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Waterfront Advisory Committee Minutes 5/24/06



WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2006:

A meeting of the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 in the Municipal Building.

                  MEMBERS PRESENT:              Chairperson Fran Allen
                                                Ann Gallelli
                                                Stuart Greenbaum
                                                Charles Kane
    ABSENT:            Leo Wiegman

                     ALSO PRESENT:              Chris Kehoe, Planning Board Chairman
Daniel O’Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 P.M. by Chairperson Fran Allen.


David Snyder of Snyder & Snyder, LLP; Gary Musciano of Herbst Musciano Architects/Planners; and John Furst of Cuddy & Feder LLP were present for the Nextel and Cingular Wireless applications.

Chairperson Allen stated that the purpose of the meeting tonight is to review the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) and Coastal Assessment Form (CAF) for the Nextel & Cingular wireless services facility application at Veteran’s Plaza.  The WAC will also review the EAF for the Nextel application at the Municipal Building.  Chairperson Allen noted that the WAC needs to respond to the Village Board by May 29th.  The Village Board declared itself the Lead Agency at its meeting of May 15th, and the WAC has 14 days to respond.  

Chairperson Allen asked that the Applicant present the two projects to the WAC members.  Mr. Snyder stated that there are currently two applications for cellular services facilities before the Village Board.   The first proposal is to mount twelve antennas on the roof of the Municipal Building.  The antennas would be camouflaged (painted) to look exactly like the brick.  The equipment that operates the antennas would be located in the attic.  The second proposal would be to install a 140-foot monopole at the DPW site at Veteran’s Plaza.  The pole would be similar in shape, size and design to the large light poles at the Croton-Harmon train station.  Mr. Snyder noted that Nextel has already provided visual reference points using a crane.  Mr. Snyder thought that, all in all, the project is (would be) in harmony with the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).  He did not think that the monopole being proposed would be particularly intrusive.

Mr. Musciano said that the project at the Municipal Building would be very simple and unobtrusive.  The twelve antennas would be located on the chimneys.  The antennas are panel-type antennas mounted to a pole or high structure.  Four point to the west, four to the north and four to the south.  The roof of the Municipal Building is a good location for the antennas.  The signal would not be blocked, given the ground elevation and height of the building.  The only service to the attic that would be required is electrical power.

Mr. Greenbaum asked if there would be antennas facing east, to which Mr. Musciano said that there would not be any facing east.  He did not know why.  Mr. Kane asked if the municipality in this location is served by another carrier, to which Mr. Musciano said that it might be.  He did not know.  

Chairperson Allen told the Applicant that the Village Board has approved the hiring of three consultants for the wireless services facility projects. The first consultant would perform the environmental (planning) review, the second, the technical (radio frequency) review and the third, the structural review.  These consultants were just recently hired, so they are not familiar with the projects yet.  Chairperson Allen thought that it would be a useful exercise tonight to make a list of the questions that the WAC would like answered and present the list to the consultants.  

Mr. Greenbaum noted that the courtroom is right below the attic where the cellular equipment is going to be situated.  He asked if there would be any noise from the equipment that would detract from the court proceedings, to which Mr. Musciano said that there would not be any noise but there might be vibrations.  He would make sure that they located the equipment in such a way as to eliminate any vibrations.  They would also arrange the twelve antennas so that they would not be visible from the street.

Mr. Kane wanted to know if the project being proposed would have any effect on the structural integrity of the building, to which Mr. Musciano said that they would have their structural engineer look into this matter.

Mr. Musciano stated that the cellular facility at Veteran’s Plaza would be located at the very end of the train station parking lots.  The monopole would be situated in the grassy area beyond the DPW salt storage shed.  Mr. Musciano said that Nextel’s antennas (twelve panel-type antennas) would be placed on top of the monopole and just below these would be the array of Cingular’s antennas.  The base of the pole would be surrounded by a chain link fence.  The cellular equipment would be in a prefabricated shelter building adjacent to the monopole.  Cingular’s equipment would be in cabinets that are weatherproof.  These cabinets are about the size of a small refrigerator.  The entire compound is slightly less than 2,000 square feet in size.  

Chairperson Allen noted that, according to the Village Code, four carriers must be able to collocate on a cellular services facility. The Village Engineer said that there could be (up to) four carriers collocating on the 140-foot monopole.

The Village Engineer noted that, under the lease agreement, the maximum amount of ground area that Nextel could disturb is 2,500 square feet.  If the Applicant were to expand that area of disturbance, then they would have to come back to the Village for the necessary approval(s).

Chairperson Allen asked what the size of an antenna would be, to which Mr. Musciano said that the Nextel antenna is 72 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 7 inches deep.  Cingular’s antennas are 52 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 7 inches deep.

Chairperson Allen asked if the antennas are heavy, to which Mr. Musciano stated that the antennas themselves are very light, about 25 to 30 pounds each.  The design criterion is really for the wind load.  Mr. Musciano said that there are approximately 140,000 cellular sites in the United States and about 50,000 monopoles for telecommunications use.  Of all those, he knows of only one failure, and that was a manufacturer’s defect.  The monopoles are very reliable structures.  

Chairperson Allen recalled seeing a notation on the site plan about lighting on the monopole, to which Mr. Musciano replied that there would be no lighting on the pole; however, there would be a night light on the shelter.  

Mr. Kane asked how many parking spaces would be required to operate the cellular facility, to which Mr. Musciano replied that these facilities are unmanned.  They are remotely monitored.  Once a month, they (Nextel) would come to the site to make a routine equipment check.  

Mr. Kane noted that, in the Applicant’s special permit application, the Applicant speaks of the proposed facility as being integrated into the existing DPW site.  Mr. Kane told the Applicant that, through Eminent Domain proceedings, the DPW site might be moved to another location at some point in the future.  If this were the case, then the DPW would no longer be a part of the area where the monopole is to be situated.  Mr. Kane expressed concern that, if the Village should move the DPW site, the area would be precluded to ever becoming parkland.  Mr. Kane wanted to know if the installation of this monopole would preclude such an expansion into parkland someday.  Ms. Gallelli told Mr. Kane that she did not see why or how that could happen.  Even if the area were to become parkland someday, the monopole would just become a “carve out” in what otherwise would be the park.

Mr. Kane referred to the Applicant’s photographs of the crane, which were taken to show the visual impact(s) of the monopole installation.  Mr. Kane expressed concern that there were no photographs taken from the river (Croton Bay).  Mr. Musciano said that, indeed, there were no photographs taken from this angle.  Chairperson Allen noted that, with respect to the visual impacts, what people would see and what would have the most adverse impact would be the antennas on the top.  The Village Engineer noted that boating season has begun.  He suggested that the Applicant could, now, take photographs of the site from the Hudson River, to which Mr. Musciano said that he would be willing to do that.  Mr. Kane noted that Croton Bay extends at the tip of Croton Point to the Town of Ossining.  Chairperson Allen said that she would imagine that the monopole would be very visible from Croton Bay.  Mr. Kane mentioned that another vantage point, which was not included in the photographs, is the view from the train.

Mr. Kane asked if the tower or antennas would make any type of noise from the wind, to which Mr. Musciano said that he has never heard of that happening.  

Mr. Kane asked if it (the monopole) would generate static charges, to which Mr. Musciano said, no.    

Mr. Kane asked if, in the wintertime, there would be ice formations on the monopole or antennas, to which Mr. Musciano said, no.

Mr. Kane noted that the area in question is a feeding site for bald eagles in the wintertime.  He asked if there would be any impact(s) on the bald eagles or osprey. Mr. Musciano suggested that the environmental consultant could look into this matter.  Chairperson Allen said that the consultant should also examine the impacts on other birds and species.

Mr. Kane asked if the Applicant had considered installing antennas on the current lighting on the adjacent site.  Mr. Snyder asked if the Village would be amenable to such a proposal.  A light pole would have to be reconstructed to 140 feet.  Mr. Snyder asked if the MTA owned the land, to which Ms. Gallelli said that the parking lot belongs to the Village.  The light poles on the other side of the track belong to the MTA.  Ms. Gallelli said that moving the installation to the adjacent site could have the potential result of improving the visual aspects.  The downside would be the loss of some parking spots.  

Mr. Kane noted that should the monopole structure fail and fall in an easterly direction, the structure would fall into the Croton River.  Mr. Musciano told Mr. Kane that that kind of structural failure is highly unlikely.  If it fails, it would be a ductile failure.  It reaches its yield point and then fails.  It bends and bends but does not break at the base.  Mr. Musciano noted that a monopole for telecommunications use has to meet a much more rigorous standard than a light pole.  Mr. Kane noted that, about thirty years ago, a tornado came across Croton Point and caused major devastation along the way. He would want to make sure that the monopole could withstand such an unusual weather occurrence.  Mr. Musciano stated that they have not done the “geotech” work yet.  The monopole would have to be built to withstand the wind speeds for the Hudson Valley area.  Prior to the installation of the monopole, they would also have to do a soil investigation.

Mr. Furst noted to the WAC that Cingular’s antennas would be at a height of about 130 feet.

Mr. Furst stated that Cingular’s radio frequency engineer has submitted a report showing that there is a gap of coverage in the area, which would be served by the monopole installation.

Ms. Gallelli asked what would happen to the coverage if the antennas/monopole were lowered by 10 feet. Mr. Furst told Ms. Gallelli that it is his understanding they are already at the minimum height in this location.

Chairperson Allen said that she would want to know what percentage of the Village is being covered by the Nextel/Cingular projects.  She did not find the coverage maps to be very readable.  Chairperson Allen said that the ultimate question is “Are there alternatives that [would] give better coverage?”

Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC move forward to the review of the EAF and CAF for the monopole project.

Mr. Kane referred to question #16 on page 4 of the EAF, which asked for the lakes, ponds and wetlands within or contiguous to the project area.  He said that the Croton River should be added to the list.

Chairperson Allen referred to question #11 on page 4, “Does project site contain any species of plant or animal life that is identified as threatened or endangered?”  The answer given was “No.”  Chairperson Allen said that she thinks the Village should assess that question much more carefully.  It is her understanding that there are endangered birds in the area.  The Village Engineer noted that the answer to this question (#11) might very well depend on how the word “site” is interpreted.  If the word “site” is referring to the 2,000 square-foot area containing the monopole installation, then the question might be answered, “No.”  However, the question might be answered “Yes,” if the word “site” is referring to a more widespread, “three-dimensional” area.  Ms. Gallelli thought that the Village Engineer brought up a good point.  She suggested that this matter should be included in the list being compiled for the Village’s environmental consultant.  Mr. Kane noted that the same holds true for the answers to the questions on page 3 pertaining to historic sites.  The consultant should take a look at these as well.     

Chairperson Allen noted that the Village has received, as part of the application materials, a letter from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) stating that, based on their review, the monopole installation would have no adverse effect on properties “in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.”  Chairperson Allen said that she would like to have the documentation that was sent by the Applicant to SHPO reviewed by the Village’s consultant.  She would also like to have Joel Klein review this documentation.  Mr. Kane noted that the Van Cortlandt Manor national historic site is under consideration for a major restoration/improvement effort.  Improvements would include a new building.  He would want to know if and/or how the monopole might impact the restoration project.  Chairperson Allen said that the Village’s consultant should be asked to look into this matter. The consultant should be asked to gather information on the plans being proposed for Van Cortlandt Manor.

Mr. Kane referred to page 5, question 17, “Is the site served by existing public utilities?”  The answer given was “No.”  The Village Engineer told the WAC that this is probably the correct answer.  There are no utilities at the site.  The utilities are located farther north and would have to be extended down to the site.  The Village Engineer asked Mr. Musciano if they would need a water or sewer connection, to which Mr. Musciano said, no.  They would just need electric power and a telephone connection.

Mr. Kane referred to page 5, question B3, “Will disturbed areas be reclaimed?”  The answer given was “Not applicable.”  Mr. Kane noted that the area in question would be disturbed.  Excavation would be required for installation of the monopole.  He asked where the excavation materials would be deposited, to which Mr. Musciano replied that they would be carried off site.  Mr. Kane asked if these materials would be tested for contaminants. Mr. Musciano said that Nextel would perform a Phase I environmental investigation, based on the historic use of the site, to see if contaminants were ever present.  A Phase II investigation would be performed, if recommended. Mr. Kane asked if it would be incumbent upon the Applicant to dispose of the contaminated materials, to which Mr. Musciano said that it would be.  Ms. Gallelli said that she would interpret question B3 in a different way.  She thought it referred to the idea of putting the area back the way it was after it had been disturbed.  Mr. Snyder said that this question (B3) is brought up for surface mining.  This question would be directed to this type of project.  The WAC decided that the answer should be left as is.

Chairperson Allen referred to page 7, question #20, “Will project produce operating noise exceeding the local ambient noise levels?”  She noted that, earlier in the meeting tonight, the Applicant assured the WAC that there would be no noise caused by the wind.  She would, therefore, assume that “No” would be the appropriate answer.

Chairperson Allen noted that in question #25 on page 8, “Approvals Required,” the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is missing from the list.  SHPO should be added to the list of “State Agencies.”

Chairperson Allen referred to question 8 on page 9, “Is the proposed action compatible with adjoining/surrounding land uses within a ¼ mile?”  The answer given was “Yes.”  Chairperson Allen questioned why the answer given was “Yes.”  Mr. Greenbaum said that it would depend on what is meant by the word “compatible.”  Ms. Gallelli thought that this question referred to the underlying zoning in the area.  The area in question is in the “Light Industrial” zone.  Ms. Gallelli noted that the uses are different in some directions, but the area is (still) zoned “Light Industrial.”  The WAC decided that the answer should remain “Yes.”

Mr. Kane referred to question #7 on page 9 pertaining to the land uses and zoning within a ¼ mile radius of the project.  He would want to know if the boat launch area had been designated “parkland” and, if so, he would want to add “parkland” to the list of land uses.  Ms. Gallelli told Mr. Kane that she did not think the boat launch had been designated “parkland.”  Mr. Kane said that “railroad” is not on the list either.  The committee members all thought that “railroad” should be added to the list.

The WAC reviewed the CAF for the proposed monopole installation.  Chairperson Allen referred to page 2, question 1(a), which asked whether or not the proposed action would potentially have adverse effects on fish or wildlife habitats.  The answer given was “Yes.”  Chairperson Allen referred to the brief explanation of the answer to this question, given on page 4 of the CAF, which just said that the proposed action is “contiguous with the Croton River, no adverse effects.” Chairperson Allen noted that, as discussed earlier in the meeting tonight, the effects on wildlife are not yet known.  This matter would have to be addressed more thoroughly by the Village’s consultant to ascertain whether or not there would be any adverse effects.  

Chairperson Allen referred to question 1(b) asking whether the proposed action would have adverse effects on scenic resources of local or statewide significance.  The answer given was also “Yes.”  Chairperson Allen suggested that, perhaps, there could be a more definitive explanation given on page 4 of what the visual impact(s) would be and how the Applicant would mitigate these impacts.  Mr. Musciano suggested that, if the Village could supply the Applicant with a boat, additional photographs could be taken at a suitable point from Croton Bay.  The Applicant could then superimpose the cell tower onto the digital photograph.  Mr. Kane said that he has a boat that the Applicant could use.  The Fire Department also has a boat.  Mr. Kane said that, in his view, various photographs should be taken within the boundary between Croton Point and the Town of Ossining.

Mr. Kane stated that there are two future recreational projects, which he would want considered in the review of the monopole proposal.  The first is a scenic byway/crossing over Route 9 known as the “Crossining.”  The second is a walkway/bikeway between Croton and Ossining. Mr. Kane noted that there is a small landing that serves as an observation point on the Croton side of the walkway/bikeway. He would want to know what the visual impacts of the proposed monopole installation would be on people using these future recreational resources.  Chairperson Allen said that, rather than the brief explanations given on page 4 of the CAF, she would like to have the Applicant provide a more extensive explanation of what the impacts and proposed mitigation measures would be.   

Mr. Kane referred to page 2, question 2(a), “Will the proposed action have a significant effect upon commercial or recreational use of fish and wildlife resources?”  The answer given was “No.”  Mr. Kane thought that “Yes” would be a more appropriate answer.  He noted that the neighboring boat launch is a very important resource for fishermen.  Also this area along the Hudson River is used as an observation point for the eagles at Croton Bay.  Chairperson Allen expressed concern about the effects the monopole installation would have on these recreational uses of the area.  She would want to have a better indication of how much recreational space would be lost. The Village Engineer suggested that he could look for a site plan of that area to see what was envisioned for the boat launch and the parking.  He noted that there was also supposed to be a small space at the boat launch site designated for recreational use.  Mr. Kane thought that the Village would definitely be losing public space.  Ms. Gallelli said that, in order to understand in a practical way what space would be lost, the WAC would have to look at the footprint of the monopole installation.  Mr. Snyder asked if the WAC would want the Applicant to stake out the footprint, to which the WAC members all said, yes.  Chairperson Allen asked if question 2(a) should be changed to “Yes.”  Ms. Gallelli suggested that, for now, the WAC could just recommend that the Village’s consultant look into this matter.

Mr. Kane referred to question 2(b), “Will the proposed action have a significant effect upon scenic quality of the coastal environment?”  The answer given was “No.”  He thought that the answer should be “Yes,” to which the others all agreed.  Mr. Kane said that the answer to question 2(c) on the effects of the project upon development of future or existing water dependent uses should also be “Yes.”  He gave, as an example, possible further development of the adjacent boat launch area. Mr. Greenbaum thought that question 2(h) pertaining to public recreation opportunities should be answered “Yes.”  Likewise, question 2(i) on the effects of the project upon a significant historic site should also be answered “Yes.” Ms. Gallelli noted that it was suggested earlier tonight that the issue, raised by question 2(i), should be referred to the Village’s consultant.  She asked if the WAC would want to recommend changing the answers to both 2(a) and 2(i) to “Yes” or recommend instead referring these matters to the consultant.  The WAC members all agreed that they should be referred to the consultant.  

Mr. Snyder said that, from the perspective of the Applicant, this project would not have a significant impact on the area(s) just covered e.g. historic sites, public recreational use, etc.  The Applicant does not think that the impacts would rise to the level of “significant.” Chairperson Allen said that it is her understanding of the law that if there is any question at all as to how to respond to a question in the CAF, then the response given should be “Yes.”  Answering “Yes” to these questions pertaining to significant impacts provides the Village with an opportunity to analyze these impacts in more detail.

Mr. Kane referred to page 3, question 3(f), “Will the proposed action involve or result in a reduction of existing or potential public access to or along the shore?”  The answer given was “No.” He thought the answer should be changed to “Yes.” Mr. Greenbaum thought that the answer could conceivably be “Yes” because the public would no longer have access to (through) the area where the monopole would be installed.   Mr. Kane thought that the monopole installation could affect the parking situation.  Ms. Gallelli said that she thought question 3(f) was referring to the shoreline itself, and the monopole is not going to be at the shore.  Chairperson Allen noted that, according to the Applicant’s comments on the parking tonight, there would only be one or two Nextel cars parked at the monopole site, and this would only be once a month. They would be parked at the site for a short time only. Mr. Kane noted that, (just) by having more of this public space near the shore taken up by the monopole installation, the overall access to the shore would be more restricted/limited. Future generations might want to develop the site into an expanded parkland or recreational area.  He (Mr. Kane) is looking at the future of the site.  The Village Engineer suggested that the Village’s consultant, Frederick P. Clark Associates, could provide guidance on how to answer this question, to which the WAC all agreed.  

Mr. Kane referred to page 3, question 4(b), “Will the project protect, maintain and/or increase the level and types of public access to water-related recreation resources and facilities?”  The answer given was “Yes.”  Mr. Kane told the other committee members that he would answer “No” instead of “Yes” to this question.  He noted that he would make the same comments here that he made regarding question 3(f).  Future generations might decide to develop the site further.  He would not want to reduce a public space that might be desirable by a future generation.     

Mr. Kane said that question 4(c), which asks if the site is being used by the community as an open space or recreation area, should be answered “Yes” instead of “No.”  Likewise, the answer to question 4(d), which asks if the site offers important scenic views or vistas, should also be changed to “Yes.”  The WAC members all agreed with Mr. Kane’s suggestions.

The WAC decided that, for the time being, question 4(e) “Is the project site presently used for commercial fishing or fish processing?” should remain “No.”  The answer to this question would depend on how the word “site” is being defined.  The Village should refer this matter to the environmental consultant.

Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC should review the EAF for the Municipal Building proposal.  She noted that this project for antennas on the roof of the Municipal Building is not of a nature to require a CAF.  Chairperson Allen asked if there were any comments on the EAF for the Municipal Building proposal, to which there were none.  

Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC should discuss the details of the memorandum to be sent to the Village Board.  The memorandum should indicate the additional information required from Frederick P. Clark Associates pertaining to the potentially adverse environmental impacts.  The WAC would want FPCA to assess the impacts of the monopole installation on birds and other species.  FPCA should also assess the visual impacts from other (additional) locations including the lookout point on the Croton-Ossining walkway, the future scenic byway and various points on Croton Bay.   FPCA should also be asked to review the SHPO documentation to be sure that SHPO was given the required materials to reach their decision.  

Chairperson Allen noted that FPCA should look at the future restoration proposal for the Van Cortlandt Manor national historic site.  The WAC expressed concern tonight about some of the answers, which were given to the questions in the CAF.   The WAC would want FPCA to review the CAF and provide their input.

Chairperson Allen noted that the WAC could also mention to the Village Board the discussion that took place tonight on possible alternatives to the monopole e.g., light poles in the train station parking lot.  
Chairperson Allen stated that the WAC must make a determination on the consistency of the Nextel (monopole) project with the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). Chairperson Allen noted that based on the discussion that has taken place tonight, the WAC would need additional information to make a final determination.  Chairperson Allen noted that when the WAC has reviewed projects in the past and has lacked information to make a final determination, the WAC has made a preliminary finding of consistency.  She suggested that the WAC could make a preliminary finding tonight.  Ms. Gallelli suggested that the WAC could say that this project is consistent subject to further pursuit of those areas, which have been identified tonight.  Mr. Kane asked, if the WAC makes a preliminary finding that this project is consistent, how does the WAC turn its decision around later on if the project is found to be inconsistent?  Ms. Gallelli told Mr. Kane that if, in the end, the answers to the issues raised tonight come back adversely and the environmental impacts are deemed significant, then the WAC would make a different final determination (finding).  Mr. Kane said that he is uncomfortable making any statement on the consistency with the LWRP at this point.  Mr. Greenbaum suggested that the WAC could make a preliminary finding of consistency subject to a “positive response” on the issues raised tonight.  The WAC agreed to make a preliminary finding of consistency.

Chairperson Allen noted that Mr. Wiegman had provided his comments/recommendations in an email.  She thought that the WAC had covered tonight all of the issues that he had raised.

The Village Engineer noted that Mr. Kane had mentioned earlier in the meeting that there were no photographs of the proposed monopole from the train.  Mr. Kane stated that visitors come to the Village by train.  Croton-Harmon Train Station is a gateway to the Village. The train enters the station at a slow speed.  People riding the train and getting off at the station would see the monopole. The Village Engineer suggested that the Applicant should also take photographs from the train/train station.

Ms. Gallelli noted that there is no CAF for the antenna installation on the roof of the Municipal Building.  However, there is an EAF. The WAC might want to say to the Village Board that, in its status as an involved agency, the WAC had no comments on the EAF.

Chairperson Allen told the WAC that she would draft the memorandum and email it to the committee members for their comments.  The memorandum must be in its final form for submission to the Village Board by Monday, May 29th.


The minutes of the Wednesday, March 1, 2006 WAC meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Kane, seconded by Ms. Gallelli and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.   

4.          ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting duly adjourned at 10:10 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Sylvia Mills