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Planning Board Minutes 2006 12-12




VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2006


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, December 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.

2.  OLD BUSINESS:

-  Hans & Tara Toro – 3 Red Maple Ridge (Sec. 67.11 Blk. 1 Lot 19) – Application for an Amended Building Envelope to Construct a Swimming Pool

Norman Sheer, Attorney for the Applicant, Ron Wegner of Cronin Engineering, P.E., P.C., and Ryna Lustig of Landscape Consulting, LLC, were present for this application.

Mr. Sheer noted that the last time this Applicant came before the Planning Board was in early October 2006.

Mr. Sheer reviewed the Toro application for the Planning Board.  Mr. & Mrs. Toro wish to build a swimming pool on their property in the Arrowcrest Subdivision.  This Arrowcrest lot is a difficult lot upon which to build.  It could almost be described as a “flag lot.”  There is only one location on the property that would be suitable for a swimming pool.  Mr. Sheer explained that there is a drain and a watercourse on the property, and an area with fill, which leaves only one area on the westerly side of the house for the pool.

Mr. Sheer stated that, due to the fact that the proposed pool was within the wetlands buffer area, the Applicant had to apply for, and was issued a wetlands activity permit for the construction of the pool.

Mr. Sheer noted that the Planning Board had asked the Applicant to calculate the area(s) of land disturbance.  The existing disturbance for the house is +/- 14,950 square feet.  The proposed disturbance for the swimming pool is +/- 2,300 square feet, which would mean that the total square footage of the land disturbed would be in excess of what was noted on the subdivision plat (15,000 square feet).  

Mr. Sheer stated that the Planning Board had asked the Applicant to revise the plan(s) to show the previous building envelope, which the Applicant has done.

Ms. Allen noted that at the time the Arrowcrest Subdivision was approved, one of the conditions of the Planning Board’s approval was that there was to be no more than 15,000 square feet of disturbance on this particular lot (Lot #14).  There was to be no disturbance outside the building envelope.  Ms. Allen referred to an area outside the building envelope which had been disturbed, and she stated that this disturbance was clearly “a mistake” that should not have happened.  She noted that, even though it had been specifically identified in the subdivision resolution as to what the disturbance could be, this site (Lot #14) has already been significantly disturbed.  Ms Allen pointed out that the driveway disturbance was not to have been counted as part of the 15,000 square feet.

Mr. Sheer noted that Mr. & Mrs. Toro have had a great deal of landscaping put in at the front of their property.  This area in the front was disturbed by the builder during the house construction, and the Toro’s did what they could to mitigate the disturbance.

Ms. Allen noted that there is an existing drainage channel on Lot #13 that runs in a northwesterly direction into Brinton Brook Sanctuary.   This area is parallel to where the Toro’s swimming pool is proposed to be built.  Ms. Allen recalled that the conservation open space to the north of the Toro’s property was of the utmost concern to all of the parties involved with the approval of the Arrowcrest Subdivision.  Mr. Sheer noted that the house next door on Lot #13 was almost entirely built within the wetlands buffer area.  The swimming pool being proposed on the Toro’s property would create a small amount of land disturbance (relatively speaking).  Mr. Sheer did not think that the building of this pool would be harmful, from an environmental standpoint, to the property next door (Lot #13).  Ms. Allen said that the point she is trying to make is that there has already been enough disturbance on Lot #14 that was not allowed.

Mr. Sheer stated that a steep slopes analysis has been performed for Lot #14.  The allowable disturbance is 1,281 square feet.  The disturbance being proposed is 1,271 square feet, so they (the Toro’s) are within the allowable disturbance level(s).

Mr. Sheer stated that the pool has been moved forward so there would be no deck around the pool in the front of the property.  Moving the pool forward would also provide more room in the back.  

Mr. Luntz noted that, as requested, the Applicant has added a dry well, to which Mr. Wegner said, yes, this is the case.

Ms. Allen asked if the pool being proposed is entirely outside the building envelope, to which Mr. Wegner said that, indeed, it is entirely outside the envelope.

Mr. Sheer noted that the Planning Board had expressed concern about the three trees that would be lost by the construction of the pool.  Ms. Lustig is here tonight to show the Planning Board the proposed landscaping plan.  Ms. Lustig presented to the board members a colored rendering showing the plantings for the pool area.  She said that their intent is to create “green spaces.”  They have tried to blend the plant material into the existing woodlands so as to look more naturalistic.  Ms. Lustig noted that the space within which they are trying to plant is a very intimate space.  It is not large.  They would want the plantings to blend in with the existing natural landscape.  Chairman Kehoe expressed concern that, if the Planning Board were to grant their approval, this planting plan might not necessarily be implemented.  The Village Engineer noted that this planting plan is being presented tonight for the board to approve.  The implementation of this plan would be a condition of the approval.  Mr. Sheer added that the Applicant fully expects that the Plant List, prepared by the Applicant’s landscape consultant, Ryna Lustig, would become a part of the Planning Board’s resolution of approval.  Ms. Lustig noted to the board that, in so far as the implementation of the proposed planting plan is concerned, the only issue would be if, during the excavation, they were to hit rock.  Ms. Allen asked if any canopy trees or native species were being proposed.  The consultant indicated that that had not been considered.

Ms. Allen expressed concern about the canopy trees being removed for the excavation of the pool.  There are no replacement trees being proposed.  Ms. Allen noted that there are several species of birds that require these trees (canopy trees) to survive.  Mr. Sheer suggested that the subject trees could be replaced.  They could be replaced by canopy trees, which could be planted at the rear of the property next to Brinton Brook.  The Planning Board could even specify the species of trees that they have in mind.

Chairman Kehoe said that it would appear from the Applicant’s Drainage Analysis that the proper drainage is being provided.  Mr. Wegner said that the drainage being proposed would provide mitigation for a ten-year storm event.  Mr. Sheer asked the Village Engineer if he had had an opportunity to look at the drainage plan, to which the Village Engineer said that he had, and he found it to be satisfactory.

Ms. Lustig described the walls being proposed for the pool and patio area(s).  The wall in the front would be a stone wall.  The two remaining walls would be “unilock” walls.  The Village Engineer asked what material would be used for the patio area, to which Ms. Lustig said, brick pavers.

Ms. Allen referred the other board members to the terms of the Arrowcrest Subdivision resolution of approval.  The resolution stated that water flows shall not be significantly impacted by the development of the subdivision. This condition of the resolution was put in place to preserve the integrity of Brinton Brook.  Mr. Sheer said that the Applicant is asking the Planning Board to approve a relatively minor project, which would enhance the overall enjoyment of their property.

Chairman Kehoe asked how the Village deals with conservation easements.  How, for example, is the conservation open space monitored?  The Village Engineer told Chairman Kehoe that the Village is obligated to enforce the conservation easement.   Mr. Sheer said that this application does not infringe on the conservation easement.  Furthermore, the boundary lines of the conservation easement were drawn on the map; however, in his (Mr. Sheer’s) view, the drawing of these lines does not necessarily have much of a relationship to what is actually “happening” in the field.  Mr. Sheer noted that he was the chairman of the Planning Board when this subdivision was approved. He would think that there are other places within the Arrowcrest Subdivision where “if we did it today, we would do it differently.”

Mr. Luntz said that the Applicant has studied various places on the property where they could reasonably put a swimming pool.  They came up with the location presently being proposed.  The pool is clearly outside the building envelope.  Mr. Luntz said that he thinks the Planning Board has to look at the proposed action on its own merit, basing approval of the application on what the Applicant has done and what they propose to do to mitigate any disturbance(s).  He (Mr. Luntz) could appreciate the fact that there are other disturbances that have occurred; however, he thinks the Planning Board has to be careful to review an application on its own merit.  The Applicant has prepared a satisfactory drainage analysis, and they have a landscaping plan, which would be put in place as a condition of the approval.  Mr. Luntz thought that the suggestion to replace the canopy trees was a good one.  Mr. Luntz said that he would be inclined to move ahead with the approval of this application.

Ms. Allen said that when a prospective homeowner buys a piece of property, it would be reasonable to expect the prospective homeowner to do research on the history of that piece of property.  It would be important for the homeowner to know what is permitted and what is not.  Much of the history is documented.  Ms. Allen noted that she was a member of the Planning Board when the Arrowcrest Subdivision was approved. There were very specific conditions that the Planning Board placed on different sites (lots).  Ms. Allen noted that this is a somewhat unusual way to proceed on a subdivision application; however, in the case of the Arrowcrest Subdivision, there were environmentally fragile areas that the Planning Board wanted to protect.  Ms. Allen stated that the Planning Board approved this subdivision with a great deal of concern for the environment. She said that, in her view, if the Planning Board were not to uphold the conditions of approval that were put in place ten years ago, then “anything that we [the Planning Board] would do today would have no permanence.”  Mr. Sheer noted to the board that he did not represent the Toro’s when they bought their house.   He would assume that they did not know about the restrictions on their lot. Mr. Sheer pointed out that, unfortunately, most homeowners do not know about such restrictions.  Ms. Allen said that, nevertheless, these restrictions exist.  They were specifically made a part of the conditions of the Planning Board’s subdivision approval.

Mr. Sheer said that the Toro’s are asking the Planning Board to give them “a break” on the coverage issue so that they can have a swimming pool on their piece of property.  He noted that the swimming pool being proposed is relatively small in size.

Ms. Allen said that this particular site has already been damaged, and the Planning Board is being asked to “continue the damage.”  Ms. Allen said that, just because the Planning Board “lost control” when the house was constructed does not mean that the board has to “lose control” again.  Ms. Allen noted that an important question for the Planning Board to raise is whether this project would be harmful to Brinton Brook and the watercourse on Lot #13.  Mr. Sheer told Ms. Allen that Cronin Engineering has developed a drainage plan, which was designed to prevent any such damage.  

Ms. Allen told the board that she believes Brinton Brook is protected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  There are federal regulations in place about building close to streams such as this one (Brinton Brook).  Ms. Allen noted that she has done some research on this subject but has not been able to find the “specifics” of these regulations.  Mr. Wegner said that the Army Corps regulates wetlands and watercourses, however, in this particular case the Applicant is not disturbing any wetlands areas or watercourses. Mr. Wegner noted that, in so far as the proposed swimming pool is concerned, the Water Control Commission has already issued a wetlands activity permit for the construction of the pool.  Ms. Allen expressed concern that the WCC did not have the information they needed regarding the conditions of the original subdivision approval.  Mr. Sharma asked Mr. Sheer if the WCC was aware of these conditions, to which Mr. Sheer replied that the WCC issued a wetlands activity permit based on what they (the WCC) are required by code to look at (review).  The WCC was aware that the Applicant had to come back before the Planning Board. The WCC told the Applicant that if the Planning Board were to say “okay” to this project, then it would be “okay” with them.

The Village Engineer noted that the Arrowcrest Subdivision is a “cluster” as opposed to a conventional subdivision.  If it were a conventional subdivision, then the setback requirements set forth in the Village’s Zoning Code would apply.  In a “cluster” subdivision building envelopes are superimposed on the lots.  All building is supposed to take place within the building envelope.  Mr. Sheer referred to the Applicant’s plans and pointed out that the lines, drawn on the plans, designate the building envelope rather than the limit(s) of disturbance.  Mr. Sheer noted that no building could take place beyond the limit(s) of disturbance, however, with the approval of the Planning Board, building could take place outside the building envelope.

The Village Engineer noted that the square footage of the building envelope area on Lot #14 is 11,330 square feet.  The total lot area allowed to be disturbed is 15,000 square feet; so there must have been some thought, when the subdivision was approved, about building outside the envelope.

Ms. Allen expressed her concern that the environment was being damaged “one tree at a time, one violation of steep slopes at a time,” etc.  She noted that the Village residents care about their environment.  Ms. Allen stated that, in order to protect the environment, the Planning Board has been careful to use the Village’s laws and/or regulations in the review of applications. If the Planning Board continues to “give in” and say “okay” to an Applicant at every turn, the Planning Board will “lose the battle” to save the environment.  Chairman Kehoe noted that only three canopy trees are being removed for the construction of the swimming pool.  Ms. Allen said that she could not support an application that violates what the Planning Board worked so hard to protect/regulate at the time the subdivision was approved.  Mr. Sharma pointed out that the canopy trees being removed for the construction of the pool could be replaced. Ms. Allen said that, since the Arrowcrest Subdivision was approved, the Planning Board has approved multiple applications and imposed conditions, which, in the field, are oftentimes ignored. Mr. Sharma said that what Ms. Allen is describing is an enforcement issue.  The Village has to work on enforcing the conditions, which have been imposed.

Mr. Andrews said that he thinks Ms. Allen raises some good points about respecting the work of previous boards and the conditions that these boards impose, and the need to be vigilant of the environment.  Mr. Andrews noted that the Applicant has been before the WCC, and the WCC has issued a wetlands activity permit for this project.  The Applicant is proposing to disturb an additional 2,300 square feet for the construction of the swimming pool, the environmental impact(s) of which the Planning Board has to take into consideration.  Mr. Andrews stated that the Applicant has provided the Planning Board with the mitigation plan(s) that were requested.  He (Mr. Andrews) did not think there was much more that the Applicant could do to satisfy the Planning Board’s requests.  Mr. Andrews said that, in so far as this application is concerned, he does not think this Applicant is violating any law(s).  There is a process in place whereby an Applicant can come back before the Planning Board for approval of their plans.  Mr. Andrews said that he appreciates Ms. Allen’s point of view but thinks the Planning Board has to move the process along and move to a vote either for or against the application.

Chairman Kehoe stated that the Planning Board’s role, in the review of this application, is to determine whether or not this proposal to build a swimming pool would have an adverse impact on the environment.  The Planning Board has to entertain this Applicant’s proposal and make a decision.  

Chairman Kehoe went over the conditions of the approval, should the board ultimately decide to approve this application. The Planning Board would require that the landscaping plan be implemented as proposed.  Furthermore, the Planning Board would require that the Applicant plant a certain number of trees to replace the canopy trees being removed for the pool construction.  Mr. Luntz said that a minimum of three canopy trees should be planted.  He (Mr. Luntz) thought that it should be left up to the homeowner where the trees would be placed.  Ms. Allen said that she would like to see these trees planted in the wetlands buffer.  The trees would serve as mitigation for the infringement into the wetlands buffer area.  The Planning Board ultimately decided that the Applicant could choose the location for the new canopy trees.  

Chairman Kehoe noted that a condition of the approval would be that the Applicant’s site plan be implemented, as proposed.

Mr. Andrews said that there are going to be three younger trees planted as replacements.  He thought that there should be a guarantee placed on the newly planted trees so that if a tree were to die, it would be “under warranty” and would be replaced.  The Planning Board agreed that a guarantee should be placed on these trees.

The Planning Board discussed the size of the replacement trees.  Ms. Lustig told the board that a 3-inch tree is approximately 20 feet tall.  The Planning Board decided that 2?- to 3-inch caliper trees should be planted.

Ms. Allen said that she would like at least two of the replacement trees to be chestnut oak trees, if available, to which the others all agreed.

Chairman Kehoe reviewed the language and the conditions of the Planning Board resolution. The Planning Board would be approving a modification/expansion of the building envelope to allow the addition of an in-ground swimming pool.  The Planning Board’s approval would change the maximum allowable limits of disturbance from 15,000 square feet to 17,300 square feet.  A condition of the approval would be that the site and landscaping plans should be implemented as proposed.  Furthermore, the three canopy trees to be removed during construction should be replaced.  There should be a guarantee placed on these trees.  The trees should be 2?- to 3-inch caliper trees.  Two of the trees should be chestnut oaks, if available.

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve this application with the conditions discussed tonight.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 3 to 1.  Ms. Allen was opposed.  Mr. Sharma abstained.   

3.    OTHER BUSINESS:

-    Trustee Gallelli noted to the board members that the Village’s new law regarding mandatory training for Planning and Zoning Board members goes into effect on January 1, 2007.  She told the board that every year in March the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation provides land use seminars.  This year the seminar would be held the week of March 19th on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.  The requirement for Planning and Zoning Board members is four hours of training per year.  Trustee Gallelli noted that if a board member were to attend all three nights of the WMPF seminar, he/she would exceed the four-hour requirement.

-    The Planning Board discussed their upcoming meeting schedule and decided, due to the holidays, not to hold a meeting on the fourth Tuesday of December (December 26th). The next regularly scheduled meeting would be held on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007.  The meeting would be held in the courtroom on the first floor.

4.         ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:42 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills,
SECRETARY


RESOLUTION


WHEREAS, the Planning Board approved the Arrowcrest Subdivision on March 15, 1994; and

WHEREAS, each lot in the Arrowcrest Subdivision had a building envelope defined for it, beyond which no construction could occur without approval of the Planning Board; and

WHEREAS, Hans & Tara Toro, owners of Lot #14 in the Arrowcrest Subdivision (3 Red Maple Ridge – Sec. 67.11 Blk. 1 Lot 19) have requested an expansion of that lot’s building envelope for the purpose of building an in-ground swimming pool and have requested an increase in the area of disturbance from 15,000 square feet to 17,300 square feet; and

WHEREAS, the Applicant went before the Water Control Commission on July 19, 2006 and was granted a Wetlands Activity Permit; 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 modification of the building envelope on Lot #14, as shown on plan #S-1/1 entitled “Wetland Permit Application – Proposed Pool for Hans and Tara Toro,” prepared by Cronin Engineering P.E., P.C., dated May 25, 2006, last revised December 7, 2006; a plan entitled “Site Disturbances for Hans and Tara Toro,” prepared by Cronin Engineering P.E., P.C., dated November 9, 2006, last revised December 7, 2006; a plan entitled “Slope Analysis for Hans and Tara Toro,” prepared by Cronin Engineering P.E., P.C., dated November 9, 2006, last revised December 7, 2006; a plan entitled “Swimming Pool Planting Plan for the Toro Residence,” prepared by Ryna Lustig Landscape Consulting LLC, dated October 24, 2006, last revised December 6, 2006; and a report entitled “Drainage Analysis,” prepared by Cronin Engineering P.E., P.C., dated November 9, 2006, last revised December 7, 2006, is hereby approved, and the original maximum limit of disturbance of 15,000 square feet, as indicated on the approved Arrowcrest Subdivision plans, is increased to 17,300 square feet, subject to the following conditions:

1.      that the site and planting plans (referenced above) be implemented as  proposed, including the conditions in the granted Wetlands Activity Permit.

     2.        that the three canopy trees, to be removed for the construction of the swimming pool, be replaced. There should be a guarantee placed on the newly planted trees so that if a           tree were to die, it would be replaced.  The trees should be 2?- to 3-inch caliper trees.  At least two of the replacement trees should be chestnut oaks, if available.

Failure to implement this approval in three years will result in the expiration of this approval.

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

                                                Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Vincent Andrews
                                                Robert Luntz
                                                Deven Sharma
                                                
                                                
Motion to approve by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 3 to 1.  Ms. Allen was opposed.  Mr. Sharma abstained.  

Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on December 12, 2006.