Planning Board Minutes 09/08/2009
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK

PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2009


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 in the Municipal Building.

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

ABSENT:                 Vincent Andrews

ALSO PRESENT:           Demetra Restuccia, Member of the Board of Trustees
                                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:

  • 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.

Chairman Kehoe noted to those present that this Applicant was before the Planning Board in July of this year, at which time the Applicant was granted an amended site plan approval.  The Applicant could have moved forward with their proposed renovations, but they made a minor change to their site plan, which requires review by the Planning Board.  Chairman Kehoe noted that this application for an amended site plan requires a public hearing.

Mr. Davignon stated that the original intent was to construct a single-story addition at the rear of the building to be used as office space with the idea that at some point in the future a second-story apartment would be added. The Applicant has since decided that it would be more cost-efficient to build the core and shell of the second-story apartment now.  By building the core and shell now, the Applicant would save construction costs by not having to build, and then later remove the roof over the first floor.  Mr. Davignon noted that the idea would be to build the structure now but not “fit out”/complete the second-story apartment until later. Mr. Davignon told those present that there already exists on the second floor of this building one two-bedroom apartment.    

Mr. Davignon said that as part of this “new” amended site plan proposal, the Applicant would like to expand the footprint of the rear addition by extending it to the west by 3.67 feet.  Also, the north end (rear) of the apartment would cantilever 2 feet past the lower office wall.  These minor changes would add to the square footage of the apartment and optimize the apartment layout.

Mr. Davignon said that the Applicant has incorporated into their new proposal the site changes requested at the previous meeting by the Planning Board, by members of the public and by the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB). Mr. Davignon said that the parking lot for the restaurant originally had 28 spaces when only 27 spaces are required. It was suggested that a parking space could be eliminated to make the handicapped space more accessible and to provide more green area. The Applicant’s revised plan shows parking space 13 as having been removed and the area redesigned as a plant bed.  

Mr. Davignon noted that at the last meeting the Village Engineer had asked if the drainage from the site would be affected by the changes/additions being proposed. Mr. Davignon said that he would think that the flow of water off of the parking lot would not be affected.  The parking lot itself would remain the same. The curb design is not changing.  Mr. Davignon noted that there is a catch basin on either side of Oneida Avenue.  He would think that the drainage from the parking lot would continue to flow into these catch basins as it always has.  

Mr. Davignon noted that the height of the existing building is not being increased by the changes/additions being proposed.  Mr. Davignon said that the “old-growth” trees in the back of the property would seem to provide sufficient screening from the neighboring properties in the back.  These “old-growth” trees are anywhere from 35 feet to 60 feet in height.  Mr. Davignon said that the Applicant has provided for tonight’s meeting a landscaping plan. The plantings being proposed are specified and indicated in a planting schedule on sheet S-100 of the Applicant’s plans.  

Mr. Davignon stated that, as part of the proposal, they are moving the dumpster eastward off of the buffer between the two properties.  The Applicant would like to put down a new concrete pad for the dumpster.  

Mr. Davignon said that for informational purposes he has provided for the Planning Board tonight a layout for the future apartment.

Chairman Kehoe noted that in the current zoning law, the Applicant would have to seek a special permit from the Village Board for the future second-story apartment. Chairman Kehoe said that a zoning change is currently being proposed, which would allow a mixed-use in this (the Harmon gateway overlay) district without a special permit.

Doug Wehrle, chairman of the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB), was present.  Mr. Wehrle stated that the VEB has already reviewed the Anton’s signage application.  It is his understanding that the VEB could make comments on the Anton’s landscaping plan and site plan.  Mr. Wehrle said that the VEB is pleased to see a new business come into town and likes the idea of a restaurant in this location. A restaurant in this location lends itself to the “restaurant row” character of this block on South Riverside Avenue. Mr. Wehrle said that, with respect to the proposed free-standing sign, the VEB would have preferred gooseneck lights for the sign, but all in all the VEB feels positive about the design for the sign.  Furthermore, the sign is consistent with code requirements.  

Mr. Wehrle said that the VEB would recommend some changes to the parking lot area(s).  Mr. Wehrle noted that the width of the paved area (parking lot) is 6 feet wider than it needs to be; this paved area could be reduced in size. Mr. Wehrle said that reducing this paved area by as little as 4 feet, from 30 feet to 26 feet, would allow for the placement of a new planting bed along the north side of the building.  A planting bed close to the building would soften the building’s edge.  This new planting bed would tie in with the new wall and planting bed on the other side of the building.  Mr. Wehrle said that the VEB would recommend that the parking lot and the adjacent pedestrian areas of the property should be contained and delineated by curbs.  Mr. Wehrle said that bonafide edges should be established so that there is no confusion about where the cars are and where people are. These curbs would better define the entrance and exit and would provide additional planting opportunities.  There would be room for shade trees in the front, which would protect the pavement from the hot afternoon sun.  Mr. Wehrle said that the Village tree in the front should also be preserved.  Ms. Allen asked if, with the reduction in the paved area, it would still be possible to get a big dump (garbage) truck in the parking lot, to which Mr. Wehle said that he would think that it would be possible. Mr. Wehrle said that 24 feet is standard for a parking lot and he is actually proposing two additional feet (26 feet).  

