Planning Board Minutes 03/27/07


VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2007


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 in the Municipal Building.


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

                ABSENT: Robert Luntz
                                                                                        
                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.  PUBLIC HEARING:

*  Holy Name of Mary Church – 110 Grand Street (Sec. 78.08 Blk. 7 Lot 2) – Application for an Amended Site Plan to Construct a Handicap Ramp & New Stairs

Walter Hauser of Kaeyer, Garment & Davidson Architects & Engineers, PC, architectural firm representing the Applicant, and Cheryl Comitto from the Church of the Holy Name of Mary were present.

Chairman Kehoe stated that the public hearing tonight is for an amended site plan to construct a handicap ramp and new stairs at the Parish Center of the Church of the Holy Name of Mary.  He asked if there were any comments from members of the public, to which there were none.

Mr. Hauser told the board members that there have been no changes to the Applicant’s plans since the last meeting.  

Ms. Allen stated that it is her understanding that a building permit has been issued to begin the renovations at the Parish Center.  Mr. Hauser said that the building permit was issued for the interior work only. The exterior items were excluded until such time as the Planning Board approves the amended site plan.  Mr. Hauser said that the work on the interior has just begun.  He noted that most of the work on this building permit is interior work.

Mr. Sharma recalled that at the last Planning Board meeting the board members did not have any problems with this amended site plan application.

Chairman Kehoe asked the Village Engineer if he had any technical/engineering issues that he wanted to have addressed, to which the Village Engineer said that he did not.  The Village Engineer said that he thinks this is a fairly straightforward application for a handicap ramp, new walkway, stairs, etc.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any other comments on this application, to which there were none.  Chairman Kehoe closed the public hearing.

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the draft resolution.  He asked the board members if there were any conditions that they wanted to have incorporated into the resolution, to which there were no conditions.         
Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve this application.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Sharma and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.

3.  OLD BUSINESS:

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

The Applicant’s engineer, Ralph Mastromonaco, P.E., had contacted the Village Engineer’s office prior to the meeting and had requested that the Duce application be adjourned until the next regularly scheduled Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 10, 2007.

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 for the Applicant; Ron Wegner of Cronin Engineering; and Brian Ackerman, Ann Harbeson and Lael Morgan, owners of the property, were present.

Mr. Sheer recalled to the Planning Board that, at the last meeting, he had posed, on behalf of the Applicant, that this application be treated as a lot line adjustment rather than a subdivision. The Village Engineer and he have both spoken with the Village Attorney, James Staudt, regarding this matter. Mr. Sheer said that he has learned since the last meeting that there is a section in the Village Code that permits the Village Board, under certain circumstances, to waive all subdivision requirements. His clients (the Applicant) would like to seek, from the Village Board, this waiver so as to be able to do a lot line adjustment as opposed to the subdivision. Mr. Sheer noted to the Planning Board that, in so far as this application is concerned, the Village Attorney was interested in the fact that no new lots would be created as a result of this proposal.  The lot count would remain the same (three lots).

Mr. Sheer proposed to the board a way to proceed with this application.  He suggested that the Applicant could come back to the Planning Board with a site plan for the “new” lot (vacant lot) for the house.  There are steep slopes on this lot, which makes it a “difficult” lot.  The Applicant would want to be sure that, in the end, the vacant lot is saleable. Furthermore, the Applicant would want to make sure that the Planning Board has seen, and is satisfied with, their site plan proposal.  Mr. Sheer said that the Applicant intends to enlarge this vacant piece by extending the lot line to the south.  This would give assurance to a future buyer that he/she is not going to have a problem with steep slopes when building a house on this lot. Mr. Sheer stated that once the Planning Board has reviewed, and is satisfied with, the site plan, the Applicant would then go before the Village Board to seek the aforementioned waiver.  

Mr. Sheer recalled that a discussion took place at the last meeting regarding a sewer easement on the Applicant’s property.  The Village Engineer and the Applicant’s engineer, Ron Wegner, would visit the site and walk the route for the sewer easement.  It would probably end at Valley Trail. Mr. Sheer suggested that should the Village Board grant the Applicant a waiver from the subdivision requirements, it could be a condition of the granting of this waiver that a sewer easement be established on the Applicant’s property.  Mr. Sheer said that, from the Applicant standpoint, this overall approach, which he (Mr. Sheer) has just described to the Planning Board, would be an economical way to complete their project.

