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Village of Croton-on-Hudson
1 Van Wyck Street
Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520

Phone: 914-271-4781
Fax: 914-271-2836


Hours: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 am - 4 pm
 
Planning Board Minutes 03/29/05
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2005

A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 in the Municipal Building.

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

                ALSO PRESENT:   Donald Sapir, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals
Rhoda Stephens, Member of the Zoning Board of Appeals
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

Ron Wegner of Cronin Engineering and Galena Feit, owner of the property, were present.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the first item tonight is a continued public hearing for a three-lot subdivision proposal at Prospect Place and Old Post Road North.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Applicant and the Village Engineer have met with the neighboring property owner, Mr. DeSantis, regarding the location of the proposed discharge pipe. As she understands it, this issue regarding the discharge pipe has been resolved.  She suggested that the Applicant’s engineer, Mr. Wegner, explain to the Board members the change in the location of the pipe.

Mr. Wegner stated that, since the last meeting, there has been a change in the location of the pipe on Mr. DeSantis’ property.  Mr. Wegner traced on the map the revised route of the pipe.  Instead of the pipe discharging near the central portion of the southwestern property line, it will now discharge near the southern end of the property line. Mr. Wegner noted that the rerouted location of the discharge pipe would create an additional disturbance to steep slopes of approximately 600 square feet. He told the Planning Board members that the Applicant will do the clearing of the land and the Village will do the pipe installation.

Ms. Allen asked if the pipe is being installed in the area where the bamboo trees are located, to which Mr. Wegner said that it is.  He noted that some trees in the lower portion of the site would have to be removed to install the pipe.

Mr. Wegner told the Board members that there is an existing swale on the southern end of the property.  A 24-inch pipe, 8 feet in length, will be installed between this swale and the existing pond.

Ms. Allen noted that, at the last meeting, the Planning Board was told that this discharge pipe was not going to run along the property line.  The Village Engineer told Ms. Allen that Mr. DeSantis has his preference as to where the pipe should be situated.  He has stated that he wants the pipe to be situated as close to the property line as possible.  Ms. Allen stated that she thought Mr. DeSantis had agreed with the concept of running the pipe through the center of the property, to which the Village Engineer replied that, in concept, he was agreeable.  However, when the first sketch was sent to him, he (Mr. DeSantis) objected to the pipe being located in the area in front of the bamboo trees.  

Mr. Klein expressed concern about the visual impact(s) on the neighboring property owners.  He suggested, and Ms. Allen concurred, that the neighboring property owners should be made aware that the pipe location now being proposed would be adjacent to their back yards.   

The Village Engineer told the Planning Board that the vegetation being cleared for the pipe installation consists mostly of weeds, which will quickly grow back.  Mr. Klein noted that, at this point, this vegetation is the only screening between these neighboring property owners and the discharge pipe.  Mr. Klein stated that these property owners have no way of knowing that this plan is now being proposed the way it is, and he thought they should be notified.  The Planning Board would want to hear from them.  

Mr. Klein noted that, with respect to the location of the piping, one alternative the Village always has is Eminent Domain.

The Village Engineer noted to the Planning Board members that the additional cost of construction for the new proposal would be $8,000 to $10,000.  

Mr. Klein asked the Village Engineer where the Village stands on the matter of Mr. DeSantis’ granting an easement for the use of his driveway. The Village Engineer told the Board that Mr. DeSantis is opposed to that idea.  Ms. Allen asked what Mr. DeSantis’ position is on the proposed storm water basin to be constructed on the Feit property.  The Village Engineer stated that Mr. DeSantis is aware that the storm water flows downstream through his property.  He is also aware that the proposed berm would help to protect his property from storm water run-off.  His problem is (was) with the location of the pipe. Ms. Allen expressed concern about the environmental impacts of this “new” plan.  More trees will have to be cut down.  She noted that the Applicant, Ms. Feit, has cooperated fully with the Village on developing a plan for storm water management in this area. She had hoped that Mr. DeSantis would demonstrate the same degree of cooperation. Mr. Burniston thought that it was unfortunate that Mr. DeSantis would only agree to a modification to the plan that has the result of being a potential detriment to the neighboring property owners.

Mr. Burniston noted that this proposal for the discharge pipe is ultimately a benefit to the Village as a whole.  Ms. Feit has cooperated with the Village in the development of the Village’s storm water plan.  Mr. Burniston did not see any reason for delaying her project any longer.  He did not think the Planning Board needed to send out another public notice.  The Applicant’s site plan has not changed.  The only change that is being made is on Mr. DeSantis’ property.  Mr. Brumleve agreed and said that he would consider this proposal for the pipe to be a separate project from the subdivision proposal, although related.

Mr. Wegner stated that, even though some trees have to be removed when the pipe is installed, the majority of the bamboo trees would remain.  

Mr. Klein asked if the Applicant would be willing to make a commitment to the Village about replacing trees that have to be removed for the discharge pipe installation, to which the Applicant, Ms. Feit, said that she would be willing to put in replacement trees.     

Chairman Gallelli stated that, at the last meeting, the Planning Board asked Ms. Feit and the Village Engineer to meet with Mr. DeSantis regarding the matter of the discharge pipe, and they have done so.  Ms. Feit has cooperated fully with the Village to achieve a storm water project (plan), which is very important to the Village.  The public hearing on this subdivision application has remained open for more than one year.  The Planning Board has to make a decision to either close the public hearing tonight or, if there is reason to do so, extend it.  Mr. Klein stated that he would be prepared to close the public hearing at the next meeting, which is only a week away.  He wanted the neighbors to have an opportunity to hear about the “new” proposal for the discharge pipe.  Mr. Burniston pointed out that the Applicant, Ms. Feit, has done everything that the Planning Board has asked her to do during the review of this application.

Mr. Klein wanted to know if the Village had anything in writing from Mr. DeSantis regarding this matter of the discharge pipe.  The Village Engineer stated that Mr. DeSantis has signed off on a map showing the alignment of the pipe.  The Village Attorney is in the process of drafting an easement agreement.

The Village Engineer noted that Mr. DeSantis is aware of the fact that trees on his property would have to come down, and he (Mr. DeSantis) was not concerned about that.  

Ms. Allen asked if the pond is adequate for the pipe discharge, to which the Village Engineer replied that the discharge pipe was put in its present location to keep it away from the island in the pond.  The channel is too narrow in that area of the pond.  The discharge will go into a more open area.  He did not believe it would create any problems for the pond itself.  The water will go through the pond and continue downstream.

Mr. Brumleve stated that he agrees with Mr. Burniston that the Planning Board should move forward with this subdivision application.  The Applicant has “gone the distance” with the Planning Board.  He did not want to delay this application any longer.  Mr. Brumleve noted that the members of the public who commented on this subdivision proposal, early on, are owners of properties, which are adjacent to Ms. Feit’s property. These properties are not adjacent to Mr. DeSantis’ property.  Anything that happens downstream from the Feit property is a separate issue altogether.   Mr. Brumleve stated that he would like to see the public hearing on this subdivision closed.  If a “new” public hearing is called, it should be for the purpose of discussing a “Village improvement” and not this subdivision.  
  
Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could ask the Village Manager to either hold a public meeting or send a “public information” letter to those residents affected by the installation of the discharge pipe. The letter could say that the pipe installation is part of the overall drainage improvement project for the Village.  

The Village Engineer noted that the trees being removed on the DeSantis property would probably have to be cut down in a few years anyway.  They are not in good shape.  He noted further that the planting of replacement trees would help to stabilize the area.   

Chairman Gallelli stated that Ms. Feit has offered to provide replacement trees.  She suggested that the Planning Board should require, as a condition of the approval, that the Applicant provide replacement trees along the boundary between the High Street neighbors and the DeSantis property.    

Chairman Gallelli entertained a motion to close the public hearing.  The motion was made by Mr. Burniston, seconded by Mr. Brumleve and carried by a vote of 4 to 1.  Mr. Klein was opposed.

Chairman Gallelli asked if there was any further discussion on the subdivision proposal.  The Village Engineer told the Board that he would be working with Mr. Wegner on the final engineering details.

Chairman Gallelli stated that a draft resolution has been prepared for this application.  The following conditions should be incorporated into the resolution:

An environmental site plan shall be submitted by the Applicant and approved by the Village Engineer at the time the Building Permit is issued.

The Applicant’s final plan shall show the designation of a building envelope that corresponds to the limits of disturbance as shown on the Applicant’s plan entitled “Preliminary Subdivision Plan,” last revised March 25, 2005.

The boundaries of the wetlands and watercourse buffer areas shall be shown on the Final Subdivision Plat.

The definition of Minimum Activity Area shall be added to the Final Subdivision Plat and deed documents.

The following note shall be shown on the Final Subdivision Plat and deed documents:

Any proposed construction, grading, filling, excavating, clearing or other regulated activity within the 120-foot wetland buffer area or the 100-foot watercourse buffer area as delineated on the Preliminary Plat #S-1.1 prepared by Cronin Engineering dated May 20, 2002, last revised March 25, 2005 and approved on March 29, 2005 requires a permit from the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Water Control Commission prior to the commencement of work.

The Applicant shall submit a letter to the Village Engineer indicating her agreement to provide replacement trees in the area between the DeSantis easement and the neighboring properties on High Street, according to a plan agreed to by the Engineer and Applicant.

Ms. Allen stated that she would like to place one more condition on this subdivision proposal.  She was concerned about the clearing of trees in the area of the maintenance access road.  She would not want them to be removed, at least for the time being.  Ms. Allen stated that she wants to keep the Village’s options open to continue negotiations with Mr. DeSantis for the use of his driveway.  Chairman Gallelli stated that there would not be any tree clearing at this point in the approval process.  The Applicant still has to come back before the Planning Board for Final Subdivision Approval.  Ms. Allen asked if there was any way of continuing the negotiations with Mr. DeSantis, to which the Village Engineer replied that the Planning Board could keep the matter open up to the time that the final subdivision is approved.   

Chairman Gallelli noted that she has (also) added the following “whereas” clause to the resolution:

WHEREAS, the Applicant submitted both Phase 1A and Phase 1B reports to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation for review and comment.”

Chairman Gallelli entertained a motion to approve this application.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Burniston and seconded by Mr. Brumleve.  

Chairman Gallelli asked the Board members if there was any further discussion on this application.  

Mr. Klein stated that he thinks that the Applicant, Ms. Feit, and her engineer have “gone out of their way” to address the Planning Board’s concerns.  He explained his position for wanting to keep the public hearing open.  He wanted the neighbors to have an opportunity to become informed about the proposal for the pipe installation rather than being presented with a “fait accompli.”  He did not think a week’s delay was that much of a hardship.  Mr. Klein noted that he does intend to vote in favor of the subdivision application.

Mr. Burniston stated that it is refreshing to see someone come before the Planning Board and place primary importance on the needs of the Village.  He thought that the Applicant, Ms. Feit, should be commended for that.

Ms. Allen stated that she agrees with what has been said tonight about moving this project forward; however, she would also agree with Mr. Klein that the neighboring property owners affected by the proposal for the pipe installation should be notified.  She suggested that the Village should be prompt in taking action to clarify the situation for these property owners.  

Chairman Gallelli asked the Planning Board for a vote on this application.  The application was approved by a vote of 5 to 0.

Chairman Gallelli told Ms. Feit that a final version of the resolution would be prepared, and the resolution would be adopted with the minutes of tonight’s meeting. The Applicant has a time limit (60 or 90 days) to complete the steps necessary for Final Subdivision Approval.  Once these steps are completed, the Applicant can come back before the Planning Board for the final approval.  

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board should make a motion to ask the Village to communicate with the property owners along High Street who are affected by the proposed pipe installation.  The motion was made by Mr. Klein, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.  Mr. Brumleve stated that it would be helpful to the High Street neighbors if, as part of the presentation, the Applicant could map the existing trees (bamboo trees).  

3.     OLD BUSINESS:

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

Nance Shatzkin, president of the Croton Housing Network; Stuart Markowitz of SMA Architecture Planning Interiors, P.C.; Rick Turner, attorney; and Ron Wegner of Cronin Engineering were present for this application.

Donald Sapir, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and Rhoda Stephens, member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, were also present.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Croton Housing Network went before the ZBA for a variance to increase the height of their proposed building by four feet.  The maximum allowable building height in a RC District is 30 feet, and the proposed building would be 34 feet in height.  The CHN is also seeking a variance for the number of stories. The maximum number allowed is two, and the CHN is proposing a three-story building.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the ZBA has not yet made a decision on the variances being requested.  The ZBA members had some concerns and thought that it would be worthwhile to hold a joint meeting with the Planning Board to discuss the application.  Chairman Gallelli noted that the application before the Planning Board is still in a preliminary stage; no formal application has been submitted yet.

Ms. Shatzkin noted that the CHN realizes that a two-story building would be allowed in this zoning district. The CHN’s interest is to minimize the environmental impact(s) on the site; a three-story building would have less of an impact.  Fewer trees would have to be cut down. There would be less impact in the front and in the back of the property.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that a two-story building raises a steep slopes issue.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that the CHN has not had a surveyor site the building yet.

Mr. Klein wanted to know how much smaller the footprint of the three-story building would be, to which Mr. Markowitz said that it would be 1,600 square feet smaller.  

Mr. Klein stated that it is his understanding that a two-story building would impact the steep slopes on the property but a three-story building would not, to which Ms. Shatzkin replied that this is, indeed, the case.  She noted that “We can keep off the steep slopes for the three-story [building].”

Mr. Klein asked if the Applicant has calculated the amount of the cut and fill for the two alternatives being proposed, to which Mr. Wegner replied that it would require more cut and fill for the two-story building.

Chairman Gallelli asked if the wetlands have been delineated on the plan(s), to which Mr. Markowitz replied that the wetlands have been flagged in the western section, in that area of the property that the CHN has been working in, and to the east of the large stonewall.  

Mr. Klein asked if fewer trees would be removed for the three-story building, to which Mr. Wegner replied that, indeed, fewer trees would have to be cut down. Mr. Klein wanted to know what the visual effects of a three-story versus a two-story building would be.  What would the impact(s) be on the neighbors?  Ms. Shatzkin noted that the visual impact of the two-story building would mostly be on the one close neighbor in the back of the property. This is because the two-story building would be situated further back into the property.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that a three-story building would be visible from other points, to which Mr. Klein noted that a three-story building might be more visible but, to some extent, this would be offset by the fact that fewer trees would need to be removed.

Mr. Markowitz stated that the CHN has performed a balloon test and has discovered that a three-story building would not become visible until a person driving (or walking) down the hill reaches the lane below King Street (Reinhardt Lane).    

Mr. Klein wondered how massive a three-story building is going to look.  He said that it is difficult to imagine what it would look like.

Ms. Shatzkin noted that, in an effort to minimize the amount of the variance needed, they had to decrease the slope of the roof.  She realizes that the options to make the building “look pretty” are minimized when there is very little roof slope available.  

Donald Sapir, the chairman of the ZBA, noted that it has been the usual practice of the Planning Board to send an application to the ZBA first.  The CHN is not at the point of telling any of us what they intend to build.  Mr. Sapir stated that the ZBA would like to see elevation drawings.  He stated that, at the last meeting, the feeling of the ZBA was that, “This [structure being proposed] would not look like Croton.  It would not look like Mt. Airy Road.”  Mr. Sapir noted that the ZBA realizes that the Planning Board would like to move forward on this application; however, the ZBA members felt at their last meeting that, at this point, they were not comfortable granting the variance(s).

Chairman Gallelli pointed out that the advantage to the Planning Board of the ZBA granting this variance would be to provide two ways for the Planning Board to look at this application.  The Planning Board could, then, look at the plans for both a two-story and a three-story building. Chairman Gallelli noted that if, after reviewing this application, the Planning Board feels that the three-story building would not fit in properly, the Planning Board could say “no” to it.  

Rhoda Stephens, member of the ZBA, noted that, when the ZBA members look at an application, they say, as part of their resolution, “…according to the plans submitted.”   However, the Applicant has not submitted plans, which are sufficient for the ZBA to make a decision.  Ms. Stephens noted further that the Applicant would be “locked in” to whatever the ZBA has to look at and, should there be any change(s), they would have to keep coming back.   

Chairman Gallelli stated that she realizes the ZBA would like to see elevation drawings; however, she did not think the Planning Board could ask the Applicant to provide the ZBA with a complete set of plans for two building options.  It would be too costly, but elevation drawings seemed reasonable. Ms. Shatzkin reiterated that the CHN could not afford to create complete design drawings for two different options.  Mr. Klein noted that, if a variance were granted for the three-story building, the Applicant would have to provide these elevation drawings to the Planning Board anyway.  He did not think it would be too much to ask of the Applicant to provide these elevation drawings to the ZBA.  Chairman Gallelli noted that these drawings would also help the ZBA to make a decision.  

Ms. Allen thought that the steep slopes on the property was a very important factor to be considered.  A three-story building would not require a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit.

Ms. Allen noted that another factor to be considered is the trails running through this area.  This property provides a link(s) between River Landing and the upland trails and lower Mt. Airy and Grand Street.  The smaller footprint of the three-story building would allow a trail through the McClure property that would stay mostly in the wooded area through the top of the knoll and then up to River Landing.  She noted that the two-story building option would require that the trail be closer to the building.  

Chairman Gallelli said that it is her understanding that the ZBA is interested in knowing how much of the building is going to be visible and from where (what location).  She noted that the building is going to be visible when a person driving (or walking) down Mt. Airy Road approaches the driveway into the property.  She suggested that the Applicant could provide elevation drawings and show the line of sight from that point of view i.e., coming down the hill and looking up toward the building.  

Ms. Shatzkin stated that she does not know if it would be possible to provide the materials/plans in time for the next ZBA meeting in April.  

Mr. Sapir noted that, at the ZBA hearing, members of the public expressed their displeasure with the previous, adjoining project (Mt. Airy Woods).  The ZBA is very attuned to those concerns, which are expressed by the public.  Mr. Sapir noted that the ZBA has the project in its control for a very limited period.  Mr. Sapir recalled that the Applicant said at the meeting that the plan for a three-story building would not increase the number of units and would not change the make-up of the building at all.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that, from a funding point of view, the CHN is limited to 11 units.  The CHN is not pushing for more units.  The CHN is trying to minimize the environmental impact(s).  Ms. Shatzkin stated that 8 of the 11 units are “smaller” units and 3 are “larger” units.  The building would (also) house an office for the CHN.  The building would have an elevator.  

Ms. Shatzkin stated that the CHN realizes that the granting of the variance(s) is only one step in the process. The CHN has to go before the Planning Board for the building design, parking, plantings, trails, etc.  

Mr. Sapir asked if the Applicant is “wedded” to the idea of a single building.  He said that the ZBA would want this project to be appropriate for this area of the Village (Mt. Airy Road).  Mr. Burniston stated that it is the Planning Board’s responsibility to look at the issue of whether or not the project is appropriate for the area.  The issue for the ZBA is to determine if the variance(s) should be granted.  He did not think the ZBA has the ability to force the Applicant into making a preconception before the application even goes before the Planning Board.  Mr. Sapir read from Sec. 230-162D.2.a of the Village Code, which states that the ZBA also has to consider, “whether an undesirable change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood or a detriment to nearby properties created by the granting of the area variance.”

Chairman Gallelli noted to Mr. Sapir that, at a previous meeting on this application, the Applicant explored with the Planning Board the single building option.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that, indeed, the CHN looked at the option of building 11 bungalows.  When they tried to site the buildings, they could not get them on grade.  Mr. Burniston noted that, when the senior citizens were asked what type of living quarters they would want, they opted for the one building.

Chairman Gallelli noted that there is, indeed, in the Village Code an overlap with the two boards regarding this issue of “whether or not the building would fit into the neighborhood.” She thought that if this is the ZBA’s concern and if the elevation drawings would satisfy the ZBA and be helpful to them, the ZBA should be provided with these drawings.

Ms. Stephens stated that the ZBA never received any plan that showed a preliminary two-story building.  She thought that it would be helpful to have this plan.  When the members of the public come to the hearing, they would need to see the difference between the two- and three-story buildings.  Mr. Markowitz said that he could prepare studies (renderings) that would show the outline of the building from the most visible locations without developing full-blown architectural plans.

Mr. Sapir thought that what might be helpful would be for the Planning Board to continue its process of reviewing this application while the ZBA continues its review.  Mr. Sapir stated that he did not get the feeling that there was a “knee jerk” reaction against a three-story building.  The ZBA just needed more information.  Mr. Burniston did not think the Planning Board could consider a three-story building without the variance being in place.  Chairman Gallelli noted that, within the last year and a half, the Village Board has made it a policy that no applications can be processed until the required variance(s) is (are) granted.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the ZBA and the Planning Board have some of the same concerns, but the first step is to go before the ZBA.  The ZBA has to have sufficient information to understand the impact(s) of the height of the building.  

Mr. Brumleve asked Mr. Markowitz which building (two- or three-story) would be his ideal choice, if he could do whatever he wanted to do, to which Mr. Markowitz replied that, in this case and in this location, he would choose the three-story building.  The location of the building is the woods.  Less of the woods would be disturbed with the three-story building scheme.  Mr. Markowitz noted that the building would not be as tall as the surrounding trees.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that the other reason they like the three-story design is from the point of view of efficiency of design.  There is less roof, less pouring of concrete and less heat required.  The overall design is more efficient.  

Mr. Brumleve stated that there are 11 units and an office; the plan shows 17 parking spaces.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that, now, the plan shows up to 20 parking spaces.  She recalled that, at a previous meeting, he (Mr. Brumleve) was concerned that there were not enough spaces, and they have since added the spaces for the office.

Mr. Brumleve stated that it appears on the plan that there is a significant space for the driveway aisle.  He thought that the Applicant could reorient the building in the two-story scheme to reduce or eliminate the impact on the steep slopes area by minimizing the drive aisle.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that, as discussed tonight, the Applicant needs to satisfy the ZBA by providing elevation drawings and by showing the line of sight from the viewpoint of someone coming down the hill and looking up toward the building.  Mr. Sapir noted that, once the ZBA has acted on this application, the Planning Board might want to “fine tune” the plans.  The Applicant might have to come back before the ZBA. Mr. Sapir hoped that this could be avoided.

Chairman Gallelli noted that this application has to go through many steps.  The Applicant has to come before the Planning Board for site plan approval, which will require a public hearing.  The Applicant has to revise the site plan for Mt. Airy Woods. Chairman Gallelli noted that the lot line change between the two properties is contingent upon the ultimate configuration of Symphony Knoll.    

Ms. Shatzkin noted that the wetlands on the property is less than one-quarter of an acre; therefore, a Wetlands Activity Permit is not required.  The Village Engineer confirmed that the Applicant meets the Village standards; however, the Applicant needs to check the federal wetlands requirements.

Ms. Shatzkin stated that she would let the Planning Board know when the CHN is ready to come back before the Board.

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 and Philip Spagnoli, contract vendee for the property on 214 Grand Street were present for this application.

Chairman Gallelli recalled that, at a previous meeting on this application, there had been an issue raised regarding the Power of Attorney.  She asked if this issue had been resolved yet.  Mr. Alfonzetti said that he did not know.  He noted to the Board that the present owner of the property, Antoinette Feminella, is in Florida right now.  The Village Engineer told Mr. Alfonzetti that he thought it would just be a matter of going back to the Applicant’s attorney and checking to see if this issue had been resolved.  Mr. Burniston noted that the forms submitted to the Planning Board with the Applicant’s proposal have to be official forms.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that he would look into the matter.

Chairman Gallelli stated that this application is a referral from the Village Board for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit.  Chairman Gallelli gave a brief history of this application, stating that there had been an earlier discussion on the Planning Board’s part as to whether the Steep Slopes Law should be changed to include two-family as well as one-family residences.  The Planning Board was not in favor of making this change to the law, and the Planning Board made a negative recommendation to the Village Board.  The Applicant is here tonight with an application for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit to construct a one-family home.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that, at the last meeting, the discussion focused on the issue of frontage and/or access to the property.  He explained that the Applicant does not have easy access to the property in the front due to its steepness. The Applicant was told that he had to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance from the required access from the lot’s frontage.  The Applicant has since been before the ZBA and has been granted a variance.  Now that the Applicant has a variance from frontage access, the Planning Board can look at two options for driveway access.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that he has prepared two plans, one showing access through the existing adjacent driveway and the other showing access through a new driveway and carport to be constructed along its frontage on the street.       

Ms. Allen referred to the Applicant’s elevation drawing and stated that, according to this drawing, 41 vertical feet of the front of the house being proposed would be visible from the street.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the front of the house would have a covered porch with a handrail and staircase(s).  Ms. Allen asked if there were any other houses in this area of the Village that were this high.  Mr. Brumleve said that there are homes on stilts.  These are two-story houses over basements with a pitched roof. Mr. Burniston noted that these houses are on a lower grade. Ms. Allen expressed concern about the height of the house.  She said that there would be “a lot of house [facing you] on a very small plot.”   
   
Mr. Burniston referred to the photographs showing the proposed house location and asked what the orange ribbon signifies.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the orange color signifies the “mid-line” of the building.

Mr. Brumleve wanted to know why the Planning Board was looking at two options for the driveway.  He thought that the Applicant’s reason for obtaining the frontage variance was to make it possible to have access to the property through the existing adjacent driveway.   Chairman Gallelli stated that, at the last meeting, the Planning Board told Mr. Alfonzetti that, by obtaining the variance from access from the lot’s frontage, the Planning Board would have an opportunity to look at two options for the driveway access.  Mr. Alfonzetti wanted the Planning Board to see the two options, so he brought in both plans.  Mr. Brumleve asked if the preferred scheme for access is still the existing adjacent driveway, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that, indeed, it is.  The Applicant would rather come in from the side and have an easement over the existing driveway than have to cut through the rocky slope in the front.    

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the one-family house now being proposed would be 3,576 square feet in size including the garage.  

Mr. Burniston expressed concern about the size of the house.  He stated that, judging by the square footage, this is a two-family residence.  The Applicant is asking for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit to build this house.  Mr. Burniston expressed concern about the amount of disturbance to the steep slopes to build such a large house.  He also said that such a large house is not substantially in character with the houses in this area.

Mr. Klein expressed his concern that this house is going to “wind up” as a two-family house someday.  

Mr. Spagnoli stated that they have decreased the size of the house footprint and have presented a plan for a one-family house because, [by law], they cannot put in a two-family house.  Mr. Burniston expressed his concerns once again about the size of the house.  Ms. Allen agreed with Mr. Burniston that the house is too large.  She thought that the Applicant’s request for a hardship is significant.  Mr. Alfonzetti noted to the Planning Board members that 90% of the property is more than 20% steep slopes; so, it is inevitable that the Applicant is going to have to substantially disturb the steep slopes to construct a house on the property.

Mr. Burniston stated that the land disturbance is not just a driveway issue; it is a house issue. He thought that this application, the way it stands now, is “incompatible” for a request for a hardship permit.  

Mr. Klein asked why the house is the size it is, to which Mr. Spagnoli replied that the size of the house is consistent with what is being built today.  Mr. Klein reiterated that the size of the proposed house is not consistent with the size of the other houses in this area of the Village.

Mr. Burniston asked the Applicant, if the Planning Board were to propose a range of square footage for developing the property that the Planning Board said it would favor – between 880 square feet and 1,500 square feet – would the Applicant comply?  Mr. Spagnoli said that he would comply.

Ms. Allen questioned whether this lot was a “buildable” lot, given the amount of disturbance to the steep slopes.  Chairman Gallelli explained the eligibility of the lot for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit.  This is an existing lot.  When the steep slopes formula was applied to it, the area required for a building lot was reduced to an area that is “less than the required area.”  The Applicant must, therefore, apply for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit to build a house on the lot.

Mr. Burniston referred the Planning Board to the Steep Slopes Law stating that the Planning Board, in their deliberations, must consider an application for a hardship permit from the standpoint of minimizing the disturbance to the steep slopes to the greatest extent possible.

Ms. Allen said that it would seem that the law permitted building the minimum size house.

Chairman Gallelli stated that it would appear, from the discussion tonight, that the Planning Board agrees that the size of the house is too large, given the amount of disturbance to the steep slopes.  Mr. Alfonzetti noted that there is no maximum square footage for a house given in the Code.  There is a minimum square footage of 880 square feet.

Chairman Gallelli stated that she does not think the Planning Board is in a position to make a decision yet.  The Planning Board would need to see what a smaller footprint for a house would look like.  The Planning Board needs to consider the impact(s). Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that she does not think the present proposal for a house minimizes, to the greatest extent possible, the disturbance to the steep slopes, and this is the fundamental problem with this application.

Chairman Gallelli stated that, whatever the “new” proposal for a house is going to be, the Applicant needs to provide enough information to make a recommendation to the Village Board.  Other issues besides the size of the house need to be addressed.  The Planning Board would need to know if blasting would be required.  What would the land disturbance be for putting in drainage areas?  The Applicant should provide photo simulations so that the Planning Board could have an idea what the house is going to look like from the road, how high it will appear, etc.  The Planning Board would need information on tree removal.  

Mr. Burniston referred to Mr. Alfonzetti’s letter to the Planning Board dated March 21, 2005.  He told Mr. Alfonzetti that he needs to provide specific engineering responses, not just “blanket statements.”

Mr. Alfonzetti asked the Planning Board if there was a preference among the Board members for keeping the square footage of the house low.  He said to the Board, “Let us say [for argument sake], that we are talking about an 880 square foot house. Mr. Burniston told Mr. Alfonzetti that the preference for the Planning Board is on less land disturbance.  He noted that this Applicant went the opposite way and proposed a house with significant land disturbance.

The Village Engineer told Mr. Alfonzetti that he would need to look at the site disturbances (terraces out front and in the back, for example) as well as the house disturbance.  

The Village Engineer noted to the Applicant that cantilevered overhangs could increase the square footage of the house and reduce the footprint.

Ms. Allen stated that the slopes on this piece of property are very steep.  There are many trees on the property.  She expressed concern about the removal of trees.  The trees on a piece of property play an important function relating to soil and water distribution.  The Planning Board does not know the type of soil on the property.  Chairman Gallelli reiterated that the Planning Board does not know enough yet about the drainage/soils.  

Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Applicant should come back with a plan showing a reasonable use of the property with the absolute minimum disturbance.

Mr. Alfonzetti told the Board members that he gave the Planning Board soil maps already.  He thought the Planning Board had enough information on the soils, minus the probes.  The Village Engineer stated that the soil survey maps are sufficient for the drainage analysis. He would use them to generalize the building construction.  However, he (the Village Engineer) thought it would be better, if Mr. Alfonzetti could also do the probes.

Ms. Allen asked how vegetation is factored into the drainage on very steep slopes, to which the Village Engineer stated that one has to look at the ground surface.  More vegetation would be beneficial to the drainage. Bushes and shrubs would hold the water more.  Ms. Allen asked how one does the calculations for drainage, to which the Village Engineer stated that there are models that are used.  Mr. Klein noted that if the runoff is heavy and ground cover is lost, it might be sufficient to uproot the trees, to which the Village Engineer stated that there would be a subsurface drainage system installed.  If there are massive amounts of rain, the nearest catch basin is on Maple Street.  Chairman Gallelli asked if, what the Village Engineer is saying is that, with a managed site, the drainage could actually be better than exists right now. The Village Engineer stated that one would have to design the drainage system in a way that is acceptable for maintenance by homeowners in the future.

Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that the Planning Board could write a letter to the Village Board right now recommending that the permit be denied or, in the alternative, the Planning Board and Applicant could agree to work together on this application for a longer period of time.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the Applicant would like to continue working with the Planning Board on this application.

The Village Engineer told Mr. Alfonzetti that, for the next time, the Planning Board does not need to see both driveway options.  The Board would just need to see the proposal that the Applicant is interested in pursuing.

4.     APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, March 1, 2005 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Brumleve, seconded by Mr. Klein and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

5.     ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:50 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY       


RESOLUTION



WHEREAS, American Building Technologies (Galina Feit) has applied to the Planning Board for Preliminary Subdivision Plat Approval on property which is located at the corner of Prospect Place and Old Post Road North, in a Residential RA-25 District, and is designated on the Tax Map of the Village as Section 67.20 Block 4 Lot 19; and

WHEREAS, this property, consisting of approximately 4.19 acres, is proposed to be subdivided into three residential building lots; and

WHEREAS, the Applicant has submitted to the Planning Board a Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) dated May 25, 2004; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Board, having reviewed this Project under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the Village’s Environmental Quality Review act known as Local Law No. 7, 1977, thereby finds that the Project will not have a significant impact on the environment; and

WHEREAS, on January 19, 2005, the Applicant went before the Water Control Commission and was granted an Amended Wetlands Activity Permit; and

WHEREAS, the Applicant submitted both Phase 1A and Phase 1B reports to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation for review and comment; and

WHEREAS, prior to building permits being issued for Lots #1, #2 and #3, an environmental site plan shall be prepared, meeting the specifications of such a plan as identified in Section 115-2 of the Village’s Environmental Compliance Law, to be reviewed by the Village Engineer and monitored by a consultant approved by the Village Engineer and paid for by the Applicant; and

WHEREAS, a Public Hearing was held on this application on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 and continued to Tuesday, July 6, 2004; Tuesday, August 3, 2004; Tuesday, January 25, 2005; Tuesday, February, 1, 2005; and Tuesday, March 29, 2005; and

WHEREAS, on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, the public hearing was closed.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Planning Board approves the application submitted by American Building Technologies for a three-lot subdivision of property located at the corner of Prospect Place and Old Post Road North, as shown on plan #S-1.1 entitled “Preliminary Subdivision Plan,” dated May 20, 2002, last revised March 25, 2005; plan #SC-2.1 entitled “Site Constraints and Profiles,” dated May 20, 2002, last revised March 25, 2005; plan #UD-3.1 entitled “Utility Details,” dated May 20, 2002; and plan #TS-3.1 entitled “Tree Survey and Details,” dated May 20, 2002, last revised March 25, 2005, prepared by Cronin Engineering P.E., P.C., subject to the following conditions:

1.      that an environmental site plan be submitted by the Applicant and
approved by the Village Engineer at the time the Building Permit is issued.  

2.      that the Applicant’s final plan shows the designation of a building
envelope that corresponds to the limit(s) of disturbance as shown on the        
Applicant’s plan entitled “Preliminary Subdivision Plan,” last revised                          March 25, 2005.

3.      The boundaries of the wetlands and water course buffer areas be shown on the Final Plat.

4.      The following note shall be shown on the Final Subdivision Plat and deed documents:  

Any proposed construction, grading, filling, excavating, clearing or other regulated activity within the 120 foot wetland buffer area or the 100 foot watercourse buffer area as delineated on the Preliminary Plat #S-1.1 prepared by Cronin Engineering dated May 20, 2002, last revised March 25, 2005 and approved on March 29, 2005 requires a permit from the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Water Control Commission prior to the commencement of work.

5.      that the definition of Minimum Activity Area be added to the final plat and deed documents.

6.      that the Applicant will provide a letter to the Village Engineer stating that replacement trees will be provided along the boundary between the High Street neighbors and the DeSantis property according to a plan agreed to by the Engineer and the Applicant.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, as part of the Final Subdivision Plat approval process, the Applicant shall seek the necessary approval from the Westchester County Department of Health.  Evidence of approval by the Westchester County Department of Health shall be in the form of the Department of Health’s endorsement of the Final Subdivision Plat.


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

                                                Ann H. Gallelli, Chairperson                                                                                                     Fran Allen
                                                Ted Brumleve
                                                Thomas Burniston
Joel Klein
                                                
The motion to approve was made by Mr. Burniston, seconded by Mr. Brumleve and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.  

The resolution was accepted with the minutes of the Planning Board meeting held on March 29, 2005.