Kieran Murray from the Harmon Economic Development Committee was present. Mr. Murray told the Anton’s that their plan for the renovation of the restaurant “looks wonderful,” and his comments, (which are forthcoming), should not be viewed as negative in any way.  Mr. Murray said that, although the Applicant’s plan is an attractive one, it runs counter to what the Committee is proposing for the future development of the Harmon gateway area. Mr. Murray said that later in the meeting tonight he would be giving a presentation on the zoning changes being proposed for Harmon. He suggested that the Anton’s could stay to hear the presentation. Mr. Murray said that he would like the Anton’s to hear the discussion about how the Committee arrived at the rationale for the zoning change recommendations. Mr. Murray pointed out that the Committee is very happy that this Applicant is considering investing in the community.  The goal should be to work together to create something that is a “model for the area.” Chairman Kehoe said that it is his understanding that the Applicant’s architect had lengthy discussions with the Village Engineer regarding this proposal.  Chairman Kehoe said that, in so far as the first amended site plan application is concerned the Planning Board was willing to let the project go forward because, overall, the board members felt that the changes being proposed were an improvement to the site.  Chairman Kehoe pointed out that these changes/additions to the site do not totally extinguish the shared parking in the back, which is part of the Harmon gateway parking recommendations.    

Maria Cudequest of 84 Grand Street said that she, personally, is happy to see this site turned to a productive use. She, too, was glad that the Applicant was investing in the Croton community.  Ms. Cudequest said that the zoning proposal, to which Mr. Murray is referring, is a contentious proposal; she would think that this Applicant does not necessarily have to be swayed by it.

Phyllis Morrow of 61 Nordica Drive said that, in her view, the VEB’s suggestions for more planting areas on this site are crucial for the future development of the Harmon gateway area.  Ms. Morrow said that, given the proposed zoning changes, there would be so many paved areas that “every opportunity to have green is crucial.”

Ms. Morrow said that the model apartment for the Harmon gateway district would be a one-bedroom rather than a two-bedroom.  The Applicant is proposing a two-bedroom apartment.  Ms. Morrow said that she would foresee issues in terms of code enforcement.  “How do we know that something else [other than an apartment] is not going in there?”  Ms. Morrow said that she would not be in favor of granting an approval for putting up walls when it is not known what exactly will be there. She said that once the walls are up the Applicant could do what they want when we (the Village) are not looking.  Chairman Kehoe said that he believes that the Village does not govern whether it would be a one or two-bedroom apartment. The Village’s jurisdiction is with the granting of the special permit. The Village Engineer added that the Village Board has wide discretion on the issuing (granting) of a special permit.

Mr. Murray said that the Village cannot legally restrict the number of bedrooms, but the Village could discourage multiple bedrooms by having a scaled parking requirement. Mr. Murray reiterated that this would be the way to steer people (developers) toward constructing smaller one-bedroom units.

Mr. Davignon noted that the existing parcel is literally 85% impervious pavement.  The Applicant is not adding any new blacktop.  Mr. Davignon said that if the Applicant were to do a good business and could put money back into the property, he is certain that they would want to implement the landscaping changes suggested earlier in the meeting. Ms. Morrow said that she would think that a small planting border would not cost that much money.  Ms. Morrow said that she would be concerned about over-population in the Harmon area and “even more paving than currently exists.”  Ms. Morrow said that if the Applicant were to put in the planting border, it would be a way of demonstrating that they understand the values, to which the Village is trying to adhere, of developing and/or preserving green areas.  Chairman Kehoe noted that to put in a planting bed the Applicant would have to take out the asphalt and put in curbing; this would not be cheap to do.

Mr. Wehrle told the Planning Board how he came about delivering a presentation tonight.  He stated that the Village’s assistant building inspector Joseph Sperber had asked him to prepare comments on behalf of the VEB for tonight’s meeting.  Mr. Wehrle said that he did not put in the time and effort to make these comments “for no good reason or just because I wanted to.” Chairman Kehoe added that one of the conditions of the Applicant’s previously approved amended site plan was to receive comments from the VEB on the landscaping being proposed.  Ms. Allen recalled that during the review of the first amended site plan application the Planning Board was told that the Applicant could not have an elaborate landscaping plan due to monetary reasons.  The Planning Board took that into account on a number of issues and, in her view, the Applicant’s plan has developed into a “very nice” plan.  Ms. Allen said that she would suggest that the plan be left as is. She added that much of what is being discussed tonight as landscaping or site improvements could be implemented later, to which Mr. Luntz agreed.

