways.  Ms. Sarbin stated that, at one point in time, there were complaints. She spoke with the parents about this issue. Now the parents are respectful of the neighbors and do not use their driveways.

Ms. Allen wanted to know what is meant by “limit of 24.”  Ms. Sarbin stated that this number (24) is the number of children who could be in the building at any given time.  

Mr. Klein asked if there was car pooling to the school, to which Ms. Sarbin said that some of the parents do car pool.

Chairman Gallelli noted to Ms. Sarbin that in her letter to the Village Board she mentions that one of the goals of the school is to add a grade every year up to 12th grade. Ms. Sarbin stated that it would be impossible to meet this goal because of the lack of space.  Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could recommend that a condition be placed on the Special Permit that the proposed school in this location should not extend beyond the second grade.

Mr. Klein asked if the school was handicap accessible, to which Ms. Sarbin replied that the school is not handicap accessible.  However, they would be willing to do whatever is required to make it accessible.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board would also want to recommend that the manner of ingress and egress along the side into the back yard and fenced area should remain as the sole access to the school for the parents and children. Ms. Sarbin assured the Planning Board that this is the school’s intention.

Chairman Gallelli noted that when there were 8 to 10 adults at the school for the site visit, it seemed crowded; however, Ms. Sarbin reminded her that under normal circumstances there would only be small children in the school room(s).  She (Chairman Gallelli) thought that the space would be adequate for the number of children attending the school. Ms. Sarbin noted that the school chooses not to go any higher than six children per teacher.

The Village Engineer asked if the staff levels would change at all, to which Ms. Sarbin replied that the school would like to keep the ratio of 6 to 1.  The ideal number to maintain would be no more than 8 children per adult.

Ms. Allen said that she liked the idea of the pre-school children going outside to the garden.  Mr. Oks noted that the children at the school participated in the creation of this garden.  

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could make a positive recommendation on this application.  The letter could state the two conditions discussed above i.e., that the ingress and egress should remain the same and that the proposed school should not extend beyond the second grade.  Chairman Gallelli noted that there are already other conditions imposed by the ZBA.

Mr. Klein reiterated that he had not yet had an opportunity to visit the site. He would have been more comfortable making a positive recommendation if he had visited the site.  Ms. Sarbin stated that, in order to expedite matters, she had hoped the Planning Board could provide the Village Board with its recommendation before the Village Board meeting next Tuesday.  Mr. Klein did not think that it would be possible for him to visit the site before next Tuesday.  After some discussion, Mr. Klein suggested that Chairman Gallelli should go ahead and make a positive recommendation, even though he (Mr. Klein) had not had an opportunity to go on a site visit.  

Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that she would write the letter of recommendation in time for the next Village Board meeting.


Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village Manager would like information from the Planning Board regarding the origins of a landscaping requirement at the Richard Albert office site. The issue involves the requirement for arborvitae to be planted along the south side of the wall separating Mr. Albert’s property from the Village’s parking lot. Chairman Gallelli noted that the Planning Board ultimately decided, during the approval process, that the plantings should not be installed because of a mural painting, which had been created on the wall by a local artist.  However, when the Amended Site Plan was approved, the plantings were inadvertently left on the Applicant’s landscaping plan. As a result, the arborvitae were planted along this wall. The plantings have grown taller and are covering some of the mural painting.  The Village Manager has heard from the artist who painted the mural. The artist is upset that the mural cannot be properly viewed. Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village Manager would like a response from the Planning Board on this matter.  The Planning Board decided that the chairman should write a letter to the Village Manager explaining that the plantings were inadvertently left on the landscaping plan when the site plan was approved.  


Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, April 27, 2004 meeting was adjourned until the next Planning Board meeting.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:18 P.M.


Sylvia Mills,