Planning Board Minutes 07/06/04


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, July 6, 2004 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:                Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
Ted Brumleve
Thomas Burniston
                                        Joel Klein

                 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 and Galena Feit, owner of the property, were present.

Mr. Wegner stated that, since the last Planning Board meeting, the Applicant has been before the Water Control Commission (WCC).  The WCC granted approval to situate the house and driveway on Lot #3 within the minimum wetlands activity setback area.  As a result of this action by the WCC, the proposed house on Lot #3 can be moved farther away from the houses on High Street.  The slope of the driveway on Lot #3 can be reduced from 15% to 10%.  Also, the sight distance from the driveway is much improved, and a number of trees on the High Street side of the property can now be saved.

Mr. Klein asked what the sight distance would now be, to which Mr. Wegner replied that the sight distance would be about 250 feet.  It has been extended by better than 50 feet.

Chairman Gallelli asked if the 30” maple tree could now be saved, to which Mr. Wegner stated that it could be saved. Ms. Allen noted that the 30” maple tree would be very close to the construction activity.  She wanted to know if there would be a way of protecting the tree.  Mr. Wegner stated that the Applicant would have protection around the drip lines and would (also) have tree armoring.  The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant could switch the water line to the other side so that the 30” maple tree could be kept farther away from the construction activity.  Mr. Wegner agreed to move the line.

Mr. Klein wanted to know why more of the frontage on Lot #1 was not set aside as a setback area, to which Mr. Wegner replied that the Applicant’s intention (here) was not to disturb the existing stone wall.  

Mr. Klein stated that it would seem that the Applicant would have an area that could be designated a non-disturbance area between Prospect Place and the proposed 66-foot contour line.

Mr. Brumleve noted that, according to the Applicant’s plan(s), all of the trees between the proposed house on Lot #1 and Prospect Place would be removed.   He suggested that in order to preserve those trees, the Applicant could take another look at the grading which is being proposed in that area. Perhaps the house could be lowered a few more feet.  Mr. Brumleve stated that on Lot #1, the basement floor elevation is 5 feet above the existing grade, which puts the first floor elevation 15 feet above adjacent Prospect Street grade.  The first floor elevation would be 3 feet above the level of the street.  From an architectural standpoint, the visual impact of the height of the house could be significantly reduced if the basement elevation were lowered.  In the process, the Applicant might be able to preserve some of the maple trees in the front.  Also, the amount of fill required could be reduced.  

Chairman Gallelli thought that Mr. Brumleve’s ideas for the house on Lot #1 should be incorporated into the site plan for Lot #1; however, the application before the Planning Board tonight is for a preliminary subdivision approval.  This is not a site plan review. She would hope that these ideas could be incorporated into the Planning Board’s subdivision approval, but in a different way. Mr. Brumleve suggested that it could be a condition of the approval that the Applicant must consider grading Lot #1 such that all trees in the front could be preserved to the maximum extent possible, to which the other Board members all agreed.         
Chairman Gallelli noted that none of the three lots being proposed has much yard space that is situated outside the wetlands buffer area.  She stated that there must be a way for the potential homeowners of these subdivision lots to understand the constraints of their yards.  Chairman Gallelli questioned how these constraints could be conveyed to a landowner in perpetuity.  Mr. Wegner suggested that a note to this effect could be added to the subdivision plat, and the buffer area(s) could be delineated.  Chairman Gallelli thought that a more effective way of handling this matter would be to convey the information in the deeds for the properties.

Mr. Burniston stated that there are trees in the boundary of the limited disturbance area.  He was not clear as to why these trees were in the permitted rather than the non-permitted area.  He suggested that the Applicant should reexamine the reasons why these trees are being eliminated.  He would want to make absolutely sure that they would have to be eliminated.  Chairman Gallelli noted that at the time of construction, there would be a requirement for an environmental site plan to be submitted.  The Village’s environmental consultant would work with the property owner(s) in the handling of such matters.