Mr. Aarons asked if there was a border around the landscaped area in the front, to which Mr. Davignon stated that the plantings on the inside are surrounded by a curb.  The curb is being shown on the plan by a black line.  Mr. Aarons asked if a curb is being shown on the northwest corner, to which Mr. Davignon replied that there exists in that area a retaining wall and curb.  Mr. Aarons noted that the only area that does not have a curb is the area along the building.  Mr. Aarons questioned what the cost would be to put curbing there.  He thought that this was an excellent suggestion by the VEB and, if inexpensive, perhaps curbing could be considered for that area. Mr. Davignon said that his understanding is that the Planning Board’s condition in the resolution deals with curb cuts in the front.  The problem with putting in curbing along the building is the cost involved.  Mr. Murray noted that digging up curbing and installing plantings is very expensive.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would agree with the suggestion made earlier that the additional landscaping recommended by the VEB could be revisited at a later date.  Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board could forward on to the Applicant the VEB’s comments about the landscaping.

Ms. Allen noted that, as part of this proposal, the Applicant has important interior work to do, e.g. providing handicapped accessible bathrooms, etc.

Mr. Luntz told the other board members that his suggestion would be to allow the Applicant to move forward and implement their plan.  He would suggest that when it becomes an economic reality, the Applicant could, then, consider the VEB’s recommendations concerning the additional landscaping.  The Planning Board would want this to eventually happen because it would improve the look and feel of South Riverside Avenue.  Ms. Allen said that she would agree.  She also said that she would not put time constraints on the additional landscaping.  Mr. Wehrle said that perhaps the additional landscaping could be considered at the same time as the second-story apartment.  

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any further comments from members of the public, to which there were none.  Chairman Kehoe made a motion to close the public hearing.  The motion was made by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the draft resolution.  Chairman Kehoe asked if the Planning Board would want to have a condition in the resolution about revisiting the landscaping when the apartment is put in.  The Village Engineer said that such a condition would have to say something to the effect that this would be based on the exact text of the zoning legislation.  At this point the Applicant would have to go before the Village Board for the apartment; however, should the zoning be changed, it would become unnecessary.  Ms. Allen questioned whether the Planning Board should be “getting into the landscaping business in that way.” Ms. Allen said that, “We have to trust that people coming in to establish a successful business will have an attractive business.”  Ms. Allen also thought that the landscaping should not be tied into the approval of the apartment.

Mr. Luntz said that he would think the Planning Board should carry over into the resolution the condition regarding closing off the existing curb cut in the front of the restaurant. This condition states that this curb cut should be closed off within 2 years of the date of the resolution or by July 14, 2011.  Mr. Luntz said that, with respect to the VEB’s recommendations, there should be wording in the resolution to the effect that the Planning Board suggests that at the time they (the Applicant) do improvements, they should follow the recommendations of the VEB.  

The Village Engineer noted that the VEB’s recommendations regarding the additional curbing would normally require an amended site plan approval. The Village Engineer noted further that the VEB might have something different to recommend in the future depending on what is “going on” in the community. The Village Engineer suggested that, rather than a condition, the Planning Board could make it a “whereas” clause as follows: “Whereas, the VEB presented a modification to the approved landscaping plan on September 8, 2009, and the Planning Board suggested that the Applicant implement the additions recommended by the VEB when economically feasible.”  Mr. Aarons noted that carrying out the VEB’s suggestions would double the amount of green space.  He asked if the Applicant could investigate the cost of putting in a curb along the side of the building. If inexpensive enough, then, perhaps this curbing could be considered now rather than at some point in the future.

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve this application with the condition and “whereas” clause discussed tonight.  The motion was made by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.


3.  NEW BUSINESS:

  • Peter Coulianos & Susan Mislove – 14 Van Wyck Street (Sec. 78.08 Blk. 6 Lot 6) – Appeal of Village Engineer’s Determination on Tree Removal Permit Application
Susan Mislove, owner of the property, was present.  

Ms. Mislove said that she is before the board tonight to appeal the Village Engineer’s decision denying her permission to remove the black walnut tree in her back yard.  Ms. Mislove noted that black walnut trees are beautiful trees but the black walnuts that fall to the ground are dangerously heavy. Ms. Mislove said that her daughter is not allowed to play outside in the yard due to the fact that she might be struck on the head by black walnuts. She showed the Planning Board samples of the black walnuts and put them on a scale to demonstrate to the board members how heavy they were.  Ms. Mislove reiterated that the Village Engineer denied her application for a tree permit to remove this tree; she is before the Planning Board tonight to appeal the Village Engineer’s decision.  

Ms. Mislove noted that black walnut trees are toxic; they produce a chemical that kills other trees.  It is her understanding that she would have to wait five years before any replanting could take place.

