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Waterfront Advisory Committee Minutes 07/07/2010
WEDNESDAY, July 7, 2010

A meeting of the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 in the Municipal Building.

MEMBERS PRESENT:        Fran Allen
                                Charles Kane (for S. Greenbaum)
                                Richard Olver, Trustee
                                Ian Murtaugh, Trustee

ABSENT:                 Robert Luntz

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

1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 8:05 P.M. by Chairperson Fran Allen.  

Mr. Kane stated that he is attending the meeting in place of Mr. Greenbaum.

2.  Referral from the Village Board for a Recommendation on the Proposed Amendments to
Chapter 120 of the Village Code, Excavation, Filling and Topsoil Removal – Consistency Review.

Fran Allen gave a brief explanation of this proposed Local Law.  She stated that it has been reviewed by the Planning Board and is before the Village Board; the Planning Board and the staff are the only ones who have looked and commented on it; Village Engineer O’Connor filled out the coastal assessment form and when the Village Board gets comments back, they will call for a public hearing.  Ms. Allen stated that this meeting is about approving a law rather than an action on a piece of property or activity; the only time this has been done recently is the Harmon revitalization.  Trustee Murtaugh replied that this is why parts of the Coastal Assessment is not applicable; this is just tightening up the steep slopes and excavation policies of the Village.  Engineer O’Connor added that the Village engaged consultants to look at all Village environmental laws and this is the last law under review.  Trustee Murtaugh stated that they met with the consultants about a month ago and this is the last portion under their original task to update the laws.  Fran Allen stated that the Coastal Assessment form is fairly proforma because it is just about a law, not a particular project; the implications for this law is that suggestions can be made if it is appropriate or not; anybody should do that including the WAC.  She added that the Planning Board did a fairly detailed analysis of the law, some of which got into the new law.  Engineer O’Connor stated that the consultants drafted the law, it was reviewed by staff a few times, suggestions were made and the consultants reviewed again and made some changes.  Fran Allen stated that just one or two changes suggested by the Planning Board were included, but she is pleased top soil removal is included.  M. Allen suggested adding “removal of trees, topsoil or other material”; one discussion by the Planning Board was the affect of tree roots leaving organic materials in the ground and sinkholes creating problems.  Trustee Murtaugh stated that in section C, add the words “Tree and remaining roots”.  Mr. Kane stated that the first part of the paragraph, last sentence says “legislative intent”; trees should be part of that sentence.  Ms. Allen suggested that on page 2, item B, replace “surrounding” with “other properties”.  Trustee Olver suggested “surrounding or other property”.  Ms. Allen stated that under “Definitions–excavations” to add “tree cutting”.  Mr. Kane stated that the existing description seems weak.  Engineer O’Connor replied that not all excavations are regulated; some minor excavations cannot be regulated and that the line is drawn later in the law. Ms. Allen suggested that under Permit, add “filling” for “grading”.  Engineer O’Connor stated that that would be classified as excavation.  Ms. Allen replied that if left, one could make the assumption that grading does not need a permit.  Trustee Murtaugh added that excavation means grading in one direction and filling is graded in another direction; we should not get hung up on minute points; he has no problem putting in the word “grading”.  

Trustee Olver stated that this has already been through the Planning Board and the WAC is not the Planning Board.  Fran Allen replied that a lot of this was carried forward, but much did not come into the draft.  Trustee Olver stated that our mission is to assure consistency with the coastal plan.  Fran Allen stated that something has happened between the Planning Board and this document.  Trustee Olver added that we are not a substitute for the Planning Board.  Fran Allen stated that this Board does certainly have comments on this and cannot rubber stamp a document; it should be brought forward so the Village Board and the public have access to it; we can say we have received a proposed law that does not reflect the process as intended when the Planning Board forwarded massive amounts of changes.  Trustee Olver questioned if the consultants have an obligation to take all the Planning Board’s suggestions into account.  Engineer O’Connor replied that the Planning Board is directed to make comments to the Village Board.  Fran Allen added that the WAC role is to make recommendations to the Village Board. Trustee Olver suggested saying that the WAC has taken notice of the Planning Board recommendations and many recommendations have not been taken into account; when it comes back, the WAC can look at the consistency of the law in relation to the coastal management plan.  Trustee Olver added he would like each group to play its proper role; the WAC role is to not do the job of the Planning Board.  Fran Allen stated that she is happy to send a memo from the WAC that the WAC has preliminarily reviewed the draft and a preponderance of the Planning Board’s recommendations have not been taken into account and it warrants further review; this leaves the Village Board to take the comments better into account; the comments give a finer granuality to the substance of the law.  Trustee Olver added that the next step is for more of the suggestions to be put into the draft.  Engineer O’Connor suggested that the consultants can write a response to each of the Planning Board’s recommendations and send it to the Village Board and explain why they were not included in the Local Law draft.  Mr. Kane said that it is important to hear Fran Allen whose experience is golden and she has been on the Planning Board for many years.  Ms. Allen stated that she feels it was premature to send this to the WAC; the Village Board will not have the benefit of the comments.  Trustee Olver replied that he and Trustee Murtaugh will report back to their colleagues that the WAC members do not see consistency issues, but have discomfort that a number of recommendations of the Planning Board were not taken into account.  Fran Allen stated that the consistency issues will come later when the law is applied to an action.  Trustee Olver added that the other course of action is to say that the Planning Board has a set of actions that they should review and the WAC does not see consistency issues, but are willing to halt the process.  Fran Allen stated that if left as it is, the problem is there would be big consistency issues if applied to a particular project.  Trustee Olver stated that they can say in a memo that without adequately reflecting Planning Board comments, the law would create potential consistency issues.  Ms. Allen stated that trees were left as an option for the Village Engineer to do as he likes which could be huge trouble.  Trustee Murtaugh stated that we have an existing law in place and are protected; by cycling it back, the Village is not unprotected; further review is in order to make as perfect as possible.  Fran Allen stated that the Planning Board saw potential problems.  Trustee Murtaugh stated that the Planning Board made suggestions and the consultants made changes, but the new draft was not sent back to the Planning Board.  Trustee Olver added that the WAC is not prepared to move forward with the draft because of potential problems.  Trustee Murtaugh asked if the Planning Board wants to see if the changes they suggested were put in.  Engineer O’Connor clarified that the Planning Board has sent recommendations to the Village Board and that the Village Board is the decision maker as to whether the consultant made the changes as recommended by the Planning Board.  Trustee Olver responded that there are two members of the Village Board here and Ms. Allen raises the questions now at this stage rather than at the public hearing; slowing down the process will bring about a better law.  Ms. Allen stated that it deserves a better look.  Mr. Kane stated that the gaps should be addressed.  Ms. Allen stated that the next step is to write to the Village Board that the document needs to be reworked to include Planning Board comments.  Trustee Olver suggested that the memo could say from a WAC prospective that we don’t believe this draft is ready for our review; that the Planning Board comments were not taken fully into account in the draft and that the legislation as drafted will result in inconsistencies of projects; further work should be done to strengthen the draft as recommended by the Planning Board; it is then up to the Planning Board to review the Local Law.  Village Engineer O’Connor stated that we may need to have the attorney and the consultants go to a Planning Board meeting and explain why their recommendations were not included.  Mr. Kane stated that he agrees that Lester Steinman should be there.  Ms. Allen stated that this law was not ready to be reviewed.

3. Approval of Minutes:

The WAC meeting held on September 2, 2009 was approved by a vote of 3-0.

The WAC meeting held on December 15, 2009 was approved by a vote of 3-0.

The WAC meeting held on March 10, 2010 was approved by a vote of 3-0.
5. Adjournment:

There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned at   8:45 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis A. Bradbury            
Phyllis A. Bradbury, Secretary

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