Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 422

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 422nd installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas –   October 22, 2018

Work Session of the Village Board

7: 30 p.m.

 (Open to Public and Televised

 

 

 

    1. Discussion with Alan Kassay of PKF O’Connor Davies regarding the 2017-18 Village Audit and financial statements.  Mr. Kassay will review with the Board his firm’s review and audit of the financial statements for the Fiscal Year 2017/2018 ending on May 31, 2018.  Among the highlights called out in the report was that assets exceed liabilities, the Village issued $646,434 in new Bond Anticipation Notes and retired $660,068,  the Village issued 1,616,700 in serial bonds and retired $2,206,780, the total debt was reduced by $590,000.
    2. Discussion with Beth Ferguson of Capital Markets Advisors regarding the Village’s credit ratings.  No backup documents are provided for this discussion.

 

  • Update from Lindsay Audin, Sustainability Committee Chair, on various proposed environmental projects in the Village.  Mr. Audin will discuss progress on several ongoing projects regarding energy and the environment as well as propose some possible new initiatives.
  • Discussion on snow removal in the Upper Village business district.  As snow removal in the Upper Village is sometimes difficult for both businesses and the DPW, due to cars, time of day, amount of snow, places to put the snow, etc., the Board will review the current regulations and practices for this.
  • Discussion on future mailings of the Village Newsletter.  The Newsletter is currently mailed to 3000+ addresses.  It is also available from the Village’s website and also emailed to subscribers.  The Board will discuss whether direct mailings should continue to all addresses or just to those who specifically asked for it to be mailed.
  • Discussion on overtime costs for the Booster Club event held at Senasqua on September 21, 2018.  The Croton Booster Club recently held an event at Senasqua for which they incurred $837.73 in expenses owed to the Village for overtime.  Although they have agreed to pay this amount, they have asked that the Board consider covering some of the cost based on their assessment of it as community-wide event attended by 1000+ people and that they are a non-profit group.

 

 

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Brian Pugh: Options for the Reusable Bag Initiative

To the Editor:pugh2016
As regular readers of the Gazette know, the Village of Croton is contemplating a reusable bag policy in response to a petition from local residents earlier this year. At this time, we are reviewing two options: 1) a ban on plastic bags and a mandatory fee for paper bags modeled on the local law adopted in New Castle or 2) a fee on both kinds of bags modeled on the local law adopted in Bedford. To be clear, the Board of Trustees has not formally adopted either policy at this time.
The first option, a ban on plastic bags with a fee on paper ones, was the policy requested in the petition from Village residents. The second option, a fee on paper and plastic bags, is the policy preferred by the Food Industry Alliance, a trade group representing the grocery industry, of which ShopRite is a member.
Critically, FIA has sued other communities that have adopted ban laws. Currently, this remains an area of unsettled law. Based on the experience of other communities that have defended such suits, the legal bills could easily approach or exceed $100,000. Further, the course of a lawsuit is far from certain: a few years ago, the Village, as a respondent, successfully defended itself against Article 78 litigation but at the price of $432,000. As an unbudgeted expense, these legal fees would have to be taken directly from our Village’s contingency fund.
It’s also unclear whether paying to defend such a lawsuit would be the most efficient use of Village resources. For a fraction of the estimated cost of defending a lawsuit, around $30,000, the Village could easily buy more than 10 reusable bags at retail prices for each of the 3,077 households in our Village and distribute them for free.
However, legislative cooperation rather than legal conflict may achieve our environmental aims at a lower cost to the community. It has been intimated to the Village that the FIA is willing to work with the Village regarding a law that imposed a fee on both plastic and paper. This could include the distribution of free reusable bags to the community by FIA member merchants in advance of the effective date of such a fee/fee law.
Several weeks ago, the Village Board directed the Village Attorney to begin preparation of an Environmental Assessment Form, required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for Option 1–a proposed ban on plastic bags and a fee on paper bags. I described the key features of this legislation in a September 21, 2018 letter to the Gazette.
At Monday’s meeting, the Village Board of Trustees considered Option 2 to place a fee on single-use bags (both plastic AND paper). In a 3-2 vote, we referred it to the Waterfront Advisory Council as a preliminary step under the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) process. This was not a final vote on a policy, but rather one part of a longer process of deliberation by the Village Board.
This proposed legislation would impose a fee of 20 cents on both paper and plastic single-use bags over 5,000 square feet in space (covering ShopRite and CVS). It would also provide some common sense exemptions from this fee for items including fruits, meats, unwrapped prepared goods, etc.
In addition, Customers using Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would be exempt from paying a fee for single-use bags.
The proposed legislation would establish a Reusable Bag Task Force. If the Reusable Bag Task Force finds that single-use carryout bag use has not decreased among the covered stores by 50%, then the Village Board may consider one or more of the following revisions to this chapter: an increase in the fee, an outright ban on single- use plastic bags and expansion of the definition of covered stores to include additional establishments.
Logic and empirical data suggests that few people will pay a fee of 20 cents to purchase a plastic bag for their groceries. The overwhelming majority will either choose a reusable bag (which would pay for itself after just a few visits to the store) or a paper bag.
The NYS Plastic Bag Task Force, reports that on “an international level, bag fees have resulted in a reduction in single-use plastic bag use ranging from 50%-90%.” For comparison, the Los Angeles County ban on single-use plastic bags with a 10-cent fee on recyclable paper bags resulted in a 94% reduction in single-use bag use. That is to say a properly designed policy charging fees for both paper and plastic can achieve results similar to an outright ban.
The Board sincerely appreciates the passion and effort of the grassroots activists that have brought forward the issue of single-use bags. I, and the rest the Board, will do our best to find an outcome that best serves the public interest.
Currently, both these proposed policies, a ban on plastic and a fee for paper bags and fee on both paper and plastic, will continue through the environmental review process. The Board of Trustees will continue to consider both these policies, seeking an amicable outcome that will balance the public interest in protecting the environment with the Board’s responsibility for fiscal stewardship.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 421

