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Visual Environment Board Minutes 06-16-04
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson


Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, June 16, 2004


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

Absent:         Planning Board Liaison Ted Brumleve.

The June meeting of the VEB got underway at 7:30 p.m.  It included consideration of two sign applications, followed by a conversation with selected designer Elton Robinson to discuss the scope of work for the creation of a new Village logo.


1. Houlihan Lawrence
Bill Haegle of Haegle & O’Neill Architects appeared before the VEB to discuss signage, window and door replacement, and related work planned for 10 Old Post Road South prior to the opening of a Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate office.  The proposed sign will be 28 inches high and 18 feet, 7 ½ inches long, running the length of the store’s windows—but not the entire length of the storefront itself.  The sign would read “Houlihan Lawrence” in large white letters against a dark green background, with the company’s white horse logo appearing between the words; the sign would be trimmed in gold, with the additional words, “Real Estate Center,” appearing in small white letters at the bottom.  The aluminum break-formed sign would feature edges bent and sealed to give the impression that it is one inch thick.  Plans also call for a second, smaller sign measuring 32 ½ inches high by2 feet wide, using same coloration and construction as the larger storefront sign, to be mounted on the side of the building, facing the driveway leading to the municipal parking lot by Vassallo Park.
As described by Mr. Haegle, work on the building’s façade will include replacement of the windows with simulated divided light windows similar to those used in its offices in neighboring towns with a new wood entry door and other features.  The windows would feature aluminum trim clad in white vinyl.  Mr. Haegele noted that the Planning Board was considering the possibility of requiring that Houlihan Lawrence pay for similar work on the yoga center next door in order to preserve the symmetry of the building.  He observed that the cost of this additional work, estimated at $15,000, would most likely discourage the company from making the changes to its own property.
VEB Discussion:
a.      Members of the VEB expressed no reservations concerning the large sign, which falls within code.  In response to questions about the smaller sign on the side of the building. Joe Sperber reported that the driveway leading to the parking lot forms part of the extension of Beekman Place as a “paper road” extending through Vassallo Park to Old Post Road South, leading the Zoning Board of Appeals in the past to determine 10 Old Post Road South to be a corner lot.  A second sign would therefore be permitted under code.
b.      In regard to the window replacements, Marianne Bosshart echoed the Planning Board’s concern about the effects on the building’s symmetry, worrying that the façade would be “chopped up.”  Arguing that incremental improvement to the building would be better than none at all, Kevin McManus offered a counter view that the work be allowed to proceed.  Ross Weale voiced strong opposition to the requirement that Houlihan Lawrence be obliged to upgrade the neighboring storefront on the principle that it sets a bad precedent to require new tenants to subsidize improvements to existing businesses.  Persuaded by Ross’s argument, VEB Chair Doug Wehrle aligned himself with those opposing the requirement.  In the end, the Board voted 3 to 1 against recommending that Houlihan Lawrence be obliged to improve the yoga center next store to be allowed to proceed with its own improvements; VEB member Valerie Leis recused herself.
c.      On this same topic, the VEB agreed that it would be in the best interest of the Village if the neighboring store were improved to a level at least commensurate with the Houlihan Lawrence plans.  Rather than this being the obligation of the incoming tenant, however, the Board felt the work should be the responsibility of the landlord, Richard Albert.

VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board gave its verbal approval to plans for the new signage, to be confirmed with publication of these minutes.
b.      By a vote of 3-1 (with 1 recusal), the Board declined to recommend that Houlihan Lawrence be obliged to upgrade the neighboring storefront as a condition of being allowed to proceed with its own improvement.


2.  Ocean House Oyster Bar & Grill
Paula Galvin appeared before the VEB to discuss signage for the new restaurant she and her husband will open on the site of the former “little red diner” at 49 North Riverside Avenue.  As designed by Sign Extreme in Sleepy Hollow, the new sign will be oval in shape, measuring 2 feet high at the highest point, 48 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.  It will be a composite sign, with the lettering and fish image painted onto plastic and then glazed for durability.  The words “Ocean House” will appear in a Copperplate typeface and measure 4 ½ inches high, while “Oyster Bar & Grill” will be two inches high.  The sign will be extended from the existing pole, which will be repainted and its chains possibly replaced; external illumination will be provided by means of gooseneck lamps (as opposed to the interior illumination of the existing sign).  The fish shown on the drawing of the sign is a cod, but will most likely be replaced by a more appropriate striped bass or similar fish.
Ms. Galvin also brought the Board up to date on plans to paint the building a taupe color and to renovate the interior.  It will serve New England-style seafood, and so the goal is to give it that kind of “feel.”
VEB Discussion:
a.      The VEB found the sign itself very attractive, though members strongly endorsed the plan to depict a different fish.
b.      The Board likewise spoke positively about the Galvins’ efforts to upgrade the property, and perhaps eventually to add handicap access and make other improvements that would allow them to expand the business.

VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board gave its verbal approval to the planned sign, to be confirmed through publication of these minutes.


3.  Conversation with Elton Robinson
VEB members discussed the scope of the logo project with Elton Robinson, who agreed to provide a final accounting of the scope and budget that the Board hopes to submit to the Village Trustees in time for their June 28th meeting.