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Planning Board Minutes 01/02/07


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:                Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Fran Allen
                                Vincent Andrews
                                Robert Luntz
                                Deven Sharma
                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 Kehoe.


*  Christopher Outhouse – 23 Penfield Avenue (Sec. 79.13 Blk. 3 Lot 72.01) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval for a New Single-Family Dwelling

Michael Vara of Gilded Age Construction Inc., Project Manager for the Applicant, and Christopher Outhouse, Contract Vendee for the property at 23 Penfield Avenue, were present for this application.

Mr. Vara told the board members that he built a house on 83 Morningside Drive, which is similar to the one being proposed.  There were steep slopes on the lot on Morningside Drive, so the whole front of the house is exposed.  There are no steep slopes on the subject lot on Penfield Avenue.  The lot is completely flat.  Mr. Outhouse showed the Planning Board members photographs of the house on 83 Morningside Drive, which is similar in design/style to the house being proposed.

Mr. Sharma asked what zoning district the Applicant’s lot was in, to which the Village Engineer said that this lot is in the RA-5 district.  The Village Engineer noted that, on the Applicant’s plan, the zoning district is listed as “RA-25,” which is incorrect.  The plan should be revised accordingly.  

The Village Engineer said that the circled lot numbers on the Applicant’s site development plan should be removed.  There is just the one lot under review.  It is not necessary to put these other lot numbers on the plan.

The Village Engineer referred to the zoning data on the Applicant’s site development plan. He noted that there are two columns of data, one showing the minimum requirements for the setbacks, lot area, width, depth, etc., and the other showing what is being proposed.  The Village Engineer said that the column showing what is being proposed should be labeled as such.

Mr. Luntz said that, as he understands it from the plan, the Applicant’s proposed driveway would slope downward to a partially below-grade garage, to which Mr. Vara said that this is, indeed, the case.  

The Village Engineer noted some errors regarding the Village’s code requirements on the Applicant’s site development plan, which was prepared by Cronin Engineering.  He (the Village Engineer) explained to the board that Cronin Engineering was probably working from a template, and they neglected to make the changes to the template.  

The Village Engineer referred the Planning Board to the building height chart on the Applicant’s plan.  The average grade was calculated as being at elevation 17.  The average roofline is 47, so the building height is 30 feet (47 – 17 = 30).  

Ms. Allen referred to the notes listed underneath the building height chart.  She asked if note “A” is correct, to which the Village Engineer said that note “A” is incorrect.  The Village Engineer explained that notes “A” and “B” make reference to the Town of Cortlandt’s zoning code and not the Village’s zoning code.  These notes would have to be revised accordingly.

Mr. Luntz referred to the zoning data on the Applicant’s plan and noted that the setback/zoning requirements listed on the plan are all accurate.  

The Village Engineer pointed out that the Applicant’s building height calculation is correct, but the note references “A” and “B” are incorrect.  

Ms. Allen asked if it was the Applicant’s intention to bring fill onto the property, to which the Village Engineer said, no, this is not their intention.  This property is flat.  The Applicant just needs to excavate down into the basement for the garage.  The house is flat except for the ramp (driveway) going down to the garage.    

Mr. Vara referred the board members to the Applicant’s front elevation plan.  He noted a discrepancy in the plan.  Mr. Vara told the board that this elevation is inaccurate in so far as the front steps are concerned.  “If you count down six steps from the landing, that is what it is (actually) going to look like.”  

The Village Engineer reiterated that the driveway is going to be “ramped down” to meet the basement (garage).  He noted that the back yard of the Applicant’s property would be flat.  

Mr. Sharma expressed his concern about the discrepancies, which have been noted, thus far, on the Applicant’s plan(s).  He said that it is not so much that it is “wrong” what the Applicant is proposing to do. The issue he has with this application is that the Planning Board has been given inaccurate information upon which to base their review.    

The Village Engineer noted that the house being proposed is situated farther back from the road than the other (neighboring) houses on Penfield Avenue.  It would be preferable to have the house aligned with the other houses on the street.  The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant could bring the house forward slightly so as to be more in conformance with the other houses. The Village Engineer said that moving the house forward would also give the homeowner more of a back yard. The Village Engineer noted that the grade of the driveway controls where the house is situated on the lot. The Applicant’s driveway grade would be increased by 2%, (from 11% to 13%), if the house were moved forward by 6? feet.  The increase in the grade would still meet the code requirements.  Mr. Luntz said that he, too, would think it would be better to move the house forward by 6? feet.  Chairman Kehoe agreed that it would be better to have the houses in alignment.

Mr. Sharma brought up the issue of safety of a vehicle exiting onto Penfield Avenue. He said that, “When you come up the ramp (driveway), you would want it to be practically flat when you make a right or left turn.” The proper sight distance should be maintained when exiting the driveway. Mr. Sharma noted that from a design aspect the driveway should be flat so that “cars don’t bottom out.”  Mr. Sharma said that he would think the Village Engineer might want to look into these matters when the Applicant files for a building permit.

The Village Engineer noted that there used to be a one-story garage situated at the back end of the property. It has been demolished.  All that remains is the concrete foundation.  

The Village Engineer noted that many of the other houses in this neighborhood have a detached garage, which is situated in the back of the property.  The Applicant proposes to have a garage in their basement.  The Village Engineer noted that during inclement weather it is, of course, desirable to have a garage “indoors.”  

Chairman Kehoe expressed his dismay at the complexity of this minor site plan application.  He said that although one could not ask for a “simpler” lot in the Village upon which to build a house, “the house that has to be constructed on the lot is not that simple.”  Chairman Kehoe gave, as an example, the fact that the driveway grade has to be 13% to have the garage in the basement of the house.    

Mr. Sharma noted to the Applicant that because of the way the house and garage are being constructed, they might have to deal with flooding in the basement.  

The Village Engineer said that the soil on the property tends to be five to six feet of silty loam.  It then tends to get gravelly.  There would have to be soil tests performed before any construction could take place.  The Village Engineer noted that on the Applicant’s plan there is a seepage pit located at the base of the driveway.  It is (really) “the wrong style” and should be modified.  

Mr. Sharma referred to the drainage analysis on the Applicant’s site development plan.  He asked how the Applicant’s engineer came up with the numbers for the drainage analysis, for example, “275 cubic feet” for the additional storm volume.  Mr. Sharma thought that the Planning Board would probably want to have Cronin Engineering explain how they came up with these calculations.  Mr. Sharma told the Applicant that the Planning Board would want to see what the surfaces are going to be i.e., the landscaped (lawn) area and the paved area.  They would both have to be taken into consideration for the runoff (drainage) calculations.

Mr. Sharma said that he, personally, does not have a problem with the siting of the house.

Ms. Allen asked how high the ridgeline is, to which Mr. Vara said that it would be 36 feet.  The Village Engineer noted that the elevation is 52.  Ms. Allen asked if there were any other houses in the neighborhood that were as high as the house being proposed, to which Mr. Vara said, yes, the house across the street and the old Colonial-style house next door.  

The Village Engineer told the Applicant that he would like to see the sidewalk in the front of the property replaced.  It is in disrepair.  The Village Engineer said that the new sidewalk should continue across the driveway.  It should be continuous concrete.  Mr. Vara said that the sidewalk would be replaced, as per the Village Engineer’s request(s).

The Village Engineer noted to the Applicant that, with respect to exiting the property, a main problem in the Harmon section of the Village is maintaining the sight distance with the cars parked along the street in that area.  Someone exiting the property would have to “nose out” into the street.  The Village Engineer said that, otherwise, the subject lot is flat, and the driver would be able to see both right and left when exiting the driveway.  Mr. Sharma expressed concern about the driveway elevation.  He would want to be sure that there would be sufficient sight distance when exiting the driveway. The end section of the driveway that meets the street should be completely flat. The Village Engineer said that he would have Cronin Engineering do a driveway profile.  The Village Engineer noted that, as he understands the Applicant’s plan, there is at least a ten-foot section of driveway that is flat before someone exiting the driveway enters the street.  He thought that the ten-foot flat area would probably be sufficient. Mr. Vara said that he would think that someone exiting the driveway would have a “fine line of sight” in either direction.

Ms. Allen expressed concern about how much of the house foundation would be exposed.  She said that, in some houses, the big cement “skirt” around the house makes it look like it is “stuck up in the air.”  Mr. Vara said that the front of the proposed house would have a stone veneer; only 3? feet of foundation would be showing.

Ms. Allen wanted to know how the height of the house was calculated.  “Is the height calculated from the existing grade level or from the first floor?” She would want to be sure that the height of the proposed house meets code requirements.  Mr. Luntz explained to Ms. Allen how the height was calculated.  He said that the height of the house is 30 feet (total).  Mr. Luntz referred to the Applicant’s plan and pointed out where the grade would be.  He noted that, unlike the house on Morningside Drive where there are 15 steps (in all) exposed in the front, there would only be six steps “showing” in the front of the house on Penfield Avenue.  

Mr. Luntz stated that the Applicant’s plan(s) should be revised to include the information requested by the Village Engineer at the meeting tonight.

The Village Engineer said that, as it stands now, there is no real entrance to the front of the house.  He would think that there could be a nice entranceway created. The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant might want to consider having a circular pathway and then having a secondary set of steps. The Village Engineer reiterated that there should be a pathway/walkway of some sort from the sidewalk to the front of the house.

The Village Engineer said that, before a building permit could be issued, a more thorough drainage analysis would have to be submitted.   Percolation tests would have to be performed in the field.

The Village Engineer told the Applicant that the grade on the left-hand side of the house might have to be raised up somewhat so that the house conforms to Village Code requirements regarding the number of stories.

Ms. Allen said that, due to the fact that there are a considerable number of errors/discrepancies that have been identified on the Applicant’s plans, she would be uncomfortable approving this minor site plan application tonight. She would rather see the revised set of plans first. The Village Engineer suggested that he (the Village Engineer) could prepare a memorandum for Cronin Engineering explaining what has to be put on the plans.  

Mr. Vara told the board members that his client, Mr. Outhouse, has a deadline to meet regarding the house sale and his mortgage.  He asked if the Planning Board could approve this application tonight and make it a condition of the approval that the plans be revised.  This way, the Applicant could meet his deadline(s). Chairman Kehoe said that he would prefer holding off on approving this application.  He would be inclined to agree with Ms. Allen that the Planning Board should see the revised set of plans first.

Mr. Sharma said that although the Planning Board understands what the Applicant intends to do, the plans that have been submitted do not reflect these (the Applicant’s) intentions. Mr. Sharma suggested that the Applicant could work with the Village Engineer during the next few weeks so as to have the revised plans ready for the next Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, January 23rd.   
The Village Engineer stated that, among other items, the elevation drawings should be revised.  The grade line around the house would need to be modified so as to meet the “story” requirements.  Drainage calculations must be submitted.  The notes on the plan, (which are) situated just below the building height chart, are erroneous and should be corrected.  An entranceway plan for the front should be created.  

Mr. Andrews asked if the drainage calculations include the patio area, to which the Village Engineer replied that the patio is under a second-story overhang, so it does not present any additional impervious surface.

The Village Engineer said that if a representative from Cronin Engineering is unable to attend the next meeting, perhaps they (Cronin) could provide a memorandum to the Planning Board, which would explain the revisions made to the Applicant’s plans. The Planning Board thought that this would be acceptable.

Mr. Vara said that he would be in touch with the Village Engineer regarding the changes that need to be made to the plans.  He would discuss these changes with Cronin Engineering and have the plans prepared in time for the next meeting on the 23rd.   


The minutes of the Tuesday, November 28, 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, December 12, 2006 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Sharma and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

4.         ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:20 P.M.


Sylvia Mills