VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK
PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010
A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 in the Municipal Building.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Chris Kehoe, Chairman
ABSENT: Mark Aarons
ALSO PRESENT: Ann Gallelli, Member of the Board of Trustees
James Staudt, Esq., Village Attorney
Daniel O'Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
1. Call to Order:
The meeting was called to order at 8:10 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 – Request for an Adjournment
Chairman Kehoe 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 Tuesday, September 14th.
Chairman Kehoe noted that Planning Board member Fran Allen and he attended the Village Board meeting last night to discuss the disposition of the proposed conservation parcel at the rear of the Croton Community Nursery School site. Chairman Kehoe said that the feeling of those in attendance was that the Village would own the parcel and the Westchester Land Trust would hold the conservation easement.
- Referral from the Village Board Regarding Local Law Introductory No. 3 of 2010 – Repeal and Enactment of Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay District Zoning Amendments
Village Attorney James Staudt was present for this referral application.
Chairman Kehoe said that Planning Board member Mark Aarons was unable to attend the meeting tonight and wants to be present when the Harmon Zoning Amendments are discussed. Mr. Aarons asked if this item could be adjourned until the next Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, September 14th. Chairman Kehoe noted that the Planning Board has 60 days to provide their comments to the Village Board on a referral application. Chairman Kehoe said that in order to abide by Mr. Aarons’ request, the Planning Board will (just) accept the documents on the proposed amendments tonight and hold over for the more detailed discussion until the next Planning Board meeting. Chairman Kehoe asked that the Village Attorney James Staudt give a presentation to the Planning Board on the documents that were submitted.
Mr. Staudt said that in November 2009 the Village Board adopted Local Law #4. After the law was adopted a lawsuit was brought to the Village. One of the allegations was that procedures were not followed correctly. Mr. Staudt said that the Village Board decided that rather than fight the lawsuit they would, instead, go through the process of repealing the law and re-circulating it. The local law that the Planning Board has before them tonight (Local Law Introductory #3 of 2010 Repeal and Enactment of Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay District Zoning Amendments) repeals Local Law #4 of 2009. Mr. Staudt said that the provisions of this law are the same as in Local Law #4.
Mr. Staudt said that he would like to make it clear to the Planning Board tonight that these provisions can change. Everything is “on the table.” All comments are welcome.
Mr. Staudt said that the Planning Board was given tonight a copy of Sec. 230-180A(1) and A(2) of the Village Code. Sec. 230-180A(1) and A(2) contain lists of reviewing criteria that the Planning Board is expected to go through when commenting on a proposed amendment to the Village Code. The Planning Board also has a copy of the proposed local law and a copy of the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). Mr. Staudt said that this is the “task at hand.” The Planning Board has received these documents tonight. Mr. Staudt reiterated that one of the Planning Board members Mark Aarons, who was unable to attend the meeting tonight, has asked to hold over the discussion of the law so that he would have an opportunity to comment on it.
Mr. Kauderer asked Mr. Staudt if there were any changes made to the law from that which was adopted last year, to which Mr. Staudt said that there were no changes made; however, he (Mr. Staudt) would want to make it clear that the law can change. Mr. Staudt told the board that the EAF has been updated, to which Chairman Kehoe noted that certain sections in the EAF are longer than they were before.
Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Staudt if he is correct in stating that the Planning Board has 60 days to respond to the Village Board, to which Mr. Staudt said, “yes.” Chairman Kehoe said that this would give the Planning Board three to four meetings to discuss the law and provide comments back to the Village Board.
Chairman Kehoe noted that the Village Board, and not the Planning Board, would hold a public hearing on these zoning amendments; however, the Planning Board will entertain questions and comments from the public. The Planning Board will take in the documents tonight and be prepared to discuss this matter at length at the next meeting.
Pat Maran was present. Ms. Maran said that the Planning Board held a regularly scheduled meeting the night after the Village Board meeting. She asked if the 60-day time period starts then or if it starts tonight, to which Mr. Staudt said that he would look into this matter.
Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to adjourn this referral item until the next Planning Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, September 14th. The motion was made by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Kauderer and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.
- Referral from the Village Board for a Special Permit for Susan O’Keefe to Operate a Wholesale Baking Business at 33 North Riverside Avenue (Paul Ferruzza, Property Owner – Sec. 78.08 Blk. 3 Lot 72)
Susan O’Keefe, owner of the prospective baking business, was present.
Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board has received a memorandum from the Assistant Village Manager referring this application for a special permit to the Planning Board for a recommendation. Chairman Kehoe noted that the subject property on North Riverside Avenue is located in a C-1 zoning district. The wholesale manufacturing of baked goods is allowed in the C-1 zoning district by special permit.
Ms. O’Keefe said that the tenant space she wishes to occupy for her baking business is located on 33 North Riverside Avenue. The subject building is on the corner of North Riverside Avenue and Bank Street. The entrance to her establishment would be off of Bank Street. Ms. O’Keefe said that the space she wishes to utilize has been vacant for about two years. Her intent is (would be) to hire one person to assist her. She would be baking mostly cookies. Although she pretty much bakes everything, she would be focusing on the cookie business.
Chairman Kehoe said that a floor plan was included with the application materials. It is his understanding that the entire vacant space at this location (2,600 square feet of space) used to house an interior design showroom known as Interiors by Lisa. Chairman Kehoe asked if this interior space is being subdivided, to which Ms. O’Keefe said that there is currently a partition wall between the two bathrooms. The interior space has already been divided up. Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, there would be two separate tenant spaces, one in the front and one in the back. He asked Ms. O’Keefe if her establishment would be the one in the back, to which Ms. O’Keefe said that it would be.
Mr. Kauderer asked if there were two means of egress for the two tenant spaces. Chairman Kehoe said that there appears to be a common hallway behind the proposed tenant space. The Village Engineer said that, if this special permit application were approved, he would ask the Applicant’s architect to obtain a building permit for the interior space renovation. The architect would be required to analyze the means of egress and how it would be accomplished.
Chairman Kehoe noted that the exterior walls of the building need to be painted. Also, the weeds along the side of the building should be removed. Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board could bring up this property maintenance issue in their recommendation to the Village Board. The Village Engineer noted that the building fronts on North Riverside Avenue. The side of the building is not very attractive for a commercial space. He reiterated that the vegetation along the side of the building is overgrown and needs to be cleaned up.
Chairman Kehoe asked if Ms. O’Keefe intended to do some retail sales of baked goods, to which Ms. O’Keefe said that there might be some retail sales but the brunt of the business would be wholesale.
Chairman Kehoe said that another issue at this location is parking. The Village Engineer said that parking on Bank Street is currently restricted to two hours. There are no time restrictions on North Riverside Avenue, but the parking spaces are usually taken up. The Village Engineer suggested that the Village should look into the possibility of changing the parking restriction on Bank Street so that business owners and employees could park along Bank Street longer than two hours. The Village would issue parking permits for the extended parking. There are six parking spaces on Bank Street. He (the Village Engineer) would suggest that the other tenants in the building could also apply for parking permits. The Village Engineer said that the Planning Board could bring up this matter in their
recommendation to the Village Board. The Planning Board could recommend that business owners and employees park on Bank Street. It could be a general recommendation for all businesses and not just the baking establishment being proposed.
Chairman Kehoe said that, generally speaking, he sees no issues for granting the special permit for this wholesale baking establishment.
Mr. Kauderer said that, typically, good odors emanate from bakeries, but he would still want to know what the Applicant intends to do about the odors. Ms. O’Keefe said that the oven she would be using would vent out of the building onto Bank Street. Chairman Kehoe noted that Honey’s and the Ocean House Restaurant are situated nearby. He would think that, as far as odors are concerned, it would be no different than with these other food establishments.
Ms. O’Keefe said that, with respect to the hours of operation, she would, ideally, like to be at her baking establishment during regular business hours. There may be special circumstances that would require her arriving earlier or staying later in the evening.
The Village Engineer said that there is one dumpster on the side of the building. The trash gets picked up once a week. The Village Engineer said that the Applicant might want to share this dumpster with the other tenant. If this does not work out, the Applicant would have to come back before the Planning Board with an alternative proposal. The Village Engineer suggested that in their memorandum to the Village Board the Planning Board could recommend that a condition of the granting of the special permit shall be that this dumpster matter be finalized.
Chairman Kehoe asked if the issue discussed earlier regarding the two means of egress should be brought up in the Planning Board’s recommendation to the Village Board, to which the Village Engineer said that this matter regarding the means of egress is going to be handled as part of the building permit. Chairman Kehoe said that he would think that the matter about the parking along Bank Street should be a part of the Planning Board’s recommendation. The parking regulations would have to be changed and business owners/employees would have to obtain parking permits. Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board would recommend to the Village Board that the tenants of this building be required to obtain parking permits for extended parking along Bank Street. Chairman Kehoe said that another condition in the Planning Board’s
recommendation would be that the handling of the garbage be finalized. The Applicant has to approach the other business owner regarding the use of the existing dumpster. Finally, the landlord/property owner should take the necessary steps (painting, removal of weeds, etc.) to improve the appearance of the side of the building.
The Village Engineer noted to the Applicant that the Village Board would hold a public hearing on this application for a special permit. If granted, the Applicant would have to come back before the Planning Board for a change of use approval. Chairman Kehoe added that a public hearing is also required for a change of use approval.
Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to recommend to the Village Board that the special permit for a wholesale bakery business be granted with the conditions discussed tonight. The motion was made by Mr. Kauderer, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 3 to 0.
- Richard Albert – 2-4 Croton Point Avenue – (Sec. 79.17 Blk. 1 Lot 6) – Application for a Sign Permit
Steven Chester of Signs Ink and Michael Kaufman, Esq., prospective tenant at 2-4 Croton Point Avenue, were present for this application.
The Village Engineer explained to the board members the reason why this sign application is coming before the Planning Board. The Applicant Signs Ink came in with an application for two additional wall-mounted signs on the rear of the building on Croton Point Avenue owned by Richard Albert. The Village Engineer said that a sign already exists on the rear of the building; with the two additional signs, there would be three wall-mounted signs on the rear and one on the front. The Village Engineer said that the building is situated in a Light Industrial (LI) zoning district. The LI district allows one sign on each building side that faces the street. The Village Engineer said that there is one sign that faces Veteran’s Plaza already. There is also a free-standing sign on the Croton Point Avenue side. The Village Engineer said that the two additional signs being proposed for the rear of the building are not permitted by the Zoning Code. The Village Engineer said that Sec. 230-44Q
of the Code allows the Planning Board to modify the sign requirements, which would make it possible for this Applicant to install the two additional signs. Sec. 230-44Q reads as follows:
Modification of requirements. Where the Planning Board finds that strict compliance with the requirements of Sec. 230-44 would cause unusual hardship or difficulty because of the specific circumstances of a particular situation, the Board may modify the requirements of said section so long as the Board finds that the public interest will be protected and that any such modification will be consistent with the spirit and intent of this chapter. In permitting any such modification, the Planning Board may attach such conditions as are, in its judgment, necessary to substantially secure the objectives of the requirement so modified.
The Village Engineer noted to the Planning Board that there is also a window sign at the front of the building. The Village Engineer calculated for the Planning Board the total square footage of the signage on the building and concluded that the total square footage would be more than is allowed. The Village Engineer said that the Planning Board would, therefore, have to look at this signage application from the perspective of both the number of signs and the square footage.
Chairman Kehoe said that he, personally, thinks that the back of the building looks “too busy” with the three signs on it.
Mr. Kaufman told the board members that his wife and he both “love Croton” and want to set up their businesses here. The two signs being proposed are for their two prospective businesses. His wife’s business is the Kitaj Headache Center and his is the Law Offices of Michael D. Kaufman.
Mr. Chester said that to have a sign be of any use in this location, the sign would have to point toward the traffic at the back. Mr. Chester noted that the back of the building actually faces a parking lot. Mr. Chester referred to the computer renderings of the two wall-mounted signs being proposed and said that the color would more closely match the color of the existing sign than what is being shown in these renderings.
Mr. Kauderer said that, given the circumstances, he, personally, does not have a problem with this application. The signs would be facing the parking lot. The people who would see these signs would either be going into the Richard Albert building or going to the train station. Mr. Kauderer reiterated that he does not have a problem with this application.
Chairman Kehoe asked if this Applicant would have to go to the Advisory Board on the Visual Environment (VEB), to which the Village Engineer said that they would. The Village Engineer noted that, in the case of this signage application, the Planning Board is acting “more like a zoning board.” If the Planning Board were to “issue the variance,” then, the Applicant would be allowed to proceed to the next step, which would be to go before the VEB. Ms. Allen said that she would like to have the VEB’s “take” on this application. Chairman Kehoe said that the VEB would review the signage from an aesthetic standpoint. Chairman Kehoe said that he does not necessarily disagree with Mr. Kauderer’s previously stated position on this sign application; however, a possible concern might be (the consequences of) another (future) tenant
coming to the back. Mr. Chester said that the existing Prudential sign in the back might actually be coming off. Richard Albert’s affiliation might change and Richard Albert Realty might become a different realty. The Village Engineer noted that, if this were the case, Mr. Albert would have to go through the process of applying for another sign, i.e., submit a sign application, go before the VEB, etc.
Chairman Kehoe said that, as he sees it, the Planning Board has two possible ways of dealing with this application. The first would be to send the application to the VEB and “be done with it.” The second would be to send this application to the VEB and have the Applicant come back before the board. The Planning Board members present all agreed that they would want this application to come back to the board. Chairman Kehoe said that he would think the Planning Board would want the VEB to not only look at the aesthetics of the signs being proposed but also comment on the (application for a) modification of the sign requirements that the Planning Board is being asked to consider. Ms. Allen said again that she would like to see the comments from the VEB. Mr. Kauderer noted that, as mentioned earlier, Mr. Albert’s affiliation
with Prudential might change. If the change is imminent and the Prudential sign is coming down, the Applicant might want to coordinate their (application for) signs with the “new” sign being proposed for Richard Albert.
Chairman Kehoe noted that the VEB meets once a month. Their next meeting is the third Wednesday in September. The Applicant should contact the Engineer’s Office to schedule to go before the VEB. In the interim, the Applicant should talk to Mr. Albert about the possibility of coordinating the signage at the rear of the building.
- Nida Associates, Inc. – 120 Scenic Drive West (Sec. 67.10 Blk. 2 Lot 5) - Referral from the Village Board for an Amendment to the O-2 (Limited Office) Zoning Regulations to Allow Day Care Centers as a Special Permitted Use.
Ralph Mastromonaco, P.E., engineer representing the Applicant, was present.
The Village Engineer passed out to the board members a spreadsheet comparing the uses for the Limited Office (O-1) and Limited Office (O-2) zoning districts.
The Village Engineer noted to the Planning Board that this Applicant came to the Village Engineer’s Office with two requests. The first was to correct an error on the Village Zoning Map. The second was to change the zoning in an O-2 district to allow day care centers as a special permitted use. The Village Engineer told the board that the Zoning Map has been corrected to show the subject property in the O-2 versus the RA-25 (One-Family Residence) zoning district.
Chairman Kehoe noted that this request is practically the same as the Happy Tots request that came before the Planning Board in October 2006. Happy Tots had to leave their space at the Holy Name of Mary Church and wanted to move into the building located at 1380 Albany Post Road. The building at 1380 Albany Post Road was in an O-1 zoning district, in which district day care centers were not allowed. Happy Tots went to the Village Board to request a zoning change that would allow day care centers in the O-1 district as a special permitted use. In October 2006 the Village Board referred this request to the Planning Board; the Planning Board gave a positive recommendation back to the Village Board. In January 2007, the Village Board passed a resolution adopting this change in the zoning. Mr. Mastromonaco
noted that in the January 2, 2007 minutes of the Village Board meeting at which meeting the zoning change was approved there is a notation that states that the Planning Board found “there was a clear need for day care facilities in the area and that the O-1 and the O-2 zones which allow uses that are available in the RB zone would be an acceptable place for day care centers…..” Chairman Kehoe noted that the O-1 zoning district is comprised of 18 parcels whereas the O-2 district is comprised of only 2 parcels. Chairman Kehoe pointed out that, in their discussion of the O-1 zoning change, the Planning Board had to go through the implications of this zoning change on a much larger number of lots. Chairman Kehoe noted that the two parcels in the O-2 district are: (1) the Hendry Building at 120 Scenic Drive West and (2) the Croton Medical Center at 35 North Riverside Avenue.
Chairman Kehoe noted that the Hendry Building is close to a number of private residences. When the Planning Board is doing their analysis of this application, it would be important to be aware of the fact that several houses off of Newton Court surround this property. Chairman Kehoe noted that whoever owns the first house coming into Newton Court is very close to the property.
Mr. Mastromonaco said that the subject site is very suitable for the drop-off of children.
The Village Engineer asked what the square footage of the Hendry Building is, to which Mr. Mastromonaco said that he believes the building is approximately 12,000 square feet in size. The Village Engineer questioned if a day care center would house the entire 12,000 square-foot space. The Village Engineer said that if the space were going to be divided up into different tenant spaces, the Planning Board would want to take that into consideration in their recommendation. Mr. Mastromonaco said that, ideally, a day care center would take up the whole space, but there is no prospective client interested in the space at the time being. Mr. Mastromonaco said that the way the building is laid out, it would not be very useful to divide up the building.
The Village Engineer said that an issue for the board to consider would be the impacts on the neighboring residents of the entire building being used as a day care center. The Planning Board would want to know the number of children that could be in this building, drop-off and pick-up times, etc. Mr. Mastromonaco said that, as far as the number of children is concerned, his “guess” is 85, which is the number that day care operators use.
Mr. Kauderer questioned how the Planning Board could make a recommendation on this zoning change without hearing from the neighbors. Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board is being asked to make a recommendation as to whether day care centers should be allowed in the O-2 district. Chairman Kehoe said that what makes it somewhat easier than was the case when the Planning Board was looking at the O-1 district is that there are only 2 parcels in the O-2 district. One of the questions for the Planning Board to consider would be if, in those 2 parcels, there would be adverse impacts on the neighbors. The Village Engineer noted that, in this case, the two properties are already developed. The Planning Board is not looking at vacant pieces of property. Mr. Mastromonaco said that there is a long term lease on
the Hendry Building, which is close to expiring. There is hardly anyone in there now. Under the current zoning, it could be active office space. Mr. Mastromonaco noted that even without a day care the building could (simply) be rented as office space.
Ms. Allen said that she does not understand why this matter has come to the Planning Board. It sounds very speculative as to what might happen with the empty office space. The Village Engineer said that the Village Board has received a request to modify the zoning law to allow day care centers in an O-2 district as a special permitted use. The owner of the subject property is requesting this change to the zoning. The Village Board is asking for a recommendation from the Planning Board on this zoning amendment. Mr. Kauderer said that he would assume that the property owner has been talking to a prospective proprietor of a day care center. Chairman Kehoe said that it is true that when the Planning Board was looking at the request to change the zoning in the O-1 district, the applicant was a day care center. Happy Tots was looking to operate a day care and had a specific space in mind. Chairman Kehoe noted that even for Happy Tots, however, the Village had to first, make the
change to the zoning law. Ms. Allen pointed out (again) that in the case before the Planning Board tonight there is no specific day care application for the Planning Board to review and to comment on. The Village Engineer noted that for the public hearing the Village Board might decide that they need to gather more information or they might decide not to change the law at all. No matter what the outcome the Planning Board’s role is to make a recommendation on this zoning change back to the Village Board.
Ms. Allen said that, “If I am living in a district I’m assuming that what is allowed in my district is fixed and stable.” Mr. Kauderer said that, in so far as allowing day care centers in the O-2 district is concerned, the Planning Board really only has one site to consider and that is the Hendry Building. He questioned how the Planning Board could make a recommendation that day care centers be allowed without knowing what the neighboring residents have to say about it, to which the Village Engineer responded that the Planning Board is a “technical body” that is experienced in these matters and can make such a recommendation.
Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board members should go back and read the minutes on the Happy Tots request for a zoning amendment. Chairman Kehoe recalled that it was after much thought that the Planning Board recommended that day care centers be allowed in the O-1 zone. The Village Engineer said that the Planning Board might want to take into consideration, in their review of this application, outdoor recreational areas at the subject site (Hendry property). He questioned where, at the rear of the property, a recreational area would go. Chairman Kehoe said that this is not the first time that the Planning Board had looked at an application for a zoning change to allow day care centers. The only difference that he sees is that with the previous zoning change request the Planning Board was looking at an
application for a specific day care center facility. The application presently before the board is “speculative.” Ms. Allen said that she is objecting to “putting in a permitted use without anything before us.” Chairman Kehoe said that the present application does not strike him as having implications that are any different from what the Planning Board dealt with in the O-1 zone.
Mr. Kauderer referred to Sec. 230-15A(3) of the Village Code, which lists the conditions and the limitations for allowing day care centers as a special permitted use in an O-1 district. Mr. Kauderer referred to A(3)f and A(3)g and said that he, personally, is having difficulty with the language/wording that is used. A(3)f states that “A change in ownership of a day care licensed under this section shall require renewal of the special permit.” Mr. Kauderer questioned what the term “change in ownership” means in this context. Mr. Kauderer noted that A(3)g grants the Village Board the authority to waive any or all of the above conditions in Sec. 230-15A(3) and/or to impose additional conditions, if deemed necessary. Mr. Kauderer said that, to him, this wording is vague. He suggested that, perhaps, this condition
is better defined elsewhere in the Village Code. If not, he finds A(3)f and A(3)g to be “very troublesome” because the language in both is so broad and vague.
The Village Engineer noted that outdoor play areas are undoubtedly going to be required. He did not see where these play areas could be located on this site. The Village Engineer said that the site is being taken up by the building, the access roads and topographical features. Mr. Mastromonaco noted to the Village Engineer that there would be too much parking available at this site for a day care center use. Perhaps, some of this parking space could be freed up and used. The Village Engineer noted that the parking requirement for a day care center is one space per 300 square feet, so, in this case, 40 parking spaces would be required. Mr. Kauderer said that if this building were used as an office building rather than a day care center, he would think that there would be a lot of people coming and going during
the course of the day. Mr. Kauderer thought that the main objection of the neighbors to a day care center use would be the outdoor play areas and the noise generated from children at play.
Chairman Kehoe suggested that, as a starting point for the review of this application, the Planning Board might want to look at the regulations for day care centers in the O-1 district.
Chairman Kehoe told Mr. Mastromonaco that the Planning Board would spend (more) time looking at the particulars of this request when the full board is present. Chairman Kehoe suggested that this item cold be put back on the agenda for the next meeting to be held on Tuesday, September 14th.
There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:35 P.M.
Village of Croton-on-Hudson