Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Monday, February 20, 2007 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY.
The following officials were present:
1. CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Schmidt called the meeting to order at 8:03 p.m. Everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS:
Trustee Brennan made a motion to approve the vouchers as follows; the motion was seconded by Trustee Kane and approved unanimously.
A.. Letter from Peter Drexler of Half Moon Bay dated February 6, 2007 regarding a geese problem that exists at Half Moon Bay. Mr. Drexler said that he is concerned that the droppings may pose a health risk and suggested the use of a dog specifically trained to help rid the problem and requested waiving the Dog Leash Law if a dog is employed for goose control activities.
Mayor Schmidt said that Mr. Drexler should make sure that the Homeowner's Association is behind this and asked that this be placed on a work session agenda and additionally requested that staff check to see how other municipalities handle this.
Trustee Gallelli asked if this would be an internal matter for Half Moon Bay because it is their roadway.
Trustee Kane commented that this is private property.
B. Letter from Reverend Michael Keane, Pastor of Church of the Holy Name of Mary dated February 13, 2007 asking for consideration in waiving Permit Building Fees in the amount of $4,676 with respect to their application to renovate the old school building.
Village Manager, Richard Herbek advised that in January of 1991 the Village Board did approve a resolution waiving building fees for tax-exempt religious organizations in the Village.
The Village Board approved waiving the fees.
C. Letter from Maria Rykowski, 13 George Lane, Croton, dated February 13, 1007 asking the Board for permission to utilize a small portion of the Croton Harmon Train Station for the delivery and unloading of Girl Scout cookie cases.
On motion of TRUSTEE WIEGMAN seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
Resolved that the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton on Hudson hereby approves the request from the Croton Girl Scouts to use a portion of the Croton Harmon Train Station for delivery and unloading of Girl Scout cookie cases on either Saturday, April 28, 2007 or Saturday, April 21, 2007.
5. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION - AGENDA ITEMS
Mayor Schmidt asked that anyone addressing the Board to please address the Board in a calm respectful manner.
Fran Allen, 7 Finney Farm Road, Croton, congratulated the Village on the proposed resolution for the removal of railroad ties from the Croton Bay. Ms. Allen said that this is a program that the Village can be exceptionally proud of.
Don Daubney, 45 Bungalow Road, Croton requested to know more about the creation of an Emergency Medical Services Department before it is voted on this evening;
· Does it create an agency that can bill citizens?
· Will it still be under the auspices of the Village?
· Will the Village still own the equipment?
· Will they be billing Medicare?
· What happens if families are uninsured?
· Who will be the billing agency?
· Will the personnel of this new agency still belong to the Fire Department?
· Will this Department ask for donations from citizens similar to what the Fire Department does?
· How will this effect taxes?
Mayor Schmidt responded as follows:
· The current Ambulance Service will be taken out of the Volunteer Fire Department and a separate Ambulance Corps will be created
· The newly created Ambulance Corps will be able to do what is called "soft billing" which will enable them to bill Medicare and insurance companies for reimbursement of services
· Recipients of the service who do not have insurance may receive a bill, but if a bill is not paid they will not go after payment.
· A separate professional billing service company will be hired to do the billing and will receive 5% of the amount collected as their fee. They are highly trained professionals who understand and know the procedure codes and how to bill for the service.
· The newly created Ambulance Corps will be under the auspices of the Village and the Village will continue to own the equipment.
· Volunteers can be part of both organizations but they will be separate organizations with the ability of both the Fire Department and Ambulance to seek contributions from the community independently of each other.
· The Village does not predict the service is going to be a money maker, but the Village is hoping that the costs of running the ambulance service will be covered from the reimbursement of insurance payments that will hopefully relieve the taxpayers.
· There will be some new start up costs but most costs are already in the budget for this service and will be transferred from the Fire Department to this new line.
Mayor Schmidt said that it is the understanding of both the Village and Fire Department that there are many people in the community who are interested in just joining an Ambulance Corps. Mayor Schmidt said that the new Ambulance Corps will be on their own radio frequency for dispatching and they will have their own duty roster.
Trustee Brennan said that the Village is hoping that this will eventually pay for itself. Trustee Brennan said that the big benefit is going to be the level of service, a quicker response time, and qualified Emergency Medical Technicians.