Chairman Kehoe noted that the Village Engineer denied this application to remove the black walnut tree because he did not see a specific criterion under the Village’s tree ordinance for its removal.  The Village Engineer noted that Ms. Mislove also applied for a tree permit to remove two maple trees.  One of the maples was diseased and the other was competing with a mature tree.  Mr. Aarons asked why a permit is required to remove the black walnut tree, to which the Village Engineer said that this tree is located in a regulated buffer zone on the perimeter of the property.   

Ms. Allen said that she, personally, would have no problem with this tree being removed.  Mr. Luntz said that he, too, would have no problem; however, he would want the Applicant to have to obtain written permission from the neighboring property owner to do so. Chairman Kehoe asked the board if they would want replanting to be done, to which Ms. Allen said, yes. She noted that the area of the property in question could not take a large replacement tree because the area is too small. Ms. Mislove said that she would like to plant decorative trees as replacements.  Chairman Kehoe noted that any replacement tree should be a non-invasive species.  Ms. Mislove suggested that she could send the Planning Board the list of trees, which are adversely affected by the black walnut toxin, to which Ms. Allen said that she would think that the type/species of tree should be left up to the Applicant, her neighbor and a professional in the field. Ms. Allen suggested to the Applicant that she might want to consider a tree that would provide screening between neighboring properties.

The Village Engineer suggested that the Planning Board might want to specify the caliper of the tree to be planted as a replacement. Ms. Allen noted that the larger the tree, the less likely the tree would survive. Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board could require a minimum caliper of 2” to 2 ”.  Ms. Mislove noted that she would need to plant this tree soon before the seasons change. Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board could approve this application subject to the Applicant’s obtaining a sign-off from the neighbor and subject to the planting of a replacement tree with a minimum caliper of 2” to 2 ”.  The Applicant should work with a professional(s) to choose the right tree.  The Village Engineer reiterated that the Planning Board could approve this application subject to receiving the written consent of the neighbor and subject to planting a replacement tree with a 2” minimum caliper.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any further comments from the board members, to which there were none.

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve this tree removal application with the conditions discussed tonight.  The motion was made by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Aarons and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.   


4.  OLD BUSINESS:

  • Margo Francy – 57 Old Post Road North (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 2 Lot 27) – Application for a Steep Slope Permit
John Gochman, Esq., attorney for the Applicant, was present.

Chairman Kehoe stated that he is recused on this application; board member Fran Allen will act as chairperson.

Ms. Allen noted that there are only three members present tonight who could act on this application.  Chairman Kehoe is recused and board member Vincent Andrews was unable to attend due to a work-related conflict.

Mr. Gochman stated that on September 2, 2009 he appeared on behalf of the Applicant before the Waterfront Advisory Committee (WAC). The WAC members present that night were Planning Board members Fran Allen and Robert Luntz and Water Control Commission (WCC) member Charles Kane. Mr. Gochman said that, at that meeting, it was pointed out that there was need for additional work to be done by the Applicant in connection with drainage and in connection with erosion of the steep slopes, to which Ms. Allen recalled that, “That is not what we (the WAC) found.” Ms. Allen said that, at that meeting, the WAC made a final finding on this application.  The WAC found this project to be inconsistent with the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) based on the materials submitted. Ms. Allen noted that a memorandum to this effect was sent to the Planning Board with a copy to the Village Board.  Ms. Allen noted that the WAC is recommending that the Planning Board find this project to be inconsistent. The Planning Board as Lead Agency is responsible for making the final decision.

Mr. Gochman said that he thought when he appeared before the WAC that there was a discussion about whether the Applicant could seek an extension from the Planning Board for purposes of hiring a professional engineer to come before the Planning Board to discuss soil, erosion and drainage issues. Mr. Luntz recalled that after the WAC had made their determination of inconsistency, there was a discussion that took place about the Applicant’s possibly coming before the Planning Board to ask for an extension.  The issue was raised as to whether this would be legally possible.  Mr. Luntz noted that at the last of the continued public hearings before the Planning Board the Applicant wanted to move the decision process along and did not want consultants to be hired, and the public hearing was closed. Ms. Allen said that, as she understands the process, the next step would be for the Planning Board to make a decision based on the WAC’s findings and based on other issues raised at previous Planning Board meetings.  Ms. Allen said that there was no intent at the WAC meeting to prolong the process.  She would think that Mr. Luntz and she are in agreement here.

Mr. Luntz asked Mr. Gochman if, at tonight’s Planning Board meeting, he is requesting an extension or if he is asking the Planning Board to take a vote, to which Mr. Gochman replied that he was under the impression that he could ask the Planning Board tonight for an extension if, indeed, this is permitted by statute.  Ms. Allen said that, perhaps, the Planning Bard could grant this extension, but the matter regarding the WAC’s recommendation on the determination of inconsistency is settled.  Ms. Allen noted that this finding was not intended as “preliminary.” It was a final finding based on the materials submitted. The Village Engineer pointed out that, as Lead Agency, the Planning Board has to make the final determination of consistency.  If the Planning Board’s determination overrides the Committee’s (WAC’s), then, the Planning Board has to make its own findings. The Village Engineer said that this is (would be) a separate procedure. Ms. Allen said again that there are other issues to be considered besides the WAC’s consistency ruling.

Mr. Gochman said that he is asking that the Planning Board consider granting an extension so that the Applicant has an opportunity to further prepare their response.  Mr. Luntz told Mr. Gochman that the WAC’s recommendation on the inconsistency of this application stands as is; however, if the Applicant were to ask the Planning Board for an extension, he would have no objection to granting the extension. Mr. Gochman said that at the WAC meeting there were issues raised concerning drainage and erosion of the steep slopes. The Applicant would like to hire someone (a professional consultant) to speak to that.  Mr. Luntz asked Mr. Gochman if he had a timeframe in mind, to which Mr. Gochman said that he would think at least 30 days.  Ms. Allen said that she has a number of concerns that need to be addressed.  The drainage calculations were based on a ten-year storm event.  Given the amount (95%) and the degree of steep slopes on this property, she would think that these calculations would be inadequate. Ms. Allen said that the calculations for the proposed dry wells, runoff, etc. should be validated or changed. Ms. Allen said that, if approved, the Planning Board should request that a fulltime consultant be on site during construction.  Ms. Allen said that more detailed information should be provided on tree cutting.  She noted that it is extremely important on steep slopes of this magnitude for all the tree roots to be removed. Mr. Luntz added that there were also issues raised regarding the aesthetics of the retaining walls, the landscaping plan, etc.  Ms. Allen pointed out to Mr. Gochman that the matters just discussed are in addition to those brought up at the WAC meeting.

The Village Engineer said that he would think that 30 days is too short a period of time.  Mr. Luntz suggested that Mr. Gochman could come back before the Planning Board at their next meeting and propose a timeframe.  He, too, thought that the Applicant would need more than 30 days. Mr. Gochman said that he would see how he could move this (the process) forward. Ms. Allen noted that the Planning Board would choose its own consultant(s) to review the Applicant’s work.  

Ms. Allen noted to Mr. Gochman that LWRP policy 11A has 17 items and policy 37B 16 items, all of which would have to be met.  Ms. Allen said that just as the Applicant had to consider the requirements in the steep slopes law, the Applicant would have to consider the requirements in the LWRP.  Ms. Allen noted further that the local (Village’s) LWRP policies are “backed up” by the state and federal government.      

Mr. Gochman said that he would get back to the Planning Board with tangible information by the meeting of September 22nd.  Ira Lipton of 55 Old Post Road North asked if this item would, indeed, be on the agenda for the September 22nd meeting, to which Mr.  Luntz said that this item would likely be on the agenda as a request for an extension for a timeframe for rendering a decision.  

The Planning Board scheduled this application for the next regularly scheduled meeting to be held on Tuesday, September 22nd.

  • Referral from the Village Board for Proposed Zoning Changes to the Harmon Gateway Overlay Zoning District
Kieran Murray from the Harmon Business Development Committee and Bonnie Von Ohlsen of Saccardi & Schiff, Inc. were present.

Mr. Murray presented to the Planning Board the Harmon Business Development Committee’s report on the Harmon zoning changes, which (report) is found in its entirety on-line on the Village’s web site. Mr. Murray gave some background on the development of the report stating that in 2007 the Committee identified “stakeholder groups” in Harmon and, then, developed a list of “non-negotiable criteria.” Mr. Murray noted that one of the criteria is that the “small village” characteristics of the Harmon area must be maintained.  Another criterion pertains to the parking for commercial establishments i.e., the parking for these establishments must not be pushed onto adjacent residential streets.  Mr. Murray said that another criterion is that property owners cannot devalue properties. Business owners must improve the viability of the Harmon district. Mr. Murray noted that a benefit of bringing business into Croton would be to increase the tax revenue.  Bringing in business would help to alleviate the tax burden on residents.

Mr. Murray said that the Committee looked at the “stakeholder groups” in Harmon and concluded that the one group that could have an effect on changing Harmon for the better is the property owners themselves.  The only way that positive change could take place would be to give these property owners incentive to improve their properties.  Mr. Murray said that there is no economic incentive under the current zoning for property owners to make improvements. Mr. Murray noted that the Committee’s goal was to preserve the “small village” character and maintain the quality of life in the Harmon area while improving amenities.  

Mr. Murray described the specific changes being proposed for the Harmon gateway overlay district, stating that mixed-use buildings would be allowed without a special permit.  The floor area ratio (FAR) of mixed-use buildings would be increased from .4 to .8. Mr. Murray stated that the maximum height of buildings would still be 35 feet, but in mixed-use buildings, residential use would be permitted on the third floor.  A commercial use would not be allowed on the third floor.  Both commercial and residential uses would be allowed on the second floor. Ms. Allen expressed concern about the building height and said that, with respect to the building height, it would be important to understand what 35 feet actually means. Ms. Allen was concerned about the way the height of a building is measured and suggested that before moving too far forward, the Village might need to change the laws on height.  Mr. Murray said that the intent of the new law is (would be) to maintain the small-town feel of the Village by keeping the height down.  Mr. Murray suggested that the Planning Board should bring up to the Village Board this issue pertaining to building height.  The Planning Board should do so at the meeting (public hearing) when the Village Board is considering the passage of the new law.     

Mr. Murray described the parking requirement(s) in the new law, stating that the parking requirement for residential units would remain 2 parking spaces per residential unit.  In the new law, one of the two parking spaces may count toward commercial parking requirements. Mr. Murray said that, with respect to residential parking, the Village might want to make the parking requirement such that it would be an incentive to a developer to hold down the number of bedrooms in an apartment. He noted that the Village could not place a limit on the number of bedrooms, but the Village could have a graduated parking requirement that would reward one-bedroom apartment developers.  Mr. Aarons asked Mr. Murray how they are going to share parking between two parcels, to which Mr. Murray said that it is (would be) an arrangement that would be agreed upon between the two owners.

Mr. Murray stated that in the new law, for buildings that are mixed-use, at least 50% of the first (ground) floor must be for commercial use, and the commercial establishment must face the street front. Mr. Murray stated that the maximum front setback requirement would be increased to 15-20 feet to encourage parking in the rear of buildings. Mr. Murray stated that, in the new law, at least 50% of the front façade of the first floor facing the street must be glass. He noted that a commercial use could not be in the back of a building.  It has to be in the front.  

Mr. Murray explained how the Committee decided to recommend allowing a three-story building in the Harmon area.  Mr. Murray said that allowing a third story on a building solves the issue of parking on site. It frees up the space to satisfy the parking which could, then, be self-contained on the lot.  Mr. Murray reiterated that the maximum height of a building would remain at 35 feet, but a residential use would be permitted on the third floor within the roofline.

Mr. Murray showed an aerial view of the nail salon and nearby restaurant on South Riverside Avenue and explained the hazardous route a pedestrian has to take to walk from the nail salon to this restaurant. Mr. Murray then showed another aerial view of a more pedestrian-friendly area in Harmon where pedestrians can safely walk down the street from store to store. Mr. Murray said that the intent of the new law would be for Harmon to become a more pedestrian-friendly area.  The intent would be for a pedestrian to be able to safely walk down the street without having to cross driveways, walk through parking lots, etc. Mr. Murray noted that this was the rationale used for the rear parking design concept.  Mr. Murray showed a computerized rendering of what a streetscape in the Harmon area might look like with landscaping in the front and the parking in the rear.  Mr. Murray noted some of the advantages of the rear parking design strategy stating that it improves pedestrian safety, improves operating efficiency (rear deliveries do not impact the shopping experience), and improves the visual environment (delivery trucks and parked cars in the front of buildings are replaced by landscaping and green space).

Chairman Kehoe noted that on page 16 of the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), it states that the likely anticipated level of development would be approximately 9,500 square feet of commercial space. Mr. Murray said that the types of “Mom & Pop” businesses being anticipated would require cheaper or more affordable commercial space. Mr. Murray said that this proposal is not a housing plan to promote affordable housing as has been “bandied about.”  Instead, the Committee, in developing the proposal, has tried to recognize the demand for, and has tried to make it possible to create, affordable commercial space.  Mr. Murray noted that, in preparing the EAF, the Village’s consultants Saccardi & Schiff used conservative estimates throughout.  

Mr. Luntz said that, with respect to the third-story concept, he would like to have more detailed information on what a “story within a roofline” actually means.  What would a third story within a roofline look like?  Mr. Luntz reiterated that this notion of a “story within a roofline” needs more specificity and clarification.

Chairman Kehoe described the gist of the bill presently on the governor’s desk regarding affordable housing stating that the bill basically says that if a developer were to build five housing units, one of the five units has to be “affordable.”  Mr. Murray said that this bill has been a major concern of his.  Besides the philosophical impacts, it has an impact on economics.  Mr. Murray noted that Saccardi & Schiff have been asked to analyze the impacts of this bill on taxes.  Mr. Murray explained to the board the “density bonus” aspect of the bill stating that in lieu of providing an affordable housing unit on-site a payment may be made to the municipality to be held in trust for the purpose of constructing an affordable housing unit off-site.  Ms. Von Ohlsen noted that having reviewed the parcels in question, there are a few that could have more than five units, but it is less than what she thought it would be.  Mr. Murray added that from the analysis provided by Saccardi & Schiff on page 42 of the EAF, the impacts he was concerned about might not be as bad as he originally thought.

