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Visual Environment Board Minutes 07-21-04
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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

Absent:         Ross Weale and Planning Board Liaison Ted Brumleve.

No sign applications were submitted for consideration at the July meeting of the VEB.  Accordingly, the Board devoted the first hour of its meeting to other business, including preliminary review of zoning regulations concerning fences, followed at 8:30 p.m. by its first formal meeting with Village logo designer Elton Robinson.

1. Review of Fence Ordinance
The VEB was asked to review the Village’s existing fence regulations as they appear in the existing Village Code, a page of which was supplied by Joe Sperber.  Pending a closer reading of the two sections, which are devoted to “corner lots” and “exceptions to yard requirements,” members of the VEB offered a few preliminary comments:
a.      Members agreed that the issue was an important one due to the significant impact fences can have on the public realm.  They added that the Village would be well-advised to review regulations in other communities of comparable size and character.
b.      Chair Doug Wehrle observed that, in general, fences and retaining walls should be set back 18 to 24 inches from the inner edge of sidewalks to provide adequate clearance for pedestrians.  In addition, hedges and other shrub plantings should be planted so that their mature/maintained form allows 18-24 inches set back from the inner edge of the sidewalk.  It was noted that fences and shrubbery placed closer than 18 inches from the inner edge of the sidewalk reduce its effective width and establish a constrained public corridor from both a functional and visual perspective.
c.      Members agreed that fences located in front of a property should be lower in height compared those intended for privacy screening in the rear.  As a general rule of thumb, the VEB thought front fences should be “standard picket fence height.”  For corner lots where two sides front streets, both street fronting yards should limit the height of fence.  However, the fence may transition to a higher privacy fence along that portion of the frontage that coincides with the rear yard.  VEB members pointed to a residence at the corner of Old Post Road South and Lexington whose fence provides such transition, going from 3-4 foot high picket  fence along the front of the house, continuing at the 3-4 foot high fence along the side, then transitioning to a 6 foot high stockade where the fence begins to border the home’s back yard.
d.      VEB member Kevin McManus suggested that the code should include diagrams and illustrations to clarify the legalistic prose for the benefit of residents.  For example, the sections under consideration could include a sketch to show the triangular area to be kept clear of visual obstructions in the entry on “corner lots” along with drawn examples of fences that are more or less than “25% solid” in the first item under “Exceptions to yard requirements.”

2.  Logo Comments Submitted to Village Web Site
Joe Sperber presented the Board with printouts of eleven comments about the logo redesign submitted to the Village web site to date.  The comments were largely constructive in nature, ranging from “The Indian head logos should be retired as soon as possible” to “Keep the sailboat (and the river) in the logo” to the heraldic-sounding “Rodent rampant, upon field of cars parked” in reference to the train station parking lot.

3.  Conversation with Elton Robinson
The conversation with designer Elton Robinson begin with a brief report on his meeting with the Mayor, the first of numerous discussions he plans to hold with Croton residents, officials, and department heads about their ideas of what might be included on the new logo.  He and the Board worked out a preliminary schedule setting goals for completing each of the steps in the design process with the goal of unveiling the finished logo in mid-December, 2004.  These steps are as follows:
September 8:
Presentation and discussion of preliminary concept designs with the VEB.
October 6:
Discussion of refined concepts with the VEB.
November 8 (proposed):
Presentation of refined concepts (several choices) to the Village Trustees at a public meeting to solicit input from Trustees and the community at large.
Mid-November (exact date TBD):
Follow-up meeting with the VEB to discuss and resolve issues raised during the presentation to the Village Trustees and members of the public.
December 20 (proposed):
Rollout of the final logo design at a public meeting of the Village Trustees.
The month following the rollout would be devoted to tailoring the final logo design to suit the needs of the various Village departments.

The Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.