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Planning Board Minutes 04/13/2010


A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Fran Allen
                                Mark Aarons

ABSENT:                 Vincent Andrews
                                Robert Luntz

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.

  • New York SMSA Limited Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless – Application for Site Plan Approval for the Collocation of a Personal Wireless Services Facility at the DPW Facility, 26 Veteran’s Plaza
Michael Sheridan, Esq. of Snyder & Snyder, LLP was present to represent the Applicant.

Chairman Kehoe said that the Applicant’s attorney Michael Sheridan has asked tonight if the Verizon Wireless application could be discussed first before the two scheduled public hearings. It was scheduled to be the first order of business after the public hearings. Chairman Kehoe said that he would anticipate that this application would not take that long to discuss, so the Planning Board could hear it first.  

Mr. Sheridan summarized the history of the application stating that on March 9th, the Planning Board voted to give a favorable recommendation to the Village Board on the granting of the special permit. On March 10th, the application went before the Waterfront Advisory Committee (WAC) and the WAC found this project to be consistent with the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) policies. Mr. Sheridan said that, at their meeting of April 5th, the Village Board adopted a Negative Declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and granted the special permit.  Mr. Sheridan said that he is before the Planning Board tonight for a site plan approval.  

Mr. Sheridan said that he would like to request tonight that the Planning Board waive the public hearing requirement. If the Planning Board chooses not to waive this requirement, he would like to request that the Planning Board schedule the public hearing for their next meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 27th. Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that the Planning Board would be willing to schedule the public hearing for the next meeting to be held on April 27th; however, the board would not waive the public hearing requirement.    

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to schedule the public hearing on the Verizon Wireless collocation application for Tuesday, April 27th.  The motion was made by Mr. Aarons, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.     

  • 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 (Continued…..)
Ron Wegner, P.E. of Cronin Engineering was present for this application.

Mr. Wegner said that the last time this application came before the board was on January 12, 2010.  Tonight’s meeting is a continuation of the public hearing.  Mr. Wegner said that based on the community’s comments at the public hearing, the nursery school has decided to go with a three- lot rather than a four-lot subdivision.  Mr. Wegner noted that the conservation parcel has been increased in size to 5 acres.  With the current plan the overall land disturbance is less than 10%.  

Mr. Wegner stated that the house on Lot #2 has been sited to reduce grading as much as possible.  With the adjustments that have been made, a portion of the driveway on Lot #3 is out of the more steeply sloped areas. Mr. Wegner said that on the new layout, the overall disturbance to the steep slopes on the site has been reduced by 31%.  Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Wegner if he broke it down by categories e.g., “15% to 25%” slopes, “25% to 35%” slopes, etc., to which Mr. Wegner said that he did; he was able to reduce the disturbance to the “greater than 35%” slopes by 37%.  

Mr. Wegner said that they have performed deep hole tests at the site and it would appear from the test results that they can construct the houses as shown on the Applicant’s revised plan(s).  

Mr. Wegner noted to the board that the Applicant has been corresponding with the Westchester Land Trust regarding the open space parcel.  The Applicant’s attorney Norman Sheer has received a letter from Susan Carpenter, Director of Land Preservation at the Westchester Land Trust.  Mr. Wegner distributed copies of the letter to the Planning Board members.  Mr. Wegner read aloud the letter, which states that the Westchester Land Trust would be very interested in working with the Applicant and the Village to permanently preserve this open space parcel. Mr. Wegner noted that this open space parcel makes up more than one-half of the site.

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any comments from the public. Sam Watkins of 30 Lounsbury Road came forward.  Mr. Watkins noted to those present that as was the case with the old layout for the subdivision, he would not be able to see any of the new houses from his house. Mr. Watkins expressed concern with the house location on Lot #1.  The slopes are very steep where the house is proposed to be sited.  He would be concerned about water runoff from the property when the house is built and the impact of the runoff on the house next door.  Mr. Watkins said that he would like to see the house moved closer to the road because this would improve the drainage situation downhill from the property.  Mr. Watkins said that the siting of the house on Lot #2 “is much more appropriate than before.”  Mr. Watkins had concerns about the siting of the house on Lot #3.  Mr. Watkins noted that the area on Lot #3 designated as a drainage channel is substantially more than that. He said that it is very wet back there and it has probably gotten worse after the heavy snow and rains this past winter. He would think that it would be better to move the house on Lot #3 forward and farther away from the drainage channel.  The house now backs right up against it.  Mr. Watkins concluded by saying that he would hope that the Applicant could take another look at the proposed house locations for Lots #’s 1 and 3.

Adam Rodriguez of 19 Lower North Highland Place said that, in so far as the new subdivision plan is concerned, the developer and engineer have done their “due diligence.”  He is not opposed to this [subdivision]; however, the neighboring property owners do experience flooding, and he would ask that the Planning Board take into consideration the drainage issues.  Furthermore, he would ask that this board look at the traffic situation on Lower North Highland Place. There are children who walk along Lower North Highland Place and he was concerned about their safety.      

Mr. Rodriguez said that he would like to speak on behalf of his neighbor Maddale Cinquanta of 25 Lower North Highland Place whose house is adjacent to proposed Lot #1.  Mr. Rodriguez said that Ms. Cinquanta experiences flooding during heavy rainstorms. Ms. Cinquanta has had trenches installed; however, she still has problems with flooding. Mr. Rodriguez said that he, too, experiences flooding during heavy storms.  As they live downhill from the property, he would hope that, in the review of this application the Planning Board would do their “due diligence” to enforce the proper drainage. Mr. Aarons asked if there would be a way to control the runoff with the proper storm water control methods.  Would there be a way to bring the water to the back of the property where the wetland area is located? The Village Engineer noted that the Applicant’s engineer will have to provide a drainage report, to which Ms. Allen said that, in so far as the drainage is concerned, she would think that the Planning Board should see a map of the whole area.

Mr. Rodriguez said that there are two municipal drains in front of his house, but during heavy rainstorms, debris flows downward and clogs the drains, which diverts the water into the field.   He suggested that to alleviate the problem, perhaps, additional drains could be installed. Mr. Rodriguez said that they try to keep the drains as free of debris as possible; it has become incumbent upon them to do so.  Mr. Aarons asked what happens to the surface of the road during a rain, to which Mr. Rodriguez said that because the ditches along the side of the road are clogged with debris, the water flows down the road.  The Village Engineer asked how the water flows when the catch basins get clogged, to which Mr. Rodriguez replied that water is diverted into the field and, then, into his driveway.  

Maddalena Cinquanta of 25 Lower North Highland Place told the board members that when the rain flows heavily, the street becomes “a river.”  Ice forms during the winter months.  Ms. Cinquanta noted that during the last storm a couple of trees were uprooted and fell down in her backyard.  The Village Engineer said that, in so far as the drainage for the subdivision is concerned, the first step is for the Applicant’s engineer to provide a report that outlines the drainage basins to be installed, provides numbers relating to the flow(s), and explains the mitigation measures being proposed.  Ms. Allen said that the whole area should be taken into consideration, i.e., down Brook Street and into the Hudson River.

Paul Steinberg of 35 Old Post Road North came forward.  Mr. Steinberg said that there was, recently, a Village election.  The previous owner of his property Art Downing ran into two of the candidates.  Mr. Downing brought up the matter of the nursery school subdivision application and asked the candidates their position. The matter of drainage and potential flooding downstream was discussed. The response from the candidates was “You bought [your property] in a known flood zone.”  Mr. Steinberg said that this is the first he had heard that.  Mr. Steinberg asked the Planning Board if it is true that this is a known flood zone.  Is it the official position of the Village that this is a flood zone area?  Chairman Kehoe said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces maps that designate areas as “flood zones.”  The FEMA maps would show whether or not a particular area of the Village is in a flood zone. Chairman Kehoe suggested that it could also be that they were referring to an area of the Village that is known to flood.  Mr. Steinberg said that if a Village trustee is saying that this area is in a flood zone, and this is public knowledge, he would think that this should be a consideration of the board during their deliberations on this subdivision proposal. He would think that someone involved with the review of this application should look into whether or not this area is in an official flood zone and, if so, this would impact what “you [the Planning Board] are doing with [respect to the review of] the development.”  The Village Engineer noted that every stream has a flood zone.  A stream will fill up to a certain level during a storm event. If the stream reaches a level where the federal government is studying it, then, it would have significance.  The Village Engineer said that there is a natural drainage channel on the CCNS property.  The water has been channelized and piped onto Old Post Road North.  The pipes are too small to handle a significantly large storm event.  The water that does not “fit into” the pipes finds a different route to eventually empty into the Hudson River.  Ms. Allen asked if it is not the case that all of these streams are quantifiable by their ability to carry different storm levels.  Ms. Allen said that the Village has had experts come in and identify watersheds.  Could they (the experts) not also identify the capability of these streams to handle different storm levels?  The Village Engineer said that the Village has studied lower portions of Brook Street and the conclusion reached is that the pipes in that area are undersized.  The Village Engineer noted that these matters regarding the drainage would be looked at in the Applicant’s drainage report.  Ms. Allen said that she would think that these issues regarding drainage should be reviewed by experts in the field.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village has hired Dvirka & Bartilucci Consulting Engineers to look into drainage issues in certain areas of the Village.  The Planning Board could ask Dvirka & Bartilucci to assist them in looking at the Applicant’s drainage report.

Mr. Steinberg said that once the houses on these lots have been built, they will not be torn down.  “We will have to live with the houses once built.” Mr. Steinberg thought that the response of the Village trustee indicated an indifference to the neighbors’ situation.  He thought that the trustee’s response was flippant. Mr. Steinberg said that he would hope that before approving this subdivision, the Planning Board would take a thorough look at the drainage.  He questioned what would happen if the Planning Board were to approve the drainage and the neighbors ended up getting flooded. Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board has not yet seen the drainage report.  The board has not yet seen the Applicant’s proposal for the drainage system.  Chairman Kehoe said that it is incumbent on the Applicant’s engineer to prove to the Planning Board that there would not be a drainage problem.  Mr. Steinberg noted that the Planning Board seems to take this matter regarding the flooding seriously, but he was upset by the trustee’s remark. Mr. Aarons noted to Mr. Steinberg that the property owners would know if this area of the Village were in a FEMA-designated flood zone. He mentioned the insurance requirement(s). The Village Engineer said that he asked FEMA to look at the Brook Street area and to classify it as a flood zone, but they would not do that.  The Village Engineer noted that Brook Street does, indeed, have localized flooding problems, especially in the lower area(s). Chairman Kehoe noted that the drainage system for this development has to “work on its own.” He added that Mr. Wegner’s design for a drainage system will be reviewed by the Planning Board and, now, also by Dvirka & Bartilucci.  

Mr. Rodriguez said that there is a brook behind the proposed properties (lots).  During heavy rains debris flows down this brook and causes flood issues farther downstream.  He asked that the Planning Board not only look into the flooding that occurs on the street but also take into consideration the problems with flooding related to the brook.

Lawrence Keon of 2 Lower North Highland Place also expressed his concern about potential flooding downstream.  Mr. Keon said that the topography of the land downstream is similar to the nursery school property.  Water goes into the soil and runs downhill underground and, then, surfaces.  Mr. Keon said that during heavy rains the excess water runoff forms a stream in his back yard.  Mr. Keon noted that to help rectify the drainage problem his neighbor on 31 Old Post Road North had installed tubing. Their sidewalk is still wet, even though the heavy snow storm we had this year took place two months ago. Mr. Keon noted that during Hurricane Floyd, the Steinberg’s house had eight feet of water in the back yard.  The water went up to the beam of their house.  Also, the Zanfardino’s house was flooded and destroyed.     

John Grant of 6 Valley Trail expressed his concern about the removal of trees on the perimeter of the property. Mr. Grant said that he is an arborist by profession; he has been volunteering with the Village’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) to do an educational program with school children on the Duck Pond property.  Mr. Grant noted that he has seen the plans for the three-lot subdivision presently being proposed.

Mr. Grant said that Bruce Dollar recently wrote a letter to the editor in The Gazette in which Mr. Dollar notes that one tree has the capacity of absorbing 50 gallons of water a day. Mr. Grant pointed out that it is actually 750 gallons rather than 50 gallons.  Mr. Grant said that without a proper plan to preserve the trees on the perimeter of the property, it could be “a disaster.” There should be a plan not just to preserve the trunk of trees but also the root system of trees.  Mr. Grant said that he counts 71 trees on the perimeter.  If these trees were to be cut down, that would amount to 50,000 gallons of water a day that is no longer being absorbed.     

Mr. Grant said that this is a unique site from an arborist’s perspective.  There are landmark trees on the property.  “We need to have a [tree] preservation plan.”  It is up to the Planning Board to mandate a plan by a qualified expert who would explain how construction could take place in a forest setting.  Mr. Grant said that he, personally, is not in favor of the development of this site.  Mr. Grant asked if an environmental impact statement (EIS) had been submitted, to which Chairman Kehoe noted that it is the Planning Board’s prerogative as to whether an EIS is required.  Chairman Kehoe noted further that if the Planning Board were to decide not to require an EIS, the review that is currently taking place would constitute the Planning Board’s environmental review.  Mr. Grant said that this is a very unique site and “well worth standing up for and saying let us think about this.”  Mr. Grant said that the likelihood of flooding would increase if there were no tree preservation plan in place.

A resident of the Village Doug Wehrle said that he walked the CCNS site and noted that it is extremely steep.  Mr. Wehrle said that the property is a remarkable valley; there are not many trees down from the recent storms and the site is “healthy-looking.”  Mr. Wehrle noted that there is an area of the CCNS property, which is littered. It is the area closest to the River Landing Subdivision. Mr. Wehrle said that there has clearly been an impact on the land from the construction that went on.  Ms. Allen noted that upstream, in the area in question, there are two sources of water – one is the stream on the left side and the other is an intermittent stream. She asked Mr. Wehrle if that is where the litter is, to which Mr. Wehrle replied that the litter is in the quadrant of the valley adjacent to the new development (River Landing).  Ms. Allen wondered if this intermittent stream that runs through that area had, perhaps, been blocked with debris.

Ronald Marans of 18 Lounsbury Road said that he has reviewed the three-lot subdivision plan and “There is a lot to like in the revised plan.”  He appreciates the work that went into it.  Mr. Marans questioned why the proposed houses in the new development could not be built closer to the road.  He noted that the houses farther down are close to the road. He does not know if it is possible but, seeing the new arrangement of the houses, he wonders if even more could be done to alleviate the environmental impacts.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the house on Lot #3 is the “central debate” with which the Planning Board has to deal.  Situating the house on Lot #3 in front closer to the road would put the house in a “greater than 35%” steep slope area. The back area where the house is presently shown is a flatter area.  Chairman Kehoe noted that depending on where the houses are located the Applicant would either meet the setback requirements or have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to seek a variance. The ZBA looks at the hardships encountered of having to meet the setback requirements. In making their decision, the ZBA would look at the environmental issues.  Mr. Marans said that he thinks the Planning Board should support putting the houses as close to the road as possible and let the ZBA know the reasons why. Mr. Aarons said that he thought that when the Planning Board walked the property the Planning Board wanted to see the houses closer to the road to mimic the houses farther down.  

Chairman Kehoe noted to those present that he would think that the Planning Board would not be closing the public hearing tonight.  There will be more opportunities for people to speak.  

Chairman Kehoe said that two members of the Planning Board were unable to attend the meeting tonight. It is his (Chairman Kehoe’s) recollection that when the full board was present, they did not reach a unanimous decision that four lots were too many lots.  Tonight, the Planning Board is looking at a revised plan showing three lots. Chairman Kehoe noted that, at some point, the Applicant has to start work on the drainage plan, tree preservation plan, etc.  Chairman Kehoe said that, up to now, with the opposition on the board for the four lots, he has seen no point in the Applicant’s spending a lot of time and money doing the engineering work. Now that the plan is for three lots, he would think this work could begin.  Chairman Kehoe noted that doing the engineering work does not lock the Planning Board in to approving three lots; however, in order to move forward and avoid going “around and around,” the engineering work has to commence.  Mr. Wegner noted to the board members that they (the Applicant) have already begun the field work and would do the remaining engineering studies if the Planning Board is comfortable with the current layout, to which Chairman Kehoe said that he is not sure that the board is entirely comfortable with the current layout; however, he would suggest that, at this point, Mr. Wegner should start doing the required engineering studies.

Chairman Kehoe said that if the issue tonight is that the siting of the house on Lot #1 is too close to the Cinquanta house next door, the Applicant should investigate moving the house farther to the right. Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant’s engineer would, then, have to quantify the change(s) in the impacts.  Chairman Kehoe said that the other issue is why the house on Lot #3 could not be taken out of the pink area (“greater than 35%” slopes) and be pulled forward to the green area (“15% to 25%” slopes), to which Mr. Aarons said that, as he remembers it, the slope on Lot #3 goes up drastically; “you would feel like you were in a cliff.”  Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Wegner if he had quantified the amount of disturbance within the limited disturbance line for the long driveway on Lot #3.  He asked if by moving the house forward and shortening the driveway the disturbance would be the same.  Chairman Kehoe said that if part of the concern is the drainage in the back, then, moving the three houses forward might prove to be better from an environmental standpoint. Chairman Kehoe noted that, at this point, the Planning Board has no way of comparing the impacts of the various scenarios, e.g., the disturbance created by the long driveway as opposed to moving the house forward, etc.  Mr. Wegner said that by putting the house in front on Lot #3, “you would put the house in a stone cave.”  Mr. Aarons agreed and said that for Lot #3, the house is in a better location where it is now.  

Mr. Wegner noted that, with the new layout, no retaining walls would be required for Lot #2.

Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board will need a new tree survey, to which Chairman Kehoe noted that the Village’s environmental consultant Bruce Donohue had located the trees within the limits of disturbance and had also located the trees at the back of the property, which are going to be disturbed. There is a conservation easement in the back of approximately 5 acres in size. Chairman Kehoe said that Mr. Grant’s point made earlier in the meeting was about the trees in the perimeter not being protected. This would result in many more trees being lost.  Chairman Kehoe noted that this is a site plan detail.  Before the Planning Board gets to the level of whether trees will be saved on the perimeter, they have to work out the number of lots, look at the engineer’s drainage report, etc. Ms. Allen said that she would like to avoid what happened on Prospect Place.  After the Planning Board had worked through the site plan issues for the three-lot subdivision, the developer came back before the board with the minor site plans for the houses.  The footprints of the houses had grown incredibly large; a lot more trees went down.  Mr. Wegner noted that the plan presently before the board is a subdivision plan, not a site plan.  Mr. Wegner said that he has drawn in houses of approximately 3,000 square feet in size plus the garage.  This size house is typical of the houses built in this village in the last few years.  Mr. Wegner noted that it is up to the purchasers of the parcels to decide what size houses to put in.  Either way, the prospective homeowners would have to come back before the Planning Board for a minor site plan approval.  Mr. Wegner noted that if they come back to the board with houses similar to those, which were drawn on the subdivision plan, then, it would be much simpler for the board to deal with than if they come back with 6-8,000 square-foot mansions. Ms. Allen asked if it would be possible for the Planning Board to restrict the size or the footprint of the house(s) at the time of the subdivision approval. Perhaps, it could be made a restrictive covenant on the land. Chairman Kehoe questioned how the Planning Board would go about doing that if the prospective homeowner otherwise meets the setback requirements and Floor Area Ratios (FAR’s) in the Village Code.

Mr. Wegner reviewed the items to be addressed for the next meeting.  A drainage report should be prepared. He should look at moving the house on Lot #1 farther away from the Cinquanta property and, also, look at moving the house on Lot #3 closer to the road.  In both cases he should “run the numbers.”  Mr. Wegner said that he will update the tree plan.  

Chairman Kehoe said that one of the Planning Board’s concerns is the ultimate disposition of the conservation easement in the back.  Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board would prefer that it be a “stand alone” parcel owned by the Village or the Westchester Land Trust as opposed to its being owned by the three subdivision landowners.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the ultimate decision would be made by the Village Board.  Ms. Allen noted that the Westchester Land Trust would manage that parcel very well. This is what they do.  Chairman Kehoe reiterated that the Planning Board would prefer a separately owned parcel managed by an organization like the Westchester Land Trust. The Planning Board would also want the land to have a passive recreation component to it.  Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board could make a recommendation to the Village Board to this effect.  

Chairman Kehoe referred to the subdivision plan and asked Mr. Wegner if he could move the Zoning Data Chart in the lower left hand corner to a different spot on the plan so as to be able to show more of the houses going down Lower North Highland Place.  Chairman Kehoe also wanted shown on the plan more information on the Village catch basins farther down the street, to which the Village Engineer noted that some of that information would be mapped out in the drainage report.

The Village Engineer noted that the Village’s Trails Committee has walked this site, so the proposed location for the trails could now be shown on the Applicant’s plan(s).  The Village Engineer said that there needs to be a way to get from the street to the conservation parcel.  The second adjacent lot would be a more suitable route, but this lot belongs to a different property owner. The Village Engineer noted that because this is a Village trail, it would be more appropriate for the Village to approach this property owner than to have the Applicant do it. The other option would be to reach the conservation parcel over proposed Lot #1.  

The Village Engineer suggested that, perhaps, the Applicant could extend the conservation parcel down farther onto Lot #2, as there are some natural features in that area (rear area) of Lot #2.

The Village Engineer said that there might be a need for the Village to construct additional drainage structures in the conservation parcel.  He would like there to be an option for the Village to look at the intermittent stream on Lot #1.  An easement would need to be established.  Mr. Aarons questioned if the Village would want to give up control of the conservation parcel to an outside organization (Westchester Land Trust), if there should be a need for the aforementioned drainage improvements. Perhaps, the Village could maintain the control of that portion of the land, to which the Village Engineer is referring. The Village Engineer said that he would think that this is a matter for the Village Attorney to look into.  

The Village Engineer said that, as mentioned earlier, there is garbage/debris on the proposed conservation parcel near Lot #1.  There needs to be a discussion on who is going to deal with the removal of this garbage/debris.

Chairman Kehoe said that the Applicant should be in touch with the Planning Board secretary as to when they are coming back before the board.     
  • Sky View Rehabilitation and Health Care Center – 1280 Albany Post Road (Sec. 67.18 Blk. 1 Lots 1 & 2) – Application for an Amended Site Plan Approval
Michael Bergen, Superintendent of Maintenance for Sky View, was present.

Chairman Kehoe noted that he missed the Planning Board meeting of March 23rd at which time the public hearing on the Sky View amended site plan application was scheduled.  Chairman Kehoe noted that at that meeting the Planning Board said that they would schedule the public hearing on the basis of the Applicant’s providing certain documentation to the board by the public hearing date.  

Ms. Allen noted that according to the minutes of the March 23rd meeting, there was an agreement between the Planning Board and the Applicant that the public hearing would be scheduled for tonight provided that certain actions relating to the sewer improvements project would be taking place, time lines established, etc.  The Planning Board wanted to see written documentation to that effect. Ms. Allen said that, to date, no documentation has been received.  Ms. Allen noted that when the Village Board approved the Applicant’s special permit, the Village Board developed a resolution containing specific conditions relating to these sewer improvements. Ms. Allen reiterated that, to date, the Planning Board has no clear document from the Applicant pertaining to the sewer improvements that are required.  

The Village Engineer said that last Thursday he had a meeting at Sky View with Steven Share, the facility administrator; Michael Bergen, the maintenance superintendent; and Ryan Coyne of Kellard Sessions Consulting regarding the requirements of the granting of the special permit.  The surety bond was discussed.  The Village Engineer said that Mr. Share told him that he was working on the bond.  Mr. Bergen noted to the Planning Board that Mr. Share was, indeed, working on the bond.  It should be done in two days.  The Village Engineer said that the amount of the bond is $35,000.  The Village Engineer said that he had another meeting at Sky View yesterday to discuss the sewer issues.  At that meeting the engineer and he talked about the controls that would be required for the reduction of the wet well volume(s) and other sewer-related matters.  Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board needs to have a report/document to that effect.  She would like this document reviewed and approved by the Village Board, the Planning Board and the Village Attorney. Ms. Allen said that this is a “legal agreement” between the Applicant and the Village.  As the Applicant has not provided the required report/document, she would think that the Planning Board is not ready to move forward with this application; the public hearing should be adjourned. Chairman Kehoe referred to the minutes of the last meeting and said that, according to the minutes, the design plan for the odor control improvements and the surety bond have to be substantially completed for the amended site plan to be approved.  The Village Engineer distributed to the Planning Board the recent email that he had received from the Applicant’s engineer.  The Village Engineer noted to the board that he had requested from the Applicant’s engineer the schematic drawings of the sewer control modification, which were attached to this email. The Village Engineer said that he intends to set up a time to discuss these drawings with the Village’s consultant who operates the pump station. The Village Engineer noted that the Applicant’s engineer Kellard was also supposed to do some additional design work.  

Chairman Kehoe referred to the Village Board’s special permit resolution and read aloud the conditions in the resolution pertaining to the sewer improvements project. Specific time lines were established for completing the tasks involved. The Village Engineer explained to the board members what part(s) of the sewer improvements project Sky View is currently in the process of doing.  Chairman Kehoe said that he would have no problem approving the proposed sunroom and patio area; however, given the issue the Village has had with Sky View regarding the installation of a grinder at the Sky View pump station site, he would want to make sure that the aforementioned sewer improvements project is underway before the Planning Board approves the sunroom/patio area.  

Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any members of the public present who would like to comment on this application, to which there were none.

Ms. Allen said that she would like the Applicant’s report/document to include specific information on how effective the proposal for the sewer odor control improvements is going to be.  Ms. Allen said that there was supposed to be a process put in place whereby residents could contact the Village regarding sewer odors.  She would like that process to be a part of the protocol for this project.

Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to adjourn the public hearing to the next regularly scheduled meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 27th.  The motion was made by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Aarons and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.

  • Referral from the Village Board for a Recommendation on the Proposed Design Guidelines for Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay Zone
Joe Biber and Doug Wehrle from the Harmon design guidelines committee and Ted Brumleve, new chair of the Harmon Economic Development Committee, were present.

Mr. Aarons asked if the design guidelines, which the Planning Board members are being asked to review, are compulsory for an applicant to follow. Are they going to be incorporated into the Village Code?  Mr. Biber told the Planning Board that this would be up to the Village Board to decide. It was his sense from the Village Board work session that he attended that they would be better served as guidelines.  

Chairman Kehoe read aloud the Applicability section of the design guidelines, which states that “These guidelines apply to all new buildings…..” Chairman Kehoe pointed out that in the Harmon Gateway Overlay Law it states that these guidelines shall apply to mixed-use buildings. Mr. Biber said that the intent was that the guidelines would apply to all new buildings.  Chairman Kehoe asked if these guidelines apply just to Harmon, to which Mr. Biber said, “yes.” Mr. Biber noted that the idea was that any new development in Harmon would conform to these concepts (guidelines).  He gave as an example adding more variety to the façade(s) of buildings by breaking up the “street wall.”

Chairman Kehoe said that, at the last discussion on these guidelines, the Planning Board thought that the Policy Recommendations on the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2 should be removed, to which Mr. Biber responded that, indeed, these recommendations should not be a part of the design guidelines.  They were a “side bar.”

Mr. Aarons noted that these guidelines apply to buildings to which a second or third floor has been added. Mr. Aarons questioned if someone could still put on a second floor and not be in compliance with these guidelines.  Mr. Aarons noted that, by code, an individual has always had the right to put on a second floor.  He questioned why someone would necessarily have to abide by these guidelines.  Mr. Wehrle said that these guidelines “add some flesh and hopefully clarity to an overall plan that seems to make sense.”  Mr. Wehrle noted that if these guidelines had been in effect when the Anton’s came before the board with an amended site plan to put an addition on their restaurant, the Planning Board might have looked at parking in the rear. The Planning Board could not have asked the Anton’s to move the foot print of their building, but there are other ways in which these guidelines could have come into play. Mr. Wehrle noted that the concept to which these guidelines adhere is that parking should be in the back, and the front of buildings should be pedestrian-friendly.  

Chairman Kehoe noted that the first floor street facade of buildings has to consist of at least 60% glass.  Chairman Kehoe asked if this means that someone who does not have a façade with 60% glass could not be approved, to which Mr. Aarons said that this (the 60% glass requirement) is a part of the Harmon Gateway Overlay Law.  Chairman Kehoe asked if by not meeting this requirement, the person would have to seek a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, to which the Village Engineer said that this is, indeed, the case. Mr. Biber noted that there are several design features in the design guidelines that “made it” into the gateway law.       

The Village Engineer referred to item #1 under Architecture and Materials, which states that “Buildings must conform to the bulk, setback, and height requirements in the Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Regulations, section 230-20.3.” The Village Engineer questioned why item #1 needed to be in the design guidelines.  Mr. Wehrle said that the committee decided to cite applicable sections of the gateway law in the design guidelines. Chairman Kehoe thought that item #1 could come out because it is reciting a part of the gateway law.  Mr. Brumleve suggested that, rather than taking item #1 out altogether, the wording could be changed to, “Buildings in this district should refer to [such in such] a regulation…..”  

Chairman Kehoe referred to item #5 under Architecture and Materials pertaining to street walls.  He noted that there was confusion at the last meeting about what is meant by “small setbacks (limited to two feet)” in the third sentence of item #5.  Mr. Biber said that item #5 calls for retail storefronts with consistent setbacks. The point of including this language was to provide a way to vary the footprint of building façades so as to avoid a monotonous look. Mr. Wehrle added that they (the committee) wanted to avoid continuous walls without articulation.  The two-foot setback of buildings would allow some play.  Mr. Wehrle said that these small setbacks are not mandated but they could be used as a means of creating the desired look.  Mr. Brumleve suggested that to clear up the confusion in the language, the wording of the sentence could be changed from, “This can include small setbacks (limited to two feet)…..” to “For example, small setbacks (limited to two feet)…..”

Mr. Aarons asked about item #6 under Architecture and Materials pertaining to the design for the rooflines of large buildings, to which Mr. Wehrle said that the committee had the same idea (as mentioned above) for the rooflines, i.e., to have some variety in the architecture while creating harmony and consistency in the “street wall.”  Chairman Kehoe noted that the word “required” is used in item #6.  He asked if these guidelines being discussed tonight are actual guidelines or if, instead, they are standards that must be met.  Mr. Biber said that they should probably not use the word “required” but use the word “encouraged” instead.  Chairman Kehoe noted that the word “required” is used in many places throughout the guidelines, to which Mr. Wehrle said that there are certain elements noted in the guidelines that they absolutely do not want to see happen, e.g. using Dryvit stucco on the first floor of buildings or using cinder blocks on upper floors of the façade. They would want tighter restrictions in some areas; however, some elements of the guidelines are just architectural suggestions. Chairman Kehoe suggested that when the committee reworks the language of the guidelines, they could differentiate between those design elements that they want required and those elements that are more suggestions.  Mr. Aarons said that he would hate to see a larger building with a flat roof, to which Mr. Wehrle noted that the prevalent attitude of the committee was to “keep with pitched roofs.”  

Chairman Kehoe referred to item #8 under Architecture and Materials pertaining to the guidelines and/or standards for the height of buildings (35 feet/3 stories). Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, the committee would not want to see a “full blown third floor hidden by a fake roof.”  Chairman Kehoe noted that at the last meeting there was some confusion about some of the language used in item #8. For example, Mr. Luntz questioned the meaning of the term “false mansard roofs” in the third sentence. Mr. Brumleve suggested that the committee could rework the language of item #8 to clarify the committee’s intent.  He assured the Planning Board that the committee would come back before the board with a refined version of these design guidelines before the Planning Board would be asked to take any action. Chairman Kehoe noted that Mr. Luntz had also hoped to see graphics showing the desired elevations of buildings, to which Mr. Brumleve suggested that the committee could do a cross section of a building to the extent that it has not been made clear in the guidelines.

Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that the only time the guidelines should use the word “required” is if a particular element/feature is required in the gateway law, to which Mr. Wehrle noted that if a certain item is required by law, then, perhaps, it should not be in the guidelines at all.  Mr. Biber noted that there are a few specific items, such as the restriction about using Dryvit on the first floor of a building that should be in the guidelines.  The committee should look at this again.  Mr. Wehrle said that, when creating the guidelines the committee had to think about the phraseology being used so as to allow the Planning Board to have enough latitude to choose to either follow or to slightly shift away from these guidelines. These guidelines are not meant to “put handcuffs on” the Planning Board.  They are meant to be a tool.

Chairman Kehoe referred to the last paragraph in bold pertaining to the approval authority granted by the Planning Board to the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB), to which Mr. Wehrle said that the VEB does not want legal approval authorization.

Mr. Aarons referred to item #13 under Architecture and Materials pertaining to the use of curtain walls and asked why there would be a problem with curtain walls going edge to edge, to which Mr. Biber said that he thinks this was an effort on the part of the committee to create a traditional store front window look.  Mr. Wehrle said that Julie Evans was unable to make the meeting tonight; Ms. Evans would be the member on the committee who would be better equipped to answer this question.

Mr. Aarons referred to item #5 under Landscape, Hardscape, Parking, Buffering and asked what is meant by “upper and lower story plant materials,” to which Mr. Wehrle said that an upper story plant material would be a tree and a lower story plant material would be a shrub.  Mr. Wehrle referred to item #6, “Buffer strips between parking and street shall incorporate both shade trees and low shrubs” and noted that the reason for this item (#6) was that the committee wanted to make sure that there is a strong buffer between residential areas and commercial parking lots. Mr. Wehrle noted that item #5 says that “buffer strips…..shall be a minimum of 15 feet deep…..” The reason for the 15-foot minimum was because of the concerns voiced by the residents of Young Avenue. Mr. Wehrle said that, if the Planning Board so chooses, perhaps, there could be more flexibility as to the size of the buffer.

Mr. Brumleve passed out to the board members a montage of the existing streetscape(s) on both sides of South Riverside Avenue.  He noted that in some cases the buildings are right up against the pavement.  All in all, the hope is to make the streetscapes in Harmon more pedestrian-friendly.

Mr. Wehrle referred to item #9 under Landscape, Hardscape, Parking, Buffering pertaining to fences next to sidewalks, which states that a fence can be no closer than 18 inches from the sidewalk. Mr. Wehrle noted that the reason for this restriction is that a fence situated right up against a sidewalk removes some of the use of the sidewalk.  Mr. Wehrle said that the committee was thinking about pedestrian-friendly elements of design, so any elements relative to sidewalks were called out in the guidelines.  As it stands now, fences can be built right up against a sidewalk.  Mr. Wehrle said that, if the board so chooses, this item could be removed from the guidelines. It may not apply that much.

Mr. Aarons referred to item #1 under Lighting, Signage, Awnings & Furnishings, which states that “All street furniture…..must be uniform in regard to design, materials and location within this gateway district.” Mr. Aarons said that he understands the concept behind this design guideline but, “Who is the first to decide this?”  Mr. Wehrle said that if the Village is putting in benches, for example, then, the Village would make the decision on the street furniture.  Mr. Wehrle said that the question raised by the committee was, “Do we want to have any guidelines if a property owner wants to put in outdoor furniture?” Mr. Wehrle said that the committee was trying to touch upon this [issue], but not touch upon it too much.  Mr. Biber said that, in so far as outdoor furniture is concerned, the Village might want to differentiate between permanent and seasonal furniture. The Village might want to develop a list of acceptable furniture that a property/business owner could draw from.

Mr. Aarons noted that item #6 under Architecture and Materials states that “Mechanical equipment on roofs must be screened from all four sides of the building.” Mr. Aarons asked if mechanical equipment, which might be found on the ground level, should also be addressed. Mr. Brumleve suggested that a sentence could be added to item #6 to the effect that “Mechanical equipment on roofs and on grade must be hidden from view.”  

Chairman Kehoe told the committee members present to let the Planning Board secretary know when this item would be coming back before the board.
  • Tom & Carlene Fallacaro – 3 Arrowcrest Drive (Sec. 67.15 Blk. 1 Lot 33) – Applications for a Modification to the Building Envelope, a Steep Slope Permit and a Wetlands Activity Permit for an Existing Retaining Wall and Other Site Improvements
The Village Engineer noted that at a previous meeting the Planning Board reviewed the proposals from several engineering firms to provide an engineering analysis/assessment on the condition of the Fallacaro retaining wall. The board had decided upon Geotechnical Engineering Services (GES) and had asked that GES visit the site with the Applicant’s engineer and the Village Engineer. GES visited the site and, after looking at the retaining wall firsthand, told the Village Engineer that they would no longer be interested in doing the work. The Village Engineer noted that out of all the engineering firms who had submitted proposals, McLaren Engineering Group’s proposal was the highest in price.  Carlin Simpson & Associates’ proposal was the lowest quote that came in. In the end, the Planning Board had decided to go with GES.

The Village Engineer said that Mr. Fallacaro has since asked Carlin Simpson & Associates to send a proposal to him directly. Mr. Fallacaro’s hope is that the Planning Board would agree to this firm’s performing the analysis of the wall. The Village Engineer told the Applicant’s attorney Norman Sheer that the Planning Board would not agree to this arrangement.  The Planning Board would want to hire their own engineering consultant to perform the analysis.  Mr. Sheer asked the Village Engineer if, rather than Carlin Simpson & Associates, the Planning Board would be willing to allow the Applicant to hire McLaren Engineering Group to do the analysis work for both the Village and the Applicant.  Mr. Sheer wanted to save his client the expense of having two firms involved.  

The Village Engineer suggested to the Planning Board that he could write a letter to Mr. Sheer saying that it would be acceptable for the Applicant to hire an engineering firm; however, the Planning Board would hire their own engineering firm to review the work.  The Village Engineer noted that he has already spoken with McLaren Engineering Group about this “new” arrangement and, given the scope of the work that would be required McLaren has submitted a revised proposal, which would be substantially lower in price. The Village Engineer said that before any work is actually done, McLaren would be sent Carlin Simpson’s proposal to review.

Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, in this “new” arrangement, the Applicant would hire their own engineer, and the Planning Board’s engineer would, then, review their work. Furthermore, before the work actually begins, McLaren would review Carlin Simpson’s proposed scope of the work.  

Ms. Allen said that she would like to “stick to” the Planning Board’s original way to proceed.  Ms. Allen said that she would think that, in this case, the Planning Board should choose the engineering firm performing the work; the Applicant should pay for their services. Ms. Allen noted that in cases that are not as serious as this, the Planning Board would hire a firm to review the work performed by the Applicant’s engineer.  She does not think that this would be the way to proceed in this case. Mr. Aarons said that he, too, would think that the Planning Board should “get to choose” the engineering firm.  He would rather have an engineer selected by the Planning Board do the work.  He would like to have more tests done – borings, etc. – rather than have the Planning Board’s engineer reaffirm that “the figures are correct.”  Mr. Aarons said that he would want the Planning Board rather than the Applicant to have control over the firm that ultimately gets hired. Chairman Kehoe noted that McLaren had first quoted approximately $40,000 to do the work involved.  Mr. Sheer said “no.” Chairman Kehoe expressed his concern to the board that after six months of looking at this application, no progress has been made. Chairman Kehoe suggested that Mr. Sheer should come back before the board to discuss this matter.  If Mr. Sheer says “no” again, then, this matter goes to the Village Justice Court, and it will eventually end up back before the Planning Board.  The Village Engineer said that in the “new” arrangement, part of McLaren’s work would be to verify the field work.  The Village Engineer said that the intent would be to have a more detailed analysis done to determine the safety of the wall.  Mr. Aarons said that he could “live with” the Planning Board’s own engineering consulting firm doing the necessary work at the site.

Chairman Kehoe said that Mr. Sheer should be contacted and told that the Planning Board could not reach any agreement on this “dual consultant system.”  At this point, the will of the board is that the Planning Board’s consultant should provide the scope of the work and go out and do the actual work. Chairman Kehoe said that he would like to make a decision on how to proceed with the full board present. Chairman Kehoe suggested that Mr. Sheer could come to the next Planning Board meeting for a discussion, to which the Village Engineer said that he would let Mr. Sheer know.
Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, March 9, 2010 and the Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Planning Board meetings was postponed to the next meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 27th.   

There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 11:40 P.M.


Sylvia Mills

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