Mr. Aarons said that he would like the Planning Board to have more of an opportunity to read the EAF document. He suggested that, once the board has read the document, Mr. Murray could come back to discuss the zoning change(s) with the board.  Mr. Murray suggested that the Planning Board members could attend the Harmon Business Development Committee meeting being held on Tuesday.  In the meantime, the Planning Board could “give the EAF a read.” Mr. Murray said that the Committee would welcome the opinions and comments of the Planning Board.  

  • Croton Community  Nursery School – Lower North Highland Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 2 Lots 5, 6, 9 and 25 [formerly Lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 25]) – Application for a Preliminary Subdivision Approval
Ronald Wegner of Cronin Engineering was present to represent the Applicant.

Mr. Wegner noted to the Planning Board that the Applicant’s wetlands consultant Stephen Coleman had flagged the wetlands and prepared a wetlands study (report) for the property, which has since been revised.  Changes were made based on the review performed by Bruce Donohue, the Village’s environmental consultant.  

Chairman Kehoe asked about the difference between a “drainage channel” and a “wetland,” to which  Mr. Wegner said that, in so far as defining a wetland is concerned, generally speaking, the following three criteria are taken into consideration:  (1) the presence of water (2) the appropriate (wetland) soils and (3) the appropriate (wetland) vegetation.   Mr. Wegner explained that a rainfall drainage channel is regulated from a hydraulic standpoint and that when the Planning Board went on their site walk, the drainage channel on this property was dry.  Mr. Wegner pointed to a drainage channel on the Applicant’s plan and noted that this drainage course (channel) comes from Kaplan’s Pond.  Chairman Kehoe referred to the Applicant’s subdivision plan and noted that it has now been agreed upon that the area at the rear of the property is a wetland.  This was first considered to be a drainage channel.  Mr. Wegner stated that this drainage course (channel) was reclassified as a wetland based on the Village law on wetlands.  Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands the Applicant’s revised plan, there is now a 120-foot buffer coming off of the southern portion of the property, which would mean that the house on Lot 1 is now within the wetlands buffer.  

Chairman Kehoe stated that sheet 1 of the Applicant’s plans shows the subdivision (houses), sheet 2, the variations of slopes and sheet 3, the survey of the trees.  Chairman Kehoe said that to better understand the proposed disturbance(s), he would like to see the houses on all three plans.  He would also like to have the disturbance(s) per lot quantified.  Finally, on the tree survey, an “X” should be placed on trees to be removed.  Mr. Wegner said that, for the next meeting, he would show the houses on the other two plans (sheets #’s SP-1.1 and TS-2.1).

Mr. Wegner noted that Mr. Donohue marked the trees at the rear of the property.  He also identified the trees in the front and put numbers on them.  Mr. Wegner said that the Applicant’s surveyor located the trees and Mr. Donohue identified the size and species of trees.  Ms. Allen was pleased with the tree survey submitted and said it was one of the best she had ever seen.  Chairman Kehoe said that it would be helpful to the Planning Board, now that the trees have been identified, to know the significance of these trees.  He suggested that Mr. Donohue could provide this information.  Ms. Allen said that certain trees need to be protected to the drip line, and in all her years as a Planning Board member, she has almost never seen this happen. Ms. Allen noted that according to the Applicant’s tree survey, an American Beech tree would have to be removed.

Chairman Kehoe said that he is still not satisfied with what the Applicant has provided to the Planning Board concerning the conditions of ownership of the nursery school property, to which Mr. Luntz noted that, for tonight’s meeting, the Applicant’s attorney Maria Modica-Snow has provided an addendum to the title report, which states the following:  “7. Covenants, conditions, easements of record and other matters as follows:  7a.  NONE.”  Chairman Kehoe said that rather than a title report he would be more interested in seeing what the agreement of record or will to the property has to say.  Perhaps, it just says that the owner is donating the land for the enjoyment of the children. Chairman Kehoe said that the Applicant continues to give the Planning Board these title reports.  He reiterated that he would be curious to know if there is an agreement or will and what it says.  Mr. Aarons said that he would think that any conditions of ownership would be in the deed.  It would be helpful to the Planning Board to see the deed of record.  

Chairman Kehoe said that it is his understanding from the discussions thus far that the back third of the nursery school property might possibly be designated as a conservation easement.   

The Village Engineer noted that the two houses of the subdivision, which are proposed to be situated toward the back of the property, would run into the wetlands buffer. On Lot 2 the buffer would be approximately 15 feet from the house.  The Village Engineer said that a 15-foot back yard running into a wetlands buffer area is not practicable. Ms. Allen asked if it would be possible to move the house forward.  Chairman Kehoe noted that, as currently being proposed, there would be a considerable amount of disturbance for the creation of the driveway on Lot 2.  He asked the Applicant if, for the next meeting, he could provide the Planning Board with additional information on possible scenarios for developing Lot 2.  The Planning Board would need to see the impacts to the wetlands, steep slopes, etc.  Mr. Wegner noted on the Applicant’s plan the location of the rainfall drainage channel on Lot 2 and said that, “We don’t want the house on top of the rainfall drainage channel.”

Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board would want the nursery school to consider a means of protecting the back of the lots such as a conservation easement.  The Village Engineer noted to the board that a conservation easement would need to be established based on some form of a rationale.  Ms. Allen said that she feels strongly about (the importance of establishing) these conservation easements but from past experience, it would seem that the Village does not enforce them.  Chairman Kehoe said that the language of the easement would have to be worked out.  He noted that it might be desirous to have some type of passive recreation in the back such as a walking trail.  Ms. Allen said that any discussions regarding the Village trail system should include Jan Wines, the chairman of the Village’s Trails Committee.  Ron Marans of 18 Lounsbury Road, a neighboring property owner, said that the area in question is already being used for passive recreation with trails.

Adam Cohen of 14 Lounsbury Road was present.  Mr. Cohen said that he was under the impression when he moved to the Village that it would be difficult to obtain approvals for development projects.  Then, he saw the three houses go up on the corner of Old Post Road North and Prospect Place.  He was amazed that the Village would approve such a project. Mr. Cohen said that he would be afraid that this would happen here (on the nursery school property).  Mr. Cohen said that he bought his house with the beautiful land surrounding it and the trails. He would think that whoever gave the nursery school this property would not have wanted big “McMansions” built on it but would have wanted instead something for the children.  Mr. Cohen said that he would hope that the Planning Board would not accept a mediocre concept for the development of this land.

Mr. Marans questioned why the houses on Lots 2 & 4 are situated so far back, to which Mr. Wegner showed Mr. Marans the old plan for the subdivision.  Mr. Wegner noted that the houses used to be situated closer to the front but were moved back because of the land elevation.

Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that it might be useful for representatives of the nursery school to attend a Planning Board meeting.

Chairman Kehoe summarized the items to be addressed for the next meeting. All plans submitted should show the proposed houses and driveways. An “X” should be placed on trees to be removed.  The disturbance(s) per lot should be quantified.  Mr. Wegner should discuss with his clients (the nursery school) how the conservation easement would work.  Ms. Allen said that any discussion regarding trails should be brought to the Trails Committee.  Mr. Wegner asked if the Planning Board was satisfied with the wetlands report and tree survey submitted, to which Chairman Kehoe said that he, personally, is satisfied with the tree survey.  Chairman Kehoe said that, in so far as the wetlands are concerned, Mr. Donohue had a difference of opinion with Mr. Coleman in his wetlands report.  For the next meeting, the Planning Board should see Mr. Coleman’s June 5th report and Mr. Donohue’s written response to this report.  Ms. Allen suggested that the Planning Board should schedule another site walk to the property.

Mr. Wegner said that he would contact the Village Engineer’s office when he is ready to come back before the board.


5.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Planning Board meeting, the Tuesday, July 28, 2009 meeting and the Tuesday, August 25, 2009 meeting was tabled until the next regularly scheduled meeting to be held on Tuesday, September 22nd.      



6.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no other business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 12:00 A.M.

Sincerely,



Sylvia Mills
Secretary

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the Planning Board held a public hearing on an Amended Site Plan application on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 for Belarmino & Virginia Anton, hereafter known as “the Applicant,” said property located in the C-2 Zoning District at 337 South Riverside Avenue and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section 79.13 Block 1 Lot 62 (formerly #12-107-14A & 15); and

WHEREAS, on July 14, 2009, the Planning Board had approved an application for an Amended Site Plan for this Applicant, which involved exterior site work and changes/additions to the existing building (restaurant); and

WHEREAS, the current Amended Site Plan application involves a modification to the proposed addition at the rear of the existing building as well as exterior site work and landscaping; and

WHEREAS, the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB) presented a modification to the approved landscaping plan on September 8, 2009, and the Planning Board suggested that the Applicant implement the additions recommended by the VEB when economically feasible; and

WHEREAS, this proposal is considered a Type II Action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), therefore, no Negative Declaration is required.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Amended Site Plan application, as shown on sheet Z-100 entitled “Site Plan and Existing Conditions,” sheet S-100 entitled “Proposed Floor Plans,” sheet Z-201 entitled “Proposed Floor Plans” and sheet Z-300 entitled “Proposed Elevations,” prepared by EDA Architecture, dated May 26, 2009, last revised July 9, 2009, be approved subject to the following condition:

  • that the curb at the front entrance shall be raised.  The Applicant shall have until July 2011 to complete this curbing work.  In the interim, the Applicant shall place two large planters or potted plants in that location as a deterrent to cars.
        
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
                                                Mark Aarons
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Vincent Andrews
                                                Robert Luntz
                                        
Motion to approve by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Board member Vincent Andrews was absent from the meeting.

Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.



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