Planning Board Minutes 09/25/07
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2007


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 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
                                Kathleen Riedy, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals
                                Ruth Waitkins, Member of the Zoning Board of Appeals
                                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:

*    Lakomata Realty – 2-12 Maple Street (Sec. 79.09 Blk. 1 Lot 66) Application for a Change of Use Approval from a Computer Repair/Retail Store to a Day Care Center for Dogs

Kathleen Huffman, prospective owner of the new day care center for dogs, was present.

Ms. Huffman distributed to the Planning Board members a sample of her advertising brochure.  In the brochure she would (also) be mentioning the other businesses in the shopping center that would offer her potential customers “one stop shopping.”  

Ms. Huffman noted that, as it stands now, people in the neighborhood walk their dogs in the grassy area in front of the shopping center and do not necessarily clean up after their dogs. If she were to walk her dogs in the front area, she would probably end up having to pick up after everyone else’s dogs. Ms. Huffman said that she would prefer walking the dogs in the grassy area in the back of the shopping center.

Ms. Huffman said that, for tonight’s meeting, she has provided the Planning Board with the acoustic (soundproofing) information requested.  Chairman Kehoe asked the Village Engineer if he had looked at the manufacturer’s specifications for the soundproofing, to which the Village Engineer said that he had and that, basically, what the soundproofing consists of is another layer of drywall (partition) applied to the existing drywall.  Ms. Huffman explained the green glue technique that would be used on the drywall stating that the green glue changes the chemical make-up of the drywall creating another layer of mass.  Mr. Luntz noted that the dampened drywall is an excellent way of adding soundproofing. The best way to stop sound transmission is to add mass, and this technique would do that.

Ms. Huffman said that she contacted Doggy Do-Not, the dog waste removal company, and she was told that they would come twice a week to pick-up the dog waste.  The waste would be kept in a covered bin.  In the alternative, she, herself, could remove the dog waste every day.  Ms. Huffman said that in her application materials for this meeting she included a sample of the cherry-scented disinfectant that would be used in case of “accidents.”  She also provided the Planning Board with a letter from the owner of the shopping center authorizing her change of use application.

Ms. Huffman told the board that most dogs need to be walked only twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.  They do not normally need to be walked during the daytime.  Ms. Huffman said that, as an extra layer of protection against “accidents” inside her facility, she would put in floor tiles and rubber baseboards.  Chairman Kehoe asked how many dogs she would anticipate having at the day care center, to which Ms. Huffman said 15 to 20 dogs.  

Ms. Huffman said that the landlord would not necessarily be opposed to a fenced-in area in the back of the shopping center for walking the dogs; however, the tenants do use this area for parking.  Ms. Huffman said that she would never walk the dogs in the nearby residential neighborhood(s).  For the most part the dogs would stay inside.  The Village Engineer suggested that, rather than fencing in the grassy area, the area could be screened with plantings (bushes), to which Ms. Huffman said that she would have no objection to this type of screening as long as it would not affect the parking.      

The Village Engineer asked how the Applicant intends to use the basement area.  Ms. Huffman said that, for the most part, they would be using the upstairs for the care of the dogs.  If they were to decide to take the dogs downstairs, there would always have to be a staff member present to supervise the dogs.  She thought that they might decide to use part of the basement for storage or, perhaps, even as an office for herself.  Mike Cappriccio of Cappriccio’s Pizza, one of the storeowners at the shopping center, pointed out that there is a problem with water (flooding) in the basement.  He did not see how this basement could be used by a tenant for anything (storage or otherwise).

Mr. Cappriccio expressed concern about the effectiveness of the soundproofing being proposed.  He noted that his pizza place has been there for many years, and he has always been able to hear the people next door.  He would be very concerned about dogs barking all day long. The Village Engineer noted that if the soundproofing were not to work properly, then the Applicant would have to find another solution.  Ms. Huffman assured Mr. Cappriccio that she would not allow the dogs to bark all day long.  Mr. Cappriccio said to Ms. Huffman, “You can’t guarantee that dogs won’t bark.”  

Mr. Cappriccio expressed concern about the traffic that would be generated by the drop-off and pick-up of the dogs.  People would be coming to pick up their dogs at the same time every night.  The influx of people coming all at once would cause a traffic jam.  Mr. Cappriccio said that he would be concerned about the noise, traffic and odors emanating from the day care center.   

The Village Engineer asked Mr. Cappriccio what his hours of operation were, to which Mr. Cappriccio said that he is open every day from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.  His employees park in the back of the building.  He thought that, given the parking situation in the back, there would be no room to walk the dogs.  

