Planning Board Minutes 02/01/05
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2005:

A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, February 1, 2005 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:                Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
                                        Joel Klein

                        ABSENT:         Ted Brumleve
                                        Tom 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.

PUBLIC HEARING, CONTINUED:

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

Chairman Gallelli stated that she has been informed that the Applicant for the Hudson View Subdivision will not be appearing tonight.  The public hearing will be continued at the next meeting.

NEW BUSINESS:

Philip Spagnoli – 214 Grand Street (Sec. 68.17 Blk. 3 Lot 32) – Referral from the Village Board for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit

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

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board received in their packets for the meeting tonight a proposed site plan from the Applicant’s engineer.  The Village Engineer has provided to the Planning Board tonight some written comments, based on his preliminary look at the plan.

Chairman Gallelli noted that, in order for the Planning Board to move forward with this application, the Applicant would, first, have to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Chairman Gallelli explained that the Applicant lacks the required frontage in that the front of the property is not suitable for ingress and egress.  Chairman Gallelli noted that the Applicant does meet the frontage requirements in so far as the length of the front of the property is concerned.  

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that several weeks ago, the Applicant came before the Planning Board with a proposal to build a two-family house on this lot.  There were issues with the Steep Slopes Law.  Mr. Alfonzetti explained that, in order to build the two-family house, a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit would be required.  The current Steep Slopes Law has no provision for two-family houses.  The Applicant was told that, in order to be eligible to apply for the permit, the law would have to be amended. The Applicant came before the Village Board to ask for an amendment to the law but ultimately has decided not to pursue this course of action. The Applicant has abandoned his proposal to build a two-family house.  The new plan being proposed is for a single-family house.  A Steep Slopes Hardship Permit is required.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that one way of accessing the proposed house would be to use the neighboring property owner’s existing driveway.  Using this driveway would be the least destructive method, from an environmental standpoint, to gain access to the property.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that an alternative solution would be to provide access directly off of Grand Street.  Instead of a long driveway entering into the property from the side, the access route to the property would be from the front.  A carport would be constructed in the front, which would be large enough for two cars.  In order to minimize the land disturbance, the carport could be tucked into the slope.  The Village Engineer noted that, should the Applicant go with this alternative method of access, a permit would be required from the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT).

Mr. Klein said that he, personally, would think it preferable to use the existing driveway for access to the property.  It is his understanding that, should the ZBA grant the aforementioned variance for frontage, the Applicant would proceed along these lines.  If the ZBA refuses to grant the variance, the Applicant would propose to use the alternative method of access.

Mr. Alfonzetti asked if the other Board members felt the same way as Mr. Klein about using the existing driveway.  If he were to show that the alternative method could be done and the DOT were to grant a permit, would the Board members still feel the same way?  Mr. Klein noted that the Planning Board would want to have a choice in this matter.  If the ZBA were to grant the variance being requested, the Planning Board would have the option of looking at both alternatives.  The Planning Board would be in a position to determine which method of access would be the most preferable. Mr. Klein pointed out that access from Grand Street could prove to be the best solution after all.  He would want the Planning Board to have a choice.  

Chairman Gallelli noted that the granting of this variance would satisfy the code requirements of making this lot a buildable lot.

The Village Engineer pointed out that, if the Applicant has no alternative but to construct the entrance to the property off of Grand Street, there would be issues concerning steep slopes calculations, DOT permits, etc.

Ms. Allen asked if the Applicant could show on the plan exactly where the entrance off of Grand Street would be, to which Mr. Alfonzetti said that he has not lined up the exact location yet.  He noted that the location of the entrance would actually be determined by the line of sight.  There is a curve in the road in the area where the entrance would have to go.  Ms. Allen asked Mr. Alfonzetti if he is implying that this very steep area of the property off of Grand Street would be the most suitable area for the off-street parking, to which Mr. Alfonzetti said that the DOT would look at the parking situation in the front.  The DOT would look at the line of sight and make its recommendations.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that, since the last meeting, they were able to take photographs of the trees and do a steep slopes analysis of the property.  He distributed to the Board members a tree survey and a steep slopes map.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that 91% of the property (approximately 11,000 square feet) has areas with predominant slopes of more than 20%.  The other 9% of the property (approximately 1,000 square feet) has areas with slopes of less than 15%.

Ms. Allen noted that there is quite a deep hole in the area where the large rock is situated at the northwest corner of the property.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they would put the drainage there.  He noted that the drainage actually goes into that area now.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the northeast corner of the property where the gully is located would be the first choice for the off-street parking. Chairman Gallelli stated that there would have to be a tremendous amount of rock cut for the parking to go there.  Mr. Klein wanted to know what kind of rock was in that corner. He said that he thought the rock would have to be blasted rather than chipped.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they would have to drill and use an expansion agent to split the rock.  He noted that the reason why they thought the parking should go in that corner is because the line of sight is better there.  The Village Engineer noted to Mr. Alfonzetti that there is a 30-foot rock face in that area. It might be feasible to put the parking there, but it would be difficult to do.
Chairman Gallelli stated that she assumes the Applicant would like to have the Planning Board provide some guidance to the ZBA on the parking situation; however, the Planning Board does not have much information at this point to make any judgements.  Furthermore, the Planning Board does not have enough information yet on the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit application to make a recommendation to the Village Board.  

Mr. Alfonzetti told the Board members that he would hope the Planning Board would recommend to the ZBA that the variance should be granted.  He pointed out that, if the variance is not granted, then there would be no alternative but to put the access route to the property in the front off of Grand Street.  The site work would be difficult.

Mr. Klein noted that, even if the Applicant were to obtain the variance, the Planning Board might decide to choose the alternative access route off of Grand Street rather than the existing driveway.  Mr. Klein stated that he would like the ZBA to grant the variance so that the Planning Board would have a choice in this matter. The granting of the variance would give the Planning Board the option of looking at these means of ingress/egress on their own merits.

Ms. Allen expressed her reluctance in making a recommendation to the ZBA.  She stated that she does not recall that the Planning Board has ever made recommendations to the ZBA in the past, to which Chairman Gallelli noted that the Planning Board has done so but not frequently.  Ms. Allen suggested that the Applicant, and not the Planning Board, should make the argument to the ZBA.  The Applicant could relate to the ZBA the discussion that took place at the meeting tonight.  She would prefer that the Applicant make the argument.  Mr. Klein noted that, if the ZBA says “no,” then the Planning Board’s choices on the access route would be limited.  Mr. Alfonzetti explained what his argument to the ZBA would be.  He would say that the granting of the variance would make it possible to use the existing driveway, and he would give his reasons why the existing driveway would be a better solution.  

Mr. Klein stated that the sole purpose of the Planning Board’s recommendation to the ZBA to grant the variance would be to give the Planning Board two choices for access routes. Chairman Gallelli pointed out that, even if the ZBA were to grant the variance, this does not necessarily mean that the Planning Board would make a positive recommendation on the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit application to the Village Board.  Ms. Allen suggested that rather than saying, “the Planning Board would recommend the granting of the variance,” the letter to the ZBA could say that, “the Planning Board would encourage the ZBA to consider the granting of this variance so that the Planning Board would have options…”      

The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant should ask the DOT to visit the site for the purpose of looking at the two alternatives for access.  He thought that any recommendation(s) from the DOT would be helpful to the Applicant.

Ms. Allen pointed out that this particular application requires a number of engineering decisions, and this is not necessarily what the ZBA gets involved with.  Chairman Gallelli said that this is precisely why the Planning Board would ask the ZBA to grant the variance.  By doing so, the Planning Board would be in a position of making the decision.   

Mr. Alfonzetti asked the Village Engineer if he could attend the meeting with the DOT, to which the Village Engineer said that he could.

Mr. Alfonzetti asked the Planning Board what information they would need to move forward on the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit application.  He said that the Applicant’s intention is to go before the ZBA and the Planning Board simultaneously.  The Village Engineer said that he would like Mr. Alfonzetti to go over his concept of developing the site terraces.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she would like to see a visual rendering of how the proposed house would appear to the people living across the street (Grand Street).  Ms. Allen stated that the Planning Board would need a detailed soil analysis because of the degree of the steep slopes on the property and the loss of vegetation.  Ms. Allen stated that the Applicant’s plan does not accurately reflect the depth of the fissure on the property.  The hole is deeper than is being shown.  

Ms. Allen asked if blasting in the front of the property would affect the current steep slopes analysis and/or increase the amount of the overall disturbance, to which Mr. Alfonzetti said that it would.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they terraced the stone walls so that these walls would not be more than four feet tall.  

Mr. Klein noted to the Applicant that the visual impact of the house being proposed is going to be one of the Planning Board’s main concerns.

Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that the Village Board has recently passed revisions to the residential zoning code.  The code now requires site plan approval for all new residential construction.  The Planning Board’s site plan review process will include an architectural review.  Chairman Gallelli stated that, because a site plan and architectural review by the Planning Board are now required, it would make sense for the Applicant to do the visual renderings from the neighboring properties now.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that it is her understanding that the Planning Board would like her to write a letter to the ZBA regarding the variance for the frontage. The letter should state that the Planning Board feels that the granting of this variance would provide the Planning Board with additional options for reviewing the proposed site plan and in making a recommendation to the Village Board.  Mr. Klein said that he would go one step further and say that the granting of this variance by the ZBA would not prejudice the Planning Board’s review one way or another.

Mr. Klein noted that the peak elevation is going to be 150 –160 feet.  He said that one would not have to go much further up the slope to get to the 150-foot contour line.  The entire view is going to have a slope in the background.

Ms. Allen asked if the zoning changes that were recently made included a change to the section of the code pertaining to “height,” specifically the measurement of the ridgeline at the pre-construction stage. The Village Engineer said that the code states that the finished grade cannot be more than four feet from the existing grade.  It is included in the definition of “height.”  

The Village Engineer did not know if the zoning change(s) would affect the Applicant’s current proposal for a house.  He said that he does not think that the Applicant is proposing to bring in too much fill.

Ms. Allen asked the Applicant what the difference is in the contour lines between the back and front corners of the house.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the existing grade is 142 feet at the southwest corner, and the northeast corner is approximately 126 to 128 feet.  Those are the two extremes.  There is a difference of 14 feet between the two corners, which is part of the reason for having walls on the western side of the house.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that, in order not to raise the house up too high, they tucked the house into the slope, which helps with stability and also gives a more “natural” appearance from the road.  

Mr. Klein asked if the Applicant is going to have borings done, to which Mr. Alfonzetti said that he was not planning to have them done.  Ms. Allen said that she thinks borings will be needed.  Mr. Klein stated that the Planning Board would want to know how much rock and soil are going to have to be moved.  It is not possible to tell from the information the Planning Board has now.  Mr. Klein noted that, if it turns out that the Applicant’s property has shallow soils, it would seriously increase the amount of rock removal.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they might have to chip the rock for the foundation and the footings.  

Philip Spagnoli, owner of the property, said that they drove a 7-foot rebar down into the ground for the foundation and the footings.  The Village Engineer told Mr. Spagnoli that he should make a grid, which would go all the way across, from the upper retaining wall to the lower terrace.  Mr. Klein asked if the Applicant is having a problem getting the rebar down there because of the frost, to which Mr. Spagnoli replied that it has worked all right so far.

The Village Engineer noted to the Applicant that they are coming close to the 35-foot height limitation for the house.

Ms. Allen thought that the house being proposed is really going to “stick up” and be visible to the neighbor(s). Mr. Klein noted that the house is going to “stick up” in the front, but it will be cut in the back, to which Mr. Alfonzetti added that they took 8 feet off of the corner to fit the house into the slope. Mr. Klein added that in this way the Applicant proposes to lower the house by eight feet.

Chairman Gallelli summarized the discussion tonight, stating that the Planning Board has agreed to write a letter to the ZBA. The Planning Board has also identified some items requiring further information and/or clarification.  The Applicant should provide cross-sections of the proposed house as it appears from the adjoining properties.  Soil analyses should be submitted.  The Applicant should present the best way to do the grading of the site.  The Applicant should make a grid from the upper wall to the lower terrace, as suggested by the Village Engineer.  Mr. Klein stated that he would like some photographs for the file of what this property looks like from Grand Street in its existing condition.  He thought that these photographs would be very useful to the Planning Board during their review process.  
   
Mr. Alfonzetti stated that he would be in touch with the Zoning Board secretary to be placed on the agenda for the ZBA meeting in March.  He thought it was too late for February.

Ms. Allen pointed out that the zoning district designation is incorrect on the Applicant’s plan(s).  It should be RB rather than RA-40.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that he would contact the Planning Board secretary when this application is ready to come back before the Planning Board.

OTHER BUSINESS:

The Planning Board discussed the wording of the amended condition to the resolution for Zeytinia Gourmet Market.  Chairman Gallelli suggested that the word “may” should be replaced by the word “will” in the last sentence.  It was noted that, the way the resolution reads now, if Zeytinia fails to abide by the resolution, then they can operate illegally without any consequences.  It should be understood that, if they fail to abide by the wording of the condition, their approval is revoked, and it becomes null and void.

Chairman Gallelli noted that there might be circumstances, such as holiday times, when more than one truck a week makes a delivery to Zeytinia.  She pointed out that the situation regarding deliveries from distributors is not entirely in their (Zeytinia’s) hands. She wondered if such a circumstance, i.e., two deliveries a week during the holiday time, would automatically cause the revocation of their site plan approval.  The Village Engineer stated that, if they are in violation of their resolution, then they would receive a citation, and the judge would make a decision with regard to a fine.  It is his (the Village Engineer’s) understanding that the judge cannot revoke a site plan approval.

Ms. Allen suggested that the last sentence should be left as is with the word “may” rather than “will.”

The Village Engineer stated that the resolution provides the basis for enforcement.  The wording of the resolution has to be concise and clear so it can be enforceable by a judge.

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could eliminate the last sentence altogether.  Mr. Klein agreed with Chairman Gallelli, and he stated that by eliminating the last sentence, the wording of the amended condition would then be made perfectly clear.  The Board members all agreed that the last sentence should be eliminated.

Chairman Gallelli stated that she would also want to ensure that the amended condition to the resolution would be attached (stapled) to the original resolution.  She suggested that the Planning Board could say in the resolution that, “The amended condition was accepted with the minutes and will be attached to the original resolution of October 14, 2003.”

Chairman Gallelli reminded the Board members that this Saturday is the balloon testing at Symphony Knoll between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM.  

Ms. Allen gave the Planning Board secretary some photographs that she had taken during the balloon testing at Symphony Knoll on September 18th, 2004.  She asked that these photographs be placed in the Croton Housing Network property file.

Chairman Gallelli told the other members that the Planning Board secretary would be away on March 22nd, which is the regularly scheduled meeting date for the last meeting in March.  She asked if the meeting could be changed to the 29th. The Board members present all said that they would be available on the 29th.

The Village Engineer brought the Planning Board up-to-date on the recent discussions with Mr. DeSantis regarding the Village’s use of Mr. DeSantis’s driveway for access to the detention pond on the Feit property and the use of Mr. DeSantis’s property for discharging water from the emergency spillway. Mr. DeSantis will be in town on February 14th.  The hope is that he will meet with the Village and Ms. Feit regarding these matters.  The Village Engineer stated that Ms. Feit intends to call Mr. DeSantis on February 13th to set up the meeting.  

The Village Engineer and Mr. Klein had a discussion on the proposal for the construction and operation of the emergency spillway.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, January 4, 2005 Planning Board meeting was adjourned until the meeting of February 22nd.

ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:25 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY       


Amended Condition for the Resolution Accepted October 14, 2003 for
Van Wyck Associates and Pertaining to Zeytinia Gourmet Market.


Condition #4 of the above-referenced resolution is hereby amended to provide that Zeytinia Gourmet Market may receive deliveries from 18-wheeler trucks no more than once per week.  Further, this approval is only for the lifetime of the Zeytinia tenancy at this location.  On an annual basis, starting one year from the date of this amendment to the resolution, Zeytinia will provide a report of all 18-wheeler deliveries to the Village Engineer’s office.  


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

                                                        Ann H. Gallelli, Chairperson    
                                                        Fran Allen
                                                        Ted Brumleve
                                                        Thomas Burniston
                                                        Joel Klein


The amended condition was accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, February 1, 2005 and will be attached to the original resolution of October 14, 2003.