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Planning Board Minutes 09/08/04
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2004:


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Wednesday, September 8, 2004 in the Municipal Building.


MEMBERS PRESENT:        Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
Tom Burniston
Joel Klein

                        ABSENT: Ted Brumleve

                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.

OLD BUSINESS:

Velardo Subdivision Lot #3 (M&A Real Estate Development Corp.) – 1214 Albany Post Road (Sec. 67.19 Blk. 1 Lot 4.02) – Application for Final Subdivision Approval and Follow-up on the Conditions Set on the Preliminary Subdivision Approval

John Alfonzetti, P.E. of MGM Burbon LLC was present to represent the Applicant.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the first item on the agenda is an application for Final Subdivision Approval for a two-lot subdivision on 1214 Albany Post Road.  

Chairman Gallelli noted that one of the conditions of this Applicant’s Preliminary Subdivision Approval was to provide the Planning Board with a proposal for a wetlands remediation plan.  Mr. Alfonzetti is going to present to the Board members tonight the plan being proposed.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that there is a small overlap on the back of the Applicant’s property where the Applicant encroached on a wetlands area.  The Applicant went back to the Water Control Commission (WCC) to seek an Amended Wetlands Activity Permit. The planting plan being proposed has gone through several versions. The Village’s consultant, Bruce Donohue, had requested that certain changes be made. The changes that he requested have been incorporated into the plan.  

Mr. Alfonzetti told the Board members that he attended the WCC meeting on this application, which was held last Wednesday.  An Amended Wetlands Activity Permit was granted.  It was the consensus of the WCC that the plan that was approved would be used as a “template” plan. The WCC would ask Mr. Donohue to go to the site for the purpose of individually staking and pinpointing the locations of plantings/trees.  Mr. Klein asked if the numbers and sizes of the trees would remain as shown on the Applicant’s plan, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that he does not know if they would remain exactly as shown.  There may be changes as a result of the site walk.  Mr. Klein asked Mr. Alfonzetti if it would be agreeable to the Applicant to increase the number of plantings should Mr. Donohue decide that more plantings would be required.  Angel Cipriano, one of the owners of the property, told Mr. Klein and the others that he would not have a problem with increasing the number of plantings. Mr. Alfonzetti noted that it has been agreed upon that the Applicant would provide escrow monies to the Village to pay for Mr. Donohue’s site work.  Chairman Gallelli stated that Mr. Donohue would do on-site visits to make sure that the proposed plantings are appropriate, and he would (also) do on-site inspections.   

The Village Engineer noted that the Applicant’s plans would have to be revised and the notes modified according to Mr. Donohue’s latest memorandum.  

Ms. Allen stated that there is some confusion in the Applicant’s plans about tree measurements.  The Applicant’s plans refer to “caliper” trees.  The standard measurement that Mr. Donohue is looking for is Diameter at Breast Height (DBH).   

Chairman Gallelli suggested that Mr. Alfonzetti might want to go over the changes and/or any remediation being proposed for the twin Red Oak trees.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that some remediation work was already done.  If these trees were to fail, there is a note on the plan(s) that explains the remediation and the type of tree that would be recommended.  Chairman Gallelli stated that there is also a note about closing up the drainage areas at the base of the tree well. Mr. Alfonzetti noted that, according to Mr. Donohue, this might not be the appropriate action to take.  The Applicant’s arborist has recommended changing the type of tree in this area.  The Applicant has not yet heard back from Mr. Donohue.

Ms. Allen wanted to know if Mr. Donohue had reviewed the plan that is being shown to the Planning Board tonight, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that he has not yet reviewed this plan. The Village Engineer noted that the WCC based their approval on the condition that the Applicant’s plan be revised according to Mr. Donohue’s comments.      

