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Planning Board Minutes 05/26/2009

VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2009

A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Mark Aarons
                                Fran Allen
                                Vincent Andrews
                                Robert Luntz

ALSO PRESENT:           Daniel O'Connor, P.E., Village Engineer

1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Chairman Kehoe.

2.  OLD BUSINESS:

  • Brian Ackerman/John Harbeson/Lael Morgan – Batten Road (Sec. 68.17 Blk. 2 Lots 7, 8.1 & 9) – Request for a Third Six-Month Extension for Presentation of the Final Subdivision Plat
Chairman Kehoe said that he is recused on this application.  Ms. Allen will act as chairperson.

Ms. Allen said that the Applicant is requesting a third six-month extension for presentation to the Planning Board of the final subdivision plat.  Ms. Allen referred to the letter to the Planning Board dated May 14, 2009 from Norman Sheer, the Applicant’s attorney.  Mr. Sheer states in this letter that the Applicant was granted preliminary subdivision approval on January 15, 2008.  There were two six-month extensions granted, on July 22, 2008 and January 13, 2009, respectively.  Ms. Allen said that the reason for the time extensions was that the Applicant was waiting for the approval(s) required from the Westchester County Health Department.  The plat has now been signed by the Health Department but the remaining work for the final subdivision approval will not be completed by June 15, 2009, which is the expiration date of the second time extension.  Ms. Allen stated that the Applicant is asking for another six-month extension to December 15, 2009.  

Ms. Allen asked if the Planning Board members had any issues or concerns about granting the Applicant a third time extension, to which the board had no issues or concerns.   

The Planning Board unanimously approved the Applicant’s request for a third six-month extension to December 15, 2009.

3.  NEW BUSINESS:

  • Belarmino & Virginia Anton – 337 South Riverside Avenue (Sec. 79.13 Blk. 1 Lot 62) – Application for an Amended Site Plan Approval
Kevin Davignon of EDA Architecture, Inc. and Belarmino & Virginia Anton, proprietors of the proposed restaurant, were present.

Mr. Davignon stated that Mr. & Mrs. Anton bought the subject property on South Riverside Avenue a while ago and would like to make some changes to the interior and exterior of the existing restaurant on the premises.  They would like to make the interior of the restaurant more functional by relocating the restrooms to the rear of the building.  Presently, the restrooms are situated in the center of the interior space. Relocating them to the rear would create more open space in the dining area.  Mr. Davignon stated that the existing restrooms are not handicap accessible.  The Anton’s would make the restrooms handicap accessible and, in the process, enclose the existing open stairway to the second-floor apartment.  The renovation project would also include creating a new airlock entry vestibule in the front and enlarging the kitchen area. A small storage room would be situated off of the kitchen.

Mr. Davignon noted that this application is not for a change-of-use, as the subject space was previously a restaurant (“Riverside Four”).  The Applicant would not be changing the number of tables.  Mr. Davignon noted that Mr. & Mrs. Anton and he have met with the Village Engineer to discuss their proposal.  The Village Engineer has told them that the Village has a Comprehensive (Master) Plan that would be implemented in this area (the Harmon area) of the Village.  The idea set forth in the Comprehensive Plan would be to create, along Riverside Avenue, public parking areas behind commercial buildings and bring businesses closer to the street.  Mr. Davignon said that, in so far as this restaurant is concerned, moving the addition to the front or to the side would become very costly.  Mr. Davignon noted that the Anton’s could have opted to leave, as is, the interior space and not make the changes being proposed; however, they believe that these changes would make the restaurant more functional and, in the end, be worthwhile.

Mr. Davignon reviewed the two parking calculations that he had prepared (A and B) and noted the difference in the total number of parking spaces between calculations A and B (29 versus 34 spaces). Mr. Davignon said that, as part of this proposal, he would ask that the Planning Board make a determination as to what the parking requirement should be.  Mr. Aarons asked Mr. Davignon if calculation B is based on “1 space per 250 square feet” and “1 space per table (4 seats),” to which Mr. Davignon replied that, indeed, it is. Calculation B includes an additional requirement of a restaurant as “retail/service space.”  Mr. Aarons asked if the prior owner of the restaurant had been granted a variance for the parking, to which the Village Engineer said that he would have to review the file for any variances from the parking requirements that had been previously granted. Mr. Davignon said that, to his knowledge, the parking lot in front of the restaurant has never been striped. Mr. Davignon noted that, as part of this proposal, they would move the trash compactor off of the buffer and onto the blacktop, which would take up two parking spaces.  By moving the compactor in this way, it would make it easier for the garbage trucks to access the compactor.   