Harold Lockwood, a neighboring resident residing at 11 Hudson Street was present.  He referred to Sec. 230-17(C) of the Zoning Code, which states that in the C-2 District, “All permitted uses and all storage accessory thereto…..shall be carried on in buildings fully enclosed on all sides.”  He (Mr. Lockwood) would think that this would mean that the dogs could not be walked outside the facility.  Mr. Lockwood said that he called the ASPCA, and they would be concerned about the dogs at the day care center getting the proper exercise.  Mr. Lockwood said that he would think that the space being considered would be too small.  Mr. Lockwood also expressed concern about sick dogs coming to the facility and how that would affect the other dogs.  The facility would be in close proximity to the restaurants in the shopping center.  He would be concerned about public sanitation and health issues.  All in all, Mr. Lockwood did not think that the shopping center was the proper location for a day care center for dogs.  Ms. Huffman said that sick dogs would not be allowed at the center. Furthermore, in order to be eligible for “doggy day care,” the dogs would be required to have their inoculations.           

Chairman Kehoe noted that the County Health Department list of animal facilities does not include a “doggy day care center.” Mr. Luntz said that he would think that this is a relatively new concept.  

Michael Calcutti of 10 Hudson Street was present.  Mr. Calcutti was concerned about the overall parking problem at the shopping center.  He would want the Planning Board to address the parking before allowing another establishment to move into the shopping center.  Mr. Sharma pointed out to Mr. Calcutti that no matter what type of business were to move into the center, it would generate some traffic.    

Mr. Andrews said that, in his view, this shopping center would not be an appropriate place for a “doggy day care center.”  He was not convinced that the noise of the dogs barking could (would) be adequately dealt with.  He was also not convinced that there would be an appropriate place to walk the dogs.  Mr. Andrews said that he would think that the parking at the shopping center would also be an issue, especially at the time of drop-off and pick-up of the dogs.  Mr. Andrews said that he would not be adverse to the idea of having this type of facility in the Village, but he did not think the shopping center was an appropriate location.

Chairman Kehoe said that the likely area of conflict for the parking spaces would be between 6:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. at night.

Ms. Huffman noted that her assistant and she would be parking across the street so as not to take up the spaces at the shopping center.

Mr. Cappriccio told the board that, in so far as the parking is concerned, when it rains, the drains in the back of the property do not hold the water. No one can park their cars (or walk) in the back when it rains.

Mr. Lockwood noted to the Planning Board that there have been car accidents in that area of the Village (the shopping center) when people have tried to make a left hand turn at the light across traffic.  He would be concerned about traffic safety to and from the shopping center.

Mr. Cappriccio said that putting a “doggy day care center” in this location would not be “the right thing to do.”  He would think that it might actually hurt his business.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any other comments from the public, to which there were none.  Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to close the public hearing.  The motion was made by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

Chairman Kehoe said that he too would be concerned about the location being proposed for the day care center.  He would agree with Mr. Andrews that the location at the shopping center is problematic.  Mr. Sharma said that he would prefer to have somewhat more of an open area for the dogs to “run around.”  He thought that the space at the shopping center is (would be) too constricting.  Ms. Allen said that she would think a day care center for dogs would be a worthwhile business to have in the Village; however, she would tend to agree with the others that this is probably not an ideal location for such a facility.  Mr. Luntz said that having more open space (than what would be available at the shopping center) would certainly be a benefit to the dogs.  He would also be concerned about the traffic/parking situation at the time of drop-off and pick-up.  The “evening crunch” would be a problem. Mr. Luntz thought that the concept of a “doggy day care” was a good one; however, he too had a concern about the location.

A discussion ensued among the board members and the Village Engineer regarding the parking situation, overall, at the shopping center.  The Village Engineer briefly described to those present the proposal for the new sidewalk and parking in the front.  Ms. Allen questioned how the space in the back was used.  Is the space in the back of the building solely for the tenants or is it also used for public parking?  The Village Engineer said that he would have to research the property file to see what the agreement was for using the space in the back.  He did not know if parking in the rear was actually ever approved.  Mr. Andrews said that he would think that the use of the space in the back would be regulated by the lease agreements between the tenants and the landlord.  

Mr. Andrews reiterated that for the reasons he cited earlier in the meeting, he did not think that a day care center for dogs would be an appropriate use in this (the shopping center) location.

Mr. Sharma said that it is clear from the Applicant’s presentation that she has a love for animals and that she would be absolutely the right person to run this type of business.  He would think that this would be a worthwhile facility to have in the Village.  His concern would be the location.  He reiterated his concerns about the parking, the lack of space for the dogs, etc. Chairman Kehoe said that, in his view, putting 15 to 20 dogs in this space is (would be) a problem.

