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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


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Planning Board Minutes 06/07/05




VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2005


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, June 7, 2005 in the Municipal Building.


MEMBERS PRESENT:                Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
                                        Chris Kehoe
                                        Joel Klein

                        ABSENT:         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.


2.   OLD BUSINESS:

a)   Croton Housing Network, Inc. – Mt. Airy Road (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 3 Lots 2 & 36) – Application for Site Plan Approval for Symphony Knoll Affordable Housing Project

Nance Shatzkin, President of the Croton Housing Network, Stuart Markowitz of SMA Architecture Planning Interiors, and Rick Turner, Esq., of Turner & Turner, were present for this application.

Chairman Gallelli summarized for those present the status of this application. The Village has purchased the McClure property.  The intention is to add this piece of property to the existing Croton Housing Network property (Mount Airy Woods). The CHN would sell to the Village, for a nominal amount of money, approximately 3? acres of Mount Airy Woods property, which, added to the McClure property, would result in a 4-acre parcel.  This amount of acreage would meet the zoning requirements in a RC zone for a multiple family residence.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the issue before the Planning Board tonight is to consider the proposed siting of the residential building at the Symphony Knoll site so as to establish the location of the future lot line(s).  Once the Planning Board has agreed that the building is properly sited, the Planning Board must write a letter to this effect to the Village Board.  The Planning Board needs to provide an answer to the Village Board on this question of siting so that the Village can move ahead with the aforementioned purchase of property from the CHN.     

Ms. Shatzkin noted to the Planning Board that one of the results of the lot line change being proposed is that the Mount Airy Woods property would be reduced in size. The only requirement that the CHN has to meet is that both of the parcels affected by the lot line change have to be 4 acres.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that they have done a zoning analysis on each of the 4-acre parcels.  She presented a plan of Mount Airy Woods and Symphony Knoll showing the proposed lot line change(s).  

Chairman Gallelli noted that the Planning Board has already agreed at a previous Planning Board meeting that the three-story building is the better proposal.

Ms. Allen recalled that there was an archeological study being done on the existing rock wall.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that the CHN is expecting a progress report from their archeologist on June 21st.  The CHN is not going to disturb the walls.  The only stonewall, which would have to be disturbed, is the one, which is perpendicular to Mt. Airy Road.  Mr. Klein said that he thinks Ms. Allen’s concern is with the limit of disturbance line extending beyond the big rock wall in the back.  Mr. Klein thought that the CHN might want to revise that line.  They (CHN) would not want to disturb that rock wall.  Mr. Klein asked what the Applicant intends to do with the stone on the site, to which Mr. Markowitz replied that they are building a structural wall and would use the existing stone to “face” the new wall.  Mr. Klein noted that they have a central landscaped island.  He suggested that they could re-use the stone in that location.  Ms. Shatzin said that the CHN is thinking of using it in front of the parking area.  Mr. Klein said that his main concern is that the stone on the site be re-used.

Ms. Allen brought up the issue of the proposed public walking trail.  She said that the intent of the Trails Committee was to flag the route of the trail; but this has not been done because the Trails Committee wanted to know first where the footprint of the building was going to be.  The flagging needs to be done now that the building has been sited.  Ms. Allen provided a general description of the layout of the trail.  The trail would come up (to) the concrete wall, go over the road and continue on up to the high point of the property. The trail would “stay away from” the residential building.  Ms. Shatzkin said that she realizes the CHN needs to draft an easement agreement regarding the trail.  The CHN would like to know first where the trail is going to be.

Chairman Gallelli noted to those present that the trail easement should be in place at the time the Village acquires the property from the CHN so that it is carried forward in future conveyances of the property. The property is being sold first to the Village, then to the County and then back to the CHN.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that, even if the trail is not completely delineated, the concept could be kept in the sales document(s).  Mr. Turner noted that the law does not require a survey, but he thought it would be worthwhile to have a survey prepared in this case.  The survey showing the trail easement could be a part of the conveyance documents so that the Contract of Sale could memorialize it.  Ms. Shatzkin said that she would make a point of looking into this matter as one of the next steps that needs to be taken.

Chairman Gallelli noted that Ms. Shatzkin has asked her about the restrictive covenant.  This is a matter to be dealt with between the CHN and the Village Board.  It would not be a part of the site plan approval process.

Chairman Gallelli asked the Village Engineer at what point in time the adjusted lot line is going to occur.  The Village Engineer stated that there are two new lot descriptions that would be required, one for the Mount Airy Woods property and one for Symphony Knoll.  

Chairman Gallelli wanted to know the status of this application in so far as the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process is concerned.  Ms. Shatzkin stated that they have hired an archeologist to do the archeological study.  Nothing else has been done yet regarding SEQRA. Chairman Gallelli noted that the SEQRA process would have to be underway when the Planning Board reviews the site plan application.  Mr. Turner said that he hoped the Village Board and the Planning Board would do coordinated reviews.  Mr. Markowitz stated that the Applicant would prepare a Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF). Chairman Gallelli asked the Board members if there were any additional parts to the FEAF that the Planning Board would want to see. Mr. Klein said that he did not think the Planning Board would need the Visual Addendum.  The Planning Board already has this information.  The line of sight studies have already been prepared.

Mr. Kehoe thought that, with respect to the Lead Agency, the Village Board would want to be the Lead Agency for that part of the application process involving the land acquisition. The Village Engineer added that, for the site plan review, the Planning Board would want to be the Lead Agency.

The Village Engineer stated that the Applicant should submit as soon as possible an environmental analysis of any contamination on the property.

Chairman Gallelli asked about the wetlands on the property, to which the Village Engineer stated that there are, indeed, wetlands on the property.  The Village Engineer stated that, with respect to the wetlands, it appears the Applicant would not have to go before the Water Control Commission for a Wetlands Activity Permit.  The Applicant would be disturbing less than one-tenth of an acre of wetlands, so the local wetlands law would not apply.  The Village Engineer noted that the subject wetlands are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mr. Klein stated that, as part of the SEQRA review process, he would like the issue of traffic to be addressed.  There would be additional traffic going in and out of the driveway at Symphony Knoll.  Just to be on the safe side, he would want a traffic study done.  Mr. Klein asked if the Applicant has calculated the average daily traffic counts, to which Mr. Markowitz said that he does not think this has been done yet.

Chairman Gallelli said that she would want some additional information on the visual impact(s).  She would want to know if the building could be seen from other areas of the Village besides Mt. Airy Road.  Are there other places in the Village where this building would be visible?  Chairman Gallelli stated that she thinks this matter should be discussed in the FEAF.  Mr. Klein asked if the Applicant could prepare a view-shed analysis based on the topography of the land, to which Ms. Shatzkin told Mr. Klein that they have done this already.  She showed Mr. Klein the analysis.

Ms. Shatzkin asked the Planning Board if, with respect to the traffic issue, the Planning Board would want the CHN to have a professional traffic study prepared or just come to the meeting prepared to discuss the traffic situation.  Mr. Klein stated that he personally thinks the CHN needs to have a professional traffic study prepared.  The Village Engineer asked if a traffic study was ever done for the Mount Airy Woods project, to which Ms. Shatzkin said that she does not think so.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board needs to make a decision tonight regarding the siting of the building.  She asked the members if the siting of the building, presently being proposed, was acceptable to them.  The Planning Board members all agreed that it was acceptable.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she would write a letter to the Village Board saying that the Planning Board agrees with the proposed siting and the proposed lot line change(s).  The Village Board should move on to the next step in the process, which is the acquisition of the 3? acres of Mount Airy Woods property.    

Chairman Gallelli referred to the cross section drawing of the proposed building, which was provided to the Planning Board for the meeting tonight.  She noted to Ms. Shatzkin that it would appear from the cross section drawing that the building is higher than 35 feet, to which Ms. Shatzkin said, “No.” Ms. Shatzkin stated that the cross section drawing to which Chairman Gallelli is referring has been revised. She distributed to the Board members the revised drawing.    

The Village Engineer asked if the elevations on the drawings that the Planning Board is looking at tonight are the same elevations that were presented to the Zoning Board of Appeals, to which Mr. Markowitz said that they are the same.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she was at the Zoning Board meeting when the ZBA granted the variance to the CHN.  The Zoning Board members told the Applicant at that time that they would be amenable to granting another variance from the building height if, by doing so, it would result in the building looking better.  Mr. Markowitz reiterated that the elevations are the same as those (that were) presented to the ZBA.

Mr. Klein referred to Section B-B of the revised cross section drawing and stated that the problem is the Planning Board does not know what the line of sight, with the vegetation, would be.  Mr. Klein noted that there is going to be a landscaped island in the middle of the driveway.  He suggested to the Applicant that there might be an opportunity to provide some additional screening in this location, to which Ms. Shatzkin concurred.  Mr. Markowitz said that the existing trees would be an important factor in providing screening of the building.  He noted that the real opportunity to view the building would be when a person is standing on, or passing by, the driveway.  Mr. Markowitz said that, from everywhere else, there would be just a glimpse of the building visible.

Ms. Shatzkin wanted to know when the CHN could come back before the Planning Board.  She asked if some of the preparatory work for SEQRA could be done before the next meeting.  Does “scoping” have to be at a meeting or could it be between meetings?  Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Applicant could provide a draft of the scoping document to the Village Engineer who, in turn, could pass it on to the Planning Board members.  In terms of the site plan review process, the Planning Board could not review the site plan application until the lot line change has taken place and the four-acre parcel exists.  Ms. Shatzkin said that, in the meantime, the CHN would move forward with some of the other remaining items, e.g., the easements for trails and access and the infrastructure fund easement.  The Village Engineer asked if, in the conveyance of the property from the Village to the County, the County would require anything special that the Village should be aware of, to which Ms. Shatzkin said that the County has its own appraiser.  The project would also have to go through some committees at the County level.  Mr. Klein suggested that the CHN could provide the County with a copy of the Phase I archeological assessment.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that she would write a letter of recommendation to the Village Board regarding the proposed siting.   The CHN should let the Planning Board know when they are ready to come back before the Planning Board with the site plan application.  Ms. Shatzkin noted that, when they come back for the site plan for Symphony Knoll, they would also be ready to present the amended site plan for Mount Airy Woods.   Ms. Shatzkin asked if the most efficient way of handling these two applications would be to present them together, to which Chairman Gallelli stated that they could be presented at the same meeting, but they would be considered two separate applications.

The Village Engineer told Ms. Shatzkin that, once the easement agreements are drawn up, they should be submitted to the Village Attorney for review.   

b)   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 told Mr. Alfonzetti that, since the last meeting on this application, a new member, Chris Kehoe, has joined the Planning Board.  Mr. Kehoe has replaced Mr. Brumleve.  She suggested that Mr. Alfonzetti could review for Mr. Kehoe the history and current status of this application.  

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the first time the Applicant came before the Planning Board, the Applicant was requesting a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit to build a two-family house.  There are no provisions in the Steep Slopes Law for a two-family house.  The prospective owner of the property, Philip Spagnoli, decided to withdraw this application and submit a new proposal for a one-family residence. The Applicant went before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance from the requirement for access from the lot’s frontage.  The ZBA granted a variance, which makes it possible to seek an alternative access route to the property from the neighboring lot.  

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that at the last Planning Board meeting, the Applicant presented a plan showing a single-family home with several terraced walls and extensive landscaping.  The Planning Board asked the Applicant to reduce the size of the house and the number of retaining walls being proposed.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the Applicant has since eliminated 3,700 square feet of disturbance by reducing the size of the house.  Chairman Gallelli asked Mr. Alfonzetti how this was accomplished, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that it was accomplished by shortening the length of the house.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they have tried to lessen the visual impact(s) by re-grading the property so that the basement level would be below grade.

Mr. Klein told Mr. Alfonzetti that he did a very nice job in the transmittal letter of identifying the changes that were made.

Mr. Klein asked what the square footage of the house is now that it has been reduced in size, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that the habitable space is now 2,400 square feet.  Mr. Alfonzetti noted that the Applicant has eliminated the basement level as “habitable space.”

Mr. Klein asked Mr. Alfonzetti if he knows the square footage of the houses in the area, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that he does not know the exact numbers, but some of these houses seem to take up the whole front of the property.  Some appear to be three stories high.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they (the Applicant) have reduced the terraced wall in the rear of the property.  They have adjusted the grade in the front of the house so that there is no longer a walkout basement door.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they are proposing to put in tree wells so as to keep some of the larger existing trees intact.

Ms. Allen expressed concern about the visual impact(s) of the house. She wanted to know how the house would appear from the street.  She would also want to know how the house would look in the neighborhood.  Ms. Allen said that it is a question of the size of the house being too large to be consistent with the other houses.  She asked from what point of view the house would be seen along with the other houses on the street.  The house should be consistent with the neighborhood.  Mr. Alfonzetti said that he would understand this concern about matching the other houses in the neighborhood on flat pieces of property, but the properties in this area of the Village are not flat.  He said he does not understand the relevance in this case.  Mr. Klein stated that, no matter what the terrain is, the house should be consistent with the neighboring houses.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that, at the last meeting, the Planning Board expressed concern that the house would be too large for the neighborhood. The Applicant has presented a plan tonight showing a reduction in the size of the house. Mr. Alfonzetti said that they are trying not to disturb the front of the property.  They do not foresee any visual impact(s) from the street.  Ms. Allen said that she assumes, when Mr. Alfonzetti is talking about the visibility of the house and the visual impact(s), he is talking about this time of year and not the wintertime.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that when he recently went back to revisit the site, he noticed that the ridgeline was actually up higher on the property.  

Ms. Allen referred to the Applicant’s steep slopes calculations and noted that 91% of the property has steep slopes, which are 20% or greater.  In the Village Code only 10% of an area with steep slopes 20% or greater can be disturbed.  The Applicant is asking to disturb 55% of an area with steep slopes 20% or greater.  Ms. Allen said that she thinks the Applicant’s request is inconsistent with the Steep Slopes Law.  She expressed her concern that, if the Planning Board were to allow excessive changes such as this, the Planning Board would be setting an undesirable precedent.  She reiterated that she thinks this request for a permit is excessive.  Mr. Klein said that the whole point of having a steep slopes hardship permit application process is to allow for exceptions such as this. The point of the process is to give the Village Board and the Planning Board discretion in reviewing each application.  The way the process works is that each application is reviewed on its own merit(s). He did not think the Planning Board would be setting any precedents in this case.  Mr. Klein stated that, rather than relying on a set of specific standards, the Planning Board has to look at each application independently.  

Ms. Allen stated that, as she understands it, the purpose of the law is to maintain the vegetation on steep slopes to the greatest extent possible and to protect the integrity of the slopes. The Planning Board has to take into consideration the environmental implications of the project.

Chairman Gallelli stated that, when the Steep Slopes Law was written, the point of the Steep Slopes Law was to protect the steep slopes by minimizing the amount of land that could be disturbed.  The hardship permit process was put into effect to protect individual lot owners in the Village who were going to “get caught” in the passage of the law and suffer financial hardship as a result of it.  Chairman Gallelli noted that, if the Village Board grants a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit, the decision to grant the permit should be a reasonable one in terms of the mitigation required and the amount of disturbance involved.

Ms. Allen expressed concern about the loss of trees in steep slopes areas.  She said that the repeated loss of trees in these steep slopes areas is an environmental problem.  Mr. Klein stated that Ms. Allen is talking about the cumulative impacts.  This is, indeed, a concern, and environmentalists are looking into the problem of cumulative impacts.  Mr. Klein stated that if this Applicant were applying for steep slopes permits for three contiguous properties, then the Planning Board would want to take these cumulative impacts into account.   Ms. Allen stated that “cumulative” does not mean that the properties have to be adjacent to one other.  She was concerned about the more far-reaching environmental impacts.  Ms. Allen said, “We are losing important vegetation, which plays a much bigger role than can be quantified at this particular time.”

Chairman Gallelli stated that her sense of the law is that, when the law is applied to a particular site, the Applicant seeking a hardship permit would have to ensure that the minimal amount of disturbance would take place with the maximum amount of protection.        

Mr. Kehoe told the others that he read the last Village newsletter, which had an article about the Steep Slopes Law.  He had some questions about the Steep Slopes Hardship Permit application process. Mr. Kehoe wanted to know the reasons why an Applicant would come before the board(s). Is one of the criteria for coming before the board(s) that the minimum siting for a house on a lot could not be met? The Village Engineer stated that the example given in the newsletter just takes into consideration the house footprint. There is other disturbance that would have to be factored in, e.g., driveway, drainage, etc.  The Village Engineer stated that, if the property owner has a larger lot with steep slopes, the proposed house would be “locked into” the flat portion of the property, and the property owner would not have to come before the board(s) for a permit.   

Mr. Kehoe stated that, in the case before the Board tonight, the area of disturbance, which is 20% or greater, would be 55%.  He wanted to know if it was a goal of the Planning Board to reduce the area of disturbance to (closer to) 10%. Mr. Klein told Mr. Kehoe that the original proposal was for a two-family house.  He (Mr. Klein) would have been loath to recommend the building of a two-family house for that very reason: the amount of disturbance was so excessive.  Mr. Klein noted that the “flip side” of this equation is that, “You run the risk of becoming so restrictive that you are telling an Applicant that the lot is unbuildable.”

The Village Engineer referred to the Applicant’s plan(s) and asked Mr. Alfonzetti why the grading extends so far down the hillside, to which Mr. Alfonzetti replied that they were trying to provide enough soil cover for the dry wells.  The Village Engineer suggested that perhaps they could reduce the grading somewhat by shifting the dry wells further over into deeper soil.  He noted that the existing trees are closer to Grand Street, so shifting these dry wells over further would not hurt the trees.

Chairman Gallelli referred to the pictures of the property provided by the Applicant.  She stated that she would like to see a simulation of where the proposed house would appear within the trees situated in the front.  Chairman Gallelli stated that she is concerned that the house, even though the size has been reduced, would still appear to be “a looming house” to the properties across the street.  Mr. Alfonzetti suggested that they (the Applicant) could put in some plantings in the front of the house to break it up.  Mr. Klein noted that the property is so far above the road that people walking or driving by would probably not notice the house at all.  The concern about the visual impacts would be from the houses across the street.

The Village Engineer stated that the sight lines should be shown to determine the screening, which would be required.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that he put the trees in the front of the property in tree wells.  He tried to keep everything intact the best he could.  Ms. Allen noted that, in reviewing other applications, the Planning Board has had a bad experience with tree wells.  The trees in tree wells die.  She would want to hire an expert (arborist) to analyze this situation.     

Mr. Klein was pleased that the Applicant has considerable depth of soil on the property.  This provides an opportunity for ample plantings.  The Applicant would want to have these plants as close to the house as possible to be the most effective in terms of screening.

Mr. Klein noted that the tree well near the driveway is going to be 6 feet deep, and the tree will die.  Ms. Allen reiterated that the Planning Board would need to hire an expert in the field for a professional opinion on the tree wells.  Chairman Gallelli stated that, as part of any recommendation or site plan approval, the Planning Board would want to involve an environmental consultant.  Mr. Klein stated that, with respect to the tree near the driveway, the Applicant might want to consider removing it and looking instead at putting in some additional plantings.  Ms. Allen asked if the Village’s environmental consultant, Bruce Donohue, should be involved with this application, to which Mr. Klein stated that he thinks this is more of a question for an arborist.  It might be more suitable to remove the tree and substitute some new plantings.  Ms. Allen said that, rather than continuing to put in “survivor” trees, an effort should be made to put in specimen trees.   

Chairman Gallelli stated that, for the next meeting on this application, the Planning Board would want to see simulated renderings of the house that would show the view of the house from the neighbors across the street. The tree well situation should be examined.  Chairman Gallelli asked if the Planning Board should require the Applicant to hire an arborist, to which Mr. Klein thought that they should.  He thought the question for the arborist would be a simple enough one to answer.  

The Village Engineer stated that the driveway entrance is 20 feet wide.  If it could be made narrower, then a locust tree could be saved.  

The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant should look at the grading in front of the house to see if it could be minimized.  He stated that it would be best to leave it “natural” and put in plantings.

Chairman Gallelli asked if the Planning Board should ask for more information about the soils.  The Village Engineer noted to the Board members that the Applicant has been doing excavation work on the property situated above the subject lot.  The result of any soil analysis on the property situated above would be a close indicator of what the soil would be like on this lot.  Mr. Klein stated that he would be concerned if it was clay, to which Mr. Alfonzetti stated that he does not think it is clay.  He (Mr. Alfonzetti) has noticed that the soil drains well in this area.  It is not a sandy material.  

The Village Engineer noted that the drainage discharge point could be along the slope embankment down to Grand Street.  He asked Mr. Alfonzetti if the drainage location being proposed is the best location.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that it seemed to him to be a practical solution because it was staying away from that side where there was a gully already.  He thought that the drainage probably could be directed to a different location, if need be.  He was trying to stay away from the trees.  The Village Engineer stated that his concern was the rip-rap on the slope.  Mr. Alfonzetti suggested that they could put in a different outlet and put plantings in the front of it.  The Village Engineer asked Mr. Alfonzetti to provide revised drainage calculations for the next Planning Board meeting.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board would like to see the trees that are going to remain in front of the house.  

Chairman Gallelli wanted to know if the Planning Board should ask the Applicant to hire an arborist regarding the tree wells.  She noted that a suggestion was made earlier in the meeting that the tree wells could be removed and plantings could be substituted. Chairman Gallelli said that, as she now understands it, the Planning Board would accept as an alternative the elimination of the trees in tree wells and the substitution of new plantings.

The Village Engineer asked that the Applicant should look at a different design for the rip-rap.

Mr. Alfonzetti asked the Village Engineer if he wanted storm water calculations, to which the Village Engineer said, “Yes.”

Ms. Allen asked that, if at all possible, the Applicant should reduce the size of the house in the interest of saving more trees.

The Village Engineer stated that there is a birch tree, 12 inches in diameter, near the retaining wall in the back corner.  He asked if the Applicant could bring the wall in by 2 feet to save the tree.

Mr. Klein stated that the Applicant should try to reduce the size of the house to the greatest extent possible.  He (Mr. Klein) realizes that there are economic reasons for building a larger house; however, he would want the Applicant to know that from the Planning Board’s perspective, “smaller is better.”  

Ms. Allen told Mr. Alfonzetti that, when he prepares his next piece of correspondence (cover letter) for the Planning Board, he should quantify what he is saying rather than (just) make assertions.

Chairman Gallelli noted to the Applicant that the next meeting of the Planning Board is on Tuesday, June 28th.  The meeting after that is only a week later (July 5th).

Ms. Allen noted that, on the Applicant’s other property farther up the hill, there are two beautiful trees, which are to be saved.  There was dirt piled up around the root area of these trees.  She asked that the dirt be removed, to which Mr. Spagnoli replied that they removed the dirt from these trees a few weeks ago.

c)   D.D.R. Construction, Inc. – 1210 Albany Post Road  (Sec. 67.19 Blk. 1 Lot 4) – 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 this application for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit is for Lot #2 of the original Velardo Subdivision.  The original subdivision was a three-lot subdivision on approximately 9-10 acres of land.  The original Velardo Subdivision proposal was for three lots, each with a septic system. Chairman Gallelli stated that, after this subdivision was approved, it was determined that these lots could hook up to the municipal sewer system.  One of the lots (Lot #3) has subsequently been re-subdivided into two lots.  The Applicant for Lot #2 would now like to re-subdivide his property into two lots.  Mr. Alfonzetti noted that this application is more complicated because the Applicant has to go before the Village Board for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit.  

Mr. Alfonzetti gave a brief history of this application, stating that there was a substantial area of this property that was dedicated to a septic system.  Many trees would have had to be cut down for the septic system.  The area would have had to be clear-cut.  Mr. Alfonzetti stated that, now that a septic system is no longer required, the Applicant would like to “substitute” the septic area for a building area.  Mr. Alfonzetti noted that building the house would have less of an impact than putting in the septic system.  The septic system would have created a considerable amount of disturbance.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that they have tried to keep the house out of the steep slopes area as much as possible.

Mr. Alfonzetti stated that the lot would meet the width and depth requirements of the Zoning Law.  The only problem is the steep slopes.

Mr. Klein stated that he does not accept the premise that Mr. Alfonzetti is starting from about there being less land disturbance in building a house than in putting in a septic system.  Mr. Klein pointed out that, if the Village boards do not approve this application, then a second house would not be built and there would be even less land disturbance.  Chairman Gallelli noted to Mr. Alfonzetti that the disturbance that was to be allowed for a septic system on this lot was in the context of having three houses on 9-10 acres of land.  This is no longer the case.  Ms. Allen agreed with the other members and stated that she, too, does not accept Mr. Alfonzetti’s argument presented tonight.

Mr. Klein stated that, assuming that the re-subdivision of Lot #2 were approved, the Applicant still has to apply for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit to build a house on the newly created lot.  Mr. Klein questioned if the law applies in this case. “Does it not [just] apply to existing lots?”  The Village Engineer stated that this is a question for the Village Attorney.  The lot in question is currently not a separate lot but is part of Lot #2. The Village Engineer stated that it has to be determined if it (the lot) falls under this provision of the Steep Slopes Law.  Mr. Kehoe stated that it would seem to him that the subdivision should be created first.  Chairman Gallelli noted that, if the Planning Board were to review the subdivision application, the Planning Board would have to ask how the Applicant proposes to build a house on this lot.  To approve the subdivision, the Planning Board would need to know if the lot could be built on.  The Village Engineer stated that the law only applies to separate lots, and the property in question is still a part of Lot #2.  Mr. Kehoe stated that the Village Attorney has to review the language in the Village Code and render an opinion.

Mr. Klein noted that the hardship permit process was created to help people who had taken ownership of lots with steep slopes prior to the Steep Slopes Law going into effect.  In the present situation, the Applicant proposes to create a new lot after the Steep Slopes Law has been put in place.  Mr. Klein said that, “You [the Applicant] are creating a hardship by applying for a re-subdivision.”

Chairman Gallelli noted that a new Village Attorney was appointed at the Village Board meeting last night.  This matter would have to be referred to the new Village Attorney.

Mr. Klein pointed out that if, when this land was originally subdivided, the Applicant had come in with a 5-lot subdivision, the Applicant would probably have been asked to bring the number of lots down to 4 to keep from creating a house on a steep slopes area.  

The Village Engineer said that the Applicant has to address the issue of “hardship.”  He noted that the Applicant has the use of the property already.  Lot #2 has a house on it. Mr. Klein added that the Village boards, that are reviewing this application, are under no obligation to increase an Applicant’s financial capabilities.

The Village Engineer stated that he is meeting with the new Village Attorney on Friday.  He would raise the issue discussed tonight with the Village Attorney.  He would probably have an answer by the end of the following week.  

3.   ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:20 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY