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Planning Board Minutes 11/29/05
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2005


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


MEMBERS PRESENT:                Ann Gallelli, Chairman
Fran Allen
Vincent Andrews
                                        Chris Kehoe
                                        Robert Luntz
                                        
                 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.  NEW BUSINESS:

a)  Walter Schmidt – 213 Cleveland Drive (Sec. 68.18 Blk. 1 Lot 65) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval to Construct a One-Family Dwelling

Walter Schmidt, owner of the property, was present.

Chairman Gallelli stated that this minor site plan application is for the construction of a new single-family house at 213 Cleveland Drive.  

Fran Allen told those present that she is recusing herself from this application.

Mr. Schmidt told the Board members that several years ago he built a house for his family on Sunset Drive, which is larger than the one presently being proposed.  He and his wife decided that they no longer needed such a big house now that their children are grown up.  The subject property on Cleveland Drive became available and they purchased it. Mr. Schmidt stated that he and the Building Inspector, Joe Sperber, walked through the old (existing) house.  Although he (Mr. Schmidt) would have preferred to renovate the existing house, he finally determined that it was beyond repair.  He has since demolished the house and intends to build a new one using the same footprint.  The property is a corner lot, which fronts on Cleveland Drive and Jacoby Street.  The lot meets the current zoning requirements.  The new house would be able to hook up to the municipal water and sewer lines.  

Mr. Schmidt stated that he and his wife wanted to build a house that would fit into the neighborhood at Cleveland Drive.  It is a rustic area.  They are going to build a two-story colonial house with some Victorian touches. Mr. Schmidt stated that, in order to enter into the new two-car garage on the basement level, the location of the driveway had to be altered slightly.  Chairman Gallelli noted that the garage being proposed is not being shown on the Applicant’s plan(s).

Mr. Schmidt stated that they intend to go with Unilock blocks or cobblestone for the stone walls and driveway.   They also intend to do landscaping and put in a walkway.  There will be a porch, eight feet in height, extending along the front of the house.  

Chairman Gallelli asked what the finish on the house would be.  Mr. Schmidt said that the house would have siding.  The color of the siding would be a soft yellow with black shutters.  

Chairman Gallelli asked Mr. Schmidt if he has been talking to his neighbors about the plans for the proposed house, to which Mr. Schmidt said that he has.  His neighbors on Route 129 are happy that someone has bought the property and is going to maintain it.  

Mr. Schmidt told the Board members that he has taken down a few trees to have access to the garage.  There is another tree on the property, which is leaning over the area where the house was.  He intends to seek the opinion of a professional arborist about this tree.  Mr. Schmidt noted that he has removed some vines at the corner of the property, which were blocking the line of sight.

Chairman Gallelli said that, as she understands it, the old house that was torn down had no basement, to which Mr. Schmidt said that this is correct.

Chairman Gallelli asked if the excavation material would be stored on site or if it were going to be moved off-site.  Mr. Schmidt stated that there is a slight grade on the Jacoby Street side of the property; he would use as much of the excavation material as is required to make it flat.  Any leftovers would be taken off-site.  Chairman Gallelli told Mr. Schmidt that a construction plan would need to be provided that would specify how this material would be used and where it would be stored.  

The Village Engineer noted to Mr. Schmidt that any fill being stored on site must not block the drainage culvert.  Mr. Schmidt said that he would make sure that the flow of water would not be obstructed.  He noted that when water seeps through the culvert, it flows gently down Jacoby Street toward Route 129. He is not going to touch anything at the back of the lot going toward Route 129.  There is a slight grade in that area of the property, and the area is heavily wooded.  He wants to keep it that way.

Mr. Luntz said that it is his understanding the Applicant would maintain the curb cut in the current location and have the driveway come in on the side.  He asked if a double garage is being proposed, to which Mr. Schmidt replied that a two-car garage is, indeed, being proposed. He added that the opening of the driveway is about the same as before but would widen out at the end to handle the two-car garage.  

Mr. Schmidt told the Board that he would put a culvert under the driveway so that water coming through the culvert onto Cleveland Drive would continue to flow undisturbed.  Mr. Luntz said that the Applicant would have to have something at the foot of the driveway as well, to which Mr. Schmidt said that he would put in a dry well.

The Village Engineer asked if the excavator would be putting in a test pit to see what kind of soils are there, to which Mr. Schmidt said he did not know. Mr. Schmidt added that they are not going to know how deep the soil in that area goes until they start digging.

Mr. Schmidt told the Board members that, in the last five years, he has built two other modular homes in the Village.

