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Planning Board Minutes 06/24/08



A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Chris Kehoe, Chairman
Vincent Andrews
Robert Luntz
                ABSENT: Fran Allen
                 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.


·       Rakis, Inc. (Peter Tsagarakis) – 215 South Riverside Avenue (Sec. 79.09 Blk. 1 Lot 54) – Application for an Amended Site Plan for the Croton Colonial Diner

Ed Gemmola of Gemmola Associates; Gerald Klein of Katz & Klein; and Kary Ioannou, engineer for the Applicant, were present.

Mr. Klein told the board members that this Amended Site Plan application is for additional parking spaces and other related site improvements to the Croton Colonial Diner site.  

Mr. Klein noted that the Applicant is aware that he needs a Special Permit approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the parking being proposed in a residential (RA-5) area.  The Applicant had obtained a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the parking along Bungalow Road.  This Special Permit has since expired and must be renewed.  A Special Permit must also be sought for the additional parking being proposed in the Applicant’s vacant lot on Hudson Street.  This lot had contained a house, which has since been demolished.  Mr. Klein noted that a variance from the ZBA would also be required to remove the barrier between the back parking area on Bungalow Road and the main parking area.  Mr. Klein stated that the Village Engineer had suggested to the Applicant that he should come before the Planning Board first to discuss the Amended Site Plan. The Planning Board would make a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals on the Special Permits being sought for the parking.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant had been before the Planning Board in 2006 with a proposal for an Amended Site Plan, which included an expansion of the diner itself, to which Mr. Gemmola responded that the previous proposal did, indeed, include a rather significant expansion of the diner space.  As part of the previous proposal, the Applicant also wanted to take down the guard rail and expand the parking.  Mr. Gemmola said that the Applicant’s house on Hudson Street has since been taken down.  Additional parking is now being proposed for this (the vacant) lot.  Mr. Gemmola reiterated that in the new scheme the Applicant is proposing to utilize, for employee parking, the space that was formerly the building (house).

Mr. Gemmola referred to the Applicant’s site plan and noted that the wall along Bungalow Road would remain.  

Mr. Gemmola said that, as part of the previous plan, the Applicant had proposed a one-way (“in only”) entrance to the parking lot off of Bungalow Road.  This “in only” entrance off of Bungalow Road would also be a part of the present proposal.  Mr. Gemmola stated that the Applicant’s parking lot now has 44 parking spaces. The Applicant is proposing 11 more spaces for a total of 55.

The Village Engineer noted to the board members that there was a “sunset clause” in the Special Permit granted for the parking off of Bungalow Road by the ZBA – the subject Special Permit had an expiration date, at which time the Applicant would have to come back before the ZBA to renew the Special Permit.  Mr. Klein noted further that this Special Permit was (first) issued in 1991.

Mr. Luntz referred to the now vacant lot on Hudson Street and said that it is his recollection that the house, (which was taken down), was at a higher grade than the parking lot situated directly behind the diner, to which Mr. Ioannou replied that this “new” parking lot on Hudson Street is (would be) within 6 inches of the grade of the existing parking lot.  

Mr. Luntz said that he would agree with the Applicant that the barrier that exists between the two parking lots on the Bungalow Road side of the diner should be removed.  

Mr. Luntz said that, in so far as the new parking arrangement is concerned, he would have a problem with the parking configuration, which is being proposed behind the diner itself.  The Applicant is proposing to have islands and parking spaces in the middle of the existing and “new” parking areas.  He would think that, with this arrangement, it would be difficult for cars to maneuver in and out of the lot.  He suggested that, perhaps, the two end spaces “in the middle” could be removed for better maneuverability.  Mr. Gemmola noted that the parking in this area of the back would be primarily for the employees.  The Village Engineer asked Mr. Gemmola if the Applicant looked at any alternative configurations for the parking lot, to which Mr. Gemmola said that, indeed, they did; however, the parking spaces acquired in the alternative configurations were less in number.  Mr. Gemmola said that the arrangement being proposed “maxed out the number of cars.”

The Village Engineer asked how many employees there are at the diner, to which Mr. Gemmola said that he does not know.  He would find out and let the board know for the next meeting.

Mr. Andrews recalled that, with the previous application, the Applicant talked about putting in a handicapped-accessible entrance.  He asked if this entrance was part of this application, to which Mr. Gemmola replied that, at this point in time, the Applicant is before the board for the new parking configuration only.  Once the Planning Board has looked at the proposal for an Amended Site Plan, the Applicant would be in a position to go before the ZBA for the Special Permit(s).  Mr. Gemmola pointed out that the Applicant could not do any additional site work without the Special Permits being granted. He realizes that the previous scheme showed a handicap ramp on the south side facing the door.  He would think that this ramp would still be doable.  Mr. Gemmola noted that, should the Applicant be granted the Special Permit(s), they would be back before the Planning Board for an Amended Site Plan approval. The ramp could be taken into consideration at that time.  He (just) did not want to “put the cart before the horse.”  Mr. Andrews asked if, after the parking arrangement is approved, the Applicant might decide to propose significant renovations to the diner or just minor changes with the handicap ramp, etc., to which Mr. Gemmola said that the changes would be minor e.g., handicapped-accessible bathrooms and handicap ramp.

Mr. Klein noted to the board members that, at this juncture, the Applicant is not planning to do anything to the interior of the diner itself.  For now, he intends to keep the plan, as is.  He (the Applicant) would be keenly interested in knowing the Planning Board’s thoughts on the parking arrangement currently being proposed.

The Village Engineer pointed out to the board members that the handicap ramp would work with the site plan that is currently being proposed.

Chairman Kehoe wanted to know the height of the retaining wall along Hudson Street, to which Mr. Gemmola said that the wall is 2? feet high.  Chairman Kehoe asked if there would be plantings on top of the wall, to which Mr. Gemmola said, yes.  Mr. Gemmola added that, as part of this proposal, the stone wall along Hudson Street would be extended.  The Village Engineer suggested that, for the next meeting, the Applicant should provide a profile of the retaining wall along Hudson Street, to which Mr. Gemmola said that he would do so.  Mr. Luntz noted to Mr. Gemmola that it would be good to know what the elevation is along the proposed wall.

Chairman Kehoe said that it is his understanding that there would be no access/egress to the diner parking lot(s) from Hudson Street, to which Mr. Gemmola replied that, indeed, there would not be.

Mr. Gemmola noted to the board members that the retaining wall being proposed in the new parking area off of Bungalow Road would be 5 to 6 feet in height.  He suggested that he could talk to the property owner, Peter Tsagarakis, about a stone veneer for this wall.

Chairman Kehoe suggested that, for the next meeting, the Applicant could “think along the lines of” Mr. Luntz’s suggestion, made earlier tonight, about improving the employee parking arrangement behind the diner. Chairman Kehoe referred to the Applicant’s site plan indicating the present location of the trash compacter/container and said that he would think that it would be better to organize the employee parking spaces, trash receptacles, etc. in such a way as to “get [them] out of the way” of the visitor parking.  Mr. Luntz referred to the Applicant’s proposed plan and reiterated to the Applicant how, in his view, the parking behind the diner might be better arranged.    

Mr. Gemmola stated that the Applicant is proposing a right turn “in only” entrance to the parking lot(s) off of Bungalow Road.  The existing curb would remain.  Mr. Gemmola noted that the “in only” (as opposed to “in” and “out”) entrance is being proposed because of a problem with sight distance onto Bungalow Road.  The sight distance would be inadequate for making a left turn out of the parking lot.

The Village Engineer pointed out that, with the changes being suggested tonight, the current “new” arrangement of the parking lot could actually be better, from a circulation standpoint, than what was originally approved with the issuance of the “first” Special Permit.

Mr. Andrews wanted to know what is currently at the corner of the Applicant’s property between Albany Post Road and Bungalow Road, to which Mr. Gemmola replied that there are some relatively young plantings (shrubbery) at the corner.  Mr. Gemmola suggested that, for the next meeting, he could bring in photographs to show the Planning Board what is there.

Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, there would be less of a disturbance to the steep slopes in the parking lot area off of Bungalow Road with the retaining wall, which is presently being proposed, to which Mr. Gemmola said that this is true.   The current proposal for the additional parking spaces and retaining wall off of Bungalow Road would create less of a disturbance to the steep slopes than the previous arrangement.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village’s Steep Slopes Ordinance is being revised; however, under the present Steep Slopes law, a Steep Slopes Permit would not be required.

Mr. Luntz asked if the lights currently in the parking lot would be enough to cover the additional parking spaces.  He would think that the whole back row of parking spaces could use lights.  Mr. Gemmola said that, in his opinion, the existing lights would be sufficient if they were all working properly.  At this point they are not.  Mr. Gemmola suggested that, for the next meeting, he could provide to the Planning Board a “photometric” plan to show the existing lighting.

Mr. Luntz asked if the existing drainage system would be sufficient for the site plan changes presently being proposed, to which the Applicant’s engineer, Kary Ioannou, said that he would think so.  Mr. Ioannou said that the increase in the impervious surfaces is very small, so he does not foresee a problem with the drainage.  At the present time, the drainage system is working properly. The Village Engineer had a question regarding the catch basins on the diner property, to which Mr. Ioannou told the Village Engineer that he would look into this matter and get back to him.

Chairman Kehoe summarized the items to be addressed for the next meeting.  Some additional details should be added to the site plan.  The Applicant should look into Mr. Luntz’s suggestion regarding the employee parking.   The Applicant’s revised plan should show the landscaping being proposed along Hudson Street.  Chairman Kehoe noted that Mr. Gemmola had said earlier in the meeting that he would speak to the property owner, Peter Tsagarakis, about a stone veneer for the retaining walls.  Mr. Gemmola suggested that, for the next meeting, he could provide the Planning Board with additional information on the grading, topography, heights of walls, etc.  

Mr. Luntz said that, at the next meeting, the Applicant should be prepared to “put to rest” any concerns/issues regarding the steep slopes on the property.  Chairman Kehoe noted that, when the Applicant was before the Planning Board with their previous application, there was much discussion about the potential impacts on neighboring properties of the disturbance to the slopes.  According to the Applicant, the current proposal would have less of an impact on the steep slopes. Chairman Kehoe reiterated that the Applicant should be prepared to discuss any slope issues and explain to those present the reasons why the current proposal would create less of an impact/disturbance.

The Village Engineer noted that a Wetlands Activity Permit would also be required for the work on the diner property.  There is a pond nearby.  The entrance to the diner off of Bungalow Road is within the regulated 120-foot buffer area of this pond.  The Planning Board would be the approving authority for the Wetlands Activity Permit.  The Planning Board would refer this application to the Water Control Commission for a recommendation.  

The Village Engineer stated that, for the next meeting, the Applicant should take care of matters regarding SEQRA (the State Environmental Quality Review Act).  He (the Village Engineer) would think that this proposal/action would be classified as an “Unlisted Action” under the SEQRA regulations.  The Village Engineer noted that, in order to satisfy the SEQRA requirements, the Applicant would need to know whether the short Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) would have to be extended into a long form EAF.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that the short form would be sufficient in this case.  The Village Engineer suggested that the Planning Board could act as the Lead Agency for this application.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant has to go before the Zoning Board for the Special Permits and the Planning Board for an Amended Site Plan.  He would think that both boards (the Zoning Board and Planning Board) could carry out the SEQRA process for their respective applications.  

Mr. Klein asked if the Planning Board would be meeting during the month of July, to which Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board would be meeting in July.  The board meetings take place the second and fourth Tuesdays. The Planning Board does not take a summer recess.

Mr. Klein said that he would let the Planning Board secretary know when they would be ready to come back before the board.


The minutes of the Tuesday, May 27, 2008 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Andrews, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 8:45 P.M.


Sylvia Mills