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Planning Board Minutes 02/13/07

VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2007


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 in the Municipal Building.


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

                ABSENT: Vincent Andrews
                                                                                        
                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.

2.  OLD BUSINESS:

*    Fernando Duce – 1307 Albany Post Road (Sec. 67.14 Blk. 3 Lot 9) – Application for a Preliminary Subdivision Approval

There was no one present to represent the Duce application.  The Planning Board decided to move ahead to the next agenda item and, should a representative for Mr. Duce arrive later in the meeting, they would review the application then.

3.   NEW BUSINESS:

a)        Kieran Murray – Wells Avenue (Sec. 78.08 Blk. 8 Lot 16.01) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval to Construct a New Single-Family Dwelling

Kieran Murray, owner of the property, was present.

Mr. Murray said that he is before the Planning Board tonight with a proposal to build a new house on a single-family vacant lot on Wells Avenue.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there was ever a house on this lot, to which Mr. Murray said, no.  Mr. Murray noted that at one point there was a shed on the property, but not a house.

Chairman Kehoe noted that, besides the site plan, the Applicant has submitted standard cut sheets dealing with the materials to be used for the exterior of the house.  Mr. Murray referred to the first cut sheet showing a rendering of a two-story house with vinyl siding.  He said that the house illustrated on this sheet is not the exact shape of the house being proposed; however, he brought it in to give the Planning Board an idea of the color and materials being used.  The siding, manufactured by CertainTeed, would be a celery color. The trim would be tan.  Mr. Sharma noted that these sheets do not give a true representation of the colors.  It would have been better to submit actual samples.

Ms. Allen said that, having compared the survey of the property to the Applicant’s site plan, she noted differences between the two.  Mr. Murray said that the difference between the two plans is that the proposed dry well is on opposite sides.  The surveyor had put the dry well on the southerly side, but Mr. Mastromonaco thought that it should be on the northerly side.  Mr. Murray said that the dry well is going to go on the side that Mr. Mastromonaco is recommending.  Mr. Murray explained that the survey was for the actual placement of the house, garage and driveway.  Mr. Mastromonaco’s site plan is really the “operative” plan.

Ms. Allen referred to the tree on the property, which would have to be removed for the construction of the driveway.  She said that she thinks that this tree is an elm tree.  Having looked at the tree when she was at the site, it did not appear to her that the tree was dead.  Ms. Allen asked the Applicant if he had had an arborist look at that tree, to which Mr. Murray said that he had a landscaper come to the site, but not an arborist.  Mr. Murray noted that they are saving every tree but the one to which Ms. Allen is referring.  This tree happens to be in the only area on the property where the driveway can be located.  The fire hydrant and the existing retaining wall make it impossible to put the driveway on the opposite side.  Mr. Sharma noted that it states on the plan that this tree is 24” in diameter. Ms. Allen asked if the landscaper identified the kind of tree that it is, to which Mr. Murray said that he did not.

Chairman Kehoe stated that the Applicant’s site plan indicates that the garage being proposed would be a detached garage.  A few weeks ago, the Planning Board was looking at another application for a one-family house in which the garage was located in the basement.  This is exactly the opposite concept for a garage.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the detached garage being reviewed tonight would also require a retaining wall.  Mr. Murray said that he is familiar with the application, to which Chairman Kehoe is referring.  Mr. Murray said that he, personally, does not like the driveways that “go down into a hole.”  He prefers the arrangement that he has come up with for a detached garage.  Mr. Murray said that he does not think it makes any sense, when a lot is completely flat, to have a garage in the basement.  

Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, no matter where the house is located on the property, the 24” tree could not be saved. Mr. Murray said that if the house were moved to a different location, the 24” tree might be able to be saved, but then, one of the big trees in the back of the property would have to come down.

Ms. Allen said that she would like to consult the Village’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) on this matter of the tree.  Ms. Allen said that she thinks there is an important role for the CAC to play in such matters.  The Planning Board should be taking advantage of their expertise.  She would like to ask the CAC to identify the tree.  The Village Engineer asked Ms. Allen if the purpose of consulting the CAC would be to try to save the tree, to which Ms. Allen said, no.  She would want to consult them to understand whether the subject tree is a species that is endangered.  There are almost no American elm trees left in the Village.  If it were an endangered tree like the elm, she would like that to be noted. Ms. Allen said that she realizes there is probably nothing the Planning Board can do about this situation regarding the tree because “we don’t have a law that protects them.”  She would still like the CAC to play a more active role in observing/inspecting the tree(s).  Mr. Murray noted to the board members that the actual house construction would not take place for the next few weeks.  The Planning Board would have to approve his application tonight for him to be able to begin construction at that point in time.  In the interim, he would be more than willing to let the CAC go on a site visit of his property for the purpose of identifying this tree.

Mr. Sharma said that in order to save the tree the house would have to be moved back by 15 (or so) feet.  Mr. Murray noted that the proposed house is in its present location so as to be in alignment with the other houses on the street.  He made a conscious effort to line up the house with the adjacent houses.   

Ms. Allen said that she would think the CAC should keep an inventory of these trees i.e., where they are located in the Village and why they are disappearing.  The Village Engineer suggested that they (the CAC) could catalog the trees and try to ascertain why the trees are damaged or diseased.

Mr. Luntz said that, in his view, if there is nothing else other than the tree that the Planning Board feels it needs to discuss tonight, then the Planning Board could move this application along.      

The Village Engineer said that it would appear to him that if the house were to be moved, a whole new retaining wall would have to be built.  Mr. Sharma added that the Applicant would have to move the house to the side and then back to clear the tree canopy.  Mr. Murray said that another problem with moving the house would be “what to do” with the garage.  He noted that the arrangement presently being proposed for the location of the house and garage minimizes the amount of grading required.

The Village Engineer said that it is his understanding the Applicant intends to build a gravity masonry wall.  Mr. Murray said that they intend to use fieldstone for the wall construction.  

Chairman Kehoe asked if the garage would have a peaked roof, to which Mr. Murray answered, yes.  Mr. Murray told the board members that, in the materials submitted for the meeting tonight, there is a colored rendering showing the peaked roof.

The Village Engineer asked the Applicant about the existing chain link fence along the property line, to which Mr. Murray said that this (the fence) is all going to come out.

Mr. Sharma noted that the new retaining wall behind the garage is at a 112 elevation.  It would appear to him, given the elevation in the area of the proposed garage, that the wall would be higher than the garage roof.  Mr. Murray said that this is only in the back because the front wall is sloping forward.  

Mr. Murray noted to the board members that he would prefer to stay with the garage design that is now being proposed.  Its Victorian style with flower boxes, cupola, etc. matches the style of the new house.

Chairman Kehoe brought up the issue of notifying the neighbors about the delivery schedule for the modular home.  He questioned if, in this case, the Planning Board should make it a requirement.  The Village Engineer said that it would be up to the Planning Board to do so. The Village Engineer noted that, with respect to the Franzoso minor site plan application on Ridge Road, the Planning Board made it a condition of the approval that the neighbors be notified.  He thought that it would probably be appropriate to make it a condition of approval for this application as well. He would think that the neighbors on this (the Applicant’s) section of Wells Avenue should be notified.  He suggested that the Applicant could hand-deliver a letter giving the date and time of delivery.

Mr. Sharma asked if the dry well being proposed were sized properly.  He wanted to know how the on-site run-off would be handled.  The Village Engineer said that, based on previous calculations, this is the typical size dry well.  However, the size would ultimately depend on the results of the soil tests.  These tests would still have to be performed.  The Village Engineer stated that, in so far as the run-off is concerned, it would appear from the Applicant’s site plan that the leaders from the house would be tied into the dry well.  Mr. Luntz said that, in his opinion, the dry well being proposed is a good size.  Mr. Sharma agreed and said that he would normally look for drainage calculations, but, in this particular case, it would seem that the dry well is the proper size.  The Village Engineer told the Applicant that he should dig a hole for the percolation test for the dry well area.  It needs to be verified that the ground has a good percolation rate.  The Village Engineer said that he would think that the soil would be fairly gravelly in this area.

Chairman Kehoe asked the Applicant what the material of the four-foot high fence around the retaining wall would be to which Mr. Murray said that the fence material would probably be a green vinyl.

Chairman Kehoe stated that a draft resolution has been prepared for this minor site plan application.  The conditions of the approval would be as follows:

1.        that construction milestones be established by the Village Engineer at which times inspections by the Village Engineer shall be performed prior to construction proceeding further.

2.        that the Village’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) be given an opportunity to inspect the existing 24” DBH tree, which is being removed for the construction of the driveway. The CAC shall have three weeks’ time to do their inspection. The CAC shall be given the opportunity to inspect the tree both prior to its’ being removed and after it has been removed.

3.        that the capacity of the soil to accept infiltration water shall be verified by soil percolation tests to be conducted by the Applicant’s engineer. The Applicant’s engineer shall submit to the Village Engineer the drainage calculations.

4.         that the Applicant shall notify the adjacent property owners on this (the Applicant’s) section of Wells Avenue, south of the traffic circle, of the date/time of delivery of the modular home.  
 
Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve this minor site plan application with the conditions discussed tonight.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Sharma, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.

b)   Brian Ackerman/John Harbeson/Lael Morgan – Batten Road (Sec. 68.17 Blk. 2 Lots 7, 8.1 & 9) – Application for a Preliminary Subdivision Approval

Norman Sheer, attorney representing the Applicant; Ronald Wegner of Cronin Engineering; and Brian Ackerman, John Harbeson and Lael Morgan, co-owners of the subject property on Batten Road, were present for this application.

Mr. Sheer presented to the Planning Board the Applicants’ plan showing the lot configurations for the three lots. He pointed out on the plan how the two lots, with the existing residences, would be enlarged and how the third vacant lot, as a result of enlarging these two (improved) lots, would be reduced in size.  The third vacant lot has been configured in such a way as to be “suitable” for the construction of a new single-family home.

Mr. Sheer pointed out that the Applicants came before the Planning Board in July of 2003 to discuss with the Planning Board whether their proposal to make variations in the lot lines constituted a lot line adjustment or a subdivision.    

Mr. Sheer suggested to the board members two different approaches, that he believed could be used for handling the new lot configurations.  The first would involve two sequential lot line adjustments taking place at two separate (time) intervals.  The second would involve an application to the Planning Board for a subdivision approval.  The Applicants are prepared to go through the subdivision process, if necessary.

Mr. Sheer noted to the board members that one lot would be a vacant lot.  The other two lots are improved lots.  Mr. Sheer stated that the expanded area(s) of the two improved lots would be left as “open space.”  

The Village Engineer noted that the property in question currently consists of three lots.  The lots would be reconfigured so that the improved lots are expanded and the vacant lot is reduced in size.  The Applicants had thought that the reconfiguration of the lot lines to create the “new” vacant lot could be handled as a lot line adjustment.  The Village Engineer referred to the definition of “subdivision” in Section 230-121 of the Zoning Code.  He noted the three criteria in the definition section.  The Village Engineer pointed out that the second criterion, which reads “It affects no more than two lots” would not be met.  Even though the number of parcels (three) would remain the same, the proposal involves “more than two lots.”  Hence, it would appear that, by definition, this proposal constitutes a “subdivision.”  Mr. Sheer said that he thinks the Applicants could take the approach that he suggested earlier, which would involve two sequential lot line adjustments. Mr. Sheer said that, whether it were a lot line adjustment or a subdivision, the Applicants would “wind up in the same place.”

Mr. Sheer noted to the board that when the Applicants purchased the vacant lot on Batten Road, the Applicants were under the impression that they could do the lot line changes.  They had new deeds drawn up, which they were not supposed to do.  Mr. Sheer said, “There has been a “defacto” subdivision that has to be legalized.”  

The Village Engineer said that in 2003 he referred this matter to Seymour Waldman, the Village Attorney at that time. Mr. Waldman thought this proposal should probably be considered a “subdivision” rather than a lot line adjustment. The Applicants would have to come back before the Planning Board accordingly.  The Village Engineer noted to Mr. Sheer that there is nothing in the Village Code about the approach Mr. Sheer has suggested of “sequencing” a change/adjustment to the lot lines.  Mr. Sheer noted that since the deeds were drawn up, the Applicants have put together a new proposal to adjust the lot lines.  No matter which approach the Applicants would have to take, the process has to be redone anyway.

The Village Engineer noted that Seymour Waldman is no longer the Village Attorney.  He suggested that James Staudt of McCullough Goldberger & Staudt, who is currently the Village Attorney, should review this matter.  The Village Attorney should be provided with information on the property’s history. The lot lines for the three lots were altered a few years ago.  A survey map was prepared and deeds were drawn up.  After the deeds were drawn up, a steep slopes analysis was performed and it was discovered that the third (vacant) lot, as it had been originally created, was too small and would not meet the requirements of the Steep Slopes Ordinance. The lot lines have since been readjusted so that the third lot would be in compliance.  Mr. Sheer noted that the deeds on the original transaction(s) were recorded with the Office of County Land Records.  He did not believe that a plat was ever filed with the County.  He would look into it and let the board know.  Mr. Sheer did not see how a plat map could have been filed when there had been no subdivision approved.

Mr. Sheer suggested that he could be in touch with the Village Attorney, James Staudt, regarding the matters being discussed tonight.

Chairman Kehoe said that his inclination would be to handle this as a subdivision rather than a lot line adjustment.  In essence, the Applicants have subdivided the property already.  The Village Engineer said that the Applicants altered the lot lines on three lots.  The deeds were prematurely drawn up and filed with the County.  This situation would need to be corrected.  The Village Engineer said that he would think the matter regarding the lot line change/subdivision is a legal question, which should be reviewed by the Village Attorney.  The Village Engineer said that if it is determined that this proposal does not constitute a “subdivision,” the Applicants would still have to come before the Planning Board for a minor site plan approval for the construction of a house on the third (vacant) lot.

Mr. Wegner of Cronin Engineering reviewed the site development plan prepared for the new vacant lot.  The subject lot is in the RA-25 Zoning District.  Mr. Wegner stated that the lot would have to have a minimum lot area of 25,000 square feet.  The lot in question is 102,282 square feet in size.  Mr. Wegner said that the proposed parcel meets all zoning requirements.  The house on the lot would have municipal water and sewer connections.  There is a water main off of Batten Road.  

Mr. Wegner noted to the board members that the size of the new vacant lot was “driven by” the steep slopes on this lot.  The steep slopes calculations were such that the parcel’s lot lines had to be readjusted to meet the Village’s Steep Slopes Ordinance.     

Mr. Wegner said that there is some rough terrain to be dealt with on this site. He noted that the highest of the retaining walls being proposed would be 16 feet.  Mr. Wegner said that the rest of the parcel would be left undisturbed.  Mr. Wegner noted that they are thinking about using reinforced concrete for the walls because disturbances are minimized with this type of wall construction.

Mr. Sheer showed the board members two photographs, one looking down from the Harbeson’s house and the other looking up Batten Road from the Grand Street intersection.

Ms. Allen said that she could never understand why the Applicants could not do the lot line adjustment in the first place.  The Village Engineer said that he thinks it all depends on what is (stated) in the Zoning Code and whether or not they (the Applicants) are in compliance.  The Applicants meet two of the three criteria enumerated in the subdivision “definition” section, but they would have to meet all three criteria.   Mr. Sheer brought up the matter again of possibly doing two separate sequential transactions for the lot line adjustments.  The Village Engineer said that these transactions already occurred a few years ago, and deeds were drawn up.  There was technically a violation that took place a few years ago.  He would want Mr. Staudt to look into this and render an opinion.  Mr. Sheer stated that his clients (the Applicants) are not talking about relying on these prior transactions.  “We are starting from scratch.”  He would ask the Planning Board to ignore the deeds that were drawn up.  The Applicants are here tonight to have this matter resolved in the right way.

Mr. Sharma said that, with respect to this proposal, it would seem to him to be a lot line adjustment rather than a subdivision.  He said, “Going through a subdivision (process) would not necessarily benefit anyone in any way.”   The Village Engineer said that the focus here is on the vacant lot.  The other two lots are existing lots in the Village.  

Chairman Kehoe questioned whether the Planning Board would be seeing a future subdivision(s) of this property.  The Village Engineer said that if the Applicants were to sell the property, and the new owner(s) wanted to subdivide the property, they could apply to the Planning Board for a subdivision approval.  The Village could not prevent that from happening.    

Mr. Sheer brought up the issue of the sewer connection to the new house.  He told the board members that the Village Engineer has said that he would like to have the sewer connection to the new house from Batten Road and then have the Applicants give the Village a sewer easement to Valley Trail.  Mr. Sheer stated that his clients (the Applicants) have said that they would agree to that.  The Village Engineer told the board that this arrangement would be a way to connect the sewer on Eklof Court to Mt. Airy Road.  Mr. Sheer said that he thinks the arrangement for the sewer lines being suggested by the Village Engineer represents “good planning.”

Ms. Allen said that she thinks, when this matter came up before, there was a discussion about a trail easement.  She noted that the Trails Committee has been looking for a connection to the Village trails system in this area.  As it stands now, there is no trail in this part of the Village.

Mr. Sheer told the Planning Board members that he would be in contact with the Village Attorney.  He noted that the next Planning Board meeting is on Tuesday, February 27th.  They would try to make the meeting.  Mr. Sheer noted that, should he be unable to reach the Village Attorney, he would let the Planning Board secretary know, and they would be back before the board in March.   

4.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.

5.         ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:10 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
SECRETARY

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the Planning Board reviewed a Minor Site Plan application on Tuesday, February 13, 2007, for Kieran Murray, hereafter known as “the Applicant,” said property located on Wells Avenue, and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section 78.08 Block 8 Lot 16.01; and

WHEREAS, the proposal is for a new single-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 plan entitled “Site Plan Prepared for Kieran Murray 10 Wells Avenue Croton-on-Hudson Westchester Co., NY,” prepared by Ralph G. Mastromonaco, P.E., P.C., Consulting Engineers, dated February 8, 2007; a topographic survey of the property prepared by Link Land Surveyors P.C., dated January 12, 2007, and drawing A-4 entitled “Elevation – Front,” drawing A-4A entitled “Elevation – All,” and drawing S-1 entitled “Sections,” dated January 25, 2007, prepared by Chelsea Modular Homes, Inc. (CMH), be approved subject to the following conditions:

1)      that construction milestones be established by the Village Engineer at which times     inspections by the Village Engineer shall be performed prior to construction proceeding further.

2)      that the Village’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) be given an opportunity to inspect the existing 24” DBH tree, which is being removed for the construction of the driveway.  The CAC shall have three weeks’ time to do their inspection.  The CAC shall be given the opportunity to inspect the tree both prior to its’ being removed and after it has been removed.

3)      that the capacity of the soil to accept infiltration water shall be verified by soil percolation tests to be conducted by the Applicant’s engineer. The Applicant’s engineer shall submit to the Village Engineer the drainage calculations.

4)      that the Applicant shall notify the adjacent property owners on this (the Applicant’s) section of Wells Avenue, south of the traffic circle, of the date/time of delivery of the modular home.

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

                                                Chris Kehoe, Chairperson
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Vincent Andrews
                                                Robert Luntz
                                                Deven Sharma

Motion to approve by Mr. Sharma, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.     
                
Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, February 13, 2007.