Brian Pugh: Balancing Community Needs & Environmental Protection With Smart Growth

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped
The proliferation of suburban sprawl has harmed the quality of life in Westchester County and the health of our environment with residents burning time and gasoline as they sit in traffic on the way to complete their errands. With smart land use policies allow for the construction of multifamily and mixed use buildings like those embedded in draft Local Laws 9 and 10, which are before the Village of Croton’s Board of Trustees, we can help reverse this trend, strengthen our communities, build our local economy and protect our environment.
Every building has an environmental impact. The key is to make sure that new construction is done near existing infrastructure, especially transportation, and that space is used efficiently. With vacancy rates hovering around 1%, there’s an acute demand for additional housing–both affordable and market-rate. Blocking new homes and businesses and pushing new construction to more distant communities only exacerbates the problem of suburban sprawl.
“Sprawl is one of the most important issues facing society today; indeed many of our social problems are connected to our pattern of development..By dispersing our population further away from traditional centers, we are only diluting the tax base and placing an increased burden on taxpayers,” explains Audubon New York in its “Smart Growth Overview.”
At the November 6th Public Hearing, Frank Fish, the Village’s planning consultant reviewed the recommended zoning changes in proposed local laws number 9 & 10 for Municipal Place and North Riverside Avenue for consistency with the US EPA’s smart growth principles: 1) Mix land uses; 2) Take advantage of compact building design; 3) Create a range of housing opportunities and choices; 4) Create walkable neighborhoods; 5) Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place; 6) Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas; 7) Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities; 8) Provide a variety of transportation choices; 9) Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective; 10) Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.
The proposed local laws are consistent with the EPA’s smart growth principles. Draft Local Laws 9 and 10 allow for mixed use, multifamily construction (not to exceed 35 ft. in height) in an existing commercial corridor and near major transportation routes (Route 9, Metro North and several Bee Line stops). They proposed local laws will require the addition of sidewalks and civic space at Municipal Place. The recommendations were developed in a highly public process that featured, to date, two public workshops and two public hearings.
Further, each individual proposed buildings under the proposed local laws will have to go through the usual approval process. That means a public review by the Planning Board that’s legally required to include, among other things, an examination of adequacy of water supply and sewage disposal facilities, preservation of scenic views and vistas, traffic safety and convenient pedestrian access to the site and to adjacent streets.
The Board of Trustees is still reviewing the proposed local laws. Important issues have been raised in the public hearings that we will do our best to address. The details matter and so does the overall plan–allowing mixed use and multifamily opportunities that are appropriate for their neighborhood is key to keep our community affordable and liveable.
By building walkable communities through mixed-used zoning and compact construction, we can reduce driving, increase the use of mass transit, support local businesses by building a natural customer base in close proximity to existing and future shops and offices. Mixed use construction and multifamily housing is an essential component of the Upper Village, one of the most iconic parts of our Village. I believe that applying these principles to other commercial districts in the Village, as we’ve already done in Harmon, is part of strengthening our community’s small-town character and building on it for generations to come.

Brian Pugh

Brian Pugh: Croton-on-Hudson Veterans Banner Program

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

Over the years, our Village has sought to honor those from our community who served our country. Starting this November, the Village will offer friends and families the opportunity to sponsor banners of individuals   in honor of residents of the Village who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.  These personalized banners will be mounted on utility poles throughout the Village.

An electronic application will be available online at  Hard copies of the application are also available through the Croton Veterans’ Council.  Applicants will be responsible for having the banners printed according to the specifications in the application. The Village Department of Public Works will hang these banners for veterans for free and as part of their regular work duties.

Almost 300 Village residents are veterans.  Wherever they served, they deserve our appreciation.  The continuation of our democracy depends on such brave men and women willing to answer our country’s call.

We must work toward a peaceful future, in which war is a memory and our families and our communities  no longer know the sorrow of losing sons and daughters. At the same time, we must continue to remember and honor those who served and sacrificed

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Rick Olver: A record of managing growth & preserving our community’s character

Dear Neighbors:Image result for rick olver croton

We all want to keep Croton’s small-town feel. But housing costs keep shooting up to ever less affordable levels. We need to take careful steps to increase middle class housing. The proposed rezoning of North Riverside and Municipal place is designed to encourage builders to create a limited number of apartments for middle class people in buildings that fit in with their neighborhoods.

You should know that the current zoning recommendations come from fellow-citizen volunteers: Ted Brumleve, Paul Doyle, Bruce Kauderer and the Board’s liaison to the zoning working group, Trustee Ann Gallelli. All of them have proven records of fighting to keep the Village’s small-town, friendly feel.

Paul and others got involved in the mid-80’s, when Croton was faced with huge development proposals, some already under way. Approved developments included Half Moon Bay with 342 units (reduced slightly in the early 2000’s), and Scenic Ridge with 98. Then came a new wave of proposals – 444 single family units on 148 acres where the golf course is now, 75 single family homes in a Lounsbury Hill subdivision, 75 single family homes in a River Landing subdivision, six 6-story buildings of 235 units where Croton Landing Park is now and the Arrowcrest subdivision of 30 single family homes.

A total of 1,299 new residential units! Perhaps 4 to 5,000 new residents. It’s truly awful to imagine what Croton would look like today if all this had been approved and built.

Who beat back overdevelopment? Paul Doyle, the chair of the zoning working group, was a leader of the fight against these massive proposals. And he has kept working, steering us away from unplanned growth.

Ted Brumleve was a member of the Planning Board during the time of Arrowcrest subdivision, Golf course final approvals and Discovery Cove at HMB. He chaired the recent update of the Comprehensive Plan.

Bruce Kauderer is a long-time Planning Board member. He also serves on the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

Trustee Ann Gallelli has had long experience on the Planning Board and with the 2003 Comprehensive Plan and its 2017 update.

I have worked with all these people and I trust them. But thanks to our democratic processes and planning regulations, their proposals are now being challenged and tested thoroughly.

It is the Board of Trustees who will make the decision on the updated zoning. The decision will be based on what we hear from all those who speak out, and from those who participated in developing the recommendations. Because of the limitations and restrictions we’ve built into our approval processes over the years, any development that might eventually happen will be small and sensitive to its site and those in surrounding areas.

Rick Olver
Croton Village Trustee

Ann Gallelli: Katz In Context

Dear Neighbors,ann2016

Recently the Village’s proposed rezoning process has resulted in much attention being given to one particular parcel – the so-called Katz property at the intersection of Maple and Municipal Place.  This Village-owned parcel is currently part of the Municipal Place Gateway zone and is designated C-2 allowing for 2 stories of mixed use development at a maximum height of 35 feet by special permit from the Board of Trustees. 

Currently, the property is vacant with tree and bush growth over most of it.  It was identified in the 1977 Master Plan, the 2003 Comprehensive Plan and the 2017 Comprehensive Plan update as being a recommended focal point for commercial and mixed use development.

Although for most of us, the Katz property seems to have always been more or less the same as now, it has an interesting past that belies its current status.  

Going back in the records of the property, it appears that the site was construction-related from the early 1900’s to somewhere in the 1960’s.  The site, which was mostly cleared, was used to store construction materials as a contractor storage area according to a 1935 map. Earlier, in the 19th century,  it appears from some early maps to have been a brickmaking site. 

 The Ottaviano-owned Hudson Concrete Block Company sought a Building Permit in 1942 to add to its existing building on site.  In the early 1960’s, due to its non-conforming use adjacent to a residential zone, the Village required its termination. It was cited in 1966 and 1967 for being used as an open storage yard for materials and equipment and for having “steel boilers, tanks, hoppers, timbers and other construction materials not removed.”  In 1972, Irwin Katz acquired the property and subsequently sold it to Strichlin Realty in 2000.

It apparently remained in limbo for some time and reappeared in 1994 with the proposal for a MacDonald’s Drive-in business at the location.  Ultimately, MacDonald’s withdrew its application in 1995 but drawings from that application show three buried broken concrete foundations on the site, one dating from 1972. They have not been removed.   At the time, a proposal to rezone it to RA-5, single family residential, was considered but did not move forward. In 1998, there was a proposal for a 19,555 square foot, 1-story retail space which also did not proceed.  In 2005, the Village purchased the property as part of a legal settlement. A retail/office was tentatively proposed in 2005 called “The Gateway” with 2 stories and 19,200 square feet. It was later withdrawn as the developers wanted a quick review and approval.  Genovese drug store also showed interest in building a big box drug store there as well.   

In 2010, the Village Board did a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the site under the zoning in place.  Four such proposals were submitted (one as a high school class exercise). None met the requirements of proving financial viability, mostly requiring Village investment in its development.

Since then, the updating of the Comprehensive Plan in 2017 reaffirmed the property as an important focal point of this Gateway Commercial area.  The current zoning consultants have looked at what the present market for commercial properties requires. Their proposal for the zoning amendment reflects this market as well as the Village’s Comprehensive Plan goals of maintaining a vibrant, neighbor friendly environment in the Village.

The proposed amendment as it affects this lot, would permit 3 stories at the same 35’ maximum height, require publicly accessible open space including amenities such as paths and benches. It would also preserve a 50’ Right of Way as a vegetated buffer along the properties on Wells avenue.  Additionally, only one curb cut would be permitted. Any future development proposal would be reviewed by the Planning Board for meeting parking requirements, design factors such as lighting, landscaping, traffic impacts, sidewalks, etc. The Board of Trustees would also review these factors as part of their special