Trustee Wiegman said that the vast majority of calls are emergency medical calls and not fire calls and the expense for this service keeps climbing. Trustee Wiegman advised that Chief Diggs felt very strongly, after talking with the membership of the Fire Department, that there were people who would want to be specifically devoted to the medical emergency area. Trustee Wiegman said that under State Law you cannot collect from insurance companies through a Volunteer Fire Department and that is why creating a separate entity would benefit the community. Trustee Wiegman said that approving this resolution is the first step in working towards establishing this.
Trustee Brennan said that a separate Service Award Program will be set up similar to what the Fire Department has.
Bob Wintermeier, 43 Radnor Avenue, Croton, asked if anyone would lose out of the Service Award Program by moving to the new entity.
Mayor Schmidt said that the Village would have to create a new Service Award Program for the Ambulance Corps and credits earned while in the Fire Department should be able to be moved over.
Abe Zambrano, Treasurer, advised that the award program for the Ambulance Corps is a separate item that is subject to a referendum by the community.
Mayor Schmidt closed citizen participation.
a. On motion of TRUSTEE GALLELLI, seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, there was a bid opening on January 25, 2007 for athletic turf care; and
WHEREAS, this is for soil testing, fertilizing, pest control, core aeration at the Duck Pond Field, Dobbs Field, Manes Field, Firefighters field and the two fields at Croton Point Park; and
WHEREAS, only two companies submitted bids; and
WHEREAS, the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation has severe reservations about the low bidder as outlined in her February 13, 2007 memo to the Village Board and she recommends awarding the bid to J.P. McHale Pest Management, who has performed this service for the Village for many years; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is authorized to award the contract for athletic turf care to J.P. McHale Pest Management Inc. in the amount of $11,250.00 for the four Village fields and $4,350 for the Croton Point Fields,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the amount for the Village fields should be charged to Account #A7140.0400 and the amount for the Croton Point Park fields should be charged to Account #A7110.4000
b. On motion of TRUSTEE BRENNAN, seconded by TRUSTEE GALLELLI, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Village adopted a new Comprehensive Plan in January 2003; and
WHEREAS, although most of the recommendations in the Plan have been reflected in new zoning amendments there are still a few recommendations in the plan that have not been implemented; and
WHEREAS, the Comprehensive Plan Committee requested a proposal from Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart, the consultant who worked with the Comprehensive Plan Committee on the Comprehensive Plan and the previous zoning changes; and
WHEREAS, the chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee recommends that we accept the proposal,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Manager is authorized to sign the proposal with Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart for $22,000 for the evaluating and updating the Village’s zoning regulations
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that this amount will be charged to Account #A8020-4000
Mayor Schmidt thanked the Comprehensive Plan Committee for keeping the Board moving on this and making sure that we are conforming to the Comprehensive Plan.
Trustee Gallelli stated that when a Comprehensive Plan has been adopted, zoning should be in accordance with the adopted plan. Trustee Gallelli said that as pointed out, most of it has been done, but there are still some things that didn't fall into one particular category in the previous two phases of the zoning implementation and they have now been incorporated into Phase 3.