Mr. Aarons asked how many seats are in the restaurant, to which Mr. Davignon said 89 seats including the bar seating (13 at the bar).  Mr. Davignon noted that this number (89) would also include the 20 outdoor seats.  The seating outside would be seasonal (May to October).  Mr. Davignon stated that the outside dining area would be in the front of the building and would be fenced off. The pavement in the front would be removed and replaced by plant bed areas and new pavers to create a better entryway. Mr. Davignon said that the newly striped parking spaces would be located on the existing bituminous paved lot on the northwesterly side of the building.      

Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Davignon if the outside dining area could only be accessed by someone walking through the restaurant, to which Mr. Davignon said, yes.    

Mr. Luntz referred to the Applicant’s elevation plan(s) and said that, in his view, the front elevation would seem to be quite attractive; however, he would think that a five-foot high wooden fence along the perimeter of the outside dining area in the front would not be attractive.  Mr. Luntz noted that a sidewalk café would usually be enclosed by a low wrought iron “see-through” fence and not a five-foot high wooden fence.  Mr. Davignon noted that, as far as the type of fencing is concerned, the Applicant has not yet made a final decision on the design.   

Mr. Luntz said that as he understands the parking this property has a history of not having enough on-site parking spaces. Mr. Luntz noted that the subject building has been a restaurant for as long as he has lived in the Village; he, personally, does not see the parking as a problem.  

Mr. Luntz asked if the Village Code addresses parking for outdoor dining, to which the Village Engineer said that the Village Code addresses outdoor dining (per se) but is silent when it comes to the parking.  He would have to do further research into this matter.  The Village Engineer noted that any increase in the number of tables would undoubtedly have more of an impact on the parking.  

Chairman Kehoe said that, in so far as the parking is concerned, he, too, would be willing to consider accepting the Applicant’s proposal of having less than the required number of on-site parking spaces; however, the Planning Board still has to address this (the parking) issue.  Mr. Luntz noted that besides the on-site parking there is also parking permitted on the street in this area of the Village.  

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant’s plan shows 48’ 9” of space left in the back of the building with the new addition being proposed.  He asked if that amount of space would allow parking in the back, to which Mr. Davignon said that, while working on this project, he had laid out an alternate plan moving the addition to the front and leaving the back area open to parking.  When he did so, it increased the scope of the project.  The project became more costly.  Mr. Davignon stated that there are trees that would have to be removed to put parking in the back.  The only grass on the property is in the back.  Mr. Davignon said that the Applicant would be willing to remove the grass to put in employee parking, if the Planning Board so chooses.  In the alternative, this area could be left landscaped.  Mr. Luntz said that he, personally, would rather see it left landscaped.  Mr. Luntz said that it is his understanding that employees of businesses in this area are allowed to park on Riverside Avenue.  They have to obtain a parking sticker from the Village to do so.  Ms. Allen added that there is employee parking near the firehouse, which “could be the overflow for parking for employees in this area.” The Village Engineer said that the employee parking to which Ms. Allen is referring is by special permit.  The Village Engineer noted that the Planning Board could waive the parking requirement in some areas of the Village but not in this particular area.  He reiterated that he would have to do some research to see if a variance(s) from the on-site parking requirements were ever granted.  

Mr. Davignon noted to the Planning Board members that, to obtain one or two more parking spaces, he could take the trash compactor off of the blacktop and put it back on the buffer.

Mr. Davignon said that the new addition(s) would conform to the setback requirements in the C-2 Zoning District.
     
Chairman Kehoe asked who owns the chain link fence separating the Applicant’s lot from the adjacent lot, to which Mr. Davignon said that he does not know.  Mr. Davignon stated that if the Planning Board would prefer that he put in plantings around the outdoor tables rather than the fence presently being proposed, he would be willing to do so.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would be more concerned about the empty space being created by the proposed fenced-in seating area and the existing chain link fence.  This empty space would end up becoming a “no man’s land.”

Mr. Luntz referred to the Applicant’s site plan and suggested to the Applicant’s architect a way of making the on-site parking area for the restaurant work more efficiently and look better from the street. Some additional parking spots could also be gained.  Mr. Luntz said that this alternative plan for the parking lot would involve eliminating the curb cut on the right side and installing a new curb cut in the middle of the entrance to the parking lot.  Mr. Luntz said that by entering the lot from a centralized curb cut, the whole parking lot becomes usable.  A person entering the lot could pull in and out more easily, and this new parking lot arrangement would “make for a nicer neighborhood facing the property.”  Mr. Luntz said that by putting the curb in the middle, the bollards in the front could be eliminated.  Mr. Davignon said that he would look into this alternative arrangement for the parking lot.  He would have to go over the budget with the Anton’s and find out how much it would cost to close off the two existing curb cuts and create a new one.

Chairman Kehoe noted that it states on the Applicant’s elevation plan(s) that the existing stucco finish on the existing building portions would remain. Chairman Kehoe said that he would be concerned about the looks (aesthetics) of the building, if the existing middle portion were left as is.  He asked the Applicant if it would be financially possible for them to at least paint the existing building.  Chairman Kehoe said that, in so far as the Applicant’s budget is concerned, perhaps making improvements to the building could be weighed against making the aforementioned changes to the parking lot.    

Chairman Kehoe asked what the hours of operation would be, to which Mr. Anton said that they could only be open for breakfast and lunch until such time as they have obtained their liquor license.  Once they have their liquor license, they would (also) be open for dinner.  Their hours of operation would be 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.  Mrs. Anton noted that they would serve Hispanic-Mediterranean cuisine.

Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Applicant’s architect could revise his proposal for the outdoor seating area by modifying the fence presently being proposed or, in the alternative, eliminating the fence altogether and providing plantings (potted plants, etc.).  

Chairman Kehoe said that, in his view, the present arrangement for the outdoor dining does not give the feel of what outdoor dining should be. The outdoor seating should be accessible to pedestrians walking by.  There should be a possibility of an interaction between the people seated at the tables and passersby on the street. Chairman Kehoe suggested that instead of the pavers being proposed in the front the Applicant could use stamped asphalt.  Chairman Kehoe said that an attempt should be made to tie in the front area(s).  

Chairman Kehoe asked if the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) would have to approve the new curb cut, to which the Village Engineer replied that this road (South Riverside Avenue) has recently become a Village road.  It therefore does not require DOT approval.
   
Mr. Luntz reiterated the suggestion he made earlier in the meeting that the Applicant should consider eliminating the curb cut on the right and creating a new curb cut in the middle of the entrance way to the parking lot.

Chairman Kehoe noted to the Applicant that, from the discussion that has taken place tonight regarding the requirements for off-street parking, it might end up being necessary for the Applicant to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Chairman Kehoe told the Applicant that the Planning Board would be required to provide a recommendation on their application to the ZBA and would possibly decide to support their application, if it gets to that point.

Chairman Kehoe asked the other board members how they felt about the exterior surface of the building being “half-done.” Mr. Luntz suggested that, perhaps, a stucco finish could be used to coordinate the additions with the existing building.  Chairman Kehoe said that, for the next meeting, the Applicant’s architect should show the Planning Board how he proposes to coordinate the old and new portions of the building.

Mr. Aarons asked what would happen to the outside seating space when the tables are brought inside for the winter, to which Mr. Davignon said that, perhaps, they could put some decorative plants there (potted plants, Christmas trees, etc.).

Mr. Aarons suggested that a different treatment should be used for the patio area in the front so that it does not appear to be a continuation of the parking area.  He would want the patio area delineated in some way to make it a separate space.  Mr. Davignon said that he would look into it.

The Village Engineer asked if the area in the front being designated as “pavers” could be shrunken down and made into a walkway, to which Mr. Davignon said that he would think this could be done.  Mr. Davignon noted that pavers are expensive.  It would probably reduce the cost by “bringing in” the landscaping and creating a small walkway.

Mr. Davignon said that he would have to meet with the Applicant to discuss the changes to the plans that were requested and/or suggested tonight.  He would have to “get the numbers together for the budget” in order to help the Anton’s make a decision as to how to proceed.  

Mr. Davignon asked the Planning Board if they might consider allowing the Applicant to do this project in phases.  This might be a solution if, for budgetary reasons, the Applicant were unable to do this project all at once.  Mr. Andrews said that he would think that doing a building project this way (in phases) would be difficult for the Village to enforce, to which the other board members agreed.

Ms. Allen asked if there was any existing lighting on this lot, to which Mr. Davignon replied that there are two existing spot lights on the building, which light up the parking lot. The Applicant is also looking into the possibility of putting lights on the building for a wall-mounted sign.  Mr. Davignon added that the Applicant is also thinking about installing a free-standing sign.

Mr. Davignon said that, in his view, the priorities for the outside changes should be the pavers in the front, the work on the front elevation and the outdoor seating. Mr. Davignon said that if it were necessary for budgetary reasons to postpone doing one or more of the changes being discussed, he, personally, would like to put off the work on the curb cut.  Ms. Allen said that she would think that the first priority should be the organization of the parking area.  Mr. Aarons said that the economic success of the restaurant would probably not be contingent upon the organization of the parking lot. He, personally, would think that the Planning Board would want to seek a balance between the desired changes to the site and the overall success of the business (restaurant).  

Ms. Allen said that, in so far as the lighting of the parking area is concerned, she would not want the lighting to go beyond the parking lot and out onto the street.  Chairman Kehoe agreed with Ms. Allen and noted that the parking lot of the restaurant would have to be lit for security reasons; however, the lighting should not flood out onto the street.   The Applicant would have to make sure that the foot candles do not leave the edge of the parking lot.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB) is very interested in the Harmon economic/commercial development concept.   They would be interested in seeing the plans for this (the restaurant) application.  The Village Engineer noted that it is up to the Planning Board to decide when to show the VEB the plans.  The Village Engineer said that he would think that the Planning Board would want the VEB to see the final, “complete” set of plans and not a set of plans that is still “in flux.” In his view, once the Planning Board is satisfied with the plans and they are ready to schedule the public hearing, then the plans would go the VEB.  Mr. Luntz said that judging by the discussion that has taken place tonight the Planning Board is not ready to schedule a public hearing on this application.  The Planning Board might call for a public hearing at the next meeting, if they are satisfied with the revisions made to the plans.  Mr. Luntz said that the Planning Board would also need to provide a recommendation to the ZBA, if it is determined that variances are required. The Village Engineer said that he would work with the Applicant’s architect on this matter regarding variances for the parking.

Ms. Allen said that she would think that it would be worthwhile for the VEB to read the minutes of this meeting so that they would be aware of some of the site plan changes being considered e.g., centralized curb cut, etc.

Mr. Davignon said that, with respect to the signage being considered, the Applicant’s intent would be to put plantings around the ground-based (free-standing) sign.  Mr. Davignon added that he believes the Applicant would be hiring a sign company to design the sign(s).  Ms. Allen said that in order to know where the free-standing sign could be placed the Applicant would probably need to first resolve the issue regarding the location of the curb cut.

The Village Engineer said that he would be willing to work with the Applicant on the construction of a new curb cut.  The Village Engineer said that he is sure that the utilities are below the sidewalk.  The contractor would have to be careful not to damage the utilities.  There would have to be sufficient details on the plans for construction of the curb cut.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village has a permitting process for improvements to street lines.  Any construction in the right-of-way would require a street lines improvement permit.

The Village Engineer referred to the front elevation plan and asked the Applicant if they were proposing any surface treatment on the exterior of the second story, to which Mr. Davignon said that it is his understanding from the discussion that has taken place tonight that the Planning Board would like the Applicant to paint the entire building, including the second story.  Mr. Davignon noted that they had originally intended to provide a new stucco EIFS exterior finish on the new additions and keep the existing building as is.  Mr. Davignon pointed out to the Planning Board that, if it had been economically feasible for the Applicant to do so, the Applicant would have opted to “EIFS over the whole building” at this point in time and not put it off for sometime in the future.

The Village Engineer referred (again) to the front elevation plan and noted that the two columns in the front project above the roofline, to which Mr. Davignon said that, as part of the project, they would straighten out the columns so that they do not taper anymore, and they would add EIFS elements to the columns to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

Chairman Kehoe assured the Applicant that the discussion on this application that has taken place at the Planning Board meeting tonight is “part of the process” and is typical/standard procedure for the review of amended site plan applications. He (Chairman Kehoe) would not want the Applicant to feel discouraged by the changes being requested and/or suggested by the Planning Board tonight.  Mr. Luntz agreed and said that, to him personally, it is very exciting to see a proposal being developed for improvements to this site.  Mr. Luntz added that the Planning Board is looking forward to seeing this particular site developed.        

The Village Engineer said that he would look into the matters discussed tonight regarding the requirements for parking on this site, the potential need for variances from the parking requirements, etc., and let the Applicant know the outcome.
  
4.  OTHER BUSINESS:

  • The Village Engineer noted that, at the last meeting, the Planning Board had asked to see resumes of engineering firms that would have the necessary expertise to review the various technical aspects of the Francy steep slope and minor site plan application(s). The Village Engineer said that he is in the process of researching firms that would offer the professional services required, including experts on drainage and traffic issues.  The Planning Board had also asked for the professional services of a landscape architect.  The Village Engineer said that he has contacted John Meyer Consulting, PC (JMC) and has received for the meeting tonight information on their firm, including resumes. The Village Engineer distributed JMC’s packet of information to the board members.  The Village Engineer said that he has two other firms in mind that would most likely offer the services required. They are: Chazen Engineering and Tectonic Engineering.  He would be in touch with these two firms and ask them to provide information/resumes in time for the next Planning Board meeting.   
          
5.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Tuesday, April 28, 2009 Planning Board meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Aarons, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4-0-1.  Mr. Andrews abstained.    

6.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:28 P.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
Secretary


Sylvia Mills
Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Engineer's Office
tel: 914-271-4783
fax: 914-271-3790