Planning Board Minutes 04/08/2008



A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 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.


·       John & Donna Nikic – Franklin Avenue  (Sec. 79.13 Blk. 4 Lot 8.01) – Referral from the Village Board for a Steep Slopes Hardship Permit

Ron Wegner of Cronin Engineering was present for this application.

Mr. Wegner said that he has updated the plans to show further details, as requested.  The drainage system is being shown on the revised plans.  Mr. Wegner noted that he has raised the proposed residence by one foot and has adjusted the site grading accordingly.  The driveway is now at 15% as opposed to 14%.  Mr. Wegner said that he has eliminated the proposed retaining wall, which was situated behind the house.  Erosion controls and utility connections are now being shown on the plans.

The Village Engineer asked if the retaining wall on the right side of the house is on the property line, to which Mr. Wegner said, no, it is inside the property.  Mr. Sharma noted that, for maintenance purposes, it would be better to have the retaining wall on the property line. The Village Engineer asked if the wall would be reinforced concrete or a gravity wall, to which Mr. Wegner replied that it would be a gravity wall up to four feet and after that, it would be reinforced concrete.  Ms. Allen noted that the area between the fence and the proposed retaining wall is narrow and could barely be mowed.  She would be concerned that this narrow strip would be “a place where everything accumulates.”  Mr. Wegner suggested that to keep debris from accumulating (there) and to maintain a nicer, cleaner look, they could plant low-maintenance shrubs between the fence and the proposed retaining wall.

The Village Engineer suggested that on the right hand side of the driveway the proposed contours be pulled back to blend into the existing contours.  Smoothing out the slope by taking out this “hump” (mound) in the front would create a better and more natural look from an aesthetic standpoint.  The Village Engineer noted that the Birch tree in close proximity to the driveway might be lost.  He suggested that a tree well could be built around this tree to protect it.  Mr. Wegner noted to the Planning Board and the Village Engineer that smoothing out the slope in the front, as is being suggested, would increase the slope disturbance somewhat.

The Village Engineer referred to the drainage being proposed on the left hand side of the house and noted that the way the drainage is presently being shown water would flow across the contours.  The stone wall hooks out and would redirect the water in front of the house.  The Village Engineer told Mr. Wegner that a note should be added to the Applicant’s plan(s) saying that the drainage system on that side, as proposed, would not direct water onto the neighbor’s property.  

Mr. Wegner told the board that, in so far as the drainage is concerned, the roof leaders would tie into drywells, which are set in low spots adjacent to the driveway.  The water would sheet off on both sides and would end up in yard drains.  Ms. Allen asked if they could do a crowning all the way up the driveway, to which Mr. Wegner replied that they could.  He noted that the Applicant’s intention is (would be) to get rid of the curbs.  Crowning the full length of the driveway would direct the water into the yard drains.  Mr. Luntz asked if these yard drains tie into the municipal drainage system, to which Mr. Wegner said, no, they do not.     

Ms. Allen said that it would appear that most engineers are still relying on old ways of handling water and not using the new ways that are being promulgated.  The Village Engineer described to those present one of the newer drainage techniques stating that in place of underground drywells, a surface depression would be created with water discharging into a retention basin. The Village Engineer noted that there would be no way to discharge the water here (on the Franklin Avenue lot).  Ms. Allen said that she would think that riprap would be an option, given the grass on either side.  Chairman Kehoe questioned who would be responsible for the maintenance of this type of drainage system.  The Village Engineer noted that the County has installed a “rain garden” at the County Center.  The Village Engineer suggested that, although this type of system would not be suitable for this application, the Planning Board could take it into consideration for the Bell Property subdivision application.  Ms. Allen noted that a house on Georgia Lane used the newer techniques recommended in the County’s Best Management Practices.  The property owner did not put in a “rain garden,” but they were able to capture immense amounts of water without hitting a storm sewer.  

The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant should put in a temporary gravel pit/sediment basin during construction to prevent the drywells from silting up.

Mr. Wegner referred the board members to the house elevations stating that the building elevations have been revised to show additional house details and a six-foot change in elevation between the garage and first floor to match the proposed site plan.

Mr. Wegner noted that the subterranean windows are still being shown on the plans.  He did not know if the Applicant intends to put in the window wells.

Mr. Wegner stated that the left elevation plan shows a stairwell for access to the basement.  Mr. Luntz asked if there would be a railing on the stairs, to which Mr. Wegner said that, indeed, there would have to be a railing.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant would have to go before the Waterfront Advisory Board for a determination of consistency with the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).

Chairman Kehoe said that it would appear that the Planning Board would be willing to recommend to the Village Board that the Applicant’s Steep Slopes Hardship permit be granted subject to the conditions discussed tonight.   They are as follows:

·       that the proposed contours on the right hand side of the driveway shall be pulled back to blend in with the existing contours.  A tree well shall be built to protect the Birch tree in close proximity to the driveway.  

·       that the plans shall show a swale heading down the south side of the property to the yard drain near the southeast corner.  

·       that a note be added to the plans saying that there shall be no curbs on the driveway, and the full length of the driveway shall be crowned.  

·       that a gravel pit/sediment basin shall be installed during construction to prevent the drywells from silting up.  

·       that the site plan shall show the basement access.

The Village Engineer noted that, for the sake of the neighbors, another condition of the approval should be that an excavation plan (report) be submitted with respect to rock removal.  The plan shall include the days that the work would be performed, the hours of operation and the duration of the work.

The Village Engineer said that the site plan shows a somewhat large protrusion (bump-out) at the rear of the house.  He suggested that, to help reduce the need for rock excavation, this protrusion could be limited to a crawl space.  Mr. Wegner told the board that he would speak to Mr. Nikic about reducing it to a crawl space.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any further comments, to which there were none.

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to make a recommendation to the Village Board that the Steep Slopes Hardship permit be granted subject to the conditions discussed tonight.  The motion was made by Mr. Sharma, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.


·       Chris Schiermbock – 3 O’Reilly Court (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 3 Lot 35.13) – Application for a Modification to the Building Envelope for the Construction of an In-ground Swimming Pool

Timothy Lynch, landscape designer with Maple Leaf Associates Inc., was present for this application.

Mr. Lynch told the board members that the Applicant, Mr. & Mrs. Schiermbock, currently have an above-ground swimming pool with a deck surrounding it.  They have a toddler and want to make their house a child-safe house. The current configuration of the pool and deck is a safety concern to them.  Mr. Lynch said that the new deck being proposed would be just outside the house and the in-ground pool would be on the lower level.  The in-ground pool would extend beyond the building envelope line by 5 to 7 feet.  

Ms. Allen said that she found the Environmental Site Plan submitted by the Applicant to be very difficult to read.  The in-ground pool is not shown on this plan. She asked where, on the site plan, the pool would be situated. Chairman Kehoe agreed with Ms. Allen that the Environmental Site Plan is “almost impossible to read.”  He suggested that the Planning Board could try to compare the Environmental Site Plan with the larger drawing submitted by the Applicant, which shows the location of the new swimming pool.  Mr. Lynch showed the board members an aerial view of the existing house and deck and said that the newly proposed deck would be at the same level as the existing upper deck.  To get to the level of the in-ground pool, one would have to descend a flight of stairs (8 risers).  Mr. Lynch reiterated that the reason the Applicant is making this application for the in-ground pool is that they are concerned about the safety of their child.  There is a doorway leading directly to the pool from the house in the present deck and pool configuration. The Applicant wants the proposed in-ground pool to be locked off and behind the pool fencing.      

The Village Engineer said that, as he understands the topography of the land in this area the in-ground pool would be situated in a fairly flat spot, and then the land “drops off” beyond the existing shrubbery (hedge), to which Mr. Lynch stated that this is, indeed, the case.  The land “drops off” behind the house.  Mr. Lynch said that to alleviate any concerns about privacy the existing hedge would remain.  Ms. Allen asked how close the neighbor’s property line would be to the pool, to which Mr. Sharma said that it would appear from the plans submitted that the proposed pool would be 3 feet from the neighbor’s property.  Mr. Lynch noted that on the neighbor’s side of the hedge, there is a fieldstone retaining wall that goes from 4 feet to 6 (or 7) feet in height.  This stonewall is actually situated on the Applicant’s (and not the neighbor’s) property.  

Mr. Sharma pointed out that, from a visual standpoint, it might be less obtrusive to the neighbors for the Applicant to have the in-ground versus above-ground pool.  

The Village Engineer told Mr. Lynch that by creating a smaller patio, the pool could be “pushed inside the building envelope [somewhat] more.”  

Mr. Lynch showed the board members an aerial photograph with the proposed pool outlined in black.  Ms. Allen asked where the deck would be located, to which Mr. Lynch drew in the deck on the aerial map.  

Ms. Allen asked what the reasoning is, from a design standpoint, for having to extend the building envelope line for the swimming pool.  Mr. Lynch replied that the Applicant would want to have ample space at the bottom of the staircase leading down to the pool.  If the pool were moved over, it would “squeeze” the deck in and make the decking at the base of the stairs too narrow.  The Village Engineer noted that the pool decking is currently 10 feet at the narrowest point.  Mr. Luntz said that he would be concerned about changing the layout of the pool and decking for fear of damaging the existing hedge and wall, which he feels are nice features on the property. The Village Engineer suggested that, perhaps, the Applicant could have the proposed patio run along the outside edge to decrease the activity close to the property line.  The patio table and chairs could be placed between the hedge and the new pool.  Mr. Lynch said that he is proposing to install buffer plantings up against the hedge because this type of hedge thins out at the bottom.  The plantings would be up against the back edge of the pool.  Chairman Kehoe asked if the plantings would hang over the edge of the pool, to which Mr. Lynch stated that there would, indeed, be greenery on that side (the far side). This would not be the area where people would be getting out of the pool. Mr. Lynch noted that, in so far as the stone wall is concerned, there would be stone coping on the wall in the rear.

Chairman Kehoe said that he has driven by the property and the building envelope line for this particular River Landing lot (Lot #13) did not seem to him to be protecting a critical environmental area. He questioned what the Planning Board’s reasoning was, from an environmental standpoint, for having the building envelope line in that specific location.   

Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board would be interested in knowing if the Applicant’s adjacent neighbors support this application. The neighbors purchased their properties on the assumption that the building envelope line is where it is presently being shown.  Ms. Allen noted that in the past applicants have included in their Planning Board materials letters of support from the neighbors. She would think it would be important to do so for this application as well.  Ms. Allen recalled that, oftentimes, the neighbors have supported applications that incorporate the kind of screening presently being proposed.      

Mr. Sharma pointed out that the deck and in-ground pool presently being proposed are on a much lower level than the current deck and above-ground pool.  From a visual standpoint, he would think that the proposed layout for the in-ground pool would have less of an impact on the neighbors, to which Mr. Luntz agreed.

Chairman Kehoe asked how deep the pool would be, to which Mr. Lynch said 8 feet.  

Ms. Allen asked if there is rock in the area where the pool would be situated, to which Mr. Lynch said that he does not know.  He noted to the Planning Board that, with respect to the excavation work, they are obviously hoping they do not hit rock.  Mr. Lynch said that it is his (professional) opinion that the area where the new pool would be situated is mostly fill.       

Ms. Allen said that she was a member of the Planning Board when the River Landing Subdivision was approved.  She recalled that there were quite a number of wetlands areas off of O’Reilly Court.  Ms. Allen said that she would like to see a larger map, in greater detail, showing rock ledges and wetlands areas.  Mr. Luntz told Mr. Lynch that it would be helpful to the Planning Board if he could “clean up” the site plan and show on this plan the proposed pool. The Village Engineer referred to the larger drawing submitted, which shows the pool and the proposed landscaping.  He noted that the area of disturbance for the pool seems to be in the fenced-in area.  The Village Engineer suggested to Mr. Lynch that, for the next Planning Board submittal, he could incorporate the contours of the pool area onto this landscaping plan.  Ms. Allen said that she would like to see the River Landing Subdivision map.  She would be interested to see if there was a reason for putting the building envelope line where it is currently situated.  Ms. Allen recalled that, from an environmental standpoint, O’Reilly Court was a “tricky” area. To lessen the environmental impact(s), the Planning Board spent a considerable amount of time shifting and/or moving around the houses.        

Chairman Kehoe reviewed the items required for the next meeting.  Additional topography should be shown on the Applicant’s plan(s).  If possible, letters from the neighboring property owners in support of this application should be submitted.  The Applicant’s site plan should be “cleaned up” and the proposed in-ground pool indicated on the plan.  

Mr. Lynch asked if the wetlands areas would be shown on the subdivision map, to which the Village Engineer said that they would be.  

The Village Engineer suggested that, for excavation purposes, the Applicant could use a rebar to check for rock in the pool area.  

Mr. Lynch told the Planning Board that he would prepare the revisions to his clients’ application in time for the next Planning Board meeting.


·       Mr. Sharma told the other members that his term as a Planning Board member is up next month (April 2008).  He has decided not to continue as a member of the Planning Board due to a number of other commitments.  Mr. Sharma said that it has been a pleasure and honor to serve the Village on the Planning Board.  He is sorry to have to leave.  He would stay on as a member until such time as the Village Board appoints a proper replacement.  Mr. Sharma would let the Village Board know of his decision.

·       Chairman Kehoe noted that he would be unable to attend the next Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, April 22nd.   He asked Ms. Allen if she would be willing to act as chairperson for that meeting, to which Ms. Allen said that she would.    


The minutes of the Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.


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


Sylvia Mills