Ms. Allen noted that Mr. Donohue has prepared three memoranda on the subject of the Applicant’s planting plan.  He (Mr. Donohue) has been consistent throughout on what he has been asking for.  Ms. Allen told the others that she personally would find it difficult to approve a plan tonight without first having Mr. Donohue’s input.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that, as a condition of the Planning Board’s resolution of Preliminary Subdivision Plat Approval dated June 8th, 2004, the Applicant was supposed to provide a remediation planting plan for Lot #3.  In her view, the Applicant has done so.  The Planning Board wanted the issues on Lot #3 to be resolved. The Planning Board wanted to make sure that the outstanding mitigation problems with the WCC were resolved, and it seems that they have been.  Ms. Allen noted that the issue was not just about the wetlands incursion mitigation; there was also the issue of the trees that have been cut in protected areas outside the wetlands buffer. Ms. Allen stated that she had hoped that the Applicant would look at the planting plan as a whole taking into consideration the area both inside and outside the wetlands buffer.       

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the Applicant is proposing to plant some trees of a substantive size to mitigate the whole area.  The Applicant intends to plant 19 three-inch Red Maples, 6 three-inch Chestnut Oaks and some American Beech trees.  Ms. Allen noted that some of the trees being proposed would grow up to be immense in size. The Applicant’s shows these trees clustered together on the plan.  She would want Mr. Donohue to comment on whether or not these trees are in the right place.  Mr. Alfonzetti pointed out that the present plan is going to be used as a template plan only.  The location of the trees could very well change.  Ms. Allen stated that she would also want to know from Mr. Donohue whether or not a Chestnut Oak tree planted in a wet area would have a chance of surviving.  She noted again that Mr. Donohue has prepared a series of memoranda on the Applicant’s planting plan, and his comments are consistent throughout. In her view, there is still work to be done on the planting issue(s).  Furthermore, Mr. Donohue has not yet had an opportunity to review the Applicant’s latest plan.  Mr. Klein pointed out to Ms. Allen that Mr. Donohue would have the opportunity to make changes in the field, if deemed necessary.  

Ms. Allen asked if, at the meeting last Wednesday, the WCC actually approved the Applicant’s request for an amended permit, to which the Village Engineer responded that the WCC passed a resolution to grant an Amended Wetlands Activity Permit.  The WCC’s approval was based on three conditions.  Ms. Allen stated that it would have been helpful to the Planning Board to see the wording of these three conditions.

Chairman Gallelli noted that Mr. Donohue is going to review the current planting plan and make a site visit to Lot #3.  She questioned how the remaining issues concerning the remediation planting plan on Lot #3 would affect the Final Subdivision Approval application, which is presently before the Planning Board. Ms. Allen stated that her continued concern is that, although Mr. Donohue’s three memoranda on the remediation plantings for Lot #3 are consistent and repeat the same points, there are still unresolved issues.  

Chairman Gallelli asked the Village Engineer if, with Mr. Donohue’s subsequent reviews, the conditions of Mr. Donohue’s memoranda have otherwise been met.  She asked the Village Engineer to articulate the WCC’s position. The Village Engineer replied that the WCC accepted a “field-style” installation of the plantings using the Applicant’s current plan as a template. Mr. Donohue could make his own judgments about changing plant locations and, if deemed necessary, the quantities of plantings could be increased.  

Chairman Gallelli read aloud condition #5 of the Planning Board’s resolution of Preliminary Subdivision Plat Approval.  She asked the Planning Board if, in their view, the work done on the Applicant’s proposed remediation planting plan satisfies condition #5.  Messrs. Burniston and Klein both thought that the work done satisfies condition #5.  Mr. Klein noted that there might be some confusion on the Applicant’s current plan about the designation of the size of trees. The Applicant is using a mixture of “caliper” and “Diameter at Breast Height (DBH).”  It is not clear in the designation of the existing trees whether the Applicant is referring to the DBH or caliper.  Ms. Allen stated that the number(s) should also be specified.  Mr. Klein stated that the table in the current plan should be revised.  He noted that where it says, “size,” the Applicant should put in parenthesis “DBH.”  Also, the Applicant should specify whether he is referring to DBH or caliper in the note about the replacement of the twin Red Oaks.

