Brian Pugh: Making Progress on a Green Agenda for Croton

To The Editor:

 

The Village of Croton’s Board of Trustees reviewed various proposed environmental projects in the Village with Lindsay Audin, Sustainability Committee Chair, and Frank Balbi, Superintendent of the Dept. of Public Works.  These promising initiatives include a pilot food scraps recycling program, a community solar array, an electric vehicle charging station and adding electric vehicles to the Village fleet.

 

I look forward to moving forward on new environmental initiatives for our Village. Already, the Village of Croton was designated as a Climate Smart Community by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

 

In the last 12 months, the Village developed a living lighting laboratory in Village hall; enrolled in the 100% green option of the Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation program (which has been able to consistently beat the average price of power from Con Edison); launched a new Solarize campaign in March that resulted in dozens of new solar energy installations in our community; and established an energy benchmarking policy in August.

 

Many of these projects are grant-funded. In addition, they have the potential to produce long-term savings by reducing energy consumption and reducing the tipping fees for the disposal of solid waste.

 

As always, the Board’s Democratic majority is committed to pursuing environmental progress in a manner that is also economically sound and that provides tangible benefits to our community.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh

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Ann Gallelli: Keeping You Informed

To the Editor,ann2016
Since last December, the Board of Trustees, along with Village management, has made a concerted effort to provide more and better communications with Village residents.
Last week, the Village unveiled a new, updated website. From this site, residents can more easily access online forms, news of job openings, the latest Newsletter, and recent news about Village government matters. A new feature is the inclusion of quarterly reports from every Village Department. Simply click on the department and select “Quarterly Reports” to find the report you are interested in. Residents are all urged to sign up for Emergency Alerts from the Village and to receive meeting agendas, field closings, recreation announcements, etc. All of these can easily be done from the front page of the new website.
In addition to the new website and addition of quarterly department reports, we have made efforts to expand our social media presence on both Facebook and Twitter. Since May, Facebook followers have increased by about 20%.
The Village Newsletter is also back to being monthly after a two-year hiatus and a new weekly calendar of events is put out each week to keep residents abreast of happenings around Croton. There are also numerous opportunities for you to provide comments and input from the site.
Informed and engaged residents are the goal for all these improvements. I urge everyone to take advantage of the information sources going forward.
Ann Gallelli

Andy Simmons: Creating More Housing Options for Our Community

To the editor,simmons

A number of months ago, the village board convened a well-attended meeting on housing in Croton. I sat next to a young single mother who shared with us her love for Croton. But she had a problem: her apartment was too small, and she was having trouble finding a larger place in the village that she could afford. It’s not surprising. According to wallethub.com, New York State is ranked 44th in housing cost. No wonder the state is ranked 47th in millennial homeownership. But this is not solely a problem for young families. Lack of affordable apartments impacts seniors who no longer want the hassle of owning a house but still wish to call Croton home. It is for these reasons that I support expanding housing in the area. Now, by no means am I talking about high rises or putting up Co-op City North. I favor small, discreet housing that conforms with the natural beauty of the area. What drew many of us to Croton was its economic diversity and the fact that you didn’t need to be wealthy to enjoy all that our wonderful community has to offer. But for Croton to continue that way, we must recognize the needs of seniors and people like the woman I met at that meeting. We should also welcome how a small infusion of housing and tenants will help local businesses and our tax base.

Andy Simmons, Croton-on-Hudson

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.

 

 

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