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Planning Board Minutes 03/09/2010


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Mark Aarons
                                Robert Luntz

ABSENT:                 Fran Allen
                                Vincent Andrews

ALSO PRESENT:           Ann Gallelli, 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.

  • Croton Community Nursery School – Lower North Highland Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 2 Lots 5, 6, 9 & 25 [formerly Lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 25] – Application for a Preliminary Subdivision Approval
Chairman Kehoe stated that, at the request of the Applicant, the public hearing on the CCNS application for a preliminary subdivision approval is being adjourned. This item would be put back on the agenda for the next Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 23rd.  

  • New York SMSA Limited Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless – Referral from the Village Board for a Special Permit for the Collocation of a Personal Wireless Services Facility at the DPW Facility, Veteran’s Plaza
Michael Sheridan, Esq. of Snyder & Snyder, LLP and Anthony Botta of Tectonic Engineering were present for this application.  Douglas Fishman of RCC Consultants, Inc. was also present.

Mr. Sheridan told the board that he has brought with him tonight a revised version of the Applicant’s plans.  He distributed the revised plans to the board members.

Mr. Sheridan said that the Applicant first came before the Planning Board at the meeting of February 9th.  At that meeting the Planning Board said that they would be retaining the professional services of RCC Consultants, Inc. Mr. Sheridan said that RCC has since reviewed this application and has provided their comments in a letter dated February 24, 2010. Mr. Sheridan said that the Applicant responded to RCC’s comments on March 4th at which point RCC sent another letter stating that, with the changes/additions that were made, the application is now acceptable.  Mr. Sheridan said that they (the Applicant) are present tonight to ask the Planning Board for a positive recommendation on the granting of a special permit by the Village Board. Once the Village Board has received the Planning Board’s recommendation, the Village Board could schedule the public hearing.

Mr. Fishman from RCC came forward and noted to the board that the Verizon application is a relatively straightforward application.  Mr. Fishman said that it is for a collocation that has already been planned.  Mr. Fishman noted that his initial comments on the application pertained to the technical data that had been provided to him. Some of this data was missing in the original submission. Mr. Fishman said that the Applicant has since provided the information that he requested; the application now “looks good.”  

The Village Engineer noted to the board that the design element required to be submitted for the Verizon collocation application is for the gas service line. Verizon is the first carrier to need gas service to run their generator.  The Village Engineer said that an approximate location for the gas line is being shown on the Applicant’s plan(s).  The gas line is shown coming down Veterans Plaza and into the leased area; the exact route of the gas line would be determined during the building permit application process.  The Village Engineer noted that, from his perspective, this gas service line was the last design detail that had to be looked at.

Chairman Kehoe said that he, personally, would be willing to make a positive recommendation to the Village Board for the granting of the special permit.

Mr. Aarons asked who, at the Village, approves the equipment removal bond provided by the Applicant, to which the Village Engineer replied that he (the Village Engineer) would review the bond and, then, make a recommendation to the Village Board.

The Village Engineer suggested to the Planning Board that a condition of the granting of the special permit should be that the Applicant shall provide on their plan(s) the location of the gas service line to the satisfaction of the Village Engineer. Another condition should be that the Applicant shall provide to the Village a bond for the removal of their equipment.  Mr. Aarons added that it should say in this condition that the Applicant’s bond shall reflect an annual percentage increase to cover inflation. The Village Engineer noted that the Applicant has acknowledged on their plan(s) that the soil to be removed is contaminated. A condition should (also) be that the contaminated soil shall be removed following the necessary protocol for disposal.  Chairman Kehoe noted to the Applicant that besides the conditions just discussed, there are standard conditions for collocation on the cell tower that have not been recited tonight. These conditions should also be incorporated into the resolution.

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

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to make a positive recommendation to the Village Board on the granting of the special permit subject to the conditions just discussed.  The motion was made by Mr. Aarons, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.

  • Tara & Desiree Drapala – 10 Old Post Road South (Sec. 78.08 Blk. 7 Lot 5) – Request to Amend Condition #3 of the Resolution of Amended Site Plan Approval dated 10/27/09
Tara and Desiree Drapala, owners of the child care center, were present.

Chairman Kehoe said that he has been conversing via email with Doug Wehrle of the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB) regarding the Applicant’s proposed sign.  Chairman Kehoe said that judging by the emails he has received he would think that it might not be necessary to amend condition #3 of the Planning Board resolution. Condition #3 states “that the Applicant shall work out the details of their proposed sign with the VEB.” Mr. Wehrle notes in one of his emails that the majority of the VEB members are happy with the Applicant’s proposal; the VEB would finalize their review of the Applicant’s sign at their meeting of March 17, 2010.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the Planning Board was under the impression that the VEB and the Applicant had come to an impasse regarding the sign; however, it would seem from the recent emails received from Mr. Wehrle that this is not the case.

Ms. (Desiree) Drapala told the board members that a few weeks ago she had an informal meeting with some of the VEB members regarding the revised proposal for the child care center sign.  Ms. Drapala said that the VEB members present at that meeting told her that, having seen the design for the “new” sign, they would prefer that she put no sign up at all and that, instead of a sign, she should put a decal in the window.  Ms. Drapala told the VEB that the child care center “needs a sign to survive.”  They are not looking for an overly large sign, but they do need a sign.  Ms. Drapala said that after this informal meeting with the VEB she contacted the Planning Board secretary to express her concern about what had transpired and to ask for advice on how she should proceed.  Ms. Drapala noted that Doug Wehrle was not present at the aforementioned meeting with the VEB.  She assumes from what Chairman Kehoe has said tonight that Mr. Wehrle is not “in the loop” about what happened at that meeting.  

Ms. Drapala said that her mother and she are going to try to open the child care center in April.  Judging by what has happened, she would assume that they will open up their facility without a sign in place.  Ms. Drapala noted to the board members that in an attempt to please the VEB they fired the sign company that designed their original sign and hired another sign company (Sign Extreme). Ms. Drapala said that the new (revised) design for their sign was based on the VEB’s suggestions.  

Chairman Kehoe said that he would prefer that the VEB review this sign application.  The VEB has the expertise in looking at designs for signs. He would hope that something could be worked out. Ms. Drapala said that three out of the five VEB members attended the aforementioned meeting.  They “ripped it [their sign] apart” and said that they would prefer no sign at all.

Ms. (Tara) Drapala said that the design for the heart-shaped logo on their revised sign was her daughter’s and her creation.  The VEB had suggested to them that if they went with a heart-shaped logo, the heart should be on the side rather than in the center of the sign, and the heart should incorporate different colors rather than be one solid color. Ms. Drapala said that they came up with the current heart-shaped logo based on the VEB’s suggestions.

Chairman Kehoe asked if other than the impromptu meeting, the Applicant had ever formally met with the VEB, to which Ms. (Desiree) Drapala said, no.  Ms. Drapala noted to Chairman Kehoe that, in so far as their sign application is concerned, they decided to come back before the Planning Board tonight because of the difficulty they were having with the VEB.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that the way to proceed would be for the Applicant to meet formally with the VEB. The VEB would review the sign and, then, let the Planning Board know if the Applicant and the VEB were able to work something out.  If nothing could be worked out, the Applicant would come back before the Planning Board with their sign application.

Mr. Luntz said that he, personally, would have no problem with a sign on the building. He understands the Applicant’s need for a sign; otherwise, people are going to drive by and not know what is going on there.    

Chairman Kehoe noted that the next regularly scheduled meeting of the VEB would take place on Wednesday, March 17th.  He would suggest that the Applicant attend that meeting.  If nothing can be worked out and the Applicant and the VEB reach an impasse on the sign, then, the Applicant could come back before the Planning Board at their next meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 23rd.  Ms. Drapala said that they (the VEB) seemed difficult to work with, to which Tara Drapala said that she, personally, is encouraged by the recent email sent to Chairman Kehoe by Doug Wehrle of the VEB.  It sounded positive to her.  The Village Engineer suggested that before the Applicant meets with the VEB, the Applicant could write a letter to the VEB summarizing the changes that have been made to their original sign design.

Ms. Drapala said that she would contact the VEB to be placed on the agenda for the VEB meeting of March 17th.

  • Referral from the Village Board for a Recommendation on the Proposed Design Guidelines for Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay Zone
Chairman Kehoe noted that a discussion took place when the Harmon Gateway Overlay law was passed that the Village Board would be referring to the Planning Board for a recommendation the specific design guidelines for the Harmon gateway district.  The Planning Board received the draft design guidelines in their packets for the meeting tonight.

Chairman Kehoe referred to item #1 under Pedestrian and Vehicular Requirements, which states that sidewalks at the front of buildings must be between 15 feet and 20 feet wide.  Chairman Kehoe questioned whether a variance would be required if these dimensions could not be met or if the Planning Board would have the option and/or the authority to waive this width requirement.  Trustee Gallelli said that her interpretation would be that the Planning Board should do the best that they can to meet the design guidelines that are put in place.  Mr. Aarons said that he was under the impression that this setback requirement (a width of between 15 feet and 20 feet at the front of buildings) was a requirement of the new gateway law, to which Trustee Gallelli said that this is, indeed, the case.  Trustee Gallelli said that she thought that Chairman Kehoe was asking a more general question about the Planning Board’s role in following the design guidelines.  When a design guideline is not in the law and is not “hard-coded,” then, the Planning Board should do the best that they can to meet the design guideline.  Mr. Luntz said that the intent of this setback regulation for the front of buildings was to push buildings up toward the street. Mr. Luntz said that what the Village is trying to guard against is having buildings in the back area of a property and having the parking in the front. Mr. Luntz said that it would be important to make sure that whatever these design guidelines are that they are in agreement with the intent of the new regulations.  

Mr. Luntz referred to the first item under Policy Recommendations at the bottom of page 1 pertaining to the Croton Dodge property and said that he would think that this “policy recommendation” should not be a part of the design guidelines being considered. Trustee Gallelli noted to the Planning Board that the committee has acknowledged that the two policy recommendations at the bottom of page 1 and at the top of page 2, respectively, would not be a part of the design guidelines.  Mr. Luntz reiterated that these two policy recommendations should be eliminated.

Mr. Aarons referred to item #5 under Architecture and Materials pertaining to setback requirements for storefronts.  Mr. Aarons posed the question as to whether the Village would want to establish a guideline whereby the storefronts of buildings line up with each other. The first sentence in item #5 states that “A legible “street wall” of inviting retail storefronts, with a well-defined pedestrian zone, and consistent setbacks is required.” Mr. Luntz noted that the third sentence in item #5 refers to “small setbacks (limited to two feet).”  He questioned what the term “small setbacks” means in this context.  Trustee Gallelli suggested that the Planning Board could invite the committee members responsible for the design guidelines to come to the next Planning Board meeting to answer any questions the Planning Board might have.

Mr. Luntz had questions on item #8 pertaining to the requirements for the height and number of stories of buildings. Mr. Luntz said that he found the wording of item #8 to be confusing in terms of what the Village is or is not going to allow.  Mr. Luntz said that he would like to have an explanation of what is meant in item #8 by a “false mansard roof.”  He questioned at what point a roof would be considered a “false mansard roof” as opposed to a “pitched roof.” Mr. Luntz noted to the others that, in so far as a 35-foot high, three-story building is concerned, it is not that easy to create a 35-foot high building that is really three stories.  He would think that it would be helpful for the Planning Board to see a section of what that building would look like.  It would be helpful for the Planning Board to have a diagram showing the full intent of the design guidelines for the height of buildings set forth in item #8. Mr. Luntz said that, given the present language of item #8, it is not clear to him what would be an acceptable profile for a three-story building.

Chairman Kehoe referred to item #2 under Lighting, Signage, Awnings & Furnishings in which it states that signs shall not be internally lighted.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would have no problem with this requirement, but there are many existing signs in the Harmon area, which are internally illuminated.  Mr. Aarons asked if this is an aesthetic requirement or if there is something else about these internally illuminated signs that the Village is concerned about, to which Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that it has to do with the aesthetics. The Village Engineer noted an inconsistency between the Village Code and the design guidelines stating that the Village Code does not prohibit internally illuminated signs, however, the design guidelines do. He would think that this would be a matter for the Village Attorney to look into.  

The Village Engineer pointed out another inconsistency between the Village Code and the proposed design guidelines stating that in the paragraph on page 1 entitled Applicability, it states that “these guidelines apply to all new buildings…..” and in the Code it says that these guidelines are for mixed-use buildings.

Mr. Luntz noted that in the paragraph entitled Applicability it also states that these design guidelines apply to buildings for which “50% or more of the building is reconstructed over a 5-year period…..” Chairman Kehoe said that he would want it made clear in the paragraph on Applicability that any work being done on a building should not be done in a “piece-meal” fashion.  He would not want to see a prospective business/property owner “piece-meal” the work on his/her building to avoid compliance with the Village’s guidelines.  Mr. Aarons said that he would like a more definitive explanation in this paragraph of what is meant by a building being “reconstructed.”  Chairman Kehoe said that, in so far as these guidelines are concerned, the Planning Board would want to have the leeway to do what they did in their review of the Anton application. That review resulted in a pedestrian-friendly front entranceway for their (the Anton’s) restaurant with the creation of landscaped areas, walkways, etc.  

Chairman Kehoe said that he would definitely want to have the members of the committee at the next Planning Board meeting to discuss these guidelines.  Mr. Aarons said that he would want to have the full Planning Board present for that discussion.  Chairman Kehoe said that he might not be able to make the next Planning Board meeting scheduled for March 23rd.  He would let the Planning Board know.  

The Village Engineer said that on the last page of the design guidelines, the last paragraph in bold states that “All development in this district are subject to site plan review and must meet the approval of the Planning Board, and the Village’s Visual Environment Board, at the Planning Board’s request.”  The Village Engineer noted that in this paragraph the committee has brought into the guidelines a legislative element pertaining to the role of the VEB (Visual Environment Board).  Chairman Kehoe said that he would prefer that the VEB advise and recommend rather than have approval authority. The wording of this paragraph would suggest that they have approval authority. Trustee Gallelli said (again) that the committee responsible for the guidelines needs to come to a Planning Board meeting to answer all of the questions/concerns raised by the board members tonight. Trustee Gallelli noted that these guidelines have to be in a language that the Planning Board can interpret. It is the Planning Board that is going to be using these guidelines.  

Chairman Kehoe noted again that he might have to miss the last meeting in March.  Board member Robert Luntz will also be unable to attend that meeting.  Chairman Kehoe suggested that the committee could be invited to attend the Planning Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 13th.  

  • Discussion of Draft Report dated 2/8/10 on Efforts to Identify Opportunities to Improve the SEQR Process
Trustee Gallelli noted that the Planning Board received in their packets for tonight’s meeting a copy of the draft report prepared by Region 3 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) entitled “A regional effort to identify opportunities to improve the SEQR process.”  Trustee Gallelli said that, in so far as this report is concerned, the really substantive changes that were brought forth were those that require legislative approval. The focus was supposed to be on ways to streamline the process that could be carried out within a shorter time frame.  

Chairman Kehoe noted that it is his experience in working with the Town of Cortlandt Planning Board that when the Planning Board issues a Positive Declaration and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required, the Planning Board does not tailor the size of the scope (scoping document) to the particular project.  This is the case even if the categories in the scoping document do not pertain to the project.  Chairman Kehoe gave as an example a project for a building where traffic was the only issue, and the Applicant was required to go through the entire scope. The Village Engineer said that he would think that this would have the result of diluting the process.

Trustee Gallelli noted that the State does not want to hinder the economic and commercial development in the Hudson River Valley by slowing it down; hence, this attempt to find ways to improve the SEQRA process. Trustee Gallelli said that, having read the recommendations on SEQRA in the draft report, she does not know how the State is going to improve this situation without making some legislative changes.  Trustee Gallelli noted that one recommendation in the report that might come to pass is to put in place an appeal process, which would allow an applicant the means of going to a higher authority to resolve a SEQRA-related issue or dispute. An applicant could make an appeal to this higher authority should the applicant feel that the request for information being made by the local approving authority is not necessary for the project being proposed.   

Trustee Gallelli said that the Village will be receiving a copy of the final report; she would keep the Planning Board informed.

  • Zeytinia Gourmet Market – 50 Maple Street (Sec. 79.09 Blk. 1 Lot 30) – Annual Report Submission of Deliveries by 18-Wheeler Trucks
Chairman Kehoe noted that the board received in their packets Zeytinia’s annual report on truck deliveries. The amended resolution for the Zeytinia Gourmet Market states that Zeytinia must provide this annual report. The amended resolution also states that Zeytinia can only receive deliveries from 18-wheeler trucks once per week. The Village Engineer said that he has reviewed the report for the deliveries made in 2009 and, according to this report Zeytinia has been receiving only one delivery per week from an 18-wheeler.    

Chairman Kehoe asked the Village Engineer if he was satisfied with the report on deliveries submitted by Zeytinia, to which the Village Engineer said that he was.

The minutes of the Tuesday, January 26, 2010 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Chairman Kehoe and carried by a vote of 3-0.   

The minutes of the Tuesday, February 9, 2010 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Aarons, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 3-0.   
There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:00 P.M.


Sylvia Mills

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