ann2016Dear neighbor,

Here is the 421st installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings.  I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you.  If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli

 

 

 

Decoding Village Agendas –  October 15, 2018

Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees

 

8:00 pm

(Open to Public  – Televised)

 

 

 

PRESENTATION/OTHER:

a.    Dan Welsh, Director of Westchester Power, to present an update on the Community Choice Aggregation program.

 

  1. Review of the Environment Assessment Form Part II and the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program policies by theVillage Board to determine consistency related to Introductory Local Law No. 9 on Affordable Housing. As Lead Agency on this proposed local law, the Village Board is required to make a Determination of Consistency with the Village’s adopted LWRP.  They will review the applicable policies.

 

  1. Review of the Environment Assessment Form Part II and the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program policies by theVillage Board to determine consistency related to a amended special permit application by Hudson National Golf Course at 40 Arrowcrest Drive.   As Lead Agency on this amended special permit, the Village Board is required to make a Determination of Consistency with the Village’s adopted LWRP.  They will review the applicable policies.  The proposed amendment is for the construction of a new caddy and cart building on the golf course property.

 

CORRESPONDENCE:

  1. Email from Fire Council Secretary John Munson regarding Fire Department membership changes.   As required, the Fire Council is notifying the Village of an new member and the resignation of another member due to moving away.
b.     Letter from Timothy Idoni, Westchester County Clerk, regarding increased access to weekly foreclosure reports available to municipalities.  Mr. Idoni notes that foreclosures are down in Westchester.  His office is now providing foreclosure reports to municipalities that wish to receive them.