The Village Engineer noted that the contour is 171 where the house is being situated.  The basement floor is 4 feet +/- higher than the road.  Mr. Schmidt said that he would not want the water running down into the basement/garage, to which the Village Engineer told Mr. Schmidt that he could raise the house up and show more foundation.  Mr. Schmidt noted that, in so far as a modular house is concerned, it (the modular) would be up 20 inches minimum anyway.  Mr. Luntz added that it would make sense to come up a couple of feet.  The Village Engineer stated that, toward Route 129, the grade drops off from 175 to 160.  He would not want any more water flowing into that area and causing ponding.   Mr. Kehoe asked the Village Engineer if, when the building permit is applied for, the Village Engineer’s office would be provided with a topographical map, to which the Village Engineer stated that most of the detailed site plan information is provided to the Planning Board. Now would be the appropriate time for these site-related issues to be addressed.  The building permit is for the house construction.  Mr. Kehoe asked if the Code requires the showing of trees and a “topo” map for a minor site plan approval, to which Chairman Gallelli said that it does not.  The Applicant discusses his/her application with the Village Engineer and, based on the constraints of the property, the Village Engineer suggests the appropriate materials to present to the Planning Board.

Mr. Kehoe thought that it would have been helpful to see where the big trees are located. Chairman Gallelli told Mr. Kehoe that the Planning Board could ask for further information, if they so choose.  She noted that the only difference between a minor site plan and a full site plan review is that no public hearing is required for a minor site plan.  Chairman Gallelli asked if there was something that the Planning Board could put in as a condition or if the Planning Board wanted to have additional information.  Mr. Kehoe said that he would be willing to move forward with the application as long as the Village Engineer is satisfied.  The Village Engineer noted that the Applicant would have to provide to his office, as part of the building permit application, a drainage plan and erosion & sedimentation control details. As far as the trees are concerned, the property is flat, so the Applicant would not need a tree permit for the removal of most of the trees.

Mr. Kehoe stated that he would prefer not to see a 6-foot high exposed foundation.  He asked if the Planning Board would be approving the elevation and, if so, what the exposed height of the foundation should be.  The Village Engineer noted that if, during excavation, the Applicant hits hard rock, then the elevations are going to change.  Chairman Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could make it a condition of the approval that if the exposed foundation were greater than 3 feet, the Applicant would have to come back to the Planning Board.  

Mr. Kehoe said that he would have liked the Applicant’s plan to show where the proposed driveway is going to be, to which Chairman Gallelli noted to Mr. Kehoe that the driveway is essentially going to be in the same place that it was before.  Mr. Schmidt said that the size of the opening to the street is not going to change, but they are changing the material to stone (cobblestone).        

Mr. Luntz referred to the Applicant’s survey map and noted that where the survey gives a dimension of 27 feet 6 inches, it is going to be “all garage.”  Mr. Kehoe added that a garage, the full length of that side of the house, would impact the way the house is going to look from Jacoby Street.  The Village Engineer said that the best thing would be to situate (set) the garage so as to have a slight slope out toward the road. The Village Engineer asked if the Applicant is going to build retaining walls or if they would “slope everything back,” to which Mr. Schmidt replied that they are going to build walls of stacked fieldstone.  They want to maintain the look of the existing stone walls.

Mr. Luntz asked if the Applicant would be bringing the electrical wiring underground, to which Mr. Schmidt said, “Yes.”  They would be putting in two-foot trenches underground.  Mr. Schmidt noted that they have located the water tap, and it would be trenched to the house.  They would replace the pipe and would be running gas onto the property.  

Chairman Gallelli asked the Board members if they had any further comments, to which there were none.

Chairman Gallelli read aloud the draft resolution.  She suggested that the following condition be added:  “If the exposed foundation is greater than 3 feet, then the Applicant will return to the Planning Board for further review.”

Chairman Gallelli entertained a motion to approve the minor site plan application.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Kehoe and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Ms. Allen recused herself.

The Village Engineer stated that, for the building permit application, Mr. Schmidt would have to modify the garage plan(s) slightly.  The Village Engineer’s office would also need, as part of the application, building plans for the front porch.

b)  Referral from the Village Board for a Recommendation to Amend Section 230-4 of the Village Code

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Village Board is asking for a recommendation from the Planning Board to amend Section 230-4 of the Village Code to include a definition of drive-through windows.  Chairman Gallelli stated that, as the law is currently written, drive-through windows are prohibited in the gateway overlay district(s). The definition of drive-through windows presently being proposed, rather than prohibiting drive-through windows altogether, would make an exception for a bank.  

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board members received in their packets a definition of drive-through windows and tonight in their folders have received a revised definition, which was provided by the Village Attorney.   

The Village Engineer told the Board members that there was an issue raised about whether the exception should be for “ATM or teller” or if it should be for “ATM and/or teller.”  He added that the second (revised) definition that the Planning Board has received speaks to that issue.  Chairman Gallelli said that one concern about human tellers versus ATM’s is traffic congestion.  She noted that multiple banking transactions, which sometimes occur with a human teller at the drive-through window, cause traffic tie-ups.

Ms. Allen questioned what the phrase “or be entertained” is referring to in the definition of drive-throughs.  Mr. Andrews suggested that it could perhaps be referring to drive-in movie theaters.  

Mr. Luntz asked what triggered this proposal to amend Section 230 of the Village Code, to which Chairman Gallelli replied that the issue came up in light of the interest shown by a bank to establish a branch in the Village’s gateway district.

Mr. Kehoe thought that amending the Code to make this exception for drive-throughs would give the Planning Board more flexibility in the review of future site plan applications of this kind.  He said that if the law is changed in this way, and the Planning Board thinks that a site warrants an ATM, then the Planning Board could actually entertain it.

Mr. Andrews suggested that an exception could be made in the Code definition for drive-through windows that banks with drive-throughs would require a special permit from the Village Board.  He referred to the City of Albany’s regulations on drive-through windows.  In Albany drive-through windows in banks require a special permit and (also) have to adhere to additional (tighter) standards regarding traffic impacts and accessibility. Chairman Gallelli said that the Planning Board could recommend that one of the two definitions presented tonight be approved and then further recommend that banks with drive-throughs would have to obtain a special permit.  Mr. Kehoe thought that, rather than having an Applicant obtain a special permit, the Planning Board could handle the site plan-related issues, such as parking and traffic congestion, as part of their site plan review.  

Ms. Allen questioned why the law had to be changed.  She wondered why it simply couldn’t be left as is. Chairman Gallelli noted that, if the present law were to remain “as is” and not be amended, then banks with drive-throughs would not be allowed in the gateway districts at all.  This change in the law would give the Village more leeway in reviewing this type of application.

Chairman Gallelli noted to the others the traffic problems created by the drive-through window at the Wachovia Bank on Maple Street.  She said that the situation with traffic at Wachovia “is a good example of why you don’t want to have a drive-through.”  Mr. Andrews pointed out that if the drive-through at Wachovia Bank were in the rear or at the side of the building, then traffic would be less of an issue.  The problem at Wachovia is that the drive-through window is in the front.  Chairman Gallelli agreed and added that the parking lot at Wachovia is a one-way entrance to the larger parking lot at Van Wyck Shopping Center.  If there are three cars in queue at the bank window the entrance is blocked and no one can come in that way.

Chairman Gallelli said that it would seem from the discussion so far tonight that the Planning Board would be willing to recommend the second (revised) definition.  The Planning Board still needs to decide whether they want to recommend to the Village Board that a special permit be required for drive-through windows.  Mr. Andrews said that he thinks it should be explicit “what you are judging it [the special permitting] on.” He questioned whether the issues regarding access and traffic would be amply reviewed if they were not specifically spelled out in the (special permit) provisions. He said that when put into the site plan, they “get lost a little bit.”     

Ms. Allen referred to the second (revised) definition and asked if the wording “…shall not include a single facility…” could be made stronger.  She suggested that it could say, “…shall not include any facility…” Mr. Luntz said that, in his view, “a single facility” would limit it to no more than one facility containing an ATM and/or teller.  He thought that this wording, “a single facility,” would be more prohibitive.  Mr. Andrews wondered if there would be any way for the Village to foresee that people would want to have more than one facility. Mr. Kehoe said that he would be willing to recommend limiting it to just one. Chairman Gallelli agreed and said that she thinks it would be better to make the language more restrictive.  She suggested that the wording could be changed to say, “The term ‘drive-through window’ shall not include one ATM and/or teller facility that is attached to or an integral part of the principal building of a bank.”  

Chairman Gallelli said that the Planning Board still has to decide whether to recommend that a special permit be required for drive-through windows.  She noted that if, in the C-2 District, a bank is considered a retail establishment, then it would require a special permit anyway.  The Village Engineer asked, if the Planning Board were to consider that a bank should require a special permit, would the Planning Board recommend that the special permit be required for the whole facility or just the drive-through, to which Chairman Gallelli said, “for [just] the drive-through.”

Mr. Andrews pointed out that, if a particular site lends itself to a drive-through window in the front of the building, and the language of the special permit stipulates only the side or the rear, then the Planning Board would lack the ability to consider the drive-through window.

The Village Engineer told the Board members that he thinks, in the Building Code, a bank is a “business” and a retail store is considered a “mercantile” establishment.  He would look into this matter.  

The Village Engineer checked the wording in the Building Code pertaining to banks.  He told the Board members that, in the Building Code, there is a differentiation made between a “business” and a “retail” establishment. A bank is considered a “business.”  Chairman Gallelli said that, because a bank is considered a “business,” it would not require a special permit from the Village Board.  The Planning Board needs to decide whether to recommend that a special permit be required for a drive-through window.  Mr. Kehoe said that he would “lean toward” recommending that a special permit not be required.  He noted that site-related issues such as access to the building and traffic would be reviewed during the site plan approval process.  The Planning Board could stipulate, as a condition in their resolution, that an ATM and/or teller facility be situated on the side or rear of the building.  Ms. Allen said that she thinks the Planning Board has been effective in the past in managing traffic-related issues with respect to “what can be done where” on a site.    

Chairman Gallelli said that, if a special permit were required, it would be an extra step that the Applicant would have to take.  

Chairman Gallelli asked if the Planning Board members would agree to recommend the second (revised) definition of “drive-through windows,” with the changes in the last sentence that she had suggested earlier in the meeting.  The members said that they would agree.  

The Planning Board decided not to suggest to the Village Board that a special permit be required for a drive-through window.

Mr. Andrews asked if, in the second line of the definition, the Planning Board would recommend adding the words “transact business” after “receive services.” The definition would read as follows: “Facilities that encourage or permit customers to obtain goods, receive services, transact business, or be entertained…” The Planning Board members all agreed that “transact business” should be added.

Chairman Gallelli said that she would think it might be a good idea to spell out what the term “ATM” stands for.  Ms. Allen questioned why this would be necessary, the term “ATM” is so widely used by everyone.  Mr. Andrews wondered if the term “ATM” was a broad enough term to use or if there were other financial services offered by banks today.  The Village Engineer suggested to the Planning Board members that the issue of placing the limits on the number of transactions could be a part of the site plan review process.  Mr. Andrews asked if the hours of operation of the teller window would be reviewed as part of the site plan, to which Chairman Gallelli said that it would be.  The Village Engineer noted that the ATM would be open 24 hours a day. Ms. Allen noted that the Planning Board would have “something to say” about the exterior lighting of the ATM facility.

Chairman Gallelli said that she would write the letter of recommendation to the Village Board.

3.  OLD BUSINESS:

-  Symphony Knoll Affordable Housing Project – Notification of Designation of Lead Agency

Chairman Gallelli stated that the Planning Board has received the Notification of Designation of Lead Agency from the Village Board for the Symphony Knoll project.  

Chairman Gallelli noted to the Board members that, unless the Planning Board wishes to challenge the Village Board’s intent to be the Lead Agency, there is no need to provide a written response to the notification letter.    

The Planning Board had no objections to the Village Board’s acting as the Lead Agency for this project.

4.   OTHER BUSINESS:

-    Chairman Gallelli stated that the next meeting of the Planning Board would take place next Tuesday.  At this point in time the only item on the agenda is the pediatric dental office at 102 Grand Street.  Chairman Gallelli noted that in January 2006 the Planning Board is going to switch their meeting times to the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.  Mr. Kehoe had asked if it would be possible to change the meeting dates due to a conflict with his meeting schedule at the Town of Cortlandt.    

-    Chairman Gallelli told the other members that the Village has been in contact with Lester Steinman of the Municipal Law Resource Center regarding the matter of “twindominiums” versus two-family homes. Mr. Steinman has, so far, told the Village Board that there would be a difference in assessments and the amount of taxes paid.

5.     APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, October 25, 2005 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Mr. Kehoe and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.  

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

6.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:07 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY


        

RESOLUTION


WHEREAS, the Planning Board reviewed a Minor Site Plan application on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 for Walter Schmidt, hereafter known as “the Applicant,” said property located at 213 Cleveland Drive and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section  68.18 Block 1 Lot 65; and

WHEREAS, the proposal is for a new one-family dwelling; and

WHEREAS, under the requirements of Local Law 7 of 1977, the Planning Board has determined that there will be no adverse impacts resulting from the proposed application that cannot be properly mitigated.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Minor Site Plan application as shown on a survey entitled “Survey of Property Prepared for Walter Schmidt,” dated November 14, 2005, prepared by Badey & Watson Surveying & Engineering; a foundation plan dated November 4, 2005, prepared by Paul Tirums, P.E.; and house plans entitled “Foundation Plan,” “First Floor Plan,” “Second Floor Plan,” “Front Elevation,” “Right Elevation,” “Left Elevation” and “Rear Elevation,” dated November 1, 2005, prepared by Sun Building Systems,                                                                  be approved subject to the following conditions:

1.      If the exposed foundation is greater than three (3) feet, the Applicant will return to the Planning Board for further review.

In the event that this Minor Site Plan is not implemented within three (3) years of this date, this approval shall expire.

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

                                                Ann H. Gallelli, Chairperson
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Vincent Andrews
                                                Chris Kehoe
                                                Robert Luntz

Motion to approve by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Kehoe and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Ms. Allen recused herself.
        
Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, November 29, 2005.