Planning Board Minutes 2006 09-12



A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Fran Allen
                                Vincent Andrews
                                Robert Luntz
                                Deven Sharma
                ALSO PRESENT:   Ann Gallelli, Liaison from the Village Board
                                        Daniel O’Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Chairman Kehoe.


-  Galina Feit – 20 Prospect Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 4 Lot 24) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval to Construct a Second-Story Addition

Michael Kolk, Architect, was present to represent the Applicant.

Mr. Kolk stated that the subject property is in a RA-25 Zoning District.  It is an undersized lot with a total lot area of 11,482 square feet.  The Applicant is proposing to add a second floor to the existing split-level house.  The total floor area with the addition of the second floor would be 2,261 square feet.  The footprint of the house would not change.  Mr. Kolk stated that the house is approximately 50 years old. It is currently a small, three-bedroom house.  It would still be relatively modest in size, even with the second-floor addition.  Mr. Kolk noted that most of the neighboring houses are two-story houses.  These neighboring two-story houses are larger than the Applicant’s (existing) house.        

Mr. Kolk stated that no variances would be required for the addition because there would be no infringement into the setback area(s).  The expansion being proposed is a vertical rather than a horizontal expansion.  The house would remain a three-bedroom house.  The upper level expansion would contain a larger master bedroom.  

Mr. Kolk noted that the exterior materials being used would be stained cedar shingles. The foundation, where exposed, would be faced with stone. The house would be in the traditional style.    

Mr. Luntz asked if the sole issue being reviewed tonight is the FAR coverage issue, to which the Village Engineer said, yes, this is the sole issue.  The Village Engineer explained that the Applicant is in compliance with the FAR requirements; however, if the square footage exceeds 80% of the total allowable floor area, then the Applicant has to come before the Planning Board for a minor site plan approval. The Village Engineer reiterated that the Applicant is within the limits, but the addition being proposed exceeds the 80% FAR requirement.   The Village Engineer noted that this is a relatively new requirement under the Village Code.  

The Village Engineer said that the lot in question is “on the small side.”  He noted that the subject lot is on a boundary with the Two-family (RB) Zoning District.  

Mr. Sharma stated that, as he understands it, if the floor area goes beyond 80%, then the Applicant needs to come before the Planning Board.  The Village Engineer said that a minor site plan approval from the Planning Board is required if the FAR is between 80 and 100%.  

The Village Engineer noted that this Applicant’s minor site plan application is more focused on the house than the site itself.  The Applicant is not changing the driveway.  There would be no trees removed and no additional landscaping put in.  The Village Engineer noted that the subject lot is already developed.  The Applicant is just “going up” one story.

Chairman Kehoe asked if the house is occupied now, to which Mr. Kolk said that it is.  Chairman Kehoe asked if the new owner of the property, Ms. Feit, is acting as the Applicant for this minor site plan application, to which Mr. Kolk said that she is.

The Village Engineer told the board members that with respect to the FAR calculations, a deck does not apply because a deck is not a habitable space.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the look of the house is going to change with the second-story addition being proposed.  The Applicant is changing the elevations and thus changing the entire look of the house.  Mr. Kolk said that he has shown the north and west elevations because the change to the look of the house would be more prominent from the street side and more visible to the public.

Ms. Allen referred to the Applicant’s north elevation plan.  She noted that it would appear from the plan that the first floor “juts out” on the right hand side.  Mr. Kolk said that with respect to the second floor presently being proposed he is “stepping it back” and making the upper level somewhat smaller.  Ms. Allen asked Mr. Kolk if he is also adding an overhang, to which Mr. Kolk said that he is.

Ms. Allen stated that the basement, as it currently exists, has windows on both the north and west sides.  The window on the westerly side is not being shown on the Applicant’s plan(s).  Mr. Kolk noted that the basement is a non-habitable space, which does not (really) need windows.

Ms. Allen referred to the Applicant’s site plan and stated that it would appear from the site plan that the Applicant is proposing to change the shape of the existing deck.  The Village Engineer noted that the deck presently being proposed is different from that which currently exists.  He (the Village Engineer) would have to review the variance that was issued for the existing deck. The deck presently being proposed would require a new variance if the increase in the size were more than what was granted by the previous variance.  The Village Engineer told the board that he would look at the language of the variance that was granted.  Mr. Luntz noted that, no matter what the outcome the issue regarding the deck is an issue for the Zoning Board of Appeals and not the Planning Board.

Mr. Kolk noted to the Planning Board that the deck would have to be rebuilt anyway because it is not in good condition.

Ms. Allen wanted to know, for comparison sake, what the height difference at the ridgeline would be between the old (existing) and the proposed house. Mr. Kolk told Ms. Allen that the existing house would be ten feet lower than that which is presently being proposed.  The difference is about ten feet.

The Village Engineer raised the issue of whether the basement level of the Applicant’s house should, by code, be considered a “basement” or a “cellar.” He explained to the Applicant that to make a determination, one must consider the average grade line.  The Village Engineer stated that a determination on the basement must be made for purposes of calculating the number of stories.  According to the Village Code, the maximum number of stories allowed is 2?.  The Village Engineer noted that the way the basement is presently being shown on the Applicant’s plan(s), the basement would constitute a story and the house would therefore be a three-story house.  The house would exceed the maximum number of stories allowed (2?).  

The Village Engineer noted that one way of rectifying the situation with the number of stories would be to apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance.  Another way would be to modify the grade and come back to the Planning Board with these grade modifications.  The Village Engineer said that he personally would think the way to resolve this issue would be to change the grade.    

Chairman Kehoe said that, having looked at the houses up and down Prospect Place, it would seem to him that Prospect Place is marked by large-size houses on large lots.  The proposal that the Planning Board is being asked to review is “a large house on a smaller lot.”  Chairman Kehoe said that, with respect to a house expansion, he would think it is better to do what the Applicant is proposing i.e., to go up a story rather than expand outward.  Chairman Kehoe stated that he has a concern about how much this expansion is going to cover the lot.  The lot is landscaped and buffered.  He would assume that the Applicant would be removing some of the landscaping, which in turn would make the house more noticeable.

Ms. Allen noted that the house to the south is smaller in size and is more compatible to the Applicant’s (existing) house.  Jacques DiCroce of 18 Prospect Place told the Planning Board members that he owns this house to the south.  He expressed concern about the impacts on his property of the Applicant’s proposal to put “a huge house on a small lot.”    

Elvita Rhodes of 111 North Riverside Avenue was present.  Ms. Rhodes told those present that Prospect Place in general has larger houses, probably in the range of (just) under 3,000 square feet.  Ms. Rhodes noted that her house happens to be on a larger lot. The houses on Prospect Place have the appearance of being large houses because of their siting.

Joann Fannon of 32 Prospect Place was present.  She noted that earlier in the meeting Mr. Kolk spoke about the basement that is uninhabitable.  Ms. Fannon said that it is her understanding that the current resident uses this basement as an art studio.  Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Kolk if he is saying that the basement is unfinished storage space, to which Mr. Kolk told the board members that this basement has to be considered unfinished storage space as it does not meet the code requirements for ceiling height.        

Chairman Kehoe told Mr. Kolk that, judging by the discussion tonight, the Planning Board would want to see some additional information on the Applicant’s site plan.  Ms. Allen had some concerns about the very large trees on this lot.  Chairman Kehoe said that if the solution for resolving the height (number of stories) issue is re-grading and putting in a retaining wall, then the Planning Board would want to see plans for the retaining wall.  Furthermore, the Planning Board might also want to see an east elevation plan.  Ms. Fannon noted to the board that the highest part of the house is going to be on the eastside.  The neighbor to that side (eastside) has a relatively small house.  

Ms. Fannon said that she thinks putting another story on the Applicant’s house is going to block some people’s views of the river. The Village Engineer referred to his cross section sketch showing the Fannon’s house (Lot #22) and the Applicant’s house (Lot #24), respectively. The sketch indicated the roofline of the Applicant’s existing and new (proposed) house.  Mr. Luntz said that adding ten feet to the height would not seem to be “a hardship” to this (the Fannon’s) house. The Village Engineer stated that it would appear from his sketch that the second-story addition would block the view from this neighbor’s first-floor windows.  Ms. Allen noted that if the roofline of the new house were at an elevation of 155, the view from the neighbor’s house (Lot #22) would be obstructed.

Mr. Luntz asked Mr. Kolk if he has a survey that he could show the Planning Board that has elevation points on it, to which Mr. Kolk said, no, the Applicant does not have a topographical survey.

Ms. Allen said that if a person is standing at grade on the property up the hill (Lot #22), he/she is going to be seeing the roofline of the new (proposed) house.  It would seem to her that the view from the house up the hill would be out to the river.  She reiterated that the Applicant’s second-story addition might completely block the neighbor’s view from ground level.

Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board needs a clearer understanding of what the height of the “new” house would be. He told the Applicant to “give us [the Planning Board] an idea of the top elevation of the proposed house.”  Chairman Kehoe suggested to Mr. Kolk that he could provide a cross section sketch similar to that, which was provided by the Village Engineer tonight.  The Village Engineer suggested that Mr. Kolk could take a photograph standing outside the house up the hill.  Mr. Sharma pointed out that the code allows a house to be (a maximum of) 2? stories in height in the RA-25 Zoning District. Furthermore, there is no view preservation law in the Village Code.  He (Mr. Sharma) questioned what the Planning Board could do in this instance if a 2?-story house is “as of right,” and there are no Village laws governing the preservation of views.      

Chairman Kehoe stated that overall the Planning Board would need to have more information to approve this minor site plan application.  He suggested that Mr. Kolk should work with the Village Engineer to try to find a resolution(s) to the issues raised tonight. The Planning Board would need information on the grading required to resolve the height issue.  The site plan should show the location of trees.  If a retaining wall is required, then the details of the retaining wall should also be provided.  

Ms. Allen said that, from now on, as a matter of procedure, she would like to have an area map provided as part of the submission for a minor site plan application.  This would help the Planning Board visualize the impact(s) on the neighboring properties.

Chairman Kehoe asked if the Village had a standard requirement for trees, to which the Village Engineer stated that, with respect to the trees that would have to be surveyed, it is now “down to” trees, 4 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH).

Chairman Kehoe said that, for the next meeting, he would want the Applicant to provide the additional information requested.  He realizes that this is a minor site plan application for just one house.  Chairman Kehoe told Mr. Kolk to work with the Village Engineer on the requests made by the board members tonight.  The Planning Board would leave the “level of detail” of the materials to be provided to the discretion of the Village Engineer.

Mr. Andrews asked Mr. Kolk, once the Applicant takes off the deck on the south side, what would be left where that side deck is now.  Mr. Kolk told Mr. Andrews that the grade is higher on that (the west) side. Chairman Kehoe asked if the deck would remain on that side (the westerly side) of the house, to which Mr. Kolk said that some of it would have to go.

Ms. Allen told Mr. Kolk that, with respect to plans for the basement, the Planning Board would (just) want to see the basement plans sketched out.

The Village Engineer noted that the photographs submitted were not in color.  He asked the board if they wanted to see photographs in color, to which the board members did not think that it was necessary.

Mr. Kolk told the board members that he would be unable to attend the meeting of September 26th; however, he would be able to attend the first Planning Board meeting in October.  He would discuss the upcoming meeting schedule with Ms. Feit.  He thought that perhaps Ms. Feit would want to come to the meeting of September 26th.  He would let the Planning Board know.   

Chairman Kehoe brought up the matter of the hiring of a consultant for the 1A Croton Point Avenue project. He noted that the Planning Board should vote on a consultant tonight so as to be able to make a written recommendation to the Village Board for their meeting of September 18th. Chairman Kehoe stated that the Planning Board has reviewed the qualifications/resumes of the following firms: AKRF, Dvirka & Bartilucci, Malcolm Pirnie, and Stearns & Wheeler. The board members have been communicating via email(s) and have unanimously agreed to recommend Malcolm Pirnie.  Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to recommend Malcolm Pirnie as the consultant firm for the 1A Croton Point Avenue project.  The motion was made by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board should also discuss the initial amount of money to be set aside in escrow for the consulting services.  The Planning Board decided to recommend to the Village Board, as the initial deposit into the escrow account, the amount of $25,000.

Chairman Kehoe reminded the board members that there would be a joint meeting of the Village Board and Planning Board on Monday, September 25th.  The purpose of the joint meeting is to hear a presentation by the architect, Neil Carnow, on a proposal to develop the Katz property.   


The minutes of the Tuesday, July 25, 2006 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

The minutes of the Tuesday, August 8, 2006 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Sharma, seconded by Mr. Andrews and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.  Chairman Kehoe and Mr. Luntz abstained.

The minutes of the Tuesday, August 22, 2006 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Mr. Sharma and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:00 P.M.


Sylvia Mills,