VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK
PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2010
A regular meeting of the Planning Board of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 in the Municipal Building.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Christ Kehoe, Chairman
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 8:00 P.M. by Chairman Kehoe.
- Croton Community Nursery School – Lower North Highland Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 2 Lots 5, 6, 9 & 25 [formerly Lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 25] – Application for a Preliminary Subdivision Approval – 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 28th.
- 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.
Mr. Staudt told the Planning Board that they have before them tonight Local Law Introductory No. 3 of 2010 that has been referred to them by the Village Board. The Planning Board also has a copy of the section of the Village Code that speaks of topics that the Planning Board is required to address for a referral application. At the last meeting there was a question about the 60-day time table for responding to a referral application. Mr. Staudt said that he looked into this matter and “the clock started to run at the last [Planning Board] meeting, which was August 24th, and not some prior meeting.”
Mr. Staudt noted to the board that although the text of the new law, with the exception of the repeal, is substantially the same as the prior law, the Planning Board should approach it as a new law and give it a “new look.” Mr. Staudt noted that the Planning Board has also been given a detailed Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF), which includes Part 3. Mr. Staudt said that the Planning Board should not assume that this referral is exactly the same as the last. It is not. It has been updated. Mr. Staudt said that the Planning Board should give a “new look” at this referral and report back to the Village Board.
Chairman Kehoe noted that the Planning Board submitted their recommendation to the Village Board on the prior law in a memorandum dated October 28, 2009. He suggested that the board members might want to take a look at this memorandum to see what the Planning Board had discussed. Chairman Kehoe said that he has compared the prior FEAF to the new FEAF and there are a lot of differences. Chairman Kehoe asked Mr. Staudt if, even though the Planning Board is being asked to start over again in their review, the language of the new law is the same as the prior law. Mr. Staudt said that there were allegations in the lawsuit that there were changes made between the time that the Planning Board reviewed the law and the Village Board enacted it. Mr. Staudt said that the Planning Board should not assume that
it is exactly the same. Chairman Kehoe said that most of the changes that he would like to have the Planning Board take a look at tonight are in the FEAF. Then, the board could discuss the law itself. Mr. Staudt said that the repeal language is in the new law; otherwise, the text is substantially the same as the prior law.
Mr. Staudt said that, in their review of the new law, the Planning Board would want to have an understanding of the parcels that are being affected. These parcels are clearly delineated in the new law and in the FEAF by diagrams and tax lot descriptions. Chairman Kehoe noted some of the changes to the FEAF stating that there is more information provided on historic properties and scenic vistas in Part 1 and in Part 2 there has been a change to (the section on) “Impacts on Historic and Archeological Resources.” Finally, Part 3 of the FEAF contains much more information about the impacts on schools and community services. Chairman Kehoe said that when the Planning Board did their review of the prior law there was not a close enough look at the impacts to historic resources. Part 3
of the FEAF submitted with the new law attempts to address this issue. Chairman Kehoe noted that it is up to the Planning Board to see if this issue has been addressed adequately. Chairman Kehoe referred to the last sentence in the last paragraph on page 37 of Part 3 of the FEAF pertaining to the Perfect Nails building at 73 Benedict Boulevard. Chairman Kehoe noted that the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (SHPO) evaluated this building and determined that it is not eligible to be listed on the State Register of Historic Places. Chairman Kehoe asked if SHPO sent a letter to the Village to this effect, to which the Village Engineer said that it sounds as if they did. He would look into it.
Mr. Aarons asked Mr. Staudt if he could explain the intent of Section G on the top of page 4 of the new law, to which Mr. Staudt responded that the law had in it a section on mixed occupancy. What this is saying is that for the Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay area this section is being overridden and/or superseded by these new regulations.
Chairman Kehoe pointed out that in the Planning Board’s October 28, 2009 memorandum to the Village Board the Planning Board had noted a discrepancy about the number of parcels. Chairman Kehoe said that the board started off looking at 36 parcels, and then there ended up being 49 parcels. Mr. Aarons said that he thinks that the additional parcels include the Wayne Street and the back street lots. Mr. Staudt noted to the Planning Board that trying to match numbers can be somewhat problematic in that tax lots are being used, and some properties are consisting of more than one tax lot. Mr. Staudt said that it would be better not to get “bogged down” with numbers. He would suggest, instead, looking at the map in the FEAF, which shows those lots included in the
expansion of the Harmon/South Riverside Gateway District. Chairman Kehoe said that the Planning Board would want to be sure that, in their review of the new law, they are looking at the correct parcels. There was confusion the last time.
Mr. Aarons said that he does not recall the three lots on Croton Point Avenue that were in the Gateway being a part of the last plan, to which the Village Engineer said that those three lots were in the original Gateway that was established a while back. The boundaries of the Gateway zone are being expanded to include those lots that are already in the Gateway as well as some additional lots. Mr. Aarons asked if these three parcels were included in the last FEAF analysis. Mr. Staudt said that, in the Planning Board’s review of the FEAF, he would caution the board to use the new FEAF and not the old. Mr. Staudt said that to answer Mr. Aarons’ question, those lots that were historically in the Harmon Gateway are affected by the zoning changes. The zoning changes affect both the old and the new
lots. Chairman Kehoe said that he thinks what Mr. Staudt is saying is that the Planning Board should be discussing the new FEAF, which includes the aforementioned three parcels.
Chairman Kehoe said that the section on aesthetics and historic resources has clearly been expanded upon in the new FEAF; the question that is addressed is whether there would be adverse impacts on the historic character by the proposed changes. Chairman Kehoe said that the opinion in the FEAF is that there will not be adverse impacts on the VanCortlandt Manor historic site. Chairman Kehoe said that, to date, the building housing the nail salon has not been designated by the State as “historic.” This would have to be accomplished to guarantee protection against potential adverse impacts.
Chairman Kehoe said that in the new FEAF, there has been a lot more work done on the (impact on) schools. Chairman Kehoe said that on page 45 in Part 3 under Section c.i “Schools” he noted a discrepancy in the total number of students, to which Mr. Kauderer suggested that, perhaps, footnotes 14 and 15 might explain the discrepancy. Chairman Kehoe noted that, among other things, there is a lot more information in the FEAF as to how they (the consultants) came up with the cost per pupil number(s).
Chairman Kehoe noted that the section on Community Services has also been expanded. There has been an attempt in the FEAF to explain that, (for example), the infrastructure exists in that area of the Village, and it is unlikely that there would be adverse impacts on sewer or water. Mr. Aarons asked why the discussion on water main improvements is in this analysis. He questioned why this is being discussed in regard to this zoning amendment. “Is this a separate entity or do we need the amendment to do this?” The Village Engineer said that the majority of the area is served by a looped water main system. Plans have been prepared to provide another loop in the Harmon area. The Village Engineer said that a general water supply improvement would be to provide a looped water main
system as much as possible.
Chairman Kehoe noted that when the prior law was before the Planning Board, the parking requirements for the Harmon Gateway were discussed. Chairman Kehoe said that for mixed-use buildings, the requirement is one parking space plus one additional parking space for each bedroom in the unit in excess of one bedroom. Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, there would be no change in the way that non-residential (commercial) parking is calculated. The only change has to do with how the residential parking is being calculated. Chairman Kehoe noted that in other residential districts (RA-25, RA-40, etc.) the requirement is two parking spaces per dwelling. Chairman Kehoe recalled that when the
prior law was being reviewed there was a discussion about shared parking. He asked if the shared parking concept made it into the law. Mr. Aarons said that he thought that the shared parking concept “went away,” to which Mr. Staudt said that, indeed, there is no requirement for shared parking in the law.
Mr. Kauderer referred to Section 8C on page 4 pertaining to required accessory parking facilities. Mr. Staudt noted that there is an existing section of the Code that provides for that. “You currently have in the Code pretty much the same thing.” The Village Engineer noted that it could be a municipal lot that is used to satisfy parking requirements. He gave as an example Lot A of the train station parking lot. Mr. Luntz said that, in his view, it is important to allow latitude with the parking requirements “to make it work on multiple levels.”
Mr. Kauderer referred to Section 7G, which pertains to unified parking lot designs. Mr. Kauderer said, “This is fine as far as it goes.” His concern would be that unless there is some kind of provision in the Code for a cross easement and/or some other type of leverage that the Planning Board could use for requiring a unified parking lot design, the idea might not work. Chairman Kehoe thought that Mr. Kauderer was making an interesting point. He recalled the parking lot discussion when Anton’s restaurant application came before the board. Other than the Planning Board’s ability to “cajole or beg,” the Planning Board had no authority to require a particular parking lot design. There was no mandate and the Planning Board could only negotiate. Mr. Kauderer said (again) that
the unified parking lot design concept might work if there were language in the Code giving the Planning Board a mandate to require easements. Mr. Staudt said that he would look into the legal aspects of providing such a mandate and let the Planning Board know. Mr. Luntz said that to the extent that it can be encouraged or required, it would be helpful. Mr. Staudt said again that he would look into this matter and get back to the board.
Chairman Kehoe referred to the paragraph on Existing Parking in Part 3 of the FEAF and said that there are 27 on-street parallel parking spaces and there are (also) 15 off-street parking spaces in the municipal parking lot at the west end of Benedict Boulevard.
Mr. Luntz asked what the schedule for the Planning Board is for rendering a recommendation back to the Village Board on this zoning amendment, to which Chairman Kehoe responded that Section 230-180 Amendment Procedure in the Village Code governs how the Planning Board is supposed to handle amendments. Section 230-180A(1) and A(2) of the Village Code contain lists of reviewing criteria that the Planning Board has to go through when commenting on a proposed amendment to the Village Code. Chairman Kehoe noted that the 60-day time frame started on August 24, 2010. He suggested that the Planning Board could go through the line items in the aforementioned lists at their meeting on September 28th and wrap up the discussion at the meeting after that on October 12th.
Mr. Kauderer questioned what is considered to be a “fast food restaurant” in the new law, to which Mr. Staudt noted that this language is in the existing Code. Mr. Kauderer said that he believes there should be some type of definition as to what a fast food restaurant is. Chairman Kehoe said that he thinks he brought this up during the discussion of the prior law and the response was that this was beyond the scope of the Harmon Gateway issue. Chairman Kehoe said that, even so, this might be an opportunity to bring up the matter in the Planning Board’s recommendation to the Village Board, to which Mr. Kauderer agreed. Mr. Aarons suggested that, perhaps, in the interim, Mr. Staudt could ask the Village Board what they mean in the Code by a “fast food restaurant.”
Chairman Kehoe said that, as he expressed when reviewing the prior law, he still does not like the concept of permitting 50% of the first floor of buildings for residential use. He would think that, rather than the 50-50 approach, the first (ground) floor of buildings should be 100% commercial space. Chairman Kehoe said that he thinks that the Village does not need more “residential” in this (the Harmon Gateway) area. Mr. Luntz said that the intent of the law is that the first floor of a building is commercial at least along the storefront. Mr. Staudt suggested that the Planning Board could look at this 50-50 (residential/commercial) approach along with the 60% window/glass requirement. The law states that at least 60% of the front façade of a commercial/retail space has to be glass. Mr. Aarons questioned
why in this law the Village would mandate that the third floor of a building has to be residential. He would think that there should be flexibility as to the use of the third floor. Mr. Kauderer agreed. Mr. Aarons said that with the 50-50 approach to the use of the first floor of a building, there is also the issue of parking. According to the study that was done less than 20% of the buildings in the subject Harmon area have a residential use on the first floor. The use is predominantly commercial. Mr. Aarons said that, in so far as the parking is concerned, the Village might be underestimating the number of cars when using the bedroom count scenario. Chairman Kehoe noted that if the owner/tenant of a building wants to use the first floor as a commercial space, then it would have to be demonstrated that the parking would work. There could not be an approval without an applicant’s meeting the parking requirement(s).
Chairman Kehoe noted that the FEAF makes reference to the Comprehensive Plan. Chairman Kehoe said that the FEAF makes an attempt to explain how this proposal would be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
Chairman Kehoe said that in the next several days he would try to draft up a document that could be used by the Planning Board to assist them in their discussion at the next meeting.
- 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.
Chairman Kehoe noted that there is no one present for this application.
Chairman Kehoe said that he, personally, does not see a problem with permitting day care centers in the O-2 Zoning District. Chairman Kehoe noted that there are only two parcels situated in the O-2 Zoning District.
The Village Engineer noted that the subject property meets the O-2 zoning setback requirements. The lot is in compliance with the bulk requirements. The Village Engineer said that the parking requirement in the O-2 zone is one space per 300 square feet. There should be 40 parking spaces under the current Zoning Code and only 32 exist. The Village Engineer noted that the parking requirement was probably different when the building was constructed. Chairman Kehoe asked if a day care center use would require 40 spaces, to which the Village Engineer said that it would. The Village Engineer said that these 40 parking spaces would be required unless an argument could be made that the parking that currently exists on the subject property is “grandfathered in.” Mr. Kauderer questioned if a change of use
would rule out this “grandfathering,” to which the Village Engineer said that a day care use was not an allowable use when the building was constructed. Chairman Kehoe suggested that the Planning Board could ask the Village Attorney to look into this matter about the parking.
Ms. Allen noted that in the case before the Planning Board tonight there is no specific day care application for the Planning Board to review. Her preference would be to look at the issue of day care centers in the O-2 Zoning District in conjunction with a specific day care center application. Mr. Kauderer said that the application before the board tonight is for a zoning amendment to allow day care centers (as a special permitted use) in the O-2 zone. Mr. Kauderer noted that if a day care center operator were to express an interest in the Hendry Building for setting up a day care, he/she would have to come back to the Planning Board for a site plan approval. 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). The application was not speculative in nature as this one is. Chairman Kehoe noted that even for Happy Tots, however, the Village had to first, make the change to the zoning law. Chairman Kehoe noted that there were 18 parcels to be considered in the O-1 district. Chairman Kehoe pointed out that the Planning Board has looked at a similar zoning change for the O-1 district and with a much higher number of parcels. Ms. Allen said that she would prefer to look at this zoning change in the context of a specific application. She would want to have a dialogue with the neighboring property owners, discuss the play yards, the number of children, etc. Ms. Allen said that she would want to have a context within which to understand if this proposal is feasible.
The Village Engineer said that the Village Board has a request before them to change the zoning to allow day care centers in an O-2 zone. The Village Board is asking for a recommendation from the Planning Board. The Village Board will hold a public hearing so that interested members of the public can speak on this issue. The Village Engineer pointed out that the Planning Board is obligated under the Village Code to provide this recommendation back to the Village Board. Mr. Luntz said that it is not as if there is a wide array of O-2 lots. There are only two lots in the O-2 district. The issue is whether the Planning Board should be giving a “blanket approval” for two lots. Mr. Luntz did not think so. He would agree with Ms. Allen in this regard. Chairman Kehoe said that it is
his understanding that the owner of the Hendry Building had some discussion with a potential day care center. Chairman Kehoe said that he would suggest that the Applicant’s engineer Ralph Mastromonaco be at the next meeting. Perhaps, he could provide the Planning Board with additional information about a potential day care center tenant. The Village Engineer noted to the board that at the last meeting Mr. Mastromonaco had provided survey information. Mr. Kauderer noted that Mr. Mastromonaco had not done a layout of where a potential play area could be situated. The Village Engineer suggested that he could ask Mr. Mastromonaco to provide such a layout. Chairman Kehoe said that it would appear that it is the feeling of the Planning Board that they need more concrete information about a proposal for the site. Chairman Kehoe noted again that, with respect to this zoning change, there are not a lot of parcels to be concerned about – there are only two, to
which Mr. Luntz said that this is true but what he (Mr. Luntz) is saying is that why not look at the proposal more specifically because there are just two parcels. Ms. Allen said that if there is a specific applicant that Mr. Mastromonaco could provide information on, she would be willing to look at that.
Mr. Kauderer said again that the Village Board is asking the Planning Board to look at a zoning change.
Chairman Kehoe said that there does not appear to be unanimity among the Planning Board members on how to proceed with this application. He would suggest that Mr. Mastromonaco attend the next meeting on this application. Ms. Allen suggested that Mr. Mastromonaco should be told that, to move forward, the Planning Board needs a much more specific proposal. The Village Engineer said that he would be in touch with Mr. Mastromonaco about providing additional information to the board.
- Referral from the Village Board for a Special Permit for an Auto Repair and Auto Sales Shop at 365 South Riverside Avenue
John Gochman, Esq., attorney for the Applicant; Edmond Gemmola, AIA, architect for the Applicant; and John Palladino, owner of the property, were present.
Mr. Gochman noted to the Planning Board that he has sent letters to the Village Board, the Village Engineer and the Village Attorney on the Palladino proposal. His last piece of correspondence is a letter to the Planning Board dated September 8, 2010 in which he has put together a composite of materials including copies of previously submitted correspondence and relevant sections of the Village Code. Mr. Gochman noted that the Code sections that are relevant are Section 230-17 General Commercial C-2 District and Section 230-52 Supplementary regulations for parking and loading facilities.
Mr. Gochman said that the Applicant applied to the Village Board for a special permit to open an auto repair shop and also use his existing building for the sale of used and vintage cars. Mr. Gochman said that there are two criteria under Section 230-17B(1) pertaining to the regulations for motor vehicle service stations, which he finds confusing. Mr. Gochman said that this section of the Code pertains to special permits, yet, Section 230-17B(1)g & B(1)h “talk about” restrictions on the issuance of building permits. Mr. Gochman said that the subject building owned by John Palladino has been erected since 1923, so he would think that this reference to the issuance of building permits does not apply in this case.
Mr. Gochman said that he has had conversations with the Village Engineer regarding the regulations for special permits. Section 230-17B(1) lists the requirements (a) through (l) that are applied to motor vehicle service stations. Mr. Gochman said that the Applicant’s position is that they “do not have a motor vehicle service station.” Mr. Gochman explained that the New York State Statutes state that a motor vehicle service station has to have a gas pump and dispense gas. The Applicant’s proposed auto repair shop would not have a gas pump; no gas would be dispensed. Mr. Gochman said (again) that it is their position that the aforementioned requirements (a) through (l) do not apply to their application because they are not proposing a motor vehicle service station. Mr. Gochman noted that he has
included in the materials submitted to the board that part of the New York State Statutes that define a motor vehicle service station. Mr. Gochman said that the Applicant feels that this statute overrides the definitions “that do not exist in the Village’s Zoning Code.”
Chairman Kehoe asked the Applicant what they would be classifying themselves as if they are not a motor vehicle service station, to which Mr. Gochman said an auto repair shop with an area for the sale of used cars.
Mr. Gochman said that the Applicant’s architect Ed Gemmola is present tonight. Mr. Gemmola has come up with the answers to the site plan questions that were posed at the last meeting.
The Village Engineer told the board members that in a letter dated August 13, 2010, he (the Village Engineer) responded to Mr. Gochman’s letters dated May 25, 2010 and July 19, 2010, respectively. The Village Engineer said that in his letter he addressed Mr. Gochman’s request to look into the definition of a motor vehicle service station. The Village Engineer said that the New York State Statutes is a “different legislation” from the Village Zoning Code; in his view, the definition in the State Statutes would not apply under the Village Zoning Code. Chairman Kehoe asked which State statute includes this definition, to which Mr. Gochman responded that this definition for a motor vehicle service station can be found in Article 11-B of the New York State General Business Law.
The Village Engineer said that a way for the Applicant to proceed would be to appeal his (the Village Engineer’s) determination to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Village Engineer said that the ZBA could override his determination. The Village Engineer said that his position is that the Applicant’s proposal, as presented, is for a motor vehicle service station.
Mr. Gemmola said that he reviewed the minutes on this application and in some of the discussions there were terms such as “deal breakers” being used. Mr. Gemmola said that it is his understanding that the Applicant would have to go back to the Village Board and the Village Board would send them to the ZBA, to which the Village Engineer responded that the Applicant could go directly to the ZBA. They do not have to go to the Village Board first.
Chairman Kehoe asked if the sale of used cars would require the issuance of a separate special permit, to which the Village Engineer said that it would.
Mr. Luntz noted that the accessory use for the sale of used cars was based on the premise that the primary use was a motor vehicle service station. Now, the Applicant is saying that their proposal is not for a motor vehicle service station. Chairman Kehoe said that the Applicant “does not want to be a motor vehicle service station but needs to be called a motor vehicle service station to sell used cars.” Mr. Luntz said that he would think that this is out of the realm of the Planning Board. It is out of the Planning Board’s realm to determine what these definitions are. Ms. Allen said that this is basically a legal interpretation. She asked if the ZBA has the authority to make such a legal interpretation, to which Chairman Kehoe said that it does. The ZBA is a quasi-judicial board and can make such
Mr. Gochman said that the Applicant “got caught up in” the Article 78 procedure pertaining to the Gateway Overlay law, to which Chairman Kehoe said that the result of this Article 78 is that the old law is still in effect. This Applicant would be operating under the old law.
Mr. Gemmola questioned what it would take for this Applicant’s commercial building to attain a “grandfathered” status. Mr. Kauderer noted that there has been a cession in the building’s use. If a building’s use is a legally non-conforming use and the building is vacated for one year (or more), then, it might lose its “grandfathered” status.
The Village Engineer noted that if the ZBA were to determine that the auto repair shop being proposed is not a “motor vehicle service station,” then the requirements (a) through (l) under this special permit use would not apply. The Village Engineer pointed out that if it were not (classified as) a “motor vehicle service station,” then, the Applicant would have to go before the ZBA for a use variance. Mr. Luntz said that the Planning Board could make a recommendation to have the ZBA look into this matter of the definition of a “motor vehicle service station.” Chairman Kehoe noted that if the ZBA determines that the auto repair shop is a “motor vehicle service station,” then, the Applicant would have to go before the ZBA for relief from the dimension requirements from a public
institution/place of assembly (Section 230-17B(1)g) and the dimension requirements from another motor vehicle service station (Section 230-17B(1)h). The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant could create a flowchart outlining the two different scenarios and what (variances) would be required for each. Ms. Allen thought that the Village Attorney should be involved in any of the discussions that take place.
Chairman Kehoe noted that the Applicant would come back before the Planning Board after they had been before the ZBA.
Mr. Kauderer asked about the 60-day time frame for a referral recommendation, to which the Village Engineer said that the Applicant had sent a letter to the Planning Board some time ago saying that the Planning Board could extend the 60-day time frame for reviewing this application. The Village Engineer said that he would look into this matter again and let the board know.
Chairman Kehoe said that he would agree with Ms. Allen that the Village Attorney should be involved with any of the discussions on interpreting the Code, the variances required, etc.
Chairman Kehoe said that the Applicant should be in touch with the Engineer’s Office when they are ready to come back before the board.
- David Munoz – 46 Prospect Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 4 Lot 19) & Bryan Stephens – 48 Prospect Place (Sec. 67.20 Blk. 4 Lot 19.01) – Modification of Landscaping Plan for Lots #’s 1 & 2 of the Hudson View Subdivision
Kerman Raines, landscape designer for the Applicant, and Bryan Stephens, owner of 48 Prospect Place, were present.
Mr. Raines noted to the board that not all of the landscaping for 48 Prospect Place was installed; the current landscape design that the Applicant is proposing “weaves in” with what is already in place. Mr. Raines said that the new plan enhances the plantings around the house. Some of the plant material above the wall behind the garage has been changed; the plants are all native, non-invasive species. Mr. Raines told the board that the Applicant wishes to install a swimming pool at the rear of his property. They (the Applicant) believe that the swimming pool would be within the building envelope. They will review the approved site plan for this lot (Lot #2) and be in touch with the Village Engineer. Chairman Kehoe said that, as he understands it, the Applicant is here tonight for the change(s) to the previously
approved landscaping plan and not for the swimming pool, to which Mr. Raines said that this is correct.
Mr. Stephens said that they are proposing to install some additional plantings to have more privacy from the sidewalk in front of the house that, he has been told, might be installed at some point in the future. Ms. Allen asked how high the Blue Spruce trees along Old Post Road North would be when fully grown, to which Mr. Raines said 20-25 feet high. They would be on the “house side” of the retaining wall. Mr. Raines said that, as part of this proposal, the front walkway is also being revised.
Chairman Kehoe said that it is his understanding from the Applicant’s plans that the Applicant is increasing the landscaping plan around the perimeter of the house, and they are not using invasive plants.
Mr. Raines said that the Applicant is proposing to remove and to replace two Black Walnut trees, which are located in the neighbor’s backyard. The neighboring property owner David Munoz has agreed to the removal and replacement of these two Black Walnut trees. Mr. Raines said that the signed agreement between the two property owners is on file in the Engineer’s Office.
Chairman Kehoe referred to the letter from the Applicant’s landscape designer dated September 9, 2010 outlining the changes to the previously approved landscaping plan. Chairman Kehoe said that the Applicant’s proposal includes the installation of a retaining wall in the back of the property and the leveling of the backyard. Chairman Kehoe questioned if the Planning Board is being asked to approve the leveling of the yard tonight and, then, to look at the modification of the envelope for a swimming pool at a later time, to which Mr. Raines said that this is, indeed, the case. The Village Engineer said that the Applicant is asking to level off the backyard for the purpose of creating a play area for their children. The Applicant would come back before the Planning Board for the swimming pool at some point
in the future.
Ms. Allen said that, in her review of the new landscaping proposal for this Hudson View Subdivision lot, she has been “trying to find out what happened to the wetlands,” to which the Village Engineer noted to the Planning Board that the soils on the property are not regulated under the new wetlands law.
Mr. Raines said that, as part of the revised landscaping plan, the Applicant is proposing to remove the large Tulip tree in the front yard. Mr. Raines noted that this Tulip tree is showing signs of serious damage at its base; it might become a safety hazard. Ms. Allen gave an explanation as to how the Tulip tree might have gotten damaged. She said that an old red dump truck was parked on the property for a long time, and it was not removed. This dump truck was right up against the trunk of the tree. Ms. Allen said that “it [the truck] was illegally parked there and now the tree is dying.”
The Village Engineer told the Applicant to have the trees planted in such a way as to keep their root systems from causing damage to the retaining wall(s).
Ms. Allen asked if the replacement trees had been delivered yet, to which Mr. Raines said that the replacement trees on the Munoz property have been delivered. Ms. Allen told Mr. Raines that the Village has an environmental consultant who is an arborist. Ms. Allen said that the Planning Board asks for the professional services of the environmental consultant when issues before the board pertaining to tree removal and landscaping need to be addressed. Ms. Allen noted that the environmental consultant had been involved with the previously approved landscaping plan for Lots #’s 1 and 2. She questioned why the environmental consultant had not been contacted for this change to the previously approved plan. The Village Engineer noted that the Applicant’s landscaping plan is not brand new but, instead, is an
enhancement to the original plan. As part of the plan the Applicant is proposing to remove two Black Walnut trees and a Tulip tree. Mr. Stephens said that his wife and he have two small children. They are concerned about branches dropping off the trees and possibly hurting their children. Mr. Raines said that the canopy of the Tulip tree is high. The majority of the weight is concentrated high up in the tree. Mr. Stephens is concerned about the susceptibility of the tree to strong winds and heavy snows and the potential for damage to his house should the tree fall down.
The Village Engineer explained why he felt that this application should come before the Planning Board. The Applicant is proposing to remove two Black Walnut trees and a Tulip tree, all three of which the Planning Board had previously said should remain. The Village Engineer noted that the Tulip tree would be replaced by a Northern Red Oak tree and, as part of the agreement between the two neighbors the neighboring property owner David Munoz would select the replacements for the two Black Walnut trees. The Village Engineer said that he felt that the Planning Board should also have the opportunity to review and comment on the Applicant’s planting enhancements, which include the additional landscaping to be put in between the two adjacent properties.
Chairman Kehoe said that, in his view, it would be much better if the Planning Board had a system whereby, in cases such as this one, the environmental consultant is called in and is given an opportunity to review any changes to the previously approved plan. Chairman Kehoe said that he realizes that it is an expense for an applicant to have to put up money in escrow for the consultant’s services. He (Chairman Kehoe) would also be uncomfortable saying that trees should remain when children might get hurt. The Village Engineer reminded the board members of the application that came before the board for an interpretation on his (the Village Engineer’s) decision to deny a tree removal permit for the removal of a Black Walnut tree on Van Wyck Street. The applicant brought in a pail of walnuts to demonstrate to
the board the potential safety hazards of allowing the tree to remain. The board ultimately voted to allow the applicant to take the tree down.
Mr. Luntz said that he, personally, would suggest that the Planning Board allow this property owner (Bryan Stephens) to take down the three trees.
Ms. Allen said, “This is another instance of incompetence in managing the properties that we [the Village] have left.”
Mr. Aarons asked if the evergreen buffer that is being proposed would block any views from the west. He asked if there would be any obstructions of the views from the houses on the other side of the road. The Village Engineer said that the houses on the other side of Old Post Road North are higher in elevation; he would think that this is not an issue. Mr. Raines said that if Mr. Aarons is asking whether the residents’ views of the Hudson River would be blocked, the answer is “No.”
Chairman Kehoe asked if there were any further comments, to which there were none.
Chairman Kehoe entertained a motion to approve the Applicant’s proposed changes to the previously approved landscaping plan, which include the removal of the aforementioned two Black Walnut trees and Tulip tree and the planting enhancements enumerated in the letter from the Applicant’s landscape designer dated September 9, 2010. The motion to approve was made by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Mr. Kauderer and carried by a vote of 4 to 1. Board member Fran Allen was opposed.
The minutes of the Tuesday, August 10, 2010 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Ms. Allen, seconded by Mr. Kauderer and carried by a vote of 4-0-1. Board member Robert Luntz abstained.
The minutes of the Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Planning Board meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Kauderer, seconded by Ms. Allen and carried by a vote of 3-0-2. Board members Mark Aarons and Robert Luntz abstained.
There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10:50 P.M.
Village of Croton-on-Hudson