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Visual Environment Board Minutes 05-19-04
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Present:        Doug Wehrle, chair; Marianne Bosshart, Valerie Leis, Kevin McManus, Ross Weale, and Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber.

Absent:         Trustee Liaison Leo Wiegman and Planning Board Liaison Ted Brumleve.

The May meeting of the VEB got underway one half-hour earlier than usual, at 7:30 p.m.  It included consideration of two sign applications, followed by brief discussion of the Village’s plans to erect a wooden fence along one side of the skate park.  After the regular meeting, the Board attended the ongoing work session of the Village Trustees to present their recommendation for a designer to create Croton’s new logo.

1. Salsa Cocina Mexicana & Tequileria
Mark Giordano, owner of the strip mall where the restaurant is located, appeared before the Board with John Lorenzo of White Plains Sign Group.  They presented plans for a sign measuring 17 feet long and varying in height from 18-inch lettering for the word “Salsa” to a 43-inch high image of a mortar and pestle that would project above the roofline.  The restaurant’s name would be spelled out in raceway-mounted illuminated channel letters mounted on the building’s fascia.  As shown in a digital image accompanying the application, the “a” in “Salsa” would be centered over the brick partition separating the restaurant’s two front windows.  The word “Salsa” and the ampersand would appear in yellow blending into light brown at the base, while the words “cocina mexicana” and “tequileria” would be white against a brown background.
VEB Discussion:
a.      Members of the VEB suggested moving the sign slightly to the left, so that the “l” in “Salsa” would be centered over the partition between the windows. They reasoned that the sign would still register as being balanced to the right when viewed from in front of the store, as is the case with the sign for Capriccio’s II next door.
b.      Mr. Giordano and Mr. Lorenzo explained that the mortar and pestle extending above the sign will be supported by poles painted to blend with the background.  The color of the mortar and pestle image itself will be yellow and brown.
c.      There will be a stained glass floral design in the interior that can be seen from the sidewalk, but not from the street.  It contains no lettering and will be purely decorative.
d.      The applicants are considering placing a sign in the transom over the door using lettering in the temporary sign now painted on the restaurant’s window. Mr. Giordano assured the Board they would have an opportunity to review this.

VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board recommended approval of the new sign with the suggestion that it be moved slightly to the left, as discussed.

2.  Law Office of Cahill, Goetsch & Maurer, P.C.
The Board reviewed the application for a new sign that is being expanded to accommodate the addition of a new partner’s name (Maurer) to a law firm based at 1-3 Croton Point Avenue.  The sign was designed by White Plains Sign Group, again represented by John Lorenzo.  As shown in an illustration accompanying the application, the illuminated wall cabinet-style sign would be 15 feet long and two feet high; the names of the partners and the words “Attorneys at Law” would appear in white illuminated stencil cut-out copy against a satin black background.  The sign would be internally illuminated by fluorescent tubes.  As shown in a digital image supplied by Mr. Lorenzo as part of the application, the sign would be positioned to the right when viewed from the street, so that the right side lines up over the right side of the door.  The sign would not run the entire length of the white-trimmed fascia board running above the door and windows.
VEB Discussion:
a.      The VEB suggested centering the sign over the fascia board running above the door and windows.
b.      Doug Wehrle raised a question about the general issue of follow-up after the Board has made its recommendations.  This prompted the Board’s general expressions of concern regarding the lack of maintenance of the property owned by Poritsky and leased by the law firm, including attention to the grass and weeds, and inadequate snow removal.  Such maintenance is especially important because the building is located at a highly visible entrance to the Village from the train station.

VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board recommended approval of the new sign with the suggestion that it be centered over the fascia board, as discussed.
b.      The Board has asked Building Dept. Joe Sperber to deliver a copy of these minutes to the business owner and landowner as well as to the sign company to ensure that all are aware of the VEB’s concerns about property maintenance. Joe Sperber agreed to do so.

3.  Croton Skate Park Fence
Joe Sperber reported that, at a Village staff meeting that afternoon, he had learned of a plan to erect an 8-foot tall wooden fence fronted by plantings to create visual barrier between the skate park and the former sewage treatment area to the north.  The Village plans to use that area—at least temporarily—as a staging area for the storage of debris and for concrete-crushing so that capital improvements can continue while the Village seeks a permanent solution.  The Board expressed its concern about the appropriateness of such activities immediately adjacent to a children’s recreation area.  But, if the Village does indeed plan to move ahead with the project, the Board suggested various alternatives for screening the site, both to make the skate park more colorful and attractive and to avoid building a blank wall that will be an attractive target for graffiti.  Marianne Bosshart suggested using colorful panels or banners instead of a wooden fence, while other suggestions included a mural or perhaps panels painted by youngsters that would form a rotating display.  Valerie Leis emphasized the benefits of such an approach, noting that it would provide those teens who may not be skateboarders with an opportunity to take part in activities at the park.  In general, the Board agreed that the Village should give significant thought to ways of enlivening the skate park area.

4.  Croton-Harmon Train Station Mural
Doug Wehrle asked about the arborvitae recently planted in front of the mural on the north end of the station parking lot, directly behind Prudential Richard Albert Real Estate.  The plantings were apparently called for as part of the site review plan for construction of the new building on the site.  The Board expressed its strong opinion that the plantings, which obscure stretches of the mural, are a mistake.  The arborvitae should be removed and the grassy area replanted and maintained.

The regular meeting of the VEB adjourned at 8:45 p.m., at which point members moved upstairs to the Village Manager’s office to attend a work session of the Village Trustees.