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Waterfront Advisory Committee Minutes 08/05/2009

A meeting of the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Wednesday, August 5, 2009 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Fran Allen, Chairperson
                                Charles Kane (taking Stuart Greenbaum's place)
                                Robert Luntz
                                Richard Olver
                                Demetra Restuccia

ALSO PRESENT:           Daniel O'Connor, P.E. Village Engineer

1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Chairperson Fran Allen.

2.   Referral from the Village Board for Changes to the Harmon Gateway Overlay Zoning District Local Law – Consistency Review:

Chairperson Allen pointed out to those present that tonight’s review is for a zoning change and not a specific building project.  This application would not directly lead to a construction or development project.  Mr. Kane reiterated that this is not a building project. “No shovels are going into the ground at this point.”

Chairperson Allen noted that the Coastal Assessment Form (CAF) that was used for this application is the newly revised form that Mr. Kane and she recently worked on.  Chairperson Allen noted that the CAF form, now that it has been revised, is just like the CAF form that the WAC had been using in the past.  Chairperson Allen noted that the form had been modified over the years; their goal was to bring it back to its original state.    

Chairperson Allen said that the task before the WAC tonight is to check the proposed zoning changes against the policies of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).  She suggested that the WAC could go through the CAF to discuss any possible changes that should be made to the answers given.    

The Village Engineer suggested that “mixed-use” should be added to Section B.5 on page 2, “Description of Site and Proposed Action – Present Land Use.”  Mr. Olver said that “unimproved property” and/or “vacant lot” should also be added to the list of present land uses.   

Chairperson Allen read aloud Section C.1, “Will the proposed action be located in, or contiguous to, or have a potentially adverse effect upon any of the resource areas identified on the coastal area map…” and noted that the answer given is “no.”   Chairperson Allen said that it is her understanding that if this application were for a specific building project, the answer would be “yes;” however, since this application is for zoning changes and not a specific project, she would think that the answer could be left “no.” Chairperson Allen added that this project provides an opportunity for future development; however, this action, in and of itself, would not have an adverse affect on resources, such as fish or wildlife habitats.  Chairperson Allen said that the WAC would be looking at each future building project individually and would make a recommendation as to whether the project would or would not be consistent with the LWRP policies.  Mr. Olver said that, in so far as future projects are concerned, a project such as the building of a cement factory would have a potential impact, but the Village would say “no” to this type of project.  

Mr. Olver referred to item (b) under Section C.1, “Will the proposed action be located in, or contiguous to, or have a potentially adverse effect upon…scenic resources of local or statewide significance?” and noted that the scenic impact is a legitimate concern.  Mr. Olver stated that the current zoning in the Harmon area allows structures to be 35 feet in height, and this would not change under the new zoning. Mr. Olver noted that the new zoning would allow three stories as opposed to 2½ stories; however, the 35-foot height restriction would still be in place.  Mr. Olver said that, “There would be no difference in terms of interference of sight lines.”

Mr. Kane noted that LWRP policies 23, 24 and 25 pertain to scenic and/or visual impacts on significant resources (historic sites/buildings, etc.). Mr. Kane said that in policy 24, it states that the NYS Coastal Area Map does not identify any resources within the Village as being scenic resources of statewide significance.

The Village Engineer said that the mass of a building might be higher because of the three stories allowed.  There might be more building mass at higher elevations.  The Village Engineer said that he, personally, does not know if this building bulk on a higher level would have an impact on views.  Chairperson Allen said that, at some point in the future, the Planning Board might take up the whole set of Village laws on “height.” Chairperson Allen pointed out that there are a number of these laws [pertaining to height] that could lead to unpredictable results, but the Planning Board might takes these up in the future.

Mr. Kane referred to the second paragraph from the top of page III-37 in policy 25 of the LWRP, which states that “South Riverside Drive [Avenue] and the Route 9 corridor is also considered of local and regional significance because it allows unparalleled views of western shorelands from major thoroughfares.  In order to protect these views, existing deteriorated structures west of the right-of-way should be improved…”  Mr. Kane noted that policy 25 of the LWRP does, therefore, mention “sprucing up” that area (the Harmon area) of the Village.  Mr. Kane said that he would find this project consistent with policy 25 because it is mentioned in this policy that existing deteriorating structures should be improved.  Furthermore, no state view sheds of significance are being impacted.  Ms. Restuccia said that she would think, from tonight’s discussion, that the WAC members agree that scenic views are not an issue.  

Chairperson Allen referred to Section C.2(i) of the CAF, “Will the proposed action have a significant effect upon structures, sites or districts of historic, archeological or cultural significance to the (city, town, village), State or nation?” and said that the answer given is “no.”  Mr. Kane said that, to his knowledge, there are no buildings that are historic in this area. Mr. Luntz noted that the only structure that has come up as “historic” is the nail salon building.  Mr. Kane noted that this building has been modified many times over the years.  Mr. Olver pointed out that this structure clearly means something to a number of people. It has significance in the history of the Village and, as such, its preservation should be valued.  Mr. Olver said that what the WAC has to look at tonight is the degree to which this proposed action would potentially affect that structure.  Mr. Olver said that he would think that there might be some potential effect in that these zoning changes are intended to encourage reinvestment in that area of the Village.  He noted that, should a future owner want to redevelop the site there would very likely be a public campaign, the outcome of which is uncertain.  The Village Engineer pointed out that, to take any action at all, the owner/developer would have to receive approvals from the Village Board and the Planning Board; there would be opportunities for public participation at the board meetings.  Mr. Olver noted that under the present zoning, if the owner/developer were to choose to redevelop that property, he/she could do so “as of right” for a non-mixed-use building.  Mr. Olver said that, on balance, taking into account its historic value there is, nevertheless, no significant potential change to its status. Ms. Restuccia said that, in her view, the answer to this question should remain “no” with the acknowledgment that some people think that the nail salon building should be classified as “historic.”  

Chairperson Allen said that, with respect to the height and bulk of buildings in the Harmon area of the Village, she would not want to turn the main thoroughfare into a “tunnel with very little light.”  A smaller building at that corner (the corner of Benedict Boulevard and South Riverside Avenue) would help to “soften” the entrance onto Benedict Boulevard, to which Ms. Restuccia said that she would think that this would be an issue for the Planning Board to look at and not the WAC.

Chairperson Allen referred to the “project” set of questions on pages 4 and 5 of the CAF and said that it is appropriate that the Village Board skipped questions (a) and (b) because these questions are related to work being performed on actual projects/buildings; they are not applicable to the zoning changes being proposed.  

Ms. Restuccia referred to Section C.4(p), “Will best management practices be utilized to control storm water runoff into coastal waters?” and questioned why the answer given is “no.”  Mr. Kane said that he would think that storm water issues are covered by a separate local law.  The Village Engineer noted that this application is for zoning changes and not a specific building project.  He suggested that the answer to question C.4(p) could be changed from “no” to “Not Applicable.”  Chairperson Allen agreed with the Village Engineer that this question applies to “shovel in the ground” projects and not the application currently before the WAC.

Chairperson Allen asked if there were any other comments, to which there were none.

Chairperson Allen entertained a motion to recommend to the Village Board that they find this project consistent with the Village’s LWRP policies with the changes to the CAF, as discussed.  The motion to find this project consistent was made by Mr. Kane, seconded by Mr. Luntz and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

Chairperson Allen told the WAC members that she would work with the WAC secretary to prepare a memorandum to the Village Board in time for their meeting scheduled for Monday, August 10th.

3.   Approval of Minutes:
The minutes of the Wednesday, June 10, 2009 WAC meeting were approved, as amended, on a motion by Mr. Kane, seconded by Ms. Restuccia and carried by a vote of 4-0.  WAC member Richard Olver left the WAC meeting before the vote was taken.
4.   Adjournment:
There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned at 8:40 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Sylvia Mills

Sylvia Mills
Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Engineer's Office
tel: 914-271-4783
fax: 914-271-3790