Ms. Allen stated that there is an underground stream that feeds the wetlands area.  She wanted to know if the disturbance caused by the installation of the detention pond would affect the underground stream.  Mr. Wegner noted that there would be a certain amount of grading required for the detention pond.  Chairman Gallelli thought that the way to handle this matter might be through an in-field adjustment when the grading occurs.    

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village Engineer has sent another letter to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) asking them for comments on the Applicant’s Cultural Resources Survey. This office has not yet responded to the Planning Board’s initial request for comments.  Chairman Gallelli asked Mr. Klein to provide an explanation of the archeological work still required.  Mr. Klein stated that the Applicant’s archeological consultant came back with two different conclusions.  The first conclusion was to do a Phase 1B survey over certain parts of the site. The second was to do a Phase 1B survey over the entire parcel.  Mr. Klein stated that there are two possible ways for the Applicant to proceed.  The first would be to wait for the response from NYS.  The second would be to do the Phase 1B survey of the entire parcel.  Mr. Klein noted that the response from NYS might be to survey the whole parcel, so it might make more sense to go ahead with it.  Mr. Klein suggested that the Applicant might want to ask her archeological consultant for the cost of doing a partial versus a whole survey.  The difference in cost might not be that much.  

Mr. Klein suggested that, to expedite the process, the Applicant could contact NYS to say that the Planning Board has been waiting for more than 30 days for comments.  

Chairman Gallelli asked if the way to proceed should be to make it a condition of approval that the Phase1B survey has to be done, to which Mr. Klein stated that he thinks the Phase 1B survey should be done before the Planning Board approves the preliminary subdivision plat.  

Mr. Brumleve noted for the record that the Planning Board received in their packets tonight a letter from William Morrison of 6 Mt. Green Road.  Mr. Brumleve thought that the issues raised in Mr. Morrison’s letter had already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed.

Chairman Gallelli asked if the Planning Board would be agreeable to closing the public hearing tonight on this application for preliminary subdivision approval.  Mr. Klein did not think that the Planning Board should close the public hearing. He thought that the public hearing should remain open until the comments on the Cultural Resources Survey have been received from the State.  

Mr. Brumleve said that he noted on the Applicant’s plan(s) a reference to a proposed fence or hedge around the detention pond.  Mr. Wegner stated that this fence/hedge being proposed would not keep people out of the area, but it is essentially there to delineate and screen the pond.  Mr. Brumleve said that the Planning Board would want to know who would be responsible for maintaining the fence/hedge. He pointed out that it would be out of the sight line of the property owner on Lot #1, and the property owner of this lot would (probably) not maintain it. Mr. Brumleve did not think that it would be in character with the Village to have a rectilinear fence around the detention pond.  It would be more in character to maintain a natural look.  He reiterated that he would want to maintain as native a look as possible around the pond area. Mr. Klein agreed and suggested that a split rail fence might fit in better with the natural surroundings.  The Village Engineer stated that the Planning Board might want to give some consideration to having a security fence around the pond to make sure that no damage is done to the pond and that no one gets hurt. He noted that the area around the pond might be wet and slippery at times.  Ms. Allen wanted to know what the maintenance protocols for the detention pond would be, to which Mr. Wegner replied that the maintenance requirements would be to remove the silt from the pond and to (periodically) check the outfall structure.    

Chairman Gallelli stated that she personally would not have any objection to removing the fence around the detention pond.  She asked if there was a consensus among the other Board members that the definitive fence around the pond should be removed, to which there was a consensus.

Ms. Allen noted that the proposed Village roadway through Lot #1 to provide maintenance access to the pond required the removal of numerous large trees.  She suggested an alternative route that would save some of the trees.  Chairman Gallelli said the Village was negotiating with the owner of the adjacent driveway to use that driveway as access.  Ms. Allen asked that no trees be removed until the final access route was determined.

