Planning Board Minutes 09/22/2009
A Meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520.

The following officials were present:


Chairman Kehoe
Ms. Allen
Mr. Luntz  absent
Mr. Aarons
Mr. Andrews  absent
Village Engineer O’Connor

1. CALL TO ORDER:

Fran Allen called the meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.  

2. OLD BUSINESS:

a)      Margo Francy, 57 Old Post Road North.  Application for a Steep Slope Permit

Ms. Allen stated that not enough Board members are here tonight to make a decision, therefore the decision has to be postponed; 60 days are about to pass since the close of the Public Hearing.  Ms. Allen suggested granting this Board another 60 days to come to vote.

Attorney Gochman stated that he can come back with a definitive answer on how they are progressing in getting a hydrologist or a professional engineer who is well versed in this area; in the next couple of weeks he should have someone working on it.  Fran Allen stated that the Board has closed the Public Hearing and needed more time to come to a vote, but she is not aware of that agreement which he just described.  Attorney Gochman stated that he thought when they did the coastal assessment, they came up with some variations and it was recommended by the coastal assessment board.  Mr. Gochman asked if he should still get someone to work on this.  Ms. Allen replied that this was a side discussion and wasn’t endorsed by the Planning Board or the WAC; the applicant had a lot of opportunity to do that; the Public Hearing closed in July and the Planning Board started the approval process; the Board had reviewed this application starting in October 2008 and there have been multiple reviews since; bringing this up at this stage is not appropriate; she would now like to make a decision on extending the deadline by 60 days.  Chairman Kehoe stated that what Ms. Allen is saying is that the only action to be made tonight is to extend the decision process by 60 days; to do Mr. Gochman’s request, he would need to present the proposal to the other Board members.  Attorney Gochman asked when it would be appropriate to present to the rest of the Board.  Chair Kehoe replied that they need at least a quorum present. Mark Aarons stated that he believes Mr. Gochman is asking for an application to reopen the hearing and that needs to be brought before the rest of the Board members.  Chairman Kehoe added that they will have four more meetings before the 60 days is up and they should have a full Board before then; the applicant should keep in touch with the Village staff and can ask to be put on the agenda.  Fran Allen added that since they closed the Public Hearing and the WAC met, they have been ready to vote but did not have a quorum; this item should be on the agenda every meeting and can let Mr. Gochman know if there is not a full quorum.  Attorney Gochman stated that he will be away October 5th thru October 24th; he will be back for the 27th meeting.

Ms. Allen made a motion to give the Board another 60 days to make the decision, at which time, they will try to contact the applicant to see if it is convenient for him, but within that 60 day period the Board can make a decision.  Chair Kehoe clarified that they are giving the Board another 60 days.  Mark Aarons seconded the motion, approved unanimously.  Ms. Allen assured the applicant that they would not make a decision before the 27th, when Mr. Gochman is available.

b)      Referral from the Village Board for Proposed Zoning Changes to the Harmon Gateway Overlay Zoning District:

Chair Kehoe stated that this is the third time this is on the agenda; they have had a presentation by Bonnie of Saccardi & Schiff and a presentation by Kieran Murray, as well as attending various meetings over the past few years with the Village Board. He added that the Planning Board is only a recommending board; they will have to send their opinion to the Village Board who will schedule a public hearing.  Mr. Kehoe stated that he has received an email from Mr. Luntz who said in general he supports the proposed Harmon rezoning.

Mr. Aarons stated that he read the Saccardi & Schiff EAF document and has questions; no one is here from Saccardi & Schiff tonight; he offered to go through his questions. Chairman Kehoe said they will be given to the Village Board to have those questions answered.  
  • Is this Board supposed to be looking at things such as parking access, school taxes, etc.?  Chair Kehoe cited Chapter 230-180 of the Village code.  
  • Does the Gateway district allow any automobile-related uses or is it prohibited?  Chair Kehoe cited Sections 230-20-.2.a and 230-20.3 which lists the appropriate uses.  
  • If an application has been made prior to the enlargement of the Gateway zone, is it considered grandfathered.  Village Engineer O’Connor replied that it is.  Chair Kehoe added that he would recommend any application made prior to a zoning change should be allowed to proceed.  Mr. Aarons stated that many of those uses will now become prohibited uses in the extended Gateway district; he does not see anything in this study to indicate what the effect would be on existing parcels; he does not see any analysis.  Chair Kehoe replied that he believes the intent is that these things would be prohibited in the new Gateway zone.  Village Engineer O’Connor stated that he agrees.  Chair Kehoe referred to the section of the report, Draft Local Law, regarding amending the existing Gateway code and enlarging the boundaries.
Ms. Allen stated that she found this particular draft very confusing, especially Part 2a and she believes it should be rewritten.

Mr. Aarons stated that there was a good deal of discussion about not removing the special permit requirement given Mr. Murray’s concern about the current market.  Chair Kehoe stated that the concept of this was to make it easier for development and remove a step, but that was reversed.  Mr. Aarons stated that he thought discussion went back because they expected more residential development than commercial development; several items in the report that are called vacant are not; Anton’s is using lots 3 & 4; Croton Dodge is using 8 & 9; lot 12 is adjacent to the Dairy Mart and is vacant; lot 17 is for parking for the Japanese Restaurant.  Village Engineer O’Connor stated that lot 17 is part of the Sunoco station; we have merged a lot of these rented tax lots with occupied tax lots.   Mr. Aarons stated that the only vacant lot he sees is lot 12; the effort and dollars being expended is to rent the vacant accounting office.  Chair Kehoe replied that the other parcels discussed that are currently used but are underutilized, they are not just talking about vacancies.  Mr. Aarons added that he is not sure that is the ostensible goal; he is not sure what is being presented is what the goals are.  Mr. Aarons asked how we calculate the number of spaces required for a restaurant. Village Engineer O’Connor replied that the calculation is based on the square footage of a building’s service floor area, then 1 parking space for every 4 seats. Mr. Aarons stated that this report does not take into account the 1 space for every 4 seats and doing shared parking with restaurants is not a good idea; Umami Restaurant is shown as 11 total shared parking spaces with 6 residential units over a commercial floor; they have an overflow now with 24 spaces.  Chair Kehoe stated that it also assumes that redevelopment will occur; that the building would be torn down and mixed use put up.  Ms. Allen stated that these are ‘what if’ numbers and that is legitimate.  Mr. Aarons questioned the calculations for changes in parking spaces.  He added that another assumption is 50% of the commercial space will be utilized on the ground floor; retailers are not going to give up 50% of the ground floor even if they rebuilt the buildings; retail space is more valuable than residential space.  Chair Kehoe stated that he asked Kieran Murray and he said that this is based on existing usage.   Mr. Aarons added that shared parking does not work; there are two competing interests in this report; one says to build residential by the train station and the other that we are going to take cars away from residents during the day.  Chair Kehoe read the code that assumes based on 1 space for every 275 feet; they blended two different numbers; there is nothing about how to handle restaurants.  Mr. Aarons replied that clearly restaurants are using 100% of the ground floor and he doesn’t think anyone did an actual survey of these parcels.  Village Engineer O’Connor stated that the current zoning does not permit residential on the 1st floor; the study is saying smaller commercial spaces would be more desirable.  Mr. Aarons stated that he takes exception to the idea it will be changing the streetscape of Harmon; no way this is about a commercial plan if they are only doing six parcels, two do not intend to moderate their building and a third is here tonight and does not appear to be interested either.  Mr. O’Connor replied that an owner can come in to expand his business; Anton’s parking lot just squeaked by in the analysis with the architect reducing the seats.  Mr. Aarons stated that Bari Manor’s mean square footage for a 2 bedroom apartment is 1000 square ft.; it seems disingenuous that the report says all units will be 1000 square ft. but a one bedroom unit would not be financially viable for a builder; he believes the report was prepared with the idea of keeping the parking as low as possible and is not appropriate.  Mr. Aarons distributed papers he received from Maria Cudequest from the Urban Land Institute.  Mr. Aarons added that we do not need more commercial parcels that go unrented and if only 6 parcels are going to be redeveloped, it may not be worth the expense; the school district rate is based on scenario one and is a negative tax loss for the community. Chair Kehoe stated that they did not get involved in any economic analysis on other residential parcels developed so are we now going to take this into account.  Mr. Aarons replied that this is not a fair analysis, but scenario one talks about school tax revenues; there are other inconsistencies in the report regarding water and sewer capacity and adding more residential capacity would be an impact.  Village Engineer O’Connor stated that from Benedict Blvd. then south, there is a single main and the main issue is domestic flow which is pretty light, most use is commercial; the only problem is that there is no loop in that area now.  Discussion continued on potential water main loops, hydrants and water pressure.

Chair Kehoe questioned if, since everyone has particular issues, should Kieran Murray and Bonnie be requested to come back; he suggested sending something to the Village Board for more information and wait for a complete Planning Board attendance.  Mr. Aarons stated that he would like to request to the Village Board that due to inconsistencies in the report, please have Bonnie from Saccardi & Schiff and Kieran Murray come back.  Chair Kehoe stated that if the likely scenario happens, there will be 9,498 sq ft of commercial or retail space and potentially 42 residential units. The Danth study says that this area can only hold or have a demand of 14,000 sq ft of retail; he doesn’t think all these residential units will happen or that we will get a large number of school children; he doesn’t share the same concern about the infrastructure; the new units will not overwhelm what is there now and infrastructure improvements are negotiated.  Mr. Aarons stated that he believes the 42 unit number and no one went to the building owners; he believes that many are vehemently opposed to the zoning change and others want to add a story to their building; this report is full of errors and inconsistencies.  Mr. Aarons suggested waiting for the school study to come out which will be received in 60 days; why rush; while talking about this for two years, commerce has increased on its own; if the school report shows we are overcrowded, there is no way he can recommend this and questioned if anyone has reached out to the school board to attend the Economic Development meeting.  Mr. O’Connor suggested having Kieran and Bonnie come back and comments can be forwarded to the board members. Mr. Aarons stated that there is also no handicapped spaces accounted for; they need more research on the shared parking concept; he cannot make a recommendation that this is adequate parking.  Discussion continued about a traffic study.    Fran Allen stated that this is not how we should be spending our time now; we must move forward and decide in which direction.  Chair Kehoe stated that he wants to get concerns back to the consultants and have a meeting, where the Board can present their concerns and allow them to defend the report.  Fran Allen stated that there is a need to confirm that this is viable and will lead to something good happening in the area or not; they are not doing a site plan and what we do need is some confidence around the scenarios that have been put forward.   Ms. Allen added that this proposal has become over specified such as the requirement of 60% glass on the front of a building.  Chair Kehoe stated that the Village Board could say that the Planning Board did not make their recommendation in the specified time; he will draft something up asking for additional time.  Mr. Aarons stated that a third issue of interest is removal of utility lines; he would like someone to examine if Con Ed can be made to pay for that.   Chair Kehoe stated that he will try to get something by the meeting on the 13th which is open to the public; they will invite Saccardi & Schiff and others; this can be done before the regularly scheduled meeting.


3.      NEW BUSINESS:

  • Referral from the Village Board for a Special Permit for an auto repair and auto sales shop at 365 South Riverside Ave.
Attorney Gochman and his clients were present at this meeting. He stated that he prepared a summary of what they are asking for and referred to Section 230-17.I of the zoning law; the special permit was abandoned because business was not functioning for 2 years; they would like a special permit for an auto repair shop and used car showroom; Mr. Palladino is asking for a showroom for used vintage and classic cars and an auto repair shop which will conform to license requirements; in 1985 a special permit site plan was approved by Phil Tully; there are no changes in the footprint; he would like the existing site plan to be used as a starting point for new special permit.  Ms. Allen stated that the site plan is for the building as it exists now plus an existing nail shop.  Village Engineer O’Connor recommended that the site plan be upgraded and a new survey submitted, showing handicapped parking spaces, vehicle storage on site and striping; footprints will not change but they need to show the new curb cut on Benedict in the island and the new signs; the site plan just needs to be updated plus an analysis of the parking and vehicle storage area. Mr. Gochman stated that he has a survey that was updated in 2000.  Mr. O’Connor suggested perhaps he could take the survey back to the surveyor and have him update with the latest information plus show the parking.  Mr. Gochman stated that now we have a starting point and are willing to comply with requirements; issues that have come up were addressed by the Zoning Board in 1985.  He added that they do not want to be limited to classic or vintage cars because they will have to sell trade-in cars; the state license to sell used or classic cars is the same; in essence, it is a service station and used car dealership.  Discussion continued about the maximum number of vehicles allowed on the site; it was determined that the allowable number is one per 300 sq ft of usable space and the building is 10,000 sq ft.

4.      APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

  • Fran Allen made a motion to approve the minutes of the July 14, 2009 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Aarons, approved unanimously
  • Mark Aarons made a motion to approve the minutes of the July 28, 2009  meeting; the motion was seconded by Ms. Allen, approved unanimously
  • Chris Kehoe made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 25, 2009 meeting; the motion was seconded by Ms. Allen, approved unanimously

5.      ADJOURNMENT:

Chris Kehoe made a motion to adjourn.  Fran Allen seconded the motion; approved unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis A. Bradbury
Phyllis A. Bradbury, Acting Secretary





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