Ms. Allen wanted to know what the Applicant’s plan is (would be) for the replacement of trees that die, to which Chairman Gallelli replied that the trees would be under warranty from the nursery.  

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the house on Lot #3 is being sold.  The warranty of the plantings might be a problem.  The house would have new owners.  Mr. Alfonzetti noted to the Planning Board members that the issue of enforcement came up at the WCC meeting. He believes that Mr. Donohue’s three memoranda have taken the loss of plants into consideration.  Mr. Klein added that it would be difficult to enforce a one or two year planting program; however, it does appear that the problem of plant loss has been considered.

Chairman Gallelli stated that she thinks the Applicant has fulfilled condition #5 of the Planning Board’s resolution of Preliminary Subdivision Plat Approval.

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could be in a position at the next meeting to consider the application for Final Subdivision Plat Approval.  She noted that the appropriate approvals must be obtained from the Westchester County Department of Health.  

Ms. Allen reminded the Applicant that one of the reasons she voted against the Preliminary Subdivision Approval was because the Applicant brought in the plan(s) on the very night that the Planning Board was asked to approve them.  She would hope that, for the final approval, the Applicant would follow the Village’s deadlines for submitting application materials.  

The next meeting on this application was scheduled for Tuesday, September 28th.

NEW BUSINESS:

Croton Housing Network, Inc. – 21-49 Mt. Airy Road – (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 3 Lots 2 & 36) – Preliminary Discussion on Symphony Knoll Affordable Housing Project

Nance Shatzkin, President of the Croton Housing Network, Stuart Markowitz of SMA Architecture Planning Interiors PC, Rick Turner, Attorney, and Ron Wegner of Cronin Engineering were present for this application.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the next item is a preliminary discussion of the proposal by the Croton Housing Network (CHN) for a project called “Symphony Knoll.”  Tonight, the Applicant will present various options for the project.  This is a preliminary discussion and not a formal application.  The Applicant is asking the Planning Board for feedback on the three options being presented. Chairman Gallelli noted to those present that this application is going to involve many steps.  The first step has taken place in that the land is now zoned “RC” for multiple housing.  The project would involve transfers of land, easements, etc.  Another aspect of the project is how it will mesh into the existing Mt. Airy Woods development.  There will probably be some modifications to the Mt. Airy Woods site plan, which would require an Amended Site Plan Approval.  

Ms. Shatzkin pointed to the project map and stated that the areas in blue are owned by the Croton Housing Network.  The orange piece, currently owned by the Village, is the old McClure property.  

Ms. Shatzkin referred those present to the next drawing and noted that the lot line change being shown would create code-compliant parcels.  There is a 4.8-acre parcel, which is in the RC zoning district.  This parcel would be saleable to the County.  The County has already sent appraisers to look at this piece of land.

Ms. Shatzkin stated that the CHN would not have to disturb as much property for the new proposal as it had to disturb for the Mt. Airy Woods project.  She reiterated that the area of the overall disturbance is much smaller. Mr. Markowitz noted that unlike the Mt. Airy Woods property, which was steep and rocky, this piece of land is comprised of a very large area, which is relatively flat.

Ms. Shatzkin stated that the CHN started out with the idea of having three buildings with eleven apartments (option #3). One building would have four apartments and the other two buildings would have three.  The problem with this arrangement would be that these buildings would have to have a second floor, which would require steps.  Mr. Markowitz noted that a building with an upstairs would not be appropriate for senior citizen housing.  The existing apartments at Mt. Airy Woods all have on-grade access. Mr. Markowitz noted further that in order to achieve on-grade access, the buildings would have to be constructed into the hillside, as was the case with the existing Mt. Airy Woods apartments.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that an elevator for the upstairs of each building would be very costly, and elevators would require maintenance.  

