Planning Board Minutes 03/13/07


VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2007


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, March 13, 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.

2.  OLD BUSINESS:

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

The Planning Board received a letter from the Applicant’s engineer, Ralph Mastromonaco, dated March 12, 2007, requesting that the Duce application be adjourned until the next regularly scheduled Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2007.

3.  OTHER BUSINESS:

a)   Updating the Planning Board on Changes to the Village’s Environmental Laws, such as Steep Slopes, Wetlands, Storm Water, Excavation & Fill, etc.
&
b)  Updating the Planning Board on Implementing Remaining Comprehensive Plan Recommendations through Changes to the Zoning Ordinance

Chairman Kehoe introduced the agenda item by saying he had requested a presentation on the status of environmental laws.  He wanted to understand the Planning Board’s role.

The Village Engineer told the board members that three of the Village’s environmental laws have already been updated and adopted by the Village Board.  They are as follows: (1) the tree law, (2) the law involving the hiring of an environmental consultant and (3) the SEQRA law.  A public hearing was held on proposed revisions to the wetlands law.  The revisions to the wetlands law were approved, however, the “new” wetlands law has not yet been filed with the Department of State.  The Village Engineer said that the reason the filing has not taken place is because the storm water laws have not yet been adopted. The laws pertaining to wetlands and storm water would be filed simultaneously so as not to leave any loopholes in the Village’s environmental laws.    

The Village Engineer said that, in so far as the Planning Board’s review of applications is concerned, he would think that the erosion & sedimentation control law would be of more importance to the Planning Board than the illicit discharge law.  This law is more of an operational law.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village’s environmental law update committee, which includes the Village’s consultants, Frederick P. Clark Associates and Lester Steinman, Esq. of the Municipal Law Resource Center, has already met a few times to discuss the storm water laws.  After the draft laws are written, the Planning Board would be invited to a group meeting to review the laws and provide their comments.  

Ms. Allen asked if the Planning Board would have an opportunity to review the draft laws and discuss these laws at a Planning Board meeting prior to the group meeting.  She would want the Planning Board members to have an opportunity to discuss these laws amongst themselves.  She expressed concern that in so far as the laws that have already been adopted are concerned the Planning Board did not have an opportunity to meet first to discuss the laws. The Village Engineer suggested that after the draft laws have been checked for “typos,” the Village boards that would be asked to provide comments could be given copies for review at one of their upcoming board meetings.  Chairman Kehoe suggested that he could write a letter to the Village Board requesting that the Planning Board have an opportunity to review the laws in a more timely manner prior to the group meeting.   
  
The Village Engineer stated that the Village’s consultants have already written a proposal for the steep slopes law.  The next law on which they would be providing a proposal to the Village would be the excavation & fill law.

Mr. Sharma asked why these laws were being updated.  He noted that usually when laws are changed it is because it has been perceived that there are shortcomings in the law(s).  The Village Engineer explained why the laws were being updated.  These environmental laws were adopted in the mid-1980’s.  The Village Engineer said, “You can’t have a law in a [code] book and leave it there stagnant for twenty years.”  The Village Engineer said that when he came to work for the Village he reviewed the environmental laws.  The first law that he noticed was way out of date was the SEQRA law.  

The Village Engineer stated that the storm water and illicit discharge laws are laws, which are mandated by the State of New York.  

The Village Engineer told the Planning Board that the Village’s consultants, Frederick P. Clark Associates and Lester Steinman, both have a broad background in enforcing these laws from a review standpoint.  

Chairman Kehoe asked what the procedure would be under the new law to have a consultant attend Planning Board meetings to review a preliminary subdivision proposal.  The Village Engineer said that, under the new law, the Planning Board could hire a consultant early on in the review process.  The Village Code now includes a professional fee chapter, which addresses fees (escrow monies) for the hiring of consultants.  The Planning Board would just have to write a memorandum to the Village Board.  The funding required of the Applicant to hire the consultant is now “automatically” a part of the law.

Ms. Allen expressed concern again that the Planning Board never had an opportunity “as a board” to discuss the environmental laws, which have already been adopted.  She would not want that to happen again.

Ms. Allen also said that she had requested that the new tree laws be reconsidered and, not having heard any objections, assumed these laws would be looked at again.

The Village Engineer noted to the board members that the storm water laws are federally mandated.  The state has developed some model regulations.  The Village Engineer said that the Village has attempted to follow the state’s models as much as possible.  The Village Engineer noted that municipalities could choose to develop their own storm water laws.  As a matter of procedure, a municipality’s proposed laws would be compared to the state’s models.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is the state entity that would do this comparison. The DEC has the right, if they deem it necessary, to request a change in the laws being proposed.  The Village Engineer noted to the board members that the Village has made some areas of its storm water laws more stringent than the state’s models.

The Village Engineer noted that the Village’s new wetlands law is more stringent than the previous law in that the regulated wetlands area is now (down to) 5,000 square feet as opposed to one-quarter acre.    

Mr. Sharma asked Chairman Kehoe to explain why the Planning Board would need to write a memorandum to the Village Board regarding the review of these laws.  Chairman Kehoe said that, in the past, the Planning Board has not had an opportunity to review these draft laws “as a board.”  The Planning Board’s memorandum would ask the Village Board to allow the Planning Board to have more time for review and comment.  Mr. Luntz added that the additional time would allow the Planning Board to work together to provide comments rather than being invited to a group meeting that we [the Planning Board] would not be able to participate in “in a meaningful way.”     

The Village Engineer explained to the board members some of the workings of the “new” wetlands law.  He said that if a project were to come before the Planning Board and a wetlands activity permit were required for the project, the Planning Board would be the approval authority for the wetlands permit.  In the past, the Water Control Commission would have been the approval authority.  The Village Engineer said that the same (concept) holds true for the “new” steep slopes law.  In the new law, if a project before the Planning Board involved a steep slopes permit, the Planning Board, rather than the Village Board, would have jurisdiction over the granting of the permit.  Ms. Allen said that, in her view, this would make the application process for the Applicant a much more orderly process.       

Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board could move on to the next item regarding the changes being proposed to the Village’s Zoning Ordinance.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would want the Planning Board to be more actively involved with the changes being made.  He gave examples of some areas of concern to the Planning Board, e.g., the regulations for building height and driveway grade(s). Chairman Kehoe said that, in his view, the Planning Board should be involved early on in the process and participate in how the zoning regulations would actually be rewritten.  Chairman Kehoe asked the Village Engineer if, with respect to zoning changes, the Village Engineer would be developing a list of concerns/issues that could be shared with the Planning Board.  The Village Engineer told the board members that the Village has received a proposal from Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart to implement the remaining Comprehensive Plan recommendations on changes to the Zoning Ordinance.  This consulting firm worked with the Village on the development of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan.  In so far as changes to the Zoning Ordinance are concerned, they would probably be asking the Village to provide a list of “clean-up” items. The Village Engineer suggested that he could develop a list and show it to the Planning Board.  The Planning Board could make additions to the list, if they so choose.  The Village Engineer noted to the board members some of the Comprehensive Plan recommendations, which have already been implemented, i.e., the gateway overlay zone, the floor area ratio (FAR) requirement(s), and the Planning Board minor site plan approval regulations.  
  
4.      APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, February 13, 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.  Mr. Andrews abstained.

The minutes of the Tuesday, February 27, 2007 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Sharma, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Mr. Andrews abstained.

5.         ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:00 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
SECRETARY