Planning Board Minutes 09/06/05


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, September 6, 2005 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:                Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
                                        Chris Kehoe

        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.


a)  Gerald Weinstein – 1339 Albany Post Road – (Sec. 67.10 Blk. 2 Lot 6) – Referral from the Village Board for a Special Permit for a Detached Accessory Apartment

Gerald Weinstein, co-owner of the property, and Rene Mueller, Architect, were present.

Chairman Gallelli noted to the Board members that the Applicant, Mr. Weinstein, has been before the Zoning Board of Appeals and has been granted variances for the detached accessory apartment.  The Applicant is, now, before the Village Board for a Special Permit.  This application has been referred to the Planning Board for a recommendation.  The public hearing before the Village Board has been scheduled for September 19th.  If the Special Permit is granted, the Applicant will also have to come back before the Planning Board for a Minor Site Plan Approval.      

Mr. Mueller presented to the Planning Board the site plan of the Weinstein property and indicated on the site plan the proposed location for the accessory apartment. The proposed accessory apartment would be situated in a flat area of the property southeast of the main house. The accessory apartment would be approximately 1,560 square feet in size. The main house is 6,500 square feet in size. The Weinstein property encompasses approximately 18 acres. There are two natural ponds on the property.  The main house is accessed from Albany Post Road.    

Mr. Mueller noted to the Board members that the primary reason for having to go before the ZBA was that the accessory apartment would be detached from the main house.   

Mr. Mueller noted to the Board that, although the Weinstein’s have a large piece of property that could be subdivided, they do not want to subdivide their land. They do not want to disturb the land.  The accessory apartment would satisfy their current needs for additional living space without creating a significant amount of land disturbance.

Mr. Mueller stated that the Westchester County Department of Health told the Weinstein’s that the Health Department would not want separate septic fields for the proposed accessory building.  The septic area for the proposed building would be hooked up to the septic field(s) for the main residence.  Mr. Weinstein has obtained a construction permit from the Health Department for a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS).  

Mr. Mueller stated that the energy source for the building would be a geo-thermal heating system, which would feed down to the accessory building from the main house.  No trees would need to be removed to construct the accessory apartment.

Mr. Mueller showed the Board members a “close-up” view of the accessory apartment on the site.  The existing stone wall and dirt road would remain.  The building would be mostly on grade. Only minor excavation work would be required.  There would be no blasting of subsurface rock.  

Chairman Gallelli noted that there is a main road and, then, another dirt road onto the property, to which Mr. Mueller replied that the Weinstein’s believe that this dirt road is the original farm road to the nature preserve.  Chairman Gallelli asked if this road is in use now, to which Mr. Mueller said that it is not being used.  Mr. Weinstein added that the utility (power) company wants this road to be accessible for trucks to travel on; so, the road will remain.   

Ms. Allen asked the Applicant for the status of the construction project on the main building, to which Mr. Mueller replied that the renovation/rehabilitation of the main house should be finished in approximately 2? months.   

Chairman Gallelli noted that a geo-thermal heating system does not need oil to operate.  The house is heated by using ground water.

Chairman Gallelli stated that an alternative proposal for this 18-acre parcel would be subdivision.  She thought that the project presently being proposed by the Weinstein’s is preferable to a subdivision of land in this location.

Ms. Allen said that she noticed in the ZBA resolution that one of the variances granted to the Weinstein’s is a variance from the height requirement.  The ZBA resolution states that this variance from the height requirement would allow the proposed accessory building to be 13’7” in height, to which Mr. Mueller noted that the dimension of 13’7” is incorrect.  It should be 18’7”.  He has been in touch with the Zoning Board secretary to request a correction.

Ms. Allen asked what would happen to the accessory apartment in the future in the event that the 18 acres of land is sold.  Chairman Gallelli stated that on the sale of the property or on the death of the property owner, the Special Permit for the accessory apartment would become null and void; the permit would expire in 90 days.  Chairman Gallelli noted that, if desired, the new homeowner could apply to the Village Board for another Special Permit.      

Mr. Weinstein noted to the Planning Board members that his brother, who is co-owner of the property, would reside in the accessory apartment.

Mr. Kehoe asked if the fact that the Weinstein’s did not subdivide the lot off had to do with the matter regarding the septic system, to which Mr. Mueller said, “No.”  The Health Department said that they could not have a septic tank in that area, and they would have to hook up to the main system.  Mr. Weinstein noted to Mr. Kehoe that he and his wife had already made their decision that they did not want to subdivide the land.  

The Village Engineer noted to the Board members that, up to 1961 when the law regarding building lots was changed, the Zoning Code would have allowed for a caretaker’s cottage on this lot along with the main house.    

Ms. Allen said that she would be favorably inclined to recommend that the Special Permit for the proposed accessory apartment be approved.  She thinks that the use is an appropriate use.  The proposed building would create very little land disturbance.  Ms. Allen said that she does have some concerns about what would happen in the future, should the property change hands.  Chairman Gallelli said that she would also be favorably inclined to recommend that the Special Permit be approved.  She (Chairman Gallelli) thinks that any issues regarding future use could be resolved.

Ms. Allen asked if the construction of the accessory apartment would result in a disturbance to steep slopes, to which Mr. Weinstein replied that there are steep slopes in the surrounding area(s); however, construction of the accessory building would not in any way impinge on the steep slopes.

The Village Engineer said that he thinks the accessory apartment fits very nicely in the spot being proposed.  He thinks that the location of the accessory apartment is desirable from an environmental standpoint.
Chairman Gallelli asked the Planning Board members if they all agreed that a positive recommendation on this proposal should be made, to which they all agreed.  Chairman Gallelli entertained a motion to make a positive recommendation to the Village Board on the Weinstein accessory apartment proposal.  The motion was made by Mr. Kehoe, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.

b)  Mapleby, LLC – 171 So. Riverside Avenue – (Sec. 78.12 Blk. 3 Lot 4) – Discussion on Application for an Amended Site Plan at Croton Commons

Charles Weinberg and Michael Sullivan, owners of the property, Jeff Matros, owner of the restaurant being proposed (Memphis Mae’s) and Andre Nowara, chef of the restaurant, were present.

Chairman Gallelli stated that a restaurant use is now being proposed for the space at Croton Commons, which was formerly occupied by Kelleher’s appliance store.   

Chairman Gallelli told the other Board members that representatives of the Village have already met with the Applicant to discuss their proposal.  It was suggested at the meeting that took place that, before submitting a formal application to the Planning Board, the Applicant should come before the Planning Board for a preliminary discussion.

Mr. Weinberg stated that, when the original Croton Commons site plan was approved, one of the conditions was that, if a second restaurant came into the plaza, it would have to go through the Amended Site Plan approval process.  A (second) restaurant is now being proposed in the space, which was occupied by Kelleher’s appliance store.  Mr. Weinberg stated that the Applicant’s architect, Neil Carnow, would be giving the formal presentation on this application.  Mr. Carnow was also the architect for the original Croton Commons project.  

Mr. Weinberg stated that there are 113 parking spaces at Croton Commons including 5 handicapped parking spaces.   A total of 84 parking spaces are required.  This would leave 29 additional parking spaces (113 minus 84 = 29).

Mr. Weinberg stated that a new site plan would be completed and submitted for the next Planning Board meeting.  

Chairman Gallelli noted to those present that a variance from the parking requirement(s) was granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Croton Commons plaza. The original variance included parking for a professional office use in the basement of the space where the restaurant is being proposed.  Mr. Weinberg stated that, if the restaurant moves into this space, the basement would be used for dead storage space.  There would be no occupants in the basement.  Mr. Weinberg noted that the appliance store had also used the basement as storage space.

Chairman Gallelli said that, at the meeting that took place, it was suggested that the Applicant should come before the Planning Board to seek some guidance on their project.  Chairman Gallelli asked the Planning Board members if they had any comments or questions.  

Mr. Kehoe asked what the square footage of the space being used for the restaurant would be, to which Mr. Weinberg said that the space is 1,350 square feet.  

Ms. Allen wanted to know if any changes were being proposed to the site to handle garbage and food odors from the restaurant.   Mr. Weinberg stated that he currently has dumpsters, which are separate from the building, in the rear.  He thought that food garbage from the restaurant would have to be handled by the tenant.  Mr. Kehoe asked if the dumpsters were enclosed by a fence, to which Mr. Weinberg replied that the dumpster area is presently “a little house with doors” in the rear of the building.

Chairman Gallelli noted that the restaurant being proposed specializes in Southern barbecue cooking.  She asked if a smoker would be used for the cooking process, to which Mr. Nowara replied that it would entail the use of an industrial smoker.  He stated that the smoker is totally enclosed and designed to be efficient and use very little wood.  The smoker creates a “smoldering effect.”  The smoke is circulated by fans.  Very little comes out the flue.  The flue goes through a venting system.  Mr. Matros stated that the actual fuel that is used is gas or electricity.  The smoked flavor of the food is created by using wood pellets.  Mr. Nowara noted to the Board members that NYS State Law does not allow them to use the same process for smoking meats that they use down South.  Chairman Gallelli asked if the smoke would be vented through the roof of the building, to which Mr. Nowara said that it would be.  Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that manufacturer’s specifications should be provided that gives information on air quality and emissions.  Mr. Matros stated that these specifications would be provided when they submit their application materials.  Mr. Matros pointed out to the Board members that the smoking mechanism they would use creates less smoke than a wood-burning stove and is just a flavoring element for the food.  

Mr. Matros stated that emissions from all the additional equipment in the kitchen would have to be vented on the roof.  Chairman Gallelli told the Applicant that, if there were going to be a significant change in what is currently on the roof, the Planning Board would want to have some idea of what equipment would be placed on the roof and how it would be shielded from view.

Chairman Gallelli asked if the restaurant would be open for lunch and dinner, to which Mr. Matros replied that it would be.  Mr. Matros stated that they expect that more people would “dine in” for dinner, and that there would be more “take-out” business for lunch.

Mr. Weinberg stated that Bernie Adler has prepared a survey on traffic.  They would submit his traffic report with the other application materials.

Mr. Weinberg stated that there are 50 to 60 empty parking spaces at the plaza at different times of day.  The dinner traffic for the restaurant would be there when the bagel store is closed for the day.  The traffic should overlap for the bagel store and restaurant.

Mr. Kehoe asked if the plate glass window façade would change with the new tenant, to which Mr. Weinberg said that they (his tenant) would not be changing the façade.  Mr. Kehoe asked if the Planning Board would be seeing elevation drawings, to which Mr. Weinberg said, “No.”  Nothing is changing on the outside.  Chairman Gallelli added that the sign for the restaurant would be the uniform sign for stores/businesses at Croton Commons plaza.

Mr. Weinberg noted that all deliveries at Croton Commons are supposed to be in the back of the building(s).  He reiterated that the restaurant is going to create storage space in the basement for dry goods.

Mr. Kehoe asked what meats the Applicant is proposing to smoke, to which Mr. Matros said that the menu would offer an extensive selection of smoked meats including beef, turkey, pork and chicken.

Mr. Sullivan told the Board members that this restaurant would not be the first venture into the restaurant business that the Applicant has had.  Mr. Matros and Mr. Nowara have 48 years “combined” experience.  Mr. Matros stated that Mr. Nowara is a graduate of the Culinary Institute.  He has been the chef at other local restaurants including the Bird and Bottle Inn and Hudson House.

The Village Engineer asked if there was an existing grease dumpster on the site.  If not, would there be room for one to be put on the premises?  Mr. Weinberg said that the tenant would have to have their own “back-up” for garbage.  The Village Engineer said that the Planning Board would need to see where the grease dumpster would be situated on the site.  The Village Engineer stated that there is a municipal garbage dumpster for waste.  He wanted to know how the tenant (restaurant) would deal with the food garbage.  Mr. Nowara stated that it would be in its own special dumpster, and they would hire a garbage service to take it away.  Mr. Nowara stated that, from his experience, this service comes six or seven times a week.  Mr. Weinberg noted that the municipal garbage trucks only come twice a week.  Chairman Gallelli noted to the Applicant that, for approval of this application, these questions relating to the garbage would have to be answered.

The Village Engineer asked if the store has an HVAC system, to which Mr. Nowara replied that the appliance store installed a massive HVAC system about three years ago.  It would remain there for their (the restaurant’s) use.  

Mr. Weinberg noted that the unit on the roof is for heating and cooling.  Mr. Nowara told the Board members that the refrigeration compressors would be situated in the basement.

Chairman Gallelli stated that the next meeting of the Planning Board would take place on Tuesday, September 27th.  If the Applicant has their information ready for that meeting, they could be placed on the September 27th meeting agenda.

Mr. Weinberg noted again that the only reason his tenant has to come before the Planning Board is because the original resolution required that a new site plan be submitted for a second restaurant at the plaza.  Chairman Gallelli told Mr. Weinberg that, even if a new site plan were not required by resolution, they (the new tenant) would have to come before the Planning Board for a Change of Use approval.

Mr. Weinberg asked that this application be placed on the September 27th Planning Board agenda.


Chairman Gallelli noted to the Planning Board members that, through the Village Engineer’s hard work and continued efforts, an agreement has finally been reached with Mr. DeSantis on the Village’s use of his property for installation of a drainage pipe to connect to the Feit property.   

Chairman Gallelli told the Board members that the Bell family are proposing to subdivide their land.  When the Bell’s are ready with their subdivision proposal, the Planning Board will put them on the agenda for a preliminary discussion to help them shape their proposal.  Their property is close to Finney Farm Road. The Planning Board meeting with the Bell application would be publicized so that the residents on Finney Farm Road would have an opportunity to attend.    


The minutes of the Tuesday, July 26, 2005 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Kehoe and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.

The minutes of the Tuesday, August 2, 2005 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Kehoe, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:15 P.M.


Sylvia Mills,