Ms. Shatzkin stated that the next idea they came up with (option #2) would be to have a single building that would have internal connectivity.  There would be a single elevator for the whole building.

Ms. Shatzkin stated that the parking spaces for the new development could be banked in order to minimize the amount of blacktop required. The thought was to make use of the existing Mt. Airy Woods driveway for access to the new development.  The driveway could become a one-way “loop” for safety purposes and for plowing in the wintertime.  Ms. Shatzkin pointed to the map and stated that the very dark line is a conceptual trail.  She noted that the Trails Committee had stated that they would want this trail to be a walking trail.  It has also been suggested that the existing concrete walkway to Mrs. McClure’s residence could be used as a way of connecting to this trail.  

Chairman Gallelli asked what the form of internal connectivity for the single building would be, to which Mr. Markowitz replied that, basically, it would be a corridor.  The idea would be to articulate the residential portions and then have a glass-enclosed corridor between them.  The building would have two stories.  The common corridor would allow for the use of one elevator.  

Chairman Gallelli asked the Applicant what the footprint of the buildings would be, to which Mr. Markowitz replied that the footprint would be 1,300 to 1,700 sq. ft. each.

Ms. Shatzkin stated that the last option, option #1, would be to build eleven bungalows.  Each unit would be a self-contained building.  The driveway would become a small “street.”  There would be more flexibility with the parking arrangement.  Ms. Shatzkin noted to the Board members that she does not like the idea of parallel parking for residents; however, this type of parking would be perfectly suitable for guests.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that on-grade access could be achieved for each unit.  She noted that the bungalows would be somewhat more expensive to build. Ms. Shatzkin stated that from the point of view of siting and land disturbance, there would be a few “offsets.”  

Ms. Shatzkin stated that, perhaps, there could be an “option #4” that would be a combination of all these ideas.

Chairman Gallelli asked the Applicant if a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit would be required for any of the three options being presented, to which the Applicant did not have the answer. The Village Engineer asked the Applicant what the calculations for steep slopes are in the proposed disturbance area(s).  Mr. Markowitz told those present that the overall disturbance area is well below 25% of the site.  The Village Engineer noted to the Board members that he personally does not think that steep slopes would be an issue.  Chairman Gallelli stated that the Applicant might want to take steep slopes into consideration when moving forward with a particular proposal.  

Chairman Gallelli asked the Applicant if they are aware of any wetlands on the property.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that Cronin Engineering is doing the delineation of the wetlands areas.  The initial indications are that there are no wetlands.  

Mr. Klein asked if any of the three options being proposed would involve blasting. Mr. Markowitz told Mr. Klein that the single building plan (option #2) would end up disturbing the least amount of square footage. This option would require the least amount of earthwork.  The eleven bungalows would require the greatest amount.  Mr. Markowitz noted that the CHN is not contemplating putting in basements, which would help to limit the amount of earthwork.  

Chairman Gallelli asked if there would be a common driveway, to which Ms. Shatzkin replied that there would be a common driveway and a new driveway.

Ms. Shatzkin stated that CHN has ordered a scale model of the site, which would allow interested parties to see what the buildings would look like on the property. Mr. Markowitz’s office has the ability to provide three-dimensional computer modeling as well as these physical models.  

Ms. Shatzkin stated that a common green area, 140 feet long and 30 or 40 feet wide, is being anticipated.  

Mr. Markowitz noted that they do not anticipate that the completed project would generate much traffic.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that people living in the area would be interested in knowing what the proposed building(s) would look like from the road.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that if the CHN were to go with the one “single” building, there would be more flexibility in selecting where this building could be placed.  The one large apartment building would be the least visible from the road.  There would not be the same degree of flexibility, in the placement of buildings, with the bungalows or with the three smaller apartment buildings.  Ms. Shatzkin noted to the Board that, if the building were to be placed in the northwest corner, the Hemlocks on the property would act as a visual buffer. The further away from the corner the building is placed, the more visible it would be from Mt. Airy Road.  Mr. Klein stated that the Planning Board might want to see a balloon test.  He noted that most of the existing vegetation is coniferous, to which Ms. Shatzkin added that the vegetation is deciduous.   Mr. Klein noted that the Applicant should probably take photographs very soon in order to get the full leaf effect.  There would be seasonal differences.  

Ms. Allen noted that a community room for the senior citizens is being proposed.  She asked where a community room would be factored into this project. Ms. Shatzkin stated that, with the eleven bungalows, one possibility would be to have an on-grade entrance to a basement space in a few of the bungalows.  Another possibility would be to put a small structure and/or a patio in a section of the old McClure property.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that in the “single” apartment building model with an elevator, it has been suggested that there could be a community room put in the basement. There would be a large space available in the basement for such a room.     
   
Ms. Allen asked the Applicant how the decision would be made on the final project design.  What would drive the decision on the number of buildings?  Ms. Shatzkin told Ms. Allen that, at this stage in the project, the most important factor coming into play is “other people’s input.”  Mr. Burniston suggested that the CHN should ask for input from the senior citizens themselves.  

Mr. Burniston stated that he thinks that option #1 (individual bungalows) would be better for emergency vehicle access.  Mr. Burniston stated that he disagrees with the parking limitation. The senior citizens would need the maximum number of parking spaces in order to provide parking for visitors to the complex.  He also noted that handicapped parking spaces would be necessary due to the fact that most of the people living at the complex are going to be (somewhat) handicapped or will probably become handicapped.  Mr. Burniston stated that the project design should be skewed for the residents.  In his view, option #l is the most convenient and sympathetic to individual needs.  

Ms. Shatzkin told the Board members that the CHN is scheduled to meet with the senior citizens on Friday, September 17th.  The CHN will give a presentation and ask for input.  CHN also intends to hold one or two more public meetings before selecting an approach.  They are under a time constraint and must decide relatively quickly what approach to take.  Mr. Markowitz noted to the Planning Board that the CHN has heard from a source(s) that the senior citizens would prefer the one building.

Mr. Klein stated that he thinks that the individual bungalows might not be the best approach. The senior citizens might prefer to be together for a number of reasons.  Ms. Shatzkin reiterated that the feedback so far is that they do not want to be in a building by themselves.  Mr. Burniston stated that he thinks that the bungalows would provide more privacy to the residents.  He reiterated that the best approach would be to ask the “seniors” themselves.

Ms. Allen asked if there would be adequate space for storage in the bungalows.  Mr. Markowitz stated that he would vary the rooflines so as to give a different image to the individual houses.  It would certainly be possible to provide attics or basement space, if the foundations are such that basements could be built.  Ms. Shatzkin told the Planning Board members that, in the design phase, the CHN would be sensitive to the need for storage space.  

Mr. Burniston asked if there would be anyone living on the grounds to provide services, to which Ms. Shatzkin replied that there would not be.  There would be some social services provided but not too many.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that this is not going to be an “assisted living” facility.  It is, instead, housing with a preference for “seniors.”  To the extent that the residents are tenants that would need support, the CHN would be able to provide some support services.  Mr. Burniston asked if the housing being proposed is absolutely (just) for “seniors,” to which Ms. Shatzkin answered that it is not.    

Mr. Klein noted that it is not just the initial construction costs that the CHN would have to take into consideration but also the energy costs.  He pointed out that this (the cost of energy) might be the deciding factor for the CHN on choosing a building design.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board would want to have Planning Board member, Ted Brumleve, provide his comments on this project.  He was unable to attend the meeting tonight.  

Chairman Gallelli said that she would be able to make a decision more easily if she could visualize how the building(s) would look in the neighborhood.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that, due to the fact that this project is aimed primarily for senior citizens, she would think that the three-building approach (option #3) would not be the best alternative.

Ms. Allen stated that the Trails Committee has desired, for a long time, to build a link from Mt. Airy Road to the River Landing Subdivision and residences in the upland area(s).  The walkway to the old McClure property would provide such a link.  She pointed to an area of the map and stated that the trail would need to end up at this open space.  Ms. Allen stated that the Trails Committee has also suggested that benches could be installed.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that the “new” trail would be a nice place for an evening stroll for Village residents.  Ms. Allen noted further that when the trail is built, it could also be used by children going to school.  

Ms. Shatzkin stated that eight of the eleven bungalow units would measure 650 sq. ft. and three would be slightly larger at 800 sq. ft.  The three larger units would be more appropriate for a couple and the eight smaller ones for single people.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board needs to schedule a site visit to the property. She suggested that the Applicant should go ahead with the photographs that Mr. Klein talked about earlier in the meeting.  The Planning Board would also want to have the input from the senior citizens.  

Mr. Klein thought that the one large apartment building might be more convenient for the “seniors” in the wintertime.  They would be able to visit their neighbors without having to go outside, and they would not have to go outside to empty their garbage.    

The Planning Board scheduled a site visit for Saturday, September 18th at 10:00 A.M.  

Ms. Allen noted that the Trails Committee would also like to have a site walk.  She thought that it would be better for them to have a separate site walk.

The Village Engineer noted that there were three parking spaces for the McClure property.  He asked where these parking spaces are located, to which Ms. Shatzkin said that they are right next to the cottage.

Ms. Shatzkin told the Board that the CHN hopes to re-design the trash container(s).  

Mr. Markowitz stated that his firm would do the technical analyses on the steep slopes.  They would also take the summertime photographs, as requested.

Ms. Shatzkin told the Planning Board members that she needs to be able to determine the building costs to complete the funding applications. The CHN had hoped that the Village would be reimbursed by the end of this year; however, they are now looking at obtaining the money from the County by the spring of next year.  

Ms. Shatzkin asked what the Planning Board would like to see by the next meeting. Chairman Gallelli responded that, for the next meeting on this application, the Planning Board would need more definition of the options being proposed, more precise siting of the building(s), status of the trees, etc.  

OTHER BUSINESS:

Ms. Allen referred to Ted Brumleve’s draft memorandum to the Village Board regarding the proposed zoning changes.  She told the others that she thought that on page 13 of the Phase I Report Corrective Code Revisions, the Planning Board had decided to make a change in item B in the definition of the term “height.”  This change is not noted in Mr. Brumleve’s draft memorandum.  Ms. Allen stated that Mr. Brumleve has noted that the word “existing” should be changed to “pre-construction” in item C.  She thought that, for purposes of uniformity, the Planning Board had also decided to replace the word “finished” with “pre-construction” in item B.  The other members agreed with Ms. Allen that the text should be modified accordingly.  

Ms. Allen thought that in the section on “Minor site plan approval…” on page 55, the Planning Board had decided to include “decks” as a “structure,” which is part of the site plan review process.  Chairman Gallelli said that she thought that, at the last meeting, the Planning Board did not actually resolve the “deck” issue but decided instead not to add it at this point. The Planning Board thought that, in reviewing other structures in the minor site plan review process, the Board was already taking a big step. The Planning Board would not want to “over step” its new oversight by reviewing decks.  Ms. Allen noted to the others that there is an ambiguity in the Village Code concerning decks because a “deck” is classified in the Code as a “building.” Chairman Gallelli pointed out that, as far as approvals are concerned, a homeowner would still have to obtain a building permit to install a deck.  Also, if the deck being proposed encroaches into a wetlands area, the homeowner would have to go before the WCC for a Wetlands Activity Permit.

Chairman Gallelli stated that a special meeting of the Planning Board is scheduled for Thursday, September 23rd.  The topic of discussion would be a recommendation to the Village Board on the renewal of the Special Permit for Metro Enviro. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning Board would take place on Tuesday, September 28th.

ADJOURNMENT:

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

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY