A Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Tuesday, July 6, 1999 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520.
The following officials were present:
Mayor Elliott Trustee Daubney
Treasurer Reardon Trustee Grant
Village Manager Herbek Trustee McCarthy
Village Attorney Waldman Trustee Watkins
1. CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Elliott called the meeting to order at 8:00 p.m. Everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Trustee Grant made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on June 21, 1999. Trustee McCarthy seconded the motion. Trustees Grant, Watkins, and McCarthy voted “aye”, Trustee Daubney abstained.
3. APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS:
Trustee Grant made a motion to approve the vouchers as follows, subject to review by the Audit Committee. The motion was seconded by Trustee Daubney and approved unanimously.
General Fund $ 57,528.75
Water Fund 3,599.44
Capital Accounts 36,718.30
Trust & Agency 22,794.00
a) Mayor Elliott opened the Public Hearing on Local Law Introductory #4 of 1999, amending the Village Code, Section 230-53A to authorize the Village Board of Trustees to issue a special use permit for enlargement or extension of a nonconforming office or retail store in an RB District. Village Manager Herbek stated that the County Planning Board has determined that the action is a matter for local determination; the Village Planning Board recommends that the proposed amendment will provide needed flexibility to the existing law.
Tom Quartuccio suggested changing the ordinance to add “residential” to end of paragraph one to give the Board more freedom.
William Griff, 213 Grant St. stated that the letter from the County was dated June 10, 1999 which predates the passage of the resolution; specific locations that are going to be affected must be noted. Mr. Griff suggested a possible conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest on the part of Trustee Watkins because of his name being noted in a publication issued by Perry Kennedy. Mr. Griff gave what he believes to be the history of the law and the amendment. Mr. Griff asked that Trustee Watkins recuse himself from voting on this amendment.
Trustee Watkins responded that he does not believe his part in preparing and voting on this amendment is a conflict of interest; that his name appeared in the publication along with names of numerous other local attorneys.
Village Attorney Waldman commented that Mr. Griff is raising the question about the application by Perry Kennedy at the wrong time; this amendment is proposed as a law of general application; when the Public Hearing on Perry Kennedy application is held, that is the proper time to comment.
James Steinberg stated that he has heard that the concern of the neighborhood is the fact that Trustee Watkins’ potential conflict of interest is the fact that he might appear to have a vested economic interest. Mr. Steinberg stated that Trustee Watkins must recuse himself, as it appears to him that Perry Kennedy will be the only business that will benefit from this law.
Trustee Watkins replied that he has never been accused of prejudice in any manner and has only the best interest of residents of the Village in mind; that he will not recuse himself; adding that Croton is a small village and everyone on the Board has some connection to many people and issues that come before the Board; he has been given business by many people in this Village and has never allowed it in any fashion to impinge upon any decision he has made and does not agree with the perception of possible conflict of interest.
7. Anna Lattanzi, 209 Grand Street stated that her point is that this amendment is solely before the Board because of a request of Perry Kennedy; she questioned that the proper time requirements were followed per Village code. Ms. Lattanzi stated that the amendment will open doors to a lot of people in residential areas to apply for special commercial usage permits; she believes that all Village permit processes must be equalized. Ms. Lattanzi read a statement of protest and a petition signed by Village residents and gave a copy to Mayor Elliott. Ms. Lattanzi asked Trustee Watkins to recuse from a decision on this matter adding that the Trustees were elected to represent all residents and he should have disclosed his name being on the publication by Perry Kennedy. Ms. Lattanzi asked Mayor Elliott to ask Trustee Watkins to recuse himself. Ms. Lattanzi stated that a pending lawsuit against the Village of Croton has not come up yet and if that lawsuit has not been heard, this vote should not take place and the Trustees should not rush to pass this amendment.
Village Attorney Waldman replied that he thought that Mr. Griff made one good point, that referral to the Planning Board was overlooked and he advised the Village Manager and the Board and they began the process over again, the advertisement was changed to virtually quote the entire law; he does not believe the conflict of interest is of merit as it has nothing to do with the passage of the law; the Perry Kennedy application will have to start over again if this amendment is adopted. Village Attorney Waldman, responding to the statement of what is the rush, stated that this has now proceeded far more slowly and is actually behind normal schedule; there has not been a rush; it has taken 6 months to proceed and Trustees do not normally take 6 months to consider a law.
Nancy Kennedy stated that the property values have improved because of her building; she is 10 months into this project, from initial letter. Ms. Kennedy added that among the Board members, she knows Trustee Watkins the least; Ms. Kennedy recounted her associations with Village officials and the families of Mr. Griff and Anna Lattanzi. Ms. Kennedy stated that she believes in this town; that residents need businesses; since 1923 the corner she occupies has been a commercial business, but when the Master Plan came through, it was zoned RB residential.
Anna Lattanzi replied that Ms. Kennedy was not the first person to improve that building and it was always owner operated with a special permit; in 1990 Perry Kennedy took over; every three years, there should be a review by the Board of Trustees of every special permit.
Mayor Elliott closed the Public Hearing
Trustee Grant proposed the Board respond to public comments before a motion is made on this amendment.
Trustee Watkins suggested that since he is not inclined to recuse himself on this matter, the Board table this issue to a later meeting since the Board has a petition from residents; he would like to have the ability to speak to these petitioners to see how they feel about this local law and if they understand it fully; that he has heard no opposition to this local law and has heard just opposition to the Perry Kennedy application; it is appropriate that the Board understand the desires of the people of the community and make a decision based on the best interest of the community. Trustee Watkins added that the responses would have an important impact on how the Board will vote.
Trustee McCarthy stated that she is vehemently opposed to this law because she thinks it is bad policy and has stated her position previously and the focus should be on the law itself and procedure. Trustee McCarthy added that there is no doubt in her mind that Trustee Watkins will cast the vote he believes is in the best interest of the Village although she disagrees with him in this instance. Trustee McCarthy stated that under zoning code 230-2, subsection E, the introductory paragraph addresses the “gradual elimination of non-conforming uses. Trustee McCarthy added that it is bad policy to allow this amendment to go on the books and to continue to expand non-conforming uses; she has no objection in tabling this further. Trustee McCarthy stated that it has always been her feeling that if one believes the use should be permitted then change the Zoning Codes and Master Plan to permit appropriate use in that district.
Trustee Daubney stated that he concurs with Trustee McCarthy; however the petition has a great deal of weight; that we have let a petition with far fewer signatures, such as the skate park, have impact on our vote. Trustee Daubney added that he is a proponent of business in the Village, but this petition should have weight in decision making; he supports tabling the issue, but doesn’t see his opinion changing.
Trustee Grant stated that relative to the issue of conflict of interest or perception of conflict of interest, everyone has his or her own opinion, but not one single member on Board would use his position for personal gain; we have had differences of opinion and discussion, but each has decided what he or she believes is for the good of the Village; there is no question that everyone has labored over decisions that would be in the best interest of the Village; Sam Watkins is as straightforward, honest and unencumbered as anyone she has ever met. Trustee Grant suggested that this particular section of the zoning law has to do not just with the Perry Kennedy application; it could have come from anyone, but has to do with allowing this Board and future boards to have the discretion, in their own judgment, to do what they perceive as an improvement in the Village; the Public Hearing on a particular application is proper time to express opinions on individual applications. Trustee Grant added that most uses in that particular 2 or 3 block radius are non-conforming and if anyone who operates a business or lives there can come with an idea that he/she thinks will improve the Village, they can apply for a special permit; with this amendment, this Board or future Boards have the discretion to say that maybe it will be an improvement or decide it would not be an improvement.
Trustee McCarthy replied that if you give the Board the discretion, you open yourself up to a lawsuit based on abuse of discretion.
Mayor Elliott suggested that the Board members take the time to study the petition and this item will be added to the agenda at the appropriate time.
Mayor Elliott opened the Public Hearing on Local Law Introductory #5, amending the Village Code, deleting the last sentence of Section 230-55, which provides that when a special permit is granted, the permitted use shall be deemed conforming. No comments were offered; Mayor Elliott closed the Public Hearing.
Trustee McCarthy made a motion to approve the resolution; Trustee Daubney seconded the motion. Vote was taken; all voted in favor.
Village Manager Herbek read the following correspondence (full text available at the Village Office):
A letter from Kathleen M. Riedy, applying for a special permit for an office to be located at 285 Grand Street. Ms. Riedy was present at this meeting. Village Manager Herbek stated that upon review of the Village Code, he cannot find any authority to accomplish what is being requested by means of a special permit; the section of the code that addresses professional offices provides that only the resident of the dwelling unit may have a professional office; the application was referred to Village Attorney Waldman who indicated that he does not see any code that would apply; it appears that the only way this might be accomplished is for a use variance from Zoning board.
Ms. Riedy stated her thanks for the quick response to her application; she understands the application cannot be processed and that the Macdonald’s should proceed with zoning variance application.
b. A letter from James C. Miller, 18 Wolf Road, regarding an annual boat launch fee for Senasqua Park, and expressing his opposition to such a fee. Mayor Elliott stated that a work session is scheduled for Thursday night regarding appropriate use of the Croton River; the suggestion is to refer this letter to the Recreation Advisory Committee.
A letter from Frederick W. Turner, 35 Truesdale Drive regarding regulating use of the Croton River, and expanding the Critical Environmental Area boundary, protecting it as a resource into the future. Village Manager Herbek added that there are two critical environmental areas – the shoreline of Croton River by Batten Brook and along Haverstraw Bay. Village Manager Herbek recommended this be referred to Village Water Control Commission.
A letter from Jane Pope regarding a need to control the use of the Village parks and recreation facilities by residents of other towns. A resident of Truesdale Drive stated that there was a parking problem on Truesdale; that the signs should be removed, some cars were parked on lawns and he asked if signs will go back up in the Spring which is fishing season. He added that the cars did move, but they parked on other properties. Trustee Daubney asked this resident to come to work session on Thursday night when this matter will be discussed. Trustee McCarthy asked if there is a canoe club that comes periodically and launches boats there? The resident replied that there is. Trustee Grant stated that the signs were put up specifically for July 4th weekend based on the experience of Memorial Day weekend. Tom Senior, a resident of North Truesdale stated that he is opposed to restricting access to Mayo’s landing, he agrees that there is a parking and noise problem and understands property owners concern, he doesn’t believe that the problems are caused by Village residents, but by those from outside of the Village. Trustee McCarthy stated that she had concerns with difficulty of access in that area and would like suggestions to make it a safe access. Nancy Kennedy added that her husband works at home and spends several hours chasing away kids; that the worst time is May 15th through July 4th. Trustee Daubney, commenting on the letter, stated that he agrees with the possible use of Village passes and suggested referring this to the Recreation Committee for recommendation.
A letter from Westchester County Dept. of Planning/Historic River Towns of Westchester, providing the Village with 75 copies of HRTW: Building Livable Downtowns publication; several copies will be available the Village office.
A letter from Iris G. Stevens, 44 Van Wyck Street, regarding an increase in truck traffic on her street and requesting signs restricting truck traffic be put up. Village Manager Herbek will refer this to the Police Chief and Dept. of Public Works.
A resident addressed the Croton River access, saying he feels it should be unrestricted as possible.
Village Manager Herbek reported that: 1) Dobbs Park improvements starting date is July 12th, 2) he has received a letter from the Dept of Transportation stating that the Pedestrian Bridge over Rt. 9 has been completed and asking that the Village accept it by July 8th. 3) The Municipal Officials Meeting will be hosted by Croton in April, 2000,and he will have to make a decision of where it should be held, options include the Municipal Building, Yacht Club, Hudson National and Cambridge House 4) The cost of Yorktown Advance Life Support Service contract with Empress is $327,450 annually. 5) He has a commitment from the Community Asso. Corporation to provide funding for the 33 Brook St. Affordable Housing; next will be a contract between Westchester County and the Croton Housing Network; a contract needs to be in place before work can be started. 6)he has tried to provide copies of the next several work sessions and has broken the subjects in groups.
Trustee Watkins reported that the entrance sign is in place at the entrance to Village on Rt. 129 due to the good work by the DPW and Village Manager Herbek.
Trustee McCarthy asked if 33 Brook Street will be owner occupied. Village Manager Herbek replied it will be owned by the Network and will be rental units; she would like this item put on work session; there is not unanimity in the Board.
Trustee Grant made a motion to endorse the proposal from the Croton Housing Network; Trustee Watkins seconded the motion. Discussion: Trustee Watkins stated that the viable option is to do this through the Housing Network. Motion was passed, with Trustees Watkins and Grant, Mayor Elliott voting aye, Trustees McCarthy and Daubney voting nay.
Trustee McCarthy asked that the Smart Review by the State Comptroller be discussed on a work session. Trustee McCarthy made the suggestion that the air conditioners in the Municipal Building be fixed or obtain proposals to get new units.
Trustee Daubney reported that 1) the Arboretum meter indicates 32 gallons of water coming in; 2) by the Boat Launch, the fire department is utilizing three vehicles for practice and suggested that they not do that activity at that place; 3) the parking lot is progressing very well and looks very good. 4) he has received a letter from Mary Zimmerman thanking the various departments for their help in making Summerfest a success 4) he attended a meeting with representatives of Global Action Plan to develop Eco-teams in the Village; this has promise and should be pursued.
Trustee Grant reported that 1) she also endorsed the idea of looking into the Eco-team concept; 2) asked why does the Village have “junk cars”. Village Manager Herbek replied that some of the cars are involved in police investigations, accidents or are there for Fire Dept. drills.
Trustee Grant made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Trustee Daubney; all voted “aye”.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:10 P.M.
Phyllis Bradbury, Secretary
Richard F. Herbek, Village Clerk