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Waterfront Advisory Committee Minutes 08/26/2010
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK
MINUTES OF THE WATERFRONT ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING
THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010


A meeting of the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Thursday, August 26, 2010 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Fran Allen, Chairperson
                                Stuart Greenbaum
                                Robert Luntz
                                Ian Murtaugh
                                Richard Olver

ALSO PRESENT:           James Staudt, Village Attorney
                                Ann Gallelli, Member of the Board of Trustees
                                Daniel O'Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
                                

1.  Call to Order:

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

2.  Referral from the Village Board Regarding Local Law Introductory No. 3 of 2010 – Repeal and Enactment of Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay District Zoning Amendments – Consistency Review

Village Attorney James Staudt was present for this referral application.

Mr. Staudt said that in November 2009 the Village Board passed Local Law No. 4 of 2009.  After the law was adopted a lawsuit was brought to the Village and a determination was made that rather than spending money to fight the lawsuit, the Village Board would repeal this law (Local Law No. 4).  The law before the WAC tonight is Local Law Introductory No. 3 of 2010 “Repeal and Enactment of Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay District Zoning Amendments.”  Mr. Staudt said that even though Local Law No. 3 is very similar to Local Law No. 4, it should be treated as a new law.  In the WAC’s consistency review, the WAC should “start from scratch” with the Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) and other supporting documentation.  Mr. Staudt noted that the WAC is required to make a preliminary and a final determination of consistency back to the Village Board.

Chairperson Allen said that the WAC will start their review by going through the FEAF and, then, going through the answers to the questions in the Coastal Assessment Form (CAF).  

Mr. Olver said that, in so far as Local Law No. 3 is concerned, making a preliminary finding of consistency is entirely appropriate because it is highly probable that the draft law will change.  As for the deer hunting law, he (Mr. Olver) is not so sure that there is such a probability.  What is before the WAC now is likely to remain the way it is. Mr. Greenbaum said that with respect to the Harmon Zoning Amendments he thinks that looking at this law at this point is like “putting the cart before the horse.”  Mr. Greenbaum said that there are a number of legal challenges that have come the Village’s way.  It (this law) may not come to pass.  Mr. Greenbaum said that he would think that “we are doing things backwards.”  He is (would be) reluctant to do a review without a resolution to these legal challenges.  Mr. Greenbaum said that he is willing to take part in the consistency review tonight, but he thinks that it is premature.  Mr. Staudt reminded Mr. Greenbaum that there is a statute in the Code, which requires the WAC to do a consistency review. The WAC is following the statute in the Village Code.  Mr. Greenbaum said that he thinks, from a procedural standpoint, the WAC is “doing something before anything comes to pass.”  He is happy to go through the process, but he does not understand the sequence of events. Mr. Olver said that he, personally, is not troubled by doing this consistency review because the WAC’s review is in regard to the new legislation.  

Chairperson Allen said that on page 2 of the FEAF the Name of Action is identified as the “Repeal and enactment of Harmon/South Riverside Gateway Overlay District Zoning Amendments and expansion of overlay area.”  Chairperson Allen said that in her review of the materials submitted she has picked up on a few points that she would like to raise.  She referred to question 14 on page 3, “Does the present site include scenic views known to be important to the community?” and said that the answer given is “No.” Chairperson Allen noted that there is an explanation given for the “No” answer; however, the conclusion is that “no significant vistas are apparent from the H/SRGD [Harmon/South Riverside Gateway District].” Chairperson Allen said that she is troubled by saying that there are no scenic views from the gateway itself.  Mr. Luntz said that he thinks that the statement in the FEAF is accurate.  He, personally, cannot visualize any scenic views.  Mr. Olver said that the views that would be affected are views that might be blocked by a row of three-story buildings, but these are not views of the Hudson River.  Chairperson Allen noted that the river is not the only scenic view – there is also The Palisades, to which Mr. Murtaugh responded that he lives on Young Avenue and knows that one cannot see The Palisades from that vantage point. One has to be to the west of Riverside Avenue and at that point might be able to see The Palisades.  Mr. Murtaugh said that he thinks that the answer “No” to question 14 is the appropriate answer.  Mr. Olver noted that there was a complaint of the loss of a view from Young Avenue when the new owner of the restaurant formerly known as Riverside Four put on a second story; however, a second story is (was) allowed under the old/existing law.    