Chairman Kehoe said that it is his understanding from tonight’s discussion that the Planning Board would unanimously agree that this change of use application should be denied.  

Chairman Kehoe entertained the motion to approve this application. The motion was made by Chairman Kehoe himself and seconded by Ms. Allen.  The motion was not carried.  All of the Planning Board members voted to deny the application.  The vote was as follows:

                        Chairman Kehoe  Nay
                        Fran Allen              Nay
                        Vincent Andrews Nay
                        Robert Luntz            Nay
                        Deven Sharma    Nay

Ms. Huffman asked the board if she could come back before the Planning Board with a new application, should she be able to find another location in the Village. Chairman Kehoe told Ms. Huffman that, indeed, she could.  The Planning Board would review the “new” application.  Chairman Kehoe told Ms. Huffman that he hoped the Planning Board had made it clear to her tonight that the concept of “doggy day care” is a good one, but that this particular location is problematic.  

3.   NEW BUSINESS:

a)   Constructive Investments LLC – 46 Prospect Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 4 Lot 19) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval for Lot #1 of the Hudson View Subdivision

Ronald Wegner, P.E., of Cronin Engineering; William Spade, architect for the Applicant, and Hilmar Fenger of Constructive Investments LLC were present.

Mr. Wegner noted to the board members that, when the Hudson View Subdivision proposal first came before the Planning Board, this parcel (Lot #1) was the only parcel, which did not contain any steep slopes.

Mr. Wegner explained to the board the changes that have taken place to the plan(s) since the original subdivision approval.  When the subdivision was approved, the Village’s access to the detention pond was to be the new driveway through Lot #1. The Village has since procured access to the detention pond through the driveway on the old DeSantis property, now owned by the Applicant.  Mr. Wegner stated that the sewage facilities for Lot #3 are now being proposed to go through Lot #1.  The pipe would connect to the existing sewer line in the street.   

Mr. Wegner explained the drainage being proposed, stating that the drainage system for Lot #1 has been designed, as per comments made by Bruce Donohue, the Village’s environmental consultant.  In so far as the sewer hook-up is concerned, the Applicant is proposing an electrical back-up generator, so a storage tank would not be required.

Mr. Wegner said that the driveway would come in where originally proposed. The garage elevation, which is at 70, matches the street grade where the driveway enters the property.  Mr. Wegner noted that when a person is standing on the street he/she would be standing at the first-floor elevation, looking back at the house.  Mr. Wegner explained to the Planning Board members the plan showing a profile of the driveway.  Mr. Luntz asked if the Applicant is proposing to raise the elevation by 8 feet at the garage level, to which Mr. Wegner said, “Yes.”

Chairman Kehoe asked if Mr. Wegner had a plan showing a detail of the retaining wall, to which Mr. Wegner said that he did not.

Mr. Luntz noted that the basement is at the walkout elevation.  If one were to include the basement level, the proposed house is (would be) three stories high at the back.

Ms. Allen asked if the architect’s height elevations meet the code requirements.  Mr. Spade thought that they did.  He explained to the board how he calculated the building height, stating that he took the mean height of the roof on the front (Prospect Place) side of the house. The Village Engineer said that with respect to the building height the Applicant would need to consider, in doing their calculations, the existing grade and the fill in the front of the house.  The level of the fill could not exceed 4 feet.  The Village Engineer suggested that Mr. Spade should redo his calculations to be sure that they (the Applicant) comply with the building height requirements, to which Mr. Spade said that he would do so.

Ms. Allen noted that the zoning information being shown on the architect’s plan(s) differs from that which is being shown on the site plan.  For example, there is a difference of three inches in the front yard setback. Mr. Spade said that, for the next meeting, they would coordinate the information in the zoning table but, even with the three-inch difference, they would still comply with the setback requirement(s).

The Village Engineer asked Mr. Spade to do a “photo montage” of the neighboring (adjacent) houses on Prospect Place showing the elevations of these houses at street level.  The proposed house on Lot #2 should be shown.  Mr. Spade said that he would prepare a “street montage” that shows the proposed houses on Lots #’s 1 and 2 and the existing (neighbor’s) house so that the Planning Board would be able to see the relative proportions for each one and the distance(s) between them.

Mr. Andrews asked if, at the time of the subdivision approval, there were any conditions placed on this lot. Mr. Wegner said that when the subdivision was approved the limits of disturbance line was set by the distance from the wetlands area, which was the pond.  This area is no longer regulated under the new wetlands law.

Ms. Allen pointed out to Mr. Wegner an error in the “Limit of Disturbance” notation in the legend of the site development plan for Lot #1. Mr. Wegner made a note to correct the error.

Chairman Kehoe referred to the Applicant’s elevation plans and noted that the exterior treatment of the façade would be similar to the other two houses, i.e., stone and wood. Mr. Spade said that this is true, however, the colors used would be slightly different.

Ms. Allen inquired about the bonus room shown on the Applicant’s second floor plan.  Mr. Spade said that this room would be considered unfinished storage space.  A future homeowner could decide to make it into a finished room later on.  Mr. Sharma noted that a bonus room is a selling point for the property owner/developer.  Mr. Spade said that when the Applicant files for a building permit to build the house, this space would be labeled on the plans as “unfinished storage space.”  The Village Engineer asked what the square footage was of the bonus room, to which Mr. Spade said 500 square feet.  Ms. Allen noted that any future addition(s) to the house would be subject to Floor Area Ratio (FAR) limitations.  Ms. Allen said that she would think that many people would not realize that they would need a building permit to finish this space (bonus room).  Mr. Sharma noted that if someone were to finish the space without the benefit of obtaining a building permit, it would come to light at the time of the title (record) search.  

Chairman Kehoe referred to the front elevation plan and said that, as he understands the plan, the two dormers being shown would be purely decorative, to which Mr. Spade replied that these dormers would be exposed so that the windows would let light into the attic space.

Donald Fannon of 32 Prospect Place was present.  He made reference to the original subdivision plans that were submitted. Mr. Fannon expressed concern that, according to the original plans, there were trees on the property that were supposed to be preserved that have since been taken down.  Mr. Fannon said that changing the existing sewer easement also concerns him.  The sewer line going down Prospect Place is relatively small.  He would be concerned about the overall volume of sewage, given the three new houses.  He questioned whether the present sewage system could handle the volume, should the three pumps “kick on” simultaneously.  He asked if any volume testing had been performed, to which the Village Engineer said that they have looked at a six-inch clay pipe.  Such a pipe would have the capacity to handle three pumps.  Mr. Fannon still questioned the overall performance of the sewage system, should the three pumps have to work simultaneously.         

Mr. Fannon referred to the original site plan for Lot #1 and said that the amount of the change in the grade is remarkable.  There is no remnant left of the original grade on Lot #1.  He thought that the Planning Board should review the original plan(s) for Lot #1 to see what the grade was when the subdivision was approved.  The proposed house is a three-story (plus) house in the back.  The downgrade side of the house would look substantially higher.  From the front, the house would look like a 2?-story house.  Mr. Fannon said that he would be concerned about the overall height, given the change in the grade that has taken place.  Mr. Fannon expressed concern about the drainage system being proposed.  The natural percolation of the soils is being lost due to the additional impervious surfaces.  He would be concerned about the raise in the water level/water table, particularly in the rainy seasons.  Mr. Fannon said that there were no official measurements of the water table taken when the subdivision was approved.

Mr. Fannon noted that three large trees on Lot #2 were felled this week.  He did not know whether the previously approved plan(s) called for these trees to come down.  Chairman Kehoe asked the Applicant if these three trees were to be removed, to which Mr. Wegner said that he knows there were trees on Lot #2 to be cut down. He would check to find out which ones. Chairman Kehoe asked if the Village’s environmental consultant had been called upon yet to monitor the work on Lot #2, to which the Village Engineer said that he would let Mr. Donohue know tomorrow that it is time to start the monitoring.  He would be in touch with him tomorrow to schedule a site visit.  Ms. Allen asked what policy the Village has in place for involving the environmental consultant. We (the Planning Board) would want to make sure that the environmental consultant gets to the site at the right time. Chairman Kehoe noted to Mr. Fannon that some of the changes to the original plan(s) would be considered “field changes” and would not have to come back to the Planning Board.       

Ms. Allen expressed concern about the way the construction has progressed so far in this subdivision.  Changes were made and the lines (limits of disturbance) created were lost.  The limits of disturbance on Lot #2 were lost.  Mr. Wegner said that it is his recollection that when the Applicant came before the Planning Board with the minor site plan for Lot #2, they did a comparison between the subdivision plan and the minor site plan and showed the change(s) in the disturbance.  He thought that this issue had been resolved.   

The Village Engineer brought up the issue of the sidewalks along Prospect Place, which have to be repaired or replaced.  According to code, a homeowner has to maintain the sidewalks in front of his/her property. He assumed the Applicant had signed up for the Village’s sidewalk program.  He would think that it would be worthwhile to try to coordinate the repair/replacement of the sidewalks with the building of the new houses. Mr. Fenger agreed that it would work well to coordinate these activities.  He would hope that the sidewalk work could take place in the early spring, which is the scheduled completion date of the new houses.   

Mr. Wegner reviewed the issues to be addressed for the next Planning Board meeting.  He noted that there had been a comment made earlier about the telephone pole situated at the foot of the proposed driveway.  They (the Applicant) should verify that the guy wire from the telephone pole would not interfere with the driveway.  The “Limit of Disturbance” notation in the legend should be corrected.  The height calculations should be revised.  The sewer capacity should be checked with the three houses pumping simultaneously.  It should be confirmed that the three trees on Lot #2 were to be removed.  The tax map identification number on the minor site plan for Lot #1 should be corrected. A street montage should be prepared showing house elevations from Prospect Place.

Mr. Andrews referred to note #10 on the Applicant’s site plan, which says, “Wherever possible large trees are to be preserved.”  This did not seem to him to be a complete note. The Village Engineer suggested that this note should say, “Only trees marked to be removed shall be removed.”   Mr. Wegner said that, for the next meeting, he would correct/clarify the note regarding tree removal.  

The Village Engineer thought that the Planning Board might want to ask for a preliminary landscaping plan for Lot #1. It could be made a condition of the Planning Board’s resolution of approval, as was the case with Lot #2, that, prior to the Certificate of Occupancy being issued, a final landscaping plan shall be reviewed and approved by the Planning Board.     

Mr. Andrews said that he would like to see any reports that were prepared by the Village’s environmental consultant for the monitoring of the other two lots (Lots #’s 2 and 3).

Mr. Sharma said that, for the next meeting, he would like to know what the excavation and fill law says regarding organic materials in the fill.  He would want to know if it is appropriate to have materials, such as tree branches and stumps, buried in the fill.  He noted that these materials have been buried in the fill on Lot #1.  Mr. Fenger said that there was never any intention of burying these organic materials in the fill.  Branches might have fallen off trees in the wintertime, which might account for some of it.  Mr. Sharma said that, before the next meeting, he would read the current Village laws pertaining to grading and excavation and fill.

Mr. Wegner told the board that he would revise the plans and be prepared to come back before the Planning Board for the next meeting (October 9th).

b)   Joint-Discussion between the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board on a Proposal for a Mixed-Use Building at 379 South Riverside Avenue

The joint-discussion between the Zoning Board and the Planning Board did not take place. The chairperson of the Zoning Board Kathleen Riedy and Zoning Board member Ruth Waitkins were at the meeting earlier on but had left, due to the fact that the joint-discussion would have to start so late. The Village Engineer suggested that the Planning Board could still take a look at the proposal, submitted by the Applicant Ronald Napolitani, for the mixed-use building.  

The Village Engineer said that the Applicant is seeking the following variances: front yard; side yard; a variance from the number of stories; a parking variance and a variance from the FAR requirements.

Mr. Luntz noted to the board members that he is a member of the committee looking at the commercial development of the Harmon area.   One of the main issues of concern is parking. Mr. Luntz noted that if the Village were to encourage buildings that have a mixed-use with retail stores on the ground floor and apartments above, then there would have to be a sufficient number of parking spaces for the mixed-use. He noted further that the development committee has been discussing the desirability, from a pedestrian standpoint, of having buildings designed “up to the street” with parking in the rear.  He would think that it would be a worthwhile endeavor to comprehensively look at the Harmon area to see how the situation regarding the parking could be resolved.

The Village Engineer said that, among the other items, the Village boards (Planning Board and Zoning Board) would want to look at the potential impacts to this area of the Village of the Applicant’s proposal to put in a third story.  Two of the main issues/concerns to be addressed would be the building’s height and the parking required.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant is proposing eight apartments on the second and third floors, to which the Village Engineer reiterated that parking is (would be) a major concern.

The Village Engineer said that, in so far as the Harmon area is concerned, another issue to be addressed is the use(s) of the retail spaces.  

Mr. Luntz said that the development committee needs to come up with a vision for what they think could happen, from a commercial development standpoint, in the Harmon area. They need to come up with ways to encourage desirable use(s).

Chairman Kehoe noted that the ZBA public hearing on the Napolitani application is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 10th.  The next Planning Board meeting is Tuesday, October 9th.  He suggested that the ZBA members could come (back) to the Planning Board meeting of the 9th to have a joint-discussion on the Napolitani application.  He asked the Planning Board secretary to look into this matter.     

4.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Planning Board meeting was adjourned until the Planning Board meeting of Tuesday, October 9, 2007.

5.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 11:00 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
SECRETARY