  1. Letter from Chris Kehoe, Deputy Planning Director for the Town of Cortlandt, regarding a proposed day care center to be located at 52 Scenic Drive.  The proposed day care center location was formerly a synagogue and also a child care center. It would accommodate between 60 – 70 children.
  1. Letter from Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, announcing October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Consider scheduling a public hearing for Monday, November 5, at 8 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider the amended special use permit application of Hudson National Golf Club, 40 Arrowcrest Drive.   The amended special permit is for a new building for accommodating caddies and golf carts on the Golf Course property. It requires a public hearing.
  2. Consider scheduling a public hearing for Monday, November 5, at 8 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building to consider adoption of Local Law Introductory No. 9 of 2018 to amend the Zoning Code of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson to regulate affordable housing.   The proposed law has been under discussion by several Village Board’s over several years.  It applies to new residential development of 10 units or more, requiring 10% set aside for an affordable unit.  It defines affordability within US Department of Housing and Urban Development Guidelines.  It also sets minimum floor area and occupancy standards.
  1. Consider declaring Local Law Introductory 10 of 2018, amending the Code of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson to place a fee on single-use bags, to be an Unlisted action, declaring itself Lead Agent for NYS SEQRA purposes, issuing the EAF and CAF and referring the Draft Law, EAF and CAF to the Waterfront Advisory Committee for review and recommendations. The proposed law calls for a .20 cent fee on both paper and single-use plastic bags at local stores with more than 5,000 square feet.  It also calls for creation of a local Reusable Bag Task Force to monitor it and make recommendations for changes.  The proposed law calls for at least 50% reduction of the use of single-use carryout bags within 1 year of  its effective date, with consideration of a total ban being revisited at that time.  This proposed law would not require a SEQRA review.  An alternative law, previously introduced, banning single-use bags and requiring a fee for paper is also under consideration. The Board is continuing with the development of the SEQRA documentation of this first law which must be completed before further action could be taken on it.

 

 
  1. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to sign an agreement with Penflex, Inc. to administer the Fire Department Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) at an estimated cost of $6,450.00 for the period beginning November 1, 2018, until October 31, 2019.   Penflex has been providing this administrative service since 2003 on an annual contract basis.

 

  1. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to sign the proposal from WSP Sells of Briarcliff Manor, NY, in an amount not to exceed $37,20.00 for engineering services related to the relining of water mains throughout the Village.  Work on relining  water mains continues with plans/designs being developed for the streets including Cleveland, Radnor, Old Post Rd. North, Stevenson Place and Mount Green Road.

 

  1. Consider declaring Phase II of the Senasqua Walkway project to be an Unlisted Action under SEQRA, declaring itself lead agency under SEQRA and authorizing the Village Manager to submit the application package to the New York State DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.   In completing the walkway along the waterfront in the vicinity of Senasqua Park, this step is required as part of getting regulatory approval from various state and federal agencies.

 

  1. Consider authorizing the Village Manager to sign Change Order #1 for the High Street & Hillside Avenue Stormwater Improvement Project in the amount of $16,500.00 for additional milling and paving services.   WD Contracting was awarded a contract in March 2018 for similar work.  The Village would like them to perform additional work in the areas identified above.

 

  1. Consider adoption of a Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy in accordance with New York State Law.  The Village’s Employee Manual adopted in 2016 would be updated with the State’s newly updated Sexual Harassment policy.

 

  1. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2018-19 General Fund Budget in the amount of $766.42 for monies received for parking meter supplies.  This reflects a reimbursement from Historic Hudson Valley for parking sign expenses related to the Blaze.

 

 

  1. Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to make an inter-fund transfer in the amount of $26,984.13 for Police Department expenses.  The Police Department is required to meet State mandates regarding providing a safe and secure room for adolescent offenders including a separate entrance.  This allocation will pay for the necessary modifications.

Brian Pugh: Moving forward on the Model Housing Ordinance

To The Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped
The Village of Croton’s Board of Trustees took its first step at last Monday’s meeting towards the adoption of a proposed Local Law on affordable housing by referring the draft law to the the appropriate committees for review. The proposed law is based on the model housing law promulgated by Westchester County and adopted in one form or another by communities from Ardsley to Yorktown.
The referral of the draft law to the committees follows several televised Work Sessions by the Board of Trustees on this topic and a June 13, 2018 public workshop on housing moderated by facilitators from Pace University.
The key feature of the proposed law is a requirement that for all residential developments of ten (10) or more units created by subdivision or site plan approval, no less than 10% of the total number of units must be created as units to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH).
A for-purchase housing unit is one that is affordable to a household whose income does not exceed 80% of the area median income (AMI) for Westchester as defined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A rental unit is one that is affordable to a household whose income does not exceed 60% AMI and for which the rent and utilities, does not exceed 30% of the tenant’s income.
For example: according to HUD the AMI for a 1-person household is $82,000 annually–therefore to qualify for a AFFH unit under the proposed law, a single individual (no partner or children) buyer could earn no more than $65,600 annually and a renter could earn no more than $49,200. For a 4-person household, the maximum income would be $93,650 for buying a unit and $70,250 for renting a unit.
There is an acute local need for affordable housing. According to the Westchester/Putnam United Way, 32% of all Crotonites and 49% of all renters in the Village are housing burdened (spending more than 30% of their income on housing). Just imagine the economic benefit to our community if these families could redirect a portion of that money they would have otherwise spent on rent towards local businesses or investing in their children’s education.
At a time when village rental vacancy rates are at 2% (far below the county or state average), according to census data, and rents continue to rise, affordable housing is a sorely needed in our community. Our Village’s Comprehensive Plan highlighted the need to diversify housing options to meet the needs of a changing population in our Village. I am glad that we are at moving forward on this issue.