Chairperson Allen referred to question 19 on page 3 “Is the site located in or substantially contiguous to a Critical Environmental Area [CEA]…..?” and said that the answer given is “No.”  Chairperson Allen questioned if, perhaps, the answer should be changed to “Yes.”  Chairperson Allen said that she would think that the area in question would, at least, border on a CEA.  The Village Engineer said that the area that is proposed to be rezoned is not in the CEA.  Mr. Luntz noted that question 19 says “substantially contiguous” and not just contiguous to a CEA.  Chairperson Allen asked the Village Engineer if he could look into this matter of the proximity of CEA’s to the Harmon Gateway parcels.  Mr. Olver said that the CEA’s in the vicinity of the Harmon Gateway are Croton Point Park, the Croton River corridor and the Hudson River.  Mr. Olver noted that a CEA comes within a block of the area but does not touch it at any point. Mr. Olver said that he would think that the answer to question 19 should remain “No.” Mr. Luntz agreed.    

Chairperson Allen referred to Part 2 of the FEAF “Project Impact and Their Magnitude” and noted that the answer to nearly every question is marked “No.”  Chairperson Allen said that the answer given to question 11 on page 4 “Will proposed action affect aesthetic resources?” is “Yes.” Chairperson Allen noted that under the “Other Impacts” for question 11 it states that, “The visual impacts of development under the proposed zoning amendments are expected to be positive to improve [the] visual character of the village.” Mr. Olver noted that improving the visual character of the Harmon Gateway was exactly the intent of the Village Board in making this amendment and in developing the corresponding design guidelines.  

Chairperson Allen noted that the answer to question 19 “Will proposed action affect the character of the existing community?” is also “Yes.”  Mr. Olver noted that three examples under question 19 are marked as having a “Small to Moderate Impact.” They are:

        *Proposed Action will cause a change in the density of land use.
        *Development will create a demand for additional community services (e.g. schools, police and fire, etc.).
        *Other Impacts:  Development with implementation of zoning amendments will encourage mixed use development and will               increase population and fiscal impact to community, as well as increase tax revenues generated (see EAF Part 3).

Mr. Olver said that he agrees with the “Yes” answer to question 19.  Mr. Olver read aloud question 20, “Is there, or is there likely to be, public controversy related to potential adverse environmental impacts?” and noted that the answer given is “Yes.”  Mr. Olver said that he would agree with this “Yes” answer, to which Mr. Murtaugh said that he thinks that the answers to both questions 19 and 20 should remain “Yes.”  

Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC review the answers given in the CAF.  Mr. Murtaugh noted that the answer given to question C1 on page 2, “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” is “No.”  The Village Engineer explained to the Committee members the difference between the coastal area map, to which this question is referring, and the map designating CEA’s. The Village Engineer noted that the map designating the CEA’s was discussed earlier tonight and includes areas such as Croton Point Park and the Croton River.  The Village Engineer said that the coastal area map is referred to in the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP); this map shows the coastal zone boundary, the limits of which include the entire Village.  Mr. Olver said that the question before the WAC is not whether the subject area is located on the coastal area map.  The question is whether or not the Proposed Action would have an effect on any of the resource areas identified on the coastal area map.  These are:

  • Significant fish or wildlife habitats
  • Scenic resources of local or statewide significance
  • Important agricultural lands
  • Natural protective features in an erosion hazard area
Mr. Olver said that he would think that the answer to question C1 should remain “No,” to which the other members all agreed.

Chairperson Allen asked the WAC members if they are satisfied with the answers given in the CAF, to which the WAC members were satisfied.  Chairperson Allen asked the WAC if, as presented, the WAC finds this project to be consistent with the policies set forth in the LWRP, to which the WAC found this project to be consistent.  Chairperson Allen entertained a motion to make a preliminary recommendation of consistency back to the Village Board.  The motion was made by Mr. Luntz, seconded by Mr. Murtaugh and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.  Mr. Staudt said that, in their memorandum to the Village Board, the WAC should make reference to the LWRP criteria/policy standards that are enumerated in Sec. 225-6J of the Village’s Waterfront Revitalization statute.

3.  Referral from the Village Board Regarding Local Law Introductory No. 6 of 2010 – A Local Law to Revise Chapter 123 of the Code of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson to Permit Bowhunting of White-tailed Deer – Consistency Review

Village Attorney James Staudt told the WAC that this referral application is another legislative action being considered by the Village Board.  The WAC has been forwarded the local law, the FEAF and the CAF. Mr. Staudt said that similarly to the last referral application, the WAC has to make a determination as to the consistency of this law with the Village’s LWRP policies.   

Mr. Olver suggested that he could give the WAC members a brief background of the legislation under consideration.  Mr. Olver said that this legislation is based on a desire to emulate and further the County’s pilot program, which began last season.  The deer population in the Village and the County as a whole is many times greater than the capacity of a forest to withstand.  The result is a dire effect on a forest’s understory.  Natural forest regeneration is not occurring as it should.  Mr. Olver said that this idea of establishing a controlled hunting program has been examined by the Village’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC).  It involves tracts of land where a bowhunter would fire downward from a tree stand for a higher level of accuracy.  Mr. Olver said that this program has been tried successfully in New Jersey and Connecticut; the County had good results last year.  Mr. Olver said that bowhunters would have to pass a test to participate.  Mr. Murtaugh noted that the Village has very restrictive laws on hunting; by relaxing these laws even a little, it would bring the Village slightly closer to what the State already allows.  Mr. Olver said that another point that has been raised is the possibility of a wounded animal escaping after being shot. Mr. Olver said that, as part of the program, there would be a trained tracker on call who would be on the scene to locate the injured animal.

Chairperson Allen pointed out that, as is the case with the steep slopes law and other environmental laws, the law on bowhunting applies to the Village as a whole versus a specific site.  Chairperson Allen asked if there would be a way of limiting or specifying where this law could be applied.  Chairperson Allen said that what the WAC is being asked to do is to find this law consistent with the LWRP without knowing the specifics of every instance to which the law applies. She questioned if, rather than taking this broader approach the WAC should be doing a site-specific review for each of the different terrains where bowhunting might take place.  Mr. Olver said that the question before the WAC tonight is, “Is this [the law] consistent for the whole Village?” Mr. Olver noted that the locations being sought are large private tracts of land that are away from human use.  These tracts of land will vary.  Mr. Olver noted that the agreement of a particular landowner to allow bowhunting on his/her property would not come back to the Village Board.  Mr. Olver said that the question for the WAC to ask is if any such use in any such place would be inconsistent with the policies in the LWRP.  Chairperson Allen said that she does not necessarily think that this [law] is inconsistent. The point she is trying to make has (more) to do with the issue of passing a general law when the law is being applied in a specific way.

Mr. Luntz asked when deer hunting season begins and ends, to which Mr. Olver said that the season runs from mid-October into December. Mr. Luntz noted that the law refers to “white-tailed deer.”  He asked if there were any other species of deer in this area, to which Mr. Murtaugh said that to his knowledge the white-tailed deer is the only variety of deer around.

Mr. Luntz noted that there is no indication in the law as to where the specific locations for the bowhunting would be.  Mr. Luntz asked if someone could “restate” for him what is being proposed for the WAC to be looking at tonight, to which Mr. Olver said that the WAC is supposed to be looking at the potential for inconsistency “anywhere in the Village.”  

Mr. Greenbaum said that he was a resident of the Village many years ago when the Village Board repealed the law permitting bowhunting. Arrows were ending up in gardens and wounded animals were ending up in yards.  It was a public safety issue.  Mr. Greenbaum said that from what he has observed “some bowhunters are responsible and some are not.”  Mr. Greenbaum noted that there are many densely populated areas in the Village.  The law does not specify where the hunting would take place. He would question where bowhunting could safely take place.  Mr. Greenbaum said that although he understands the severity of the situation, he is not in favor of this proposal.  Mr. Greenbaum noted that the answer given to question 18 in Part 2 of the FEAF, “Will Proposed Action affect public health and safety?” is “No.”  Mr. Greenbaum said that he would disagree with that answer.  Mr. Olver told Mr. Greenbaum that what is being proposed is not “open bowhunting.”  This is a very restricted project.  Only select individuals who pass a test are allowed to participate.  Deer hunting locations will not be free of the choosing.  Each individual will be assigned to a pre-determined location and will have to check in with the Police Department.  Mr. Olver noted that some of the remaining large tracts of land in the Village include the Hudson National Golf Course, the Arboretum and the VanCortlandt Manor Historic Site.  

Mr. Greenbaum said that there is no way that he could be convinced that this is a good idea based on past experience.  He would be concerned that someone is going to get hurt.  Mr. Greenbaum said that he realizes that deforestation is a serious problem; he understands the potential for traffic accidents caused by deer crossing the road.  Mr. Greenbaum said that there has to be another way of resolving the deer issue than “people with bows and arrows traipsing on people’s properties.”

Mr. Murtaugh noted that the County has come to the solution that this is the best way to resolve the deer problem.

Mr. Luntz noted that the WAC’s purview is to review the CAF.  

Mr. Greenbaum reiterated that he would think that the answer to question 18 of the FEAF on the matter of public health and safety should be “Yes.”  Mr. Greenbaum noted that there would be potential harm to people who hike should an arrow go astray.  

Chairperson Allen said that the answer to question 20, “Is there, or is there likely to be, public controversy related to potential adverse environmental impacts?” is “No.”  Mr. Murtaugh noted that the answer to this question might be “Yes” if even (only) one voice is raised.  Chairperson Allen said that there may, indeed, be environmental impacts, “if a deer dies in the swamp.”  Mr. Luntz said that, as he sees it, this is not the time to debate the deer law itself; the WAC’s role is to make a recommendation as to whether or not this law is consistent with the Village’s LWRP policies.  Mr. Luntz said that, in so far as Mr. Greenbaum’s earlier comment on question 18 is concerned, he respects Mr. Greenbaum’s “Yes” answer to this question.  Mr. Olver agreed that the answer could be changed to “Yes;” the WAC could, then, say to the Village Board that there is a significant concern about public health and safety that would need to be managed through strict regulations.

Mr. Murtaugh noted that even with the passing of this law it would take several years to “squeeze” the deer population.  Mr. Olver said that an unfortunate alternative solution would be to wait for a harsh winter and watch the deer starve to death.  Other methods to reduce the deer population have been investigated including the contraceptive method.  Mr. Olver said that alternative methods for reducing the deer population have proven to be too expensive or not effective.   

Chairperson Allen said that there is no information in the proposed law about how or where this (bowhunting) would be carried out, to which Mr. Olver responded that it is the individual property owner’s (and not the Village’s) decision as to whether to allow bowhunting for deer on his/her land.

Chairperson Allen said that, perhaps, the WAC does not have enough information to make a decision on consistency with the LWRP.  Mr. Olver said that the only question for the WAC tonight is whether there is a foreseeable significant impact on the designated coastal zone area(s).  Mr. Olver said that these forms, which are being reviewed, “are not sacred in and of themselves.”  They are tools for identifying impacts.  Mr. Olver noted that, so far tonight, the WAC has identified one impact pertaining to public health and safety. The WAC could point this out in their memorandum to the Village Board.   

The Village Engineer said that, in so far as bowhunting is concerned, it would appear that Policy 9 in the LWRP is the critical policy. The Village Engineer read Policy 9 as follows:

“Expand recreational use of fish and wildlife resources in coastal areas by increasing access to existing resources, supplementing existing stocks, and developing new resources. Such efforts shall be made in a manner which ensures the protection of renewable fish and wildlife resources and considers other activities dependent on them.”

The Village Engineer said that the proposed bowhunting law would seem to be directly consistent with this policy (Policy 9).

The Village Engineer noted that a meeting was held with bowhunters; the acreage per hunter is about five acres.

Chairperson Allen said that one of her concerns would be allowing hunting in parks that are heavily used.  For safety reasons, people would undoubtedly not be allowed to use these parks during the deer hunting season.  The Village Engineer suggested that this matter could be brought up when deciding which locations would be picked.  The Village Engineer reiterated that, to him, Policy 9 in the LWRP comes the closest to being the most directly relevant to the law being proposed.  

Chairperson Allen said that she is not certain how to approach this consistency review from the point of view of the LWRP.  She referred to Policy 7 of the LWRP, which reads as follows:

“Significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats will be protected, preserved, and, where practical, restored so as to maintain their viability as habitats.”

Mr. Murtaugh said that, indeed, the goal is to keep the understory of the forests viable for the future.  Chairperson Allen said that this is true, but she would think that there are other ways besides bowhunting for deer.

Mr. Olver said that he would like to make a motion that the WAC find this proposal to be consistent subject to the WAC’s stated concerns regarding public health and safety.

Mr. Staudt said that he would like to meet with the Committee on an attorney-client basis regarding a point of order.  At this juncture, those members of the public present at the meeting left the room.  After the WAC met with the Village Attorney, the members of the public were invited back to the WAC meeting.  

Mr. Olver said that now that the members of the public are back, he would like to restate his motion.  Mr. Olver entertained a motion that the WAC make a preliminary finding of consistency with the LWRP subject to the WAC’s concerns, stated earlier tonight, pertaining to the impact on the safety of residents.  The answer to question #18 should be changed to “Yes,” and there should be wording under “Other Impacts” explaining their (the WAC’s) concern about the safety of Village residents due to the growing density of the population and scarcity of large tracts of land. The WAC’s preliminary determination is (would be) contingent upon the Village’s taking the necessary measures to protect residents. The motion to make a preliminary recommendation of consistency on the proposed bowhunting law was made by Mr. Olver, seconded by Mr. Murtaugh and carried by a vote of 3-2.  Chairperson Allen and WAC member Stuart Greenbaum were opposed.

Chairperson Allen said that she would prepare the memorandum on behalf of the WAC to the Village Board.  

4. Approval of Minutes:

The minutes of the Wednesday, July 7, 2010 WAC meeting were approved subject to a further review by Chairperson Allen.  The motion to approve was made by Mr. Olver, seconded by Mr. Murtaugh and carried by a vote of 3-0-2.  Messrs. Greenbaum and Luntz abstained.

The minutes of the Tuesday, July 13, 2010 WAC meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Murtaugh, seconded by Mr. Greenbaum and carried by a vote of 3-0-2.  Messrs. Luntz and Olver abstained.
 
5. Adjournment:

There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:31    P.M.

Respectfully submitted,



Sylvia Mills
Secretary


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