Mr. Sheer said that he would think that this approach would be a “cleaner and better” way to proceed than that which he suggested at the last meeting involving sequential lot line adjustments.  

Mr. Andrews said that he was not present at the last meeting on this application.  As he understands it, the property consists of three tax lots.  Two lots have residences already. The Applicant is proposing to adjust the sizes of the lots so as to have a viable third lot upon which to build a house. Mr. Sheer noted that his clients (the Applicant) “jumped the gun” several years ago and created a “defacto” subdivision.  They are currently before the Planning Board to rectify this situation.         

The Village Engineer said that it is his understanding the Applicant does not plan to file a survey map, but instead, just file the deeds, to which Mr. Sheer said that this is correct.

Mr. Sharma asked why the vacant lot, upon which the new house would be built, is so disproportionate in size.  Mr. Sheer said that the vacant lot is “laid out” the way it is because of the steep slopes.  This lot has been configured in this way so as to be able to meet the Village’s steep slopes requirements for the purpose of building a house.  Mr. Sheer noted that the Applicant would like to enlarge this lot in a southerly direction so as to be able to offer assurance to a future buyer that a house could, indeed, be built.

Mr. Sheer said that if the Village Board were to agree to grant the Applicant a waiver from the subdivision requirements, then a simple lot line adjustment would be made.  Mr. Sheer read aloud Section 230-120(C) of the Village Code:

Sec. 230-120(C):  “The Village Board of Trustees shall be empowered, in its discretion, to waive any and all requirements, conditions and payments prescribed in this chapter in the case of an action that is a subdivision solely because it affects more than two lots but does not increase the number of preexisting buildable lots nor create a new lot that is not buildable without a variance or special permit.”

The Village Engineer said that in order for the new house to be on municipal sewer, the sewer line would have to be extended from Eklof Court.  He asked the Applicant when the work would be done on the sewer line, to which Mr. Sheer replied that it would be done in the future by the contractor/builder.

The Village Engineer asked what the Applicant’s thoughts are regarding a possible easement on the Applicant’s property for the Village’s connecting trail system.  Mr. Sheer said that the Harbeson’s are reluctant to agree to an easement for the trail.  The connecting trail would probably be at the end of Valley Trail.  The Harbeson’s would be concerned about the amount of foot traffic and the number of hikers coming to use the trail.  Mr. Sheer told the board that, instead of the Applicant’s agreeing to both easements (trail and sewer) the Applicant would ask that it be sufficient for them to agree to (just) the sewer easement.

Ms. Allen referred to the parking easement at the end of Valley Trail and asked whose easement it is.  Ms. Harbeson said that the Quinn’s, who live below them, have the right to park in that area even though the parking is technically on their (the Harbesons’) property.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village’s trail map shows a future trail link through the Harbeson’s property, to which Ms. Harbeson told the Planning Board that her husband and she think that providing this trail link would create traffic that is inappropriate.  Ms. Allen suggested that the decision on the trail easement could be postponed.  She wanted to have more information, first, about the trail.    

Chairman Kehoe reviewed the process, being proposed tonight, for this application, stating that the Applicant wants to come before the Planning Board with a site plan for the vacant lot.  The Applicant would then go to the Village Board to seek the waiver from the subdivision requirements.  Chairman Kehoe noted that if the Village Board were to agree to the waiver, a future applicant (prospective buyer/homeowner) would, at some point, come back before the Planning Board with an application for a minor site plan for the construction of the house.  Mr. Sheer said, indeed, the Applicant would go before the Planning Board with a site plan and then to the Village Board to seek the waiver.  The Applicant would say to the Village Board that they have been before the Planning Board and have “worked out” the site plan issues.  The Applicant would want to be sure that the vacant lot is buildable and saleable.  Chairman Kehoe noted that, if this application were being treated as a subdivision application, the Planning Board would ask to see schematic house locations.  This would not be the case if this application were treated solely as an adjustment of lot lines.  In the latter instance, the Planning Board would only have an opportunity to review a minor site plan for the house “years from now.” Ms. Allen recalled that when the Arrowcrest Subdivision was before the Planning Board, there were schematic details, which were carefully placed on the plans, even during the preliminary subdivision review. Chairman Kehoe reiterated that this would not be the case with this application.  Ms. Allen said that she would think that during the site plan review, as described by Mr. Sheer, the Planning Board could ask to see the feasibility of various options for house locations.

The Village Engineer noted that if this Applicant were to come back before the Planning Board for a site plan review, the Planning Board would not be doing, at this juncture, an architectural review. He pointed out to the Planning Board members that a future applicant (homeowner) might try to create a totally different design than what is being envisioned by the current owners. The Village Engineer said that, at the very least, in reviewing the site plan, the Planning Board would want to make sure that there is at least one design that would work.  Mr. Sharma agreed and said that the Planning Board would want assurance, at this point in time, that building a house on this vacant lot would be viable.  Ms. Allen added that the Planning Board would want to make certain that the lot lines were drawn in such a way as to create a viable building lot.     
     
Mr. Wegner said that, for the next meeting, as part of the Applicant’s site plan submission, they would be doing a zoning analysis.  In so far as the vacant lot is concerned, the “new” plan(s) would show an extension of the lot line to the south.  The steep slopes calculations would have to be redone as a result of this extension of the lot line to the south.  

Chairman Kehoe asked if the Planning Board should formally involve the Trails Committee at this point.  The Village Engineer suggested that the chairman of the Trails Committee, Jan Wines, and he could walk the site.  He (the Village Engineer) or Mr. Wines could then provide a memorandum to the Planning Board regarding this matter of the trail connection.  The Village Engineer told the board members that they are welcome to accompany Mr. Wines and himself on the site walk, if they so choose.  

Mr. Sheer said that the Applicant would be back before the Planning Board with the site plan application at the meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 10th.

4.  NEW BUSINESS:

*  Carl & Sally Barnes – 10 Morningside Drive (Sec. 79.09 Blk. 6 Lot 46) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval

Gary Yates, architect for the Applicant, and Sally Barnes, owner of the property, were present.

Ms. Barnes stated that she and her husband have recently been before the Zoning Board of Appeals and have been granted variances for both their proposed addition and for their existing house.  They own a “Sears” house, which was built prior to the first zoning law established by the Village in 1931.  Their current proposal is to expand their house to the rear and add a second story.  

Mr. Yates said that the Applicant is before the Planning Board because their proposed additions/renovations exceed the 80% Floor Area Ratio (FAR) requirements for the RA-9 Zoning District.  The Barnes’ lot is an undersized lot in the RA-9 District.  The lot area is 5,282 square feet, and the minimum required lot area for the RA-9 District is 9,375 square feet.  Mr. Yates said that because the Applicant’s lot is so small, the Applicant “is being penalized” in so far as the FAR requirement is concerned. If they had the sufficient lot area for the RA-9 District, the FAR would not be an issue.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant applied for, and was granted, several variances i.e., side yard, total side yard and front yard variances.  

The Village Engineer distributed to the board members a copy of the tax map showing the Applicant’s parcel.  The tax map clearly shows that the Applicant’s lot is smaller than the other RA-9 lots.

Mr. Sharma asked if, with the extension being proposed, the Applicant is staying within the allowable lot coverage, to which Mr. Yates said that they are.  The Village Engineer noted that the maximum lot coverage is 35%.      
 
Mr. Yates stated that, with the proposed addition, the Applicant exceeds the FAR requirement by 172 square feet.  He explained to the board members that the additional 172 square feet is needed to make the bedrooms upstairs the right size.  Otherwise, these bedrooms would be too small.    

Chairman Kehoe asked about the first-floor plan changes.  Mr. Yates said that, on the first floor, the kitchen would be expanded and a new family room would be added.

The Village Engineer reiterated that the building coverage is not going to be an issue.  The Applicant is way under the 35% allowable building coverage.

The Village Engineer asked the Applicant if the ZBA raised the issue at their meeting of possibly reducing the house footprint by 172 square feet so as not to exceed the FAR requirement(s).   Mr. Yates said again that without the additional 172 square feet of floor space, the bedrooms upstairs would be way too small.  

Mr. Yates noted that it was a condition of the ZBA’s approval that the exterior siding be the same color.  He told the board that the Applicant plans to change the siding anyway. The Applicant’s intention is to take off the old (existing) siding and replace it with natural cedar.

Mr. Yates told the Planning Board that some of the Applicant’s neighbors were present at the ZBA meeting.  Those present had no objections.  Ms. Barnes noted that their neighbor at the rear of their property was not present but was notified.

Chairman Kehoe stated that the Planning Board would want to ensure that the proposed house addition would be in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.  He said that, in his opinion, it would be in character with the other houses.

Ms. Allen said that it would have been useful to the Planning Board, in their review of this application, to have access in advance to the ZBA minutes and the conditions of the ZBA’s resolution of approval. She suggested that the next time this situation occurs, and an Applicant has to appear before the ZBA for a required variance(s), she would like to have the pertinent information in advance of the Planning Board meeting.  She suggested that, in the future, this should be a part of the submission of materials.  Mr. Andrews said that, if the Planning Board were to approve this application, it could be made a condition of the approval that the Applicant follow the conditions set forth in the ZBA’s resolution of approval.

Mr. Sharma said that the Applicant could have provided color samples and photographs of the “new” house; however, judging by what he has seen in the materials that were submitted, he has no problem with this application.  

Ms. Allen asked what the height of the highest ridgeline is, to which Mr. Yates said, 29? feet.

Chairman Kehoe referred to the west elevation drawing and asked if the back roofline is the new roof, to which Mr. Yates said that it is.  Mr. Yates said that he attempted in his design to make the rooflines more harmonious.

Mr. Andrews noted that the chimney looks somewhat high, to which Mr. Yates said that he was within the requirements.

The Village Engineer asked if any trees would have to be cut down for the addition, to which Mr. Yates said that no trees would have to be cut down.

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the draft resolution.  He asked if there were any conditions other than the one mentioned earlier about the Applicant’s meeting the conditions in the ZBA’s resolution.  The Planning Board had no other conditions.

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve this minor site plan application with the one condition discussed tonight.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Sharma, seconded by Mr. Andrews and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.  Ms. Allen abstained.

Mr. Sharma asked Ms. Allen why she abstained from taking a vote on this application.  Ms. Allen said that, in her view, the Planning Board did not have enough information to make a decision.  With respect to the architectural elements, the Applicant did not provide any samples of the siding being proposed, nor did the Applicant provide any colored renderings showing what the house with the addition would look like. Mr. Sharma said that he, personally, did not have any problem with this minor site plan application.  He did not think that it was a “serious case.” Chairman Kehoe said that he visited the site prior to tonight’s meeting.  He, too, did not have a problem with this application.  He noted that if the siding being proposed were a bright orange color rather than natural cedar, then he would have felt differently about seeing a color sample.

Ms. Allen said there should be standards established as to what goes into the Planning Board’s packets. The procedure should be that these standards would have to be met before the applicant comes before the board.  Ms. Allen said further that if another board has looked at the application first, the Planning Board should have access to the board minutes and any other information deemed useful for the Planning Board’s review.  Mr. Sharma did not think that the ZBA minutes would be particularly relevant to the Planning Board.  The ZBA is looking at the application from a different perspective.  Chairman Kehoe said that he, too, would not know what the Planning Board would gain from the ZBA’s discussion.  Mr. Andrews thought that the minutes of the ZBA meeting(s) could provide background information.  

Mr. Andrews suggested that if, after the Planning Board has received their packets, they see “flaws” with an application and the meeting has not yet taken place, perhaps the Planning Board could let the applicant know in advance.  The applicant would, then, have the option of either postponing the discussion of his/her application or bringing the requested materials to the board the night of the meeting.  Mr. Andrews said that he, personally, would hate to make the applicant have to come back unless it were absolutely necessary.        

Ms. Allen said that application materials should be screened by the Village Engineer’s office as to whether “the package” is adequate for the Planning Board to consider.  

The Village Engineer brought up an issue relating to scheduling.  He noted that ZBA meetings take place the second Wednesday of each month.  The Planning Board meets the fourth Tuesday of each month (less than two weeks later).  Should an application be scheduled to go to the Planning Board, and the ZBA meeting was just two weeks before, then the draft ZBA minutes might not be available yet for the Planning Board to review.

5.  OTHER BUSINESS:

        A discussion ensued among those present regarding the Planning Board’s involvement in the development of the Village’s environmental laws.  Trustee Gallelli recalled that the outcome of the discussion at the last Planning Board meeting was that the Planning Board wants to be involved earlier on in the process.  Trustee Gallelli said that she does not see any problem with the Planning Board becoming involved early on.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the Planning Board also discussed at the last meeting the changes being proposed to the Zoning Law that were recommended in the Comprehensive Plan.  It was suggested that the Planning Board could develop a list of items which, at some point, the Village Board could look at.  Trustee Gallelli told Chairman Kehoe that “nothing should prevent” the Planning Board from taking the initiative of suggesting alternatives to the law(s). In fact, the Planning Board has done this in the past.

Trustee Gallelli noted that there is a distinction that should be made between the changes to the Zoning Law and the changes to the environmental laws.  “These are two different processes.”  Trustee Gallelli said that whereas the changes to the Zoning Law are a result of recommendations set forth in the Comprehensive Plan, the environmental law changes are “outside” (not a result of) the Comprehensive Plan.    

Chairman Kehoe noted to Trustee Gallelli that, at the last Planning Board meeting, a discussion took place regarding the Village’s new tree law.  The outcome of this discussion was that the Village Board should look at it (the tree law) again.

Ms. Allen asked Trustee Gallelli how the public hearings on the environmental law changes are noticed.  Trustee Gallelli said that they are noticed in the Village’s official newspaper (Gazette) and on the Village’s web site.  

Trustee Gallelli said that, officially, it is the Village Board that initiates changes in the laws.  As such, when they (the laws) are ready to be reviewed, they go to the appropriate committees/boards.  Ms. Allen said that, in so far as the recent changes to the environmental laws are concerned, the Planning Board did not have an opportunity to discuss these changes “as a board.”  Instead, the Planning Board members were invited to a much larger “group meeting” later on in the process.  

Chairman Kehoe stated that if, with respect to the wording of a given law the Planning Board is continually faced with the same issue(s), it is logical that the Planning Board would want the Village Board to take a look at changing this law.  Chairman Kehoe said that, “he was getting at that” at the last Planning Board meeting.

Chairman Kehoe said that, as he sees it, the Planning Board would be handed a draft of the steep slopes law to review; however, the Planning Board would not have any input in the actual writing of the law.  Chairman Kehoe told Trustee Gallelli that, in the future, the Planning Board would want to make sure that they are involved in the development of these laws “at the right time.” Trustee Gallelli told the board members that the Village’s consultants would be preparing the draft of the law. It is at that point in time, after the draft law is written, that the various boards/committees become involved.  She suggested that, once the law is drafted, the Village’s consultants could meet with the Planning Board and explain exactly how the draft law came about.
6.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, March 13, 2007 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Sharma and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  

7.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:36 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
SECRETARY


RESOLUTION


WHEREAS,  the Planning Board held a public hearing on an Amended Site Plan application on March 27, 2007 for the Holy Name of Mary Church, located at 110 Grand Street and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section 78.08-007-002 (formerly Section 40 Block 209 Lot 48); and

WHEREAS, the proposal is for the construction of a handicap ramp and new front entrance stairs at the Parish Center; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Board has determined that there will be no adverse impacts resulting from the proposed application.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the amended site plan application as shown on Sheet #SK-8 entitled “Site Plan,” prepared by KG&D Architects and dated February 2, 2007 and Sheet #A1.2 entitled “ Third and Fourth Floor Demolition Plan,” Sheet #A2.2 entitled “Third and Fourth Floor Plans,” and Sheet #A3.1 entitled “Exterior & Interior Elevations,” prepared by KG&D Architects, dated August 24, 2006, last revised January 25, 2007, be approved.

In the event that this amended 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, Chairman
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Vincent Andrews
                                                Robert Luntz
                                                Deven Sharma
                                                                                        
Motion to approve by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Sharma and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Mr. Luntz was absent from the meeting.

Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on March 27, 2007.  



RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the Planning Board reviewed a Minor Site Plan application on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 for Carl & Sally Barnes, hereafter known as “the Applicant,” said property located at 10 Morningside Drive and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section 79.09 Block 6 Lot 46; and

WHEREAS, the Applicant’s proposed additions/renovations would exceed the 80% Floor Area Ratio (FAR) requirement for the RA-9 District in which the property is located; and

WHEREAS, on March 14, 2007, the Applicant was granted side yard, total side yard and front yard variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the proposed additions/renovations and for the existing house; 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 copy of the survey of the property (undated), received by the Planning Board on March 20, 2007, Drawing #1 of 4 showing a plot plan and the north and south elevations, Drawing #2 of 4 showing the east and west elevations, Drawing #3 of 4 showing the first floor plan and Drawing #4 of 4 showing the second floor plan, prepared by Gary T. Yates, R.A., dated January 18, 2007, be approved subject to the following condition:

1.      that the Applicant meet the conditions set forth in the Zoning Board of Appeals’ resolution of approval dated March 14, 2007.

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 Mr. Andrews and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.  Ms. Allen abstained.  Mr. Luntz was absent from the meeting.
                
Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, March 27, 2007.