Mr. Brumleve wanted to know if, in his absence, there had been any further discussion about sidewalks on the easterly side of Old Post Road North.  Mr. Wegner stated that, at this point, the Applicant would not wish to install a sidewalk along this road. He noted that the Applicant is already making a contribution to the Village with the installation of the detention pond.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that, with respect to this issue of the sidewalk, there are changes to be made to the pipe, which is situated under Old Post Road North.  She wanted to know if these changes would have an effect on the ability to put in a sidewalk on the other side of the road.  The Village Engineer stated that bringing a sidewalk down on the other side would require the relocation of a catch basin.  It is not an area where a sidewalk could (easily) be installed. There is also the issue, which would have to be addressed, of what is State vs. Village property. Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could convey to the Village Board that resolving this issue should become a high priority so as to be able to move forward with sidewalks in this area.

Chairman Gallelli summarized the issues, which would require follow-up by the Applicant for the next Planning Board meeting including (specific) protection for the 30” maple tree and the switching of the water line to the opposite side.  The Applicant should look into the issue raised by Mr. Brumleve regarding Lot #1 and the elevation from Prospect Place.  Chairman Gallelli noted that the Planning Board agreed tonight that a fence should not be installed around the detention pond.  Finally, the Planning Board would need to have the comments from the State on the archeological study.  

Mr. Klein gave the Applicant the names of three people to contact at OPRHP regarding the archeological study.  

The public hearing on this application was continued to Tuesday, July 27th.


Ten Old Post Road South Corp. (Richard Albert) – (Sec. 78.08 Blk. 7 Lot 5) – Application for Amended Site Plan Approval for Houlihan Lawrence

Mr. William O’Neill of Hagele & O’Neill Architects was present for this application.

Mr. O’Neill apologized to the Planning Board members for missing the last meeting.

Mr. O’Neill stated that, since the last meeting, the Applicant has been before the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB).  The VEB discussed the signage being proposed for Houlihan Lawrence.  The VEB also discussed whether or not the Applicant should be required to change the storefront on the other side to match the proposed new storefront for Houlihan Lawrence.  Mr. O’Neill stated that the VEB recommended against requiring the Applicant to change the storefront on the other side of the building. He noted that there was a convincing argument made about the financial burden to the Applicant who in this case is the tenant and not the landlord.    

Mr. O’Neill presented to the Planning Board a computer rendering, which showed the existing storefront “next to” the proposed new storefront.  He noted to the Board that at the first meeting on this application there was an aesthetics question raised about how the building would look should just the one storefront be modified.  Mr. O’Neill stated that in his view, the design of the building is such that the changes being made do not adversely affect the overall symmetry.

Mr. Klein stated that, after the last Planning Board meeting, he visited the site once again.  As a result of this site visit, he has changed his opinion about what the appearance of the building would be with the renovations being proposed.  Mr. Klein noted that there are three trees in the front of the building.  When a person going by views the building, the person would likely not see anything above the top of the windows and the doors.  Mr. Klein thought that a person going by would not necessarily have the impression that he/she is viewing “one structure with two halves.”  He told those present that he did not think that the differences in the two storefronts would be as jarring as he had originally thought.

Mr. O’Neill stated that he also has photographs of the building taken in January when the leaves are off the trees.

Chairman Gallelli noted that the only way to approach this building is either going north or south on Old Post Road South.  Because of the width of the building, a person going by would basically see the first half of the building up to the middle section. It was Chairman Gallelli’s observation that a person would not see, in one glance, the whole building.  She personally did not see the proposed changes as being a problem.  

Chairman Gallelli noted that, in so far as the symmetry of the building is concerned, the use of long white curtains in the windows on the other side is the equivalent of changing the storefront from that direction.

Mr. O’Neill described the proposed renovations to the Planning Board stating that the Applicant proposes to replace the existing door in the front. Also, the window frames, which hold the glass in place, are being replaced.  

Chairman Gallelli read aloud the draft resolution.

Chairman Gallelli asked the Board members if there were any conditions, which should be incorporated into the resolution.  There were none.  

Chairman Gallelli entertained a motion to approve this Amended Site Plan application.  The motion was made by Mr. Brumleve, seconded by Mr. Burniston and carried by a vote of 4 to 1.  Ms. Allen was opposed.  

Ms. Allen noted the reasons for her opposing vote.  She was mainly concerned that the changes being made would adversely affect the overall symmetry of the building.


Baron Residence – 80 Morningside Drive (Sec. 79.09 Blk. 6 Lot 5) – Renewal of Accessory Apartment

Chairman Gallelli stated that Michael Baron has submitted an application, dated June 16, 2004, for the Renewal of the Special Permit for an Accessory Apartment.  Chairman Gallelli noted that an application for renewal has to be submitted to the Planning Board every three years.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board has received a letter from the Village’s Code Enforcement Officer, Joseph Sperber, stating that no complaints have been received and no violations have been issued since the owner last applied for a renewal.  Chairman Gallelli reiterated that it is up to the Planning Board whether or not to permit the renewal.

Mr. Burniston noted for the record that he would withdraw from any discussion or vote on this application.  He represented the opposing side of this Special Permit application years ago, and he did not think that it would be appropriate for him to be a part of the discussion.

Chairman Gallelli entertained a motion to renew the Special Permit for an Accessory Apartment for another three years.  The motion was made by Mr. Brumleve, seconded by Mr. Klein and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Mr. Burniston abstained.

Discussion on Front Yard Fence Regulations

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village Board has asked the Planning Board to review the Village’s front yard fence regulations.  For comparison purposes, the Village Engineer has provided the Planning Board with the fence regulations from six different municipalities.  Chairman Gallelli noted that most of the regulations for fences pertain to swimming pools.  Those regulations from other municipalities that pertain to front yard fences generally state that front yard fences can be a maximum of four feet in height.  

Chairman Gallelli described to the other members a tour she took through the Village and the fences she saw en route.  The fences are usually five or six feet in height.  There is, however, an eight-foot high fence parallel to the street on Benedict Boulevard.  

Mr. Klein thought that the purpose of these taller fences was for privacy.  The installation of these fences has to do with the way the lots are situated in relation to the road(s). The privacy issue comes into play when a road has been widened over the years.  Sometimes, a fence along the road frontage is really a side yard fence.  Mr. Klein stated that he is not sure that one could easily craft an ordinance that would take into account the varying factors involved.

Chairman Gallelli noted that if the Village feels that the height of a fence is an issue and that, perhaps, a four-foot rather than a six-foot fence should be the threshold, then the law could be changed accordingly.  If a resident wants a higher fence (higher than four feet), he/she could appeal for a variance.

Chairman Gallelli stated that one of the complications in changing the ordinance on fences is the issue of what constitutes a fence.  A property owner could have, for example, a six-foot high hedgerow, which serves the same purpose as a fence.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that it is her understanding that a “front yard fence” is a fence that runs parallel to the street in the front of the property.  She noted that there are many cases in the Village where a side yard fence, six feet in height, runs all the way from the back of the property to the very front. In this instance, the fence is in the front yard but it is perpendicular, rather than parallel, to the street.

Mr. Brumleve stated that he thinks the issue at hand is not so much a front yard issue as it is a fence issue. He referred to the particular fence recently installed in the Village that generated the present inquiry.  Mr. Brumleve stated that he has read through the documentation on fences provided by the Village Engineer, and he personally does not know what the Village could or should do about changing the ordinance.       

The Village Engineer noted that most other municipalities have “attacked” the front yard issue by reducing to four feet the allowable height of fences.  

Chairman Gallelli thought that any discussion on fences would have to be broken down into categories.  For example, fences, which are installed along the public right-of-way for safety purpoes, should be a separate category from fences, which are primarily installed for aesthetic purposes.

Ms. Allen noted that a four-foot fence, which is on a down-sloping lot, would probably work quite well to provide privacy to a house; however, a four-foot fence situated on an up-sloping lot would not accomplish the same purpose.  She wanted to know what the Village’s intention(s) of modifying the ordinance would be.  

Chairman Gallelli did not know if it would be possible for the Village to “build” a law that would deal with the aesthetics of fences.  She thought that the Village should make a decision on whether or not a certain height of a fence would be appropriate for the front yard.  Mr. Burniston thought that any ordinance on fences would have to be for a purpose.  It could not be based on aesthetics.  Mr. Klein thought that the Village could probably enumerate reasons for needing a fence.  Mr. Burniston pointed out that the reasons for needing a fence might change with the owner of a piece of property.  

The Village Engineer thought that a four-foot fence would serve the purpose of delineating the property and keeping animals and children inside.  A six-foot fence would be installed for screening purposes.

Ms. Allen wanted to know how many complaints the Village receives or has received about fences, to which the Village Engineer replied that most of the complaints in the Village regarding fences are between two neighbors.  Chairman Gallelli thought that a possible “fence” issue in a neighborhood might be the appearance of the fence.  The concern would be whether or not the appearance of the fence would have an adverse impact on the neighborhood.  She suggested that perhaps the Planning Board should begin its discussion on fences by answering the question, “Do we think the issue of front yard fences is a problem that needs a regulation?”

Ms. Allen thought that the height of fences would be a complex problem to resolve because of the terrain of the Village.  She does not believe a regulation is needed.

Mr. Klein stated that there might, indeed, be issues to address concerning fences but perhaps not to the point where the Village needs to make up new regulations.  He noted that oftentimes fences are installed for a reason other than an aesthetic one.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board has raised many points tonight as to why a person might want to put up a fence.  She still did not know if it would be appropriate for the Village to provide more oversight on fences.  Mr. Brumleve suggested that the Village should leave the ordinance alone.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village’s statute on fences was modified years ago.  The height restriction went from a maximum of five feet in height to a maximum of six feet because standard retail fence heights included six-foot fences but not five-foot.    

Mr. Klein suggested that the Planning Board could check with the Code Enforcement Officer, Joe Sperber, to see how many complaints the Village has received on fences.

Chairman Gallelli noted that the Village Board could point to the six regulations from other municipalities and ask why the Village does not have its own specific front yard regulation(s) for fences.

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board should hold off, for the time being, on making any comments.  The VEB would also be looking into this issue of changing the fence regulations.  The Planning Board could revisit this issue at a later time.  The other members agreed with Chairman Gallelli’s suggestion.


The minutes of the Tuesday, June 8, 2004 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Klein, seconded by Mr. Burniston and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Mr. Brumleve abstained.   


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:04 P.M.


Sylvia Mills,


WHEREAS, the Planning Board held a public hearing on an Amended Site Plan application on Tuesday, June 22, 2004 for Ten Old Post Road South Corp. (Richard Albert), hereafter known as “the Applicant,” said property located in an C-1 District, at 10 Old Post Road South, and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section 78.08 Block 7 Lot 5 (formerly #40 209 45A); and

WHEREAS, on June 22, 2004, the public hearing was closed; and

WHEREAS, the proposed project is for renovations to the storefront of the Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate office; and

WHEREAS, under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), the action is considered a Type II action, and no further review under SEQRA is necessary.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Amended Site Plan application as shown on drawing A2.3 entitled “Renovations for Houlihan Lawrence,” prepared by Hagele & O’Neill Architects, dated May 25, 2004, be approved.

In the event that this Amended Site Plan is not implemented within three (3) years of this date, this approval shall expire.

                                                The Planning Board of the Village of
                                                Croton-on-Hudson, New York

                                                Ann H. Gallelli, Chairperson
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Ted Brumleve
                                                Thomas Burniston
                                                Joel Klein
Motion to approve by Mr. Brumleve, seconded by Mr. Burniston and carried by a vote of 4 to 1.  Fran Allen was opposed.  
Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, July 6, 2004.