c. On motion of TRUSTEE GALLELLI, seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Volunteer Fire Department Service Award Program was approved by referendum in 2003; and
WHEREAS, Article 11-A of the New York State General Municipal Law requires that the list of members of the Fire Department indicating those who earned a year of service credit during the calendar year, those that did not earn a year of credit, and those who waived participation must be certified under oath by the Fire Department; and
WHEREAS, once certified, this list must be approved by the Village Board,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Board of Trustees is hereby authorized to sign the 2006 Sponsor Approval Form
d. On motion of TRUSTEE BRENNAN, seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, there are approximately 2,000 railroad ties scattered in mud flats in the Croton Bay; and
WHEREAS, these ties are considered to be a navigational hazard for watercraft operators and a visual blight; and
WHEREAS, in 2000, through a water quality improvement project funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Village paid for a multi-year study by Hudsonia which looked at the environmental considerations of removing the railroad ties; and
WHEREAS, in 2003 Hudsonia produced a report which concluded that there would be no adverse environmental impacts from removing the ties; and
WHEREAS, in 2005, the United States Military Academy Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering completed a feasibility study on the removal of the ties from the Croton Bay; and
WHEREAS, this study concluded that an optimum method of removing the ties would consist of the utilization of small, shallow draft, flat-bottomed boats used to transport removal crews where the ties could be lifted out of the mud flats and transported to the shore; and
WHEREAS, although this method is a relatively low-cost option in terms of material, it would require a large amount of man-power; and
WHEREAS, the Village has applied to the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training Program to have this department undertake to remove the ties; and
WHEREAS, the objective of this program would be to remove approximately 1,000 ties from the bay; and
WHEREAS, the Village has been informed by Vinnie Tamagna, the Hudson River Navigator, that the Village has been placed on the list of approved projects by the Department of Defense; and
WHEREAS, Metro North has committed to pay for the disposal of approximately 1,000 ties at an estimated cost of $18,000; and
WHEREAS, although the Village will not be responsible for any expenses associated with the project it is responsible for going through the SEQRA process and applying for all necessary permits; and
WHEREAS, on January 16, 2007 the Village declared its intent to become lead agency and authorized the circulation of the Coastal Assessment Form and Short Environmental Assessment Form to all interested and involved agencies; and
WHEREAS, the Village has received comments back from Historic Hudson Valley and the Waterfront Advisory Committee; and
WHEREAS, no other involved agency has indicated an intent to become lead agency; and
WHEREAS, in accordance with the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Law, the Village Board must now make a determination as to the environmental impact of this project,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Board of Trustees hereby declares itself Lead Agency with respect to this matter,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the Village Board of Trustees accepts the changes to the Coastal Assessment Form recommended by the Waterfront Advisory Committee.
Trustee Kane asked who will be charge with oversight of the project, he is concerned about the boat-ramp and the parking lot areas because there will be heavy equipment moving back and forth. Trustee Kane said that the boat ramp was specially designed and is rather fragile at this point.
Mayor Schmidt said not only do we need oversight, we will also need to protect residents who go down there because there will be a lot of people working there. Mayor Schmidt said that this may require that we close the boat-ramp during this operation and we will work with the Army Corps of Engineers on how this is all done.
Trustee Gallelli stated that there is still quite a bit of permitting requirements that will need to be done before the project begins and during that process we will establish a construction and oversight plan.
e. On motion of TRUSTEE WIEGMAN seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Croton Volunteer Fire Department is composed of five fire companies that provide fire, rescue and EMS services to the Village of Croton-on-Hudson and adjoining Mt. Airy and Quaker Bridge Fire Protection Districts; and
WHEREAS, the Fire Chief is recommending that the Emergency Medical Services portion of the department be separated from the Fire Department; and
WHEREAS, forming a separate Emergency Medical Services department should provide a more efficient department providing improved services to Village Residents; and
WHEREAS, forming a separate Emergency Medical Services department will allow the Village to accept payment from insurance providers for ambulance trips to local hospitals,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Board of Trustees does hereby call for the creation of a separate Emergency Medical Services department,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that this department will have its own funding and budget distinct from the Volunteer Fire Department
f. On motion of TRUSTEE GALLELLI seconded by TRUSTEE KANE, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York
Whereas: on June 15, 2004 the Village was served with a Notice of Claim with regard to the rezoning of land impacting One Municipal Place, on the west side of Maple Street and the North Side of Municipal Place and designated on the Village of Croton-on-Hudson tax map as parcels 78.12-3-2 and 78.12-3-3, and
Whereas: parcel 78.12-3-2 is approximately 4.9 acres in area and is improved with an automobile dealership, and parcel 78.12-3-3 is approximately 2.4 acres in area and is unimproved, and
Whereas: this matter was referred by the Village's insurance carrier, New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, to Lewis Silverman, Esq., of Rutherford & Christie, of New York City, and
Whereas: a Summons and Complaint was received on June 29, 2005, and
Whereas: at the request of the Court the parties entered into settlement discussions and have reached a settlement agreement whereby the Village of Croton-on-Hudson would purchase parcel 78.12-3-3 for $900,000 and with the caveat that in the event of a "disaster/burn down" scenario involving the automobile dealership the then owner would be allowed to rebuild but only for the use as a car dealership;
Now Therefore Be It Resolved: that the settlement agreement is hereby approved and the Village Attorney is hereby directed to work with Lewis Silverman, Esq., of Rutherford & Christie to implement the process involved in the purchase of the parcel and the changes needed in the Village Code with respect to the "disaster/burn down" scenario allowing the then owner to be able to rebuild for the use of the parcel as a car dealership
Trustee Gallelli commented that she is extremely excited and happy about this acquisition, for a number of years she has been hoping that the Village would have a stronger position in this important gateway to the Village and feels that this acquisition will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal and give Croton the control and direction for the future of this important gateway.
Trustee Brennan stated that he is torn with spending this money, but does agree that this is a good piece of property for the Village to own.
Mayor Schmidt said that this is a very important decision for the Village which will enable us to move forward and do important things for the Village
g. On motion of TRUSTEE GALLELLI seconded by TRUSTEE WIEGMAN, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York
Be it resolved that notice is hereby given that the taxes for the year 2006-2007 of the Village of Croton on Hudson are unpaid on the real property described on the list attached herewith, and
Be it further resolved that and in accordance with Article 14, Title 3 of the Real Property Tax Law (Section 1455), that the advertisement of the notice required by law be published in the official newspaper(s) of the Village, and
Be it further resolved that the Village Treasurer be authorized to advertise and sell tax liens for the fiscal year 2006-2007 as shown in the attached schedule of accounts of unpaid taxes.
7. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION -NON AGENDA ITEMS
Richard Pellicci, 65 Radnor Avenue, Croton, advised that Regus and related entities are subject of multiple lawsuits across the country and brought to the attention a lawsuit against the Regus Champion Operation in Warren, Ohio and the Regus Champion Operation in Massachusetts. Mr. Pellicci asked Village Attorney Feldman if an Executive Session can be called on the basis of fact-finding. Mr. Pellicci said that he will be looking at taking some action against the Village if his property value goes down if this entity comes into the Village.
Village Attorney Feldman said that there is more than just fact-finding going on during these Executive Sessions.
Mayor Schmidt said that the Executive Sessions were not merely fact-finding, there were negotiations taking place also.
Mayor Schmidt closed Citizen Participation.
8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Trustee Kane made a motion to approve the minutes of the Executive Session held on Tuesday, February 5, 2007. Trustee Brennan seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes
Trustee Gallelli made a motion to approve the minutes of the Executive Session held on Monday, February 12, 2007. Trustee Wiegman seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes
Trustee Kane made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on Tuesday, February 5, 2007 as amended. Trustee Wiegman seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes.
Village Manager, Richard Herbek, reminded everyone to please remove vehicles from Village streets during snow storms. Mr. Herbek said that it is very difficult for the Highway Department to plow when cars are parked along the sides of roads and it is very important that cars be removed when two or more inches of snow is predicted. Mr. Herbek congratulated Tom Giglio and the entire Public Works crew for an outstanding job of clearing the streets of snow and ice. Mr. Herbek advised that the handicap lift at Village Hall will be replaced early spring. Mr. Herbek reported on Con-Edison's plans to trim trees around electric wires throughout Westchester County and Croton, staff attended a recent meeting and information has been distributed to the Board and to the Conservation Advisory Council.
Abe Zambrano reported that there were two payments made this month; $5,694.00 was paid for the Metro-Enviro case with the New York State of Appeals and $1,845.00 for General Council services, for a total of $7,539.00. Mr. Zambrano reported that the total to date for legal expenses from December 4, 2006 were as follows: $11,449.00 for the STB case, $14,767.00 for the New York State Court of Appeals, $324.00 for the 1A Croton Point Avenue Site Plan Approval, $2,965.00 for the Millennium Pipeline and $9,952.00 for General Legal Council Services, for a total of $39,457.00.
Trustee Brennan advised that the Village will use $400,000 from Fund Balance and $500,000 will be bonded for the purchase of the Katz property. Trustee Brennan said that this is why having a strong Fund Balance is a good idea.
Trustee Brennan said that the recommendations by Dvirka and Bartilucci for remediation of the flooding at the Croton Harmon Train Station are available on the Web Site.
Trustee Brennan said that we should continue to stand firm and fight against the Transfer Station and compared this to the Millennium Pipeline and the position the Village would have been in if we didn't fight them.
Trustee Gallelli said that the cost figures for the remediation of the flooding at the Croton Harmon Train Station do not encompass all the aspects of the work that would have to be done but the Village will be moving ahead and will be reviewing the three options in more detail before the Board comes to a final decision.
Trustee Gallelli advised that the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee held its first public outreach session in the fall, it was very successful with many suggestions from the community; they will be holding another meeting on Thursday, February 28th to review the data with the public.
Trustee Gallelli reminded everyone that penalties are put on each month for unpaid water bills and after ninety days an additional $100 fine will be added to the bill if it is not received by April 14th.
Trustee Gallelli said that for the first time in three years there has been skating on the Duck Pond and thanked the Fire Department for flooding the pond and creating a smooth surface for the skaters.
Trustee Kane thanked the DPW crews for their great work during the snow storm and to the Fire Department who spent an evening resurfacing the skating area.
Trustee Kane stated that he feels that three million dollars in the Fund Balance is excessive, it is the resident's money that is unallocated, sitting in an account earning interest. Trustee Kane said that there would be more value if it were returned to the public.
Trustee Wiegman announced that the Village's new weather station, in addition to the daily weather, offers wind speeds and precipitation hourly.
Trustee Wiegman stated that the Katz property will be the second significant piece of property that the Village will own in this gateway, the first being where the former skate park was, and will enable the Village to redevelop them in ways that are compatible with the small town feel of Croton.
Trustee Wiegman said that the Millennium Pipeline is an entirely different issue from the Transfer Station. Trustee Wiegman said that the Village was battling a Federal Agency (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and relied on NEPA (a Federal Environmental Protection Law) which enabled the Village to battle the Federal Agency with Federal legislation. Trustee Wiegman advised that the Village never said they were against the pipeline, what the Village steadfastly maintained was that there was a flawed process of environmental review which ultimately helped the Village. Trustee Wiegman said that the Village had allies at the County level, neighboring communities, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Commerce, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Management Service. Trustee Wiegman said that in the case of the Transfer Station, we have no substantial Federal legislation on our side, but rather loopholes in the Service Transportation Board Law of 1994 and that there are virtually no allies, but rather an applicant who already has all the needed New York State permit approval and all the needed County Solid Waste Commission approvals.
Mayor Schmidt stated that the Village does have support in fighting the Transfer Station, Congress is behind this and there is legislation to correct the loophole in the law. Mayor Schmidt said that the vast majority of the waste industry is supporting us in this battle to get the STB to close this loophole because the waste industry does not want this kind of operation to cloud the waters of what they try to do as a legitimate operation. Mayor Schmidt said that the Village also has support from other communities who are going through this. Mayor Schmidt said that the railroads are also in support because the railroads want to run a clean operation in a respectable manner and there have been clashes between the waste industry and railroad industry for years. Mayor Schmidt said that if anyone wants evidence on this, he directed everyone to go to the Village Web-site and read the article called "Collision Course". Mayor Schmidt said that if the STB allows this kind of loophole to exist within the law, to allow a railroad to come in and run an operation based on the fact that they are a railroad, you can only imagine the implications of this kind of loophole with other industries looking to use the same loophole by merely merging with the railroad and avoiding all local, state and federal regulations. Mayor Schmidt said that he feels that the Village stands a very good chance of winning this fight.
Mayor Schmidt said that he is proud that in his first year as Mayor, he was able to bring the tax rate below 10% from 15-18%. Mayor Schmidt said that the Fund Balance of three million dollars is something that the staff has been recommending for years and through the work of the staff and the Board, the Village added $800,000 to the Fund Balance. Mayor Schmidt said that our auditors have given the Village a very good report and this is the kind of number that they want to see municipalities have in order to protect against emergencies. Mayor Schmidt said that it is a recommended amount that is based on a percentage of our budget.
Mayor Schmidt advised that he and Abe Zambrano visited the Town the other day to hear their proposal to build a teen youth center at the Cortlandt Train Station. Mayor Schmidt said that they will ask the Recreation Superintendent and Recreation Advisory Committee to meet with the Town so see what they are planning.
Mayor Schmidt thanked the Recreation Department for putting lights out at the Duck Pond for the skaters. Mayor Schmidt also thanked the Public Works Department for a great job clearing the snow and ice from the roadways.
There being no further comments to come before the Board, a motion to close the meeting at 9:35pm was made by Trustee Brennan and seconded by Trustee Wiegman. Motion was unanimously approved.
Peggy Keesler, Village Clerk