Brian Pugh: Supporting Small Business

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped
I am a firm believer that a rising tide is needed to lift all boats, which is why I had the Village of Croton partner with the US Small Business Administration to hold a free seminar for local entrepreneurs at the Croton Yacht Club last Wednesday.
US SBA offers loan guarantees to support financing for small business. The federal agency also provides grant money to not-for profit small business centers that employ professional business advisors that help small business owners with expert advice.
SBA supports several small business resource centers like those in attendance on Wednesday– such as the Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Westchester Country and SCORE. Select financial institutions were also in attendance. These organizations utilize SBA’s loan guarantee to make small business loans that don’t conform to their typical underwriting criteria.
At the SBA seminar, these lenders explained to prospective businesses how to position themselves to win the confidence of lenders and investors and secure the money they need to expand.
I am glad that the SBA is offering our local businesses and entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Small business creates jobs, builds local wealth and grows our tax base.
This SBA seminar was one step towards fostering innovation and investment. Therefore, as always, I encourage those with suggestions about how to further local economic growth and wealth creation by writing me at: bpugh@crotononhudson-ny.gov
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 420

Dear neighbor:

Here is the 420th installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings. I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you. If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.

Ann Gallelli
Decoding Village Agendas – October 1, 2018

Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees
8:00 pm

(Open to Public – Televised)
PUBLIC HEARING;

Public Hearing on renewing the special use permit for the telecommunications tower at 26 Veterans Plaza. The original permit was granted in 2008, renewed again in 2013,and would now continue another 5 years to 2023.

Public Hearing on adopting Local Law Introductory No. 8 to amend Chapter 123 of the Village Code, Firearms. The law currently prohibits any firearm being discharged in the Village. The revised law would eliminate firearms instructional facilities in the Village. It would not apply to law enforcement training. It also does not apply to the discharge of a firearm in the defense of person.
CORRESPONDENCE:

Email from Dan Osborne, President of the Croton-Harmon Tigers Booster Club, regarding the cost of overtime at the September 21st homecoming rally. Mr. Osborne is requesting that the Village cover some of the overtime costs for this event because it was a community-wide event attended by Village youth and parents and the Booster Club is a non-profit that serves the community. The overtime bill was in the amount of #837.73.

PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS:

Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute a contract with the Houston-Galveston Area Council to participate in their cooperative purchasing program. This permits the Village to participate in a cooperative purchasing program that applies mainly to DPW items.

Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an agreement with Student Assistance Services Corporation for the period beginning September 30, 2018 until September 29,2019, to provide support to the Croton Coalition for an amouny not to exceed $9,560.00. This is an annual contract that allows the Coalition to perform their services. It is funded by a federal grant which is managed by the Village.

Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to issue a tax refund ti the property owner if 26 Mount Green Road as a result of a tx grievance filed and settled in the State Supreme Court. The SCAR refund is in the amount of $941.88.

Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to amend the 2018-19 General Fund Budget in the amount of $5,515.00 for monies received for insurance recovery. This involved repairs to a DPW vehivle involved in a one–vehicle accident.

Consider authorizing the Village Treasurer to make an interfund transfer in the General Fund un the amount of $2,400.00 for the purpose of covering training costs for the Fire Department. This money was allocated in the Budget but is held in the Contingency Fund for payment of Fire Department needs as previously approved.

Consider declaring the Board of Trustees to be Lead Agency under SEQRA for the amended special use permit application for Hudson National Golf Club and refer such application to the Waterfront Advisory Committee. This starts the process for an amendment to the Club’s permit allowing them to relocate their caddy facilities on their property.

Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an agreement with the Croton Caring Committee to provide compensation in the amount of $7,030.00 a year for services provided to the community for the period beginning June 1, 2019 and ending May 31,2019. The Village would continue to help the Caring Committee defray some of their costs for services such as driving patients to appointments, providing breakfasts and luncheons for isolated and lonely residents, and other services for people in need.

Consider authorizing the Village Manager to execute an agreement with Peter Gisolfi Associates of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, for the purposes of creating a concept design for the renovation and alteration of the Municipal Building at an amount not to exceed $4,000.00. The Gisolfi firm has previously done design work for the Municipal Building including for the Police Dept. The plans were not implemented but the Village would like to move ahead at this time.

Consider declaring Local Law Introductory No.9 of 2018, amending the Zoning Code of the Village of Croton-om-Hudson, New York, to be a Type 1 action, declaring itself Lead Agency for NYS SEQRA purposes, issuing an EAF and CAF, referring the draft law to the Village Planning Board for a report and referring the Draft Law, EAF and CAF to the Waterfront Advisory Committee and Westchester County Board/Planning Department for review and recommendations. This would take the initial steps to amend the code to include an Affordable Housing requirement for developments of ten units or more. It would require 10% minimum be created as AFFH units. For 10-14 units,one AFFH unit would be required; for 15 -24 units, two AFFH would be required; and then continuing in like increments.

Brian Pugh: How can we make our streets more safe?

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped
In 2016, the Village of Croton, inspired by a grassroots community safety effort, launched the Slow Down Croton initiative to increase safety for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
This year, we have augmented this effort with the addition of a 25 MPH speed zone on sections of Cleveland Drive, Grand Street and Old Post Road–which we established in August. In addition, the Village deployed five additional speed signs earlier this month.
Speed is a factor in 1 in 5 car accidents that result in injury or death, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Speed reduces the time that a driver has to react, increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle and increases the lethality of crashes dramatically.
The new speed zone and the new speed signs are just one step in a process. Our Village Board will continue to work with the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee, the Police Department, School District and members of the community to make our streets safer for all.
We ask for public cooperation as we work toward a safer community. For any suggestions you may have, please write to the Board of Trustees: boardoftrustees@crotononhudson-ny.gov

Brian Pugh
Brian Pugh

Amy Attias: Celebrate Diversity Saturday!

To the editor:Sep. 14th LTEs -- AA

This Saturday, September 29th, the Village of Croton will be celebrating its first Multicultural Festival, highlighting just a few of the different cultures in our beautiful Crazy Quilt. In this time of great divisiveness, where hate has been given permission to openly be voiced, every step we can come closer to one another is the best antidote. Love does indeed counteract fear and hate, and this small festival is our first contribution.

Sharing food, music, and dance from other cultures helps us know one another. Try a hula hoop, dance to African drumbeats, listen to the tap of Irish dancers, and just enjoy your neighbors. There will be live music, dance demonstrations, community art projects, yoga, stories for children, food trucks and local food and dessert vendors, as well as a brewery from Ossining. Browse beautiful photographs, paper cuttings, and other crafts.

This is not a political event. This is a celebration of Us. There is something for everyone. Come join us as we remember that with our differences, we are indeed One World.

The event takes place at Senasqua Park, on Elliott Way, from 12 til 4, with a raindate of Sunday, Septemgber 30. Hope to see you there!

Amy Attias, Trustee, Croton on Hudson

Ann Gallelli: Eye on the Hudson

To the Editor,ann2016
As many of you are aware, the Hudson River is threatened by two separate actions being undertaken by federal agencies – the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers.
In 2017, the Coast Guard entertained a change in regulations that would permit up to 49 additional barge anchorages in the area between the GW Bridge and Kingston. In response to a huge outcry, and receiving 10,000+ comments, they formed a committee, Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA), to consider the responses.
The committee held 2 workshops in different geographic areas and was made of up of professionals in the maritime industry, local representatives of municipalities along the Hudson River, fishermen, recreational boaters, and environmental experts such a Riverkeeper. I was one of the invited attendees.
The result is the formation of another committee, the Hudson River Safety, Navigation & Operations Committee (HRSNOC). This committee will have its first meeting on October 2 to address the previously identified facets of recreational and commercial safety on the river. I expect to attend this meeting and hope to raise issues of scenic, environmental and economic relevance to communities like Croton who have large investments in their riverfront.
More recently, The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) has completed a draft of alternative approaches to protecting the coastline from storm surges. It is called the NY-NJ Storm Surge Protection Program and is in response to Hurricane Sandy damage in 2012. The approaches range from actual barriers closing off NY harbor and flow to the Hudson River to storm-hardening vulnerable coastal areas.
While storm surges are definitely something to be addressed there are reasons to be very careful about the approach selected. Riverkeeper warns of barriers threatening the actual life of the river as far north as Troy in so far as changing currents and flows affect its ecology, habitats, breeding areas, etc. Other approaches suggested may have effects on one or more coastal communities. Each needs to be studied carefully. ACOE proposes only to further study the few it considers “most viable”. Further the ACOE proposals would not be required to be measured against the federal Coastal Zone Management standards.
This effectively cuts off inputs from Villages like Croton that specifically adopted a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program so we could have such input. In fact, it is our LWRP that gave us standing in the previously mentioned Anchorage discussion and was a decisive factor in defeating the Millennium Pipeline of prior years.
On the ACOE proposal, the Village has adopted a resolution supporting a complete and thorough study of all the options as well as including the Coastal Zone Management standards for review purposes. The comment period has been extended to Nov. 5. It is unclear what will come next but the Village has a clear interest in participating in this review and we will be staying abreast of the developments ahead.
Ann Gallelli

Brian Pugh: Path Forward On The Reusable Bag Initiative

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped
Following the submission of a petition with over 1,000 signatures in support of a “Reusable Bag Initiative”, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton began considering the adoption of a new local law governing single-use shopping bags. Because of the potential impact on residents, businesses and our environment, and the attendant legal consequences, the Board must move deliberately.
To date, the bag issue has been addressed at Regular Board of Trustees Meetings on May 9th, July 23rd, September 4rd and Work Sessions on June 11th, August 13th, and September 12th.
The community group that petitioned the Board has proposed that the Village adopt a local law modeled on the one enacted in the Town of New Castle. The New Castle law bans single-use plastic bags in all stores and requires that certain stores (e.g. supermarkets and pharmacies) collect a fee on paper bags. The petitioners cite an array of jurisdictions that have banned plastic bags and report by the U.N. calling on governments to consider banning or taxing single-use bags or food containers to stem a tide of plastic-related pollution.
The Food Industry Alliance, a trade group representing supermarkets, has made its position very clear. FIA strongly opposes a ban on single-use plastic bags and instead proffers a fee on both plastic and paper bags. FIA cites the Town of Bedford and Suffolk County as examples of communities that have followed this approach.
The discussion regarding different policy proposals to shift away from single-use plastic bags has environmental consequences. There is also the potential of fiscal repercussions for property taxpayers.
The Village of Hastings-on-Hudson was sued by the Food Industry Alliance in October 2014 over the plastic bag ban that they had adopted in June of that year. The FIA argued the matter required full review under New York’s State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act because they claim that an increase in the use of paper bags could have a greater negative impact on the environment.
Hastings spent close to $50,000 on the litigation before it was dismissed for procedural reasons (the FIA member store in Hastings, an A&P, went out of business following the unrelated bankruptcy of the A&P chain). If our Village were to prevail in a potential lawsuit, it’s possible a plaintiff would appeal, which could easily cost another $50,000, for total legal fees of $100,00 or more. For perspective, the 2017 tax cap was approximately $162,000.
As part of the legislative process, the Village will complete a review of the proposed local law under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The first step is the preparation of a draft Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) by the Village Attorney, which will take several weeks.
In the meantime, I ask that members of the public with information they think is relevant to this discussion to forward it to me at bpugh@crotononhudson-ny.gov with “Plastic Bags” in the subject line.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh