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Planning Board Minutes 06/22/2010



A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Robert Luntz, Acting as Chairman
                                Fran Allen
                                Bruce Kauderer

ABSENT:                 Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                Mark Aarons

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 Mr. Luntz, acting as chairman in Chris Kehoe’s absence.

  • 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 – Request for an Adjournment
Mr. Luntz stated that the Applicant has requested that the public hearing on this application for a preliminary subdivision approval be adjourned. This item would be put back on the agenda for the next Planning Board meeting to be held on Monday, July 12th.  

  • 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 – Public Hearing, Continued…..
Michael Bergen, Superintendent of Maintenance for Sky View, was present.

Mr. Bergen said that the Planning Board received in their packets all of the materials on the sewer improvements stipulated by the Planning Board at the last meeting.  These materials include the surety bond, the engineering plans and the contractors’ proposals.

The Village Engineer said that he met with the Applicant, the DPW and the Village’s consultant who operates the pump station. The Applicant’s engineer Kellard Sessions Consulting provided him with the engineering plans for the odor control, which the Planning Board had requested.  The Village Engineer said that he reviewed the plans and asked for some changes.  The Planning Board received in their packets the Applicant’s revised plans with the changes that he had requested.  

The Village Engineer reviewed for the Planning Board the two methods being used to prevent sewer odors.  First, they would decrease the volume of sewage in the wet well at any one time frame and increase the number of pump-outs. Second, they would inject bioxide into the sewer force main.  The Village Engineer added that the better mix of bio-chemicals with the waste water would be more effective in preventing odors.

Ms. Allen referred to the text on sheet 2/2 of the sewer pump station modification plans and asked the Village Engineer if this text accurately describes what he (the Village Engineer) just described as the methods being used to prevent sewer odors, to which the Village Engineer said that he gave tonight a summary of this text. The write-up on the plan to which Ms. Allen is referring is a more detailed description of the specifics of the operation.

Mr. Kauderer asked how the improvements being made would remove the necessity for a grinder, to which the Village Engineer said that the Applicant’s proposal is to pump out the wet well on a quarterly basis, which should keep any blockages from occurring.  The Village Engineer noted that the installation of a grinder for future use is not being completely eliminated.  There may still be a need for a grinder in the future.  Ms. Allen questioned what the trigger for needing a grinder would be.  Mr. Bergen said that the aforementioned blockages were caused by baby wipes that swelled up when they were saturated with water.  They (Sky View) no longer use these baby wipes.

Ms. Allen questioned again what the trigger for needing a grinder would be.  Ms. Allen said that she had thought that the Village was going to set up a system for citizens to register complaints about the sewer odors. Ms. Allen said that the only way to monitor this situation is (would be) to have citizens involved. The Village Engineer said that he would mention this to the Village Manager and ask him to bring it up at a Village Board work session.

The Village Engineer said that if it gets to a point where the pumps are clogged again, Sky View would be notified; this matter of requiring a grinder at the Sky View pump station would be brought up again at that time.  

Ms. Allen referred to the memorandum from the Planning Board to the Village Board dated February 11, 2010 and noted that, in this memorandum, the Planning Board recommended that the amended special permit application be approved subject to conditions.  The last condition stated that “…..if the clogging problem with the wet well pumps reoccurred that the requirement for the installation of a grinder may need to be implemented.” Ms. Allen said that she is concerned that “We missed what would be the trigger requiring it [the grinder].”  The Village Engineer noted to Ms. Allen that the Village would be doing routine inspections of the pump station at the Sky View site. Clogs to the system would be discovered during these routine inspections.  The Village Engineer noted that the Village also has a sewer use ordinance and could take action directly under this ordinance. In the case of Sky View, the Village could cite a violation to deal with the debris coming down the pipe.

Mr. Luntz asked if there were any comments from members of the public, to which there were none.

Mr. Luntz closed the public hearing.

Mr. Kauderer noted that he was not yet a member of the Planning Board when this application first came before the board.  He asked what improvements were being proposed, to which Mr. Luntz explained to Mr. Kauderer that Sky View proposes to put on an addition to a sunroom and install an outside patio area.  The Village Engineer showed Mr. Kauderer the Applicant’s plan(s) with the sunroom addition and patio area.  

Ms. Allen suggested that the Planning Board should append to their amended site plan resolution of approval the Village Board’s resolution for the amended special permit.   

Mr. Kauderer pointed out to the others that two different amounts are being shown in the surety bond provided by the Applicant.  Page 1 of the surety bond shows a bond amount of $35,000 and page 5 shows an amount of $500,000.  Mr. Kauderer said that, as he understands it, the amount of the bond should be $35,000; perhaps, the discrepancy is not important as the incorrect amount of $500,000 is more than what is being required of the Applicant.  The Village Engineer said that he would ask the Village Attorney to review the language of the surety bond.

Mr. Luntz read aloud the draft resolution with the following (one) condition:

  • that the Applicant shall abide by the conditions set forth in the Village Board’s amended special permit resolution dated March 15, 2010.  The Village Board’s amended special permit shall be appended to this (the Planning Board’s) resolution.
Mr. Luntz entertained a motion to approve this amended site plan application with the condition just discussed.  The motion to approve was made by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Kauderer and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.

Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board should (also) recommend to the Village Board that the Village set up a “hot line” for residents to report sewer odor problems.  The Village Engineer said that he would write a memorandum to the Village Manager asking that this matter be brought up at an upcoming Village Board work session.   

  • John Boulos – Piney Point Avenue (Sec. 79.13 Blk. 4 Lot 44) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval for a New Single-Family Dwelling
  • Mark Franzoso – Piney Point Avenue (Sec. 79.13 Blk. 4 Lot 45) – Application for a Minor Site Plan Approval for a New Single-Family Dwelling
Edmond Gemmola of Gemmola & Associates, Architects/Planners; Sean Heverin of Heverin Construction Management; and Mark Franzoso, owner of Piney Point Lot #45, were present.

Mr. Gemmola said that he is representing the owners of both lots (Lots #’s 44 and 45).  Mr. Gemmola pointed out to the Planning Board that he had made a mistake on the section, block and lot numbers on the plans submitted; he will revise the plans accordingly.  

Mr. Gemmola noted that the Piney Point parcel belonging to Mark Franzoso is north of the Boulos parcel.  The lots are the same size.  Both lots are in the RA-9 one-family residence district.  As shown on the Applicants’ plans the front, rear and side yard setback requirements are being met.  Mr. Gemmola said that the plans for both houses show a parking apron in the front.  Mr. Gemmola noted that they (the Applicants) had several designs for houses that they ran by the Village Engineer including designs for modular houses.  Mr. Gemmola said that, in the end, they opted not to go with a modular house because the modular design would have triggered the requirement for a steep slope permit. Mr. Gemmola noted that both of these Piney Point lots are entirely comprised of steep slopes.

Mr. Gemmola noted that the houses being proposed are kit houses. They could come as a structural system only; it depends on what they (the Applicants) want to spend.  Mr. Gemmola said that both houses are two-story houses with a first and second floor.  The owners are free to choose what they want to have designed into their houses.  Mr. Gemmola said that these (kit) houses have a small basement area.

Mr. Gemmola said that, from a structural standpoint, the houses would be built on stilts except for a small foundation area for utilities; there has to be a place for a boiler and for a water line to be brought in.  Mr. Gemmola said that houses on stilts such as these can be found on steep slopes in California. Mr. Gemmola said that the plan for these houses is “a very open plan – almost like a tree house.”  Mr. Gemmola said that there are several trees that would have to be eliminated in the areas where they would have to set the main poles and the foundation.   

Mr. Gemmola referred to drawing #SY-102 Proposed Site Sections and noted that this drawing depicts a section through the parking area and through the main house.  

Mr. Gemmola noted that they (the Applicants) meet the requirements of the steep slope ordinance. With the house design currently being proposed, a steep slope permit would not be required.

Mr. Gemmola suggested that Mr. Heverin could give the board some background information on the type of house being proposed and the procedures used to build this type of house.

Mr. Gemmola noted that, in so far as the house locations are concerned, they might be able to pull the houses closer to the road; but, there is a stipulation in the section on accessory structures in the Village Code that might prevent them from doing so.

Ms. Allen said that she visited the site today and, in so far as the steep slopes are concerned, the land “drops off very fast” on both of these lots.

Mr. Gemmola described the proposed retaining wall at the front parking area. Mr. Gemmola said that the retaining wall would be erected and the land backfilled.  The wall would taper off as it goes toward the street.  Mr. Gemmola said that the wall would be a gravity wall composed of huge concrete blocks.  Mr. Luntz said that, as he understands it, the issue with the retaining wall is whether or not the wall is to be designated as an “accessory structure” and whether the wall would have to meet the requirements of the side yard for an accessory structure. The Village Engineer noted that an accessory structure has to be 5 feet away from the property line and a maximum of 15 feet in height. A wall that is more than 6 feet in height is considered an “accessory structure.” The Village Engineer said that the back of the wall on the Boulos property is close to 15 feet in height; the wall on the Franzoso property is even higher (20 feet).  The Village Engineer noted that an accessory structure cannot be placed in front of a primary structure. Besides the height issue, there might also be an issue with frontage.  The Village Engineer said that the Applicant might (also) need a variance for the parking area in the front.       

Ms. Allen said that she would think that another issue that might come up is the steepness of the slopes.  Once the trees on these extremely steep slopes are taken out, there might be a problem with the stabilization of the slope(s). The Village Engineer said that there would have to be a sedimentation and erosion control plan submitted as well as a storm water plan.

Mr. Gemmola said that they have had the trees surveyed, to which Mr. Luntz noted that the tree survey would have to be updated with more information, e.g., the species of trees, etc.  Ms. Allen told Mr. Gemmola that the Planning Board has an environmental consultant/arborist who would be asked to verify the Applicant’s tree information. The Planning Board has discovered that surveyors “get the tree information wrong.” The Planning Board would have to bring in its own environmental consultant. The Village Engineer noted that an escrow account would have to be set up and the Applicant would be required to pay for the consultant’s services. Mr. Luntz said that the Planning Board’s consultant would check the work done on the trees.  He would tag the trees and provide a mapping of the trees.  The consultant would also give his opinion on the trees that would need to be removed.

Mr. Gemmola asked if, at this point in the process, the Applicant should go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for the required variances, to which Ms. Allen said that she would think that before going before the ZBA the tree survey should be completed.  Mr. Luntz told Mr. Gemmola that the Village Engineer is going to look into this matter regarding the variances and give the Planning Board an “official determination” as to whether or not these variances are required.  Mr. Luntz noted that, in so far as the parking area and retaining wall are concerned, it would seem to him that there is no other alternative solution to what is presently being proposed.  

Mr. Luntz said that he would think that on slopes like these the type of house currently being proposed would be a way to do it. It is a better solution than what has been presented to the Planning Board in the past for a house on steep slopes.

Sean Heverin came forward and told the board that he has built a number of these homes in various parts of the country. He gave as an example Mt. Snow in Vermont.  Mr. Heverin said that this type of house could (also) be found on the steep slopes of California. Mr. Heverin said that these homes are not really kit homes; they are custom homes based on 16th Century Japanese farm houses.  The structures themselves are very basic. They are designed and engineered for their weight and structure, taking into account any potential earthquake activity. Mr. Heverin said that the basic structure consists of poles, which are set on concrete piers. These poles are 14 inches in diameter and are made of Douglas fir.  Timber framing is used for the house construction.  The homes have an efficient heating and cooling system. Mr. Heverin said that one of the principal advantages of this type of house construction is the protection/preservation of trees. These homes fit into the environment.  They fit in among the trees and look natural.  Mr. Heverin said that much of the root structure of trees would be left undisturbed because piers are being placed into the ground rather than a house foundation. Mr. Heverin said that their intention is to disturb as little soil as possible.  There would need to be engineering done to make sure that what has to be disturbed is stabilized.  Mr. Heverin said that the utility room is the only area of disturbance.  They would have to do core borings to see what is in the ground.  The tallest pier in the back would be 17 feet above grade.  Mr. Heverin said that the retaining wall being proposed would be a Redi-Rock wall with a limestone or cobblestone finish. Mr. Heverin said that they anticipate that 12 trees would probably have to be removed for the house construction.  Mr. Heverin referred to the colored photograph of a 16th Century Japanese country house and noted that this photograph shows a tree going through the deck and roofing of the house. Mr. Heverin said, “Because there are no load-bearing walls we [the builder/developer] can move things around to satisfy the client or the environment.”  Mr. Heverin noted that a crane would be brought to the property for the house construction. They would stage the crane on the parking areas to minimize the land disturbance.  Mr. Heverin noted that once the concrete is in place, they would not have to touch the ground at all.  Mr. Heverin said that he could understand the concern about damaging the root system of trees, but they would be drilling holes into the ground, not excavating for a foundation.  

Ms. Allen said that there is sand on some of these cliffs, to which Mr. Heverin responded that soil tests, borings, etc. would have to be done.  This would be a part of the geotechnical report that would have to be prepared.

Ms. Allen expressed her concern about the potential for sink holes forming on the property from rotted tree roots and said that she has seen sink holes on ground that is much flatter than these two Piney Point lots. Mr. Heverin said that to prevent the soil from eroding, he would recommend putting geo-gridding down. Mr. Heverin said that, with respect to sink holes, pine trees are the worst.  Maple trees have wide root systems, but the roots are not that deep. Sink holes are formed when roots deep in the ground rot. Sink holes do not form when the roots are near or at the surface. Mr. Heverin noted that there is a potential for sink holes when a situation is left untreated; it would not happen in a “controlled situation” such as this one.  Ms. Allen said that she would want the Village’s consultant to look into this matter regarding the sink holes and give his opinion.  

Mr. Luntz said that the photograph of the Japanese-style house shows natural wood siding.  Mr. Luntz asked if the house being shown in the photograph is the “look and feel” of the houses that are being proposed, to which Mr. Franzoso said that, “He would want to do what the photograph shows.”

Ms. Allen asked the Village Engineer if, in the Village Code, it states that the Planning Board could call a public hearing on these minor site plan applications, to which the Village Engineer said “no;” however, the Planning Board’s past practice has always been to allow interested members of the public to speak.

Mr. Luntz asked if there were members of the public present who would like to speak on this application. James Bourdon of 33 Nordica Drive told the Planning Board that his house is downhill from the two lots.  He would be looking up at the houses.  Mr. Bourdon said that any work that the Applicant does on drainage could cause flooding on his property because his house is situated downhill. Besides his concern about drainage, Mr. Bourdon was concerned about the safety of the house(s) being built on steep slopes.  Mr. Bourdon said that the subject Piney Point lots have been a “wooded area” for many years. From the standpoint of aesthetics he would be looking uphill at a house rather than a natural wooded area. Mr. Bourdon said that their realtor had told them that no one would ever build houses on these lots because of the steep slopes; now, these (two) houses are being proposed.

Timothy Robinson of 15 Nordica Drive said that his concern is primarily an aesthetic one.  The view from Nordica Drive would be “the undercarriage of a house and the bottom of a deck.”  He would also be concerned about the aesthetics of the concrete retaining wall, to which Mr. Heverin said that there are different faces on the block that could be used.  Mr. Robinson said that he would think that the parking structures being proposed are going to be gigantic and extremely unattractive.  Mr. Franzoso suggested that Mr. Robinson could take a look at the retaining wall that he (Mr. Franzoso) built on Beekman Avenue.  This wall is 20-25 feet in height and is the type of wall that is being discussed tonight. The Village Engineer said that, with respect to the aesthetics of the wall, another option would be to screen the wall with landscaping.  Mr. Franzoso agreed and said that the wall could be masked (screened) with foliage.  

Mr. Franzoso noted to those present that there are a limited number of lots left in the Village. He, personally, thinks that the Japanese-style houses being proposed are “awesome-looking” houses and would work well on these lots.  

Russell Davies of 27 Nordica Drive said that he would be concerned about the drainage.  He said that the drainage from these lots could exacerbate the existing conditions downhill.  Mr. Davies told the Planning Board that he is a structural engineer by profession.  The builder(s) of the two houses would have to follow the New York State Building Code.  Mr. Davies said that, as an engineer, he would have concerns about the house construction from a structural and civil engineering point of view.  Mr. Davies noted that trees serve the function of absorbing storm water and help to prevent the erosion of soil on steep slopes. He (Mr. Davies) would think that the removal of trees on these lots would have an adverse impact on the slopes. Mr. Davies said that he is also a trained architect. From an architectural standpoint, the “prospect” of the houses looks good, i.e., the houses are attractive and do not have a lot of square footage. However, what has to be considered is the potentially adverse impact of the drainage, the tree removal, etc. on the neighboring properties. Mr. Luntz noted to Mr. Davies that the preparation of a drainage analysis would be a part of the minor site plan approval process.  

Lois Shaukat of 28 Piney Point Avenue came forward.  Ms. Shaukat said that she is not an engineer by profession; however, even though she is not an engineer, there is a “common sense element to [all of] this.” Ms. Shaukat said that it would make sense to be concerned about drainage and erosion control on these two properties, given the steepness of the slopes.  Ms. Shaukat said that she has the same (environmental) concerns as those that have already been articulated by the other speakers tonight.

Mr. Luntz said that, before the Applicant schedules another meeting before the Planning Board, the Applicant should get a determination from the Village Engineer as to whether or not the plans, as presented, would require variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.  

  • Croton Sailing School, Inc. – 2 Elliott Way (Sec. 78.12 Blk. 1 Lot 1) – Application for an Amended Site Plan Approval for a Shed
Steven Jennings, President of the Croton Sailing School, was present.

Mr. Jennings said that he is the owner and operator of the Croton Sailing School.  The sailing school currently has a small shed to store equipment at Senasqua Park.  This shed is old and needs to be replaced.  The new shed is somewhat larger in size than the old one.  Mr. Jennings said that they need a larger shed to house the materials that were previously being stored in the bathhouse at Senasqua Park. The sailing school lost (a certain amount of) storage space when the bathhouse was renovated a few years ago.  

Mr. Luntz asked if the existing shed is part of the approved site plan on this lot, to which the Village Engineer said that he does not know.  The Village Engineer noted that although he has looked at the property file, he has not done enough research on the property to find that out.  Mr. Jennings said that he knows that there was a shed on the property in 1986.  The shed that is currently on the premises was built to replace this earlier shed.  He is not exactly sure when this shed was built – probably 15 to 20 years ago.    

Mr. Jennings said that the shed would be 8’ x 16’ in size. There would be a 4’ x 16’ lean-to addition on the north side to store life jackets.  This would allow the sailing instructors to access the life jackets without actually having to go into the shed.  The Village Engineer said that one of the Planning Board’s conditions of approval should be “that the siding and the paint color of this lean-to addition shall match the shed.”  

The Village Engineer asked if the old shed would be removed, to which Mr. Jennings said, “yes.”

Mr. Luntz asked if there were any other comments, to which there were none.

Mr. Luntz suggested that the Planning Board could schedule the public hearing on this amended site plan application.  The board agreed to hold the public hearing at the next meeting scheduled for Monday, July 12th.

Approval of the minutes of the Tuesday, May 25, 2010 Planning Board meeting was tabled until the next regularly scheduled meeting to be held on Tuesday, July 12, 2010.    

There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:34 P.M.


Sylvia Mills


WHEREAS, the Planning Board held a public hearing on an Amended Site Plan application on April 13, 2010, and continued to June 22, 2010, for Sky View Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, hereafter known as “the Applicant,” said property being located at 1280 Albany Post Road and designated on the Tax Map of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as Section 67.18 Block 1 Lots 1 & 2; and

WHEREAS, after consideration of proposed changes at the Sky View Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, the Planning Board had previously recommended to the Village Board that they grant an Amended Special Permit to the facility; and

WHEREAS, the Village Board held a public hearing on the Amended Special Permit at its meeting of March 15, 2010 and subsequently approved the Amended Special Permit; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Board acknowledges that the Village Board, in their resolution of March 15, 2010, has mandated that all of the sewer improvement work recommended by the Planning Board in their memorandum of February 11, 2010 be implemented and that this work be completed within the time frames specified in the aforementioned Village Board resolution; and

WHEREAS, the proposal is for a 470 square-foot addition to the existing physical therapy facility and the addition of an 890 square-foot outdoor sitting patio; and

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

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Amended Site Plan application, as shown on Drawing #T-1 entitled “Title Sheet, Site Plan, Details, Symbols, “Four Seasons” Typical Unit Details;” Drawing #S-1 entitled “Partial Site Plan, Enlarged Patio Plan, Site Details;” Drawing #A-1 entitled “Foundation Plan, Floor Plan, Electrical, Demolition Notes;” Drawing A-2 entitled “Elevations, Cross Section;” and Drawing A-3 entitled “Structural Notes, Typical Wall Sections, Details General Notes,” dated September 11, 2008 and received by the Village on July 14, 2009, prepared by Salvatore Mancini, AIA, be approved, subject to the following condition:

  • that the Applicant shall abide by the conditions set forth in the Village Board’s Amended Special Permit resolution dated March 15, 2010 and that the Village Board’s Amended Special Permit be appended to this resolution.
In the event that this amended site plan is not implemented within three (3) years of this date, this approval shall expire.
                                                The Planning Board of the Village of
                                                Croton-on-Hudson, New York

                                                Chris Kehoe, Chairman
                                                Mark Aarons
                                                Fran Allen
                                                Vincent Andrews
                                                Robert Luntz
Motion to approve by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Kauderer and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.  Board members Chris Kehoe and Mark Aarons were absent from the meeting.

Resolution accepted with the minutes of the meeting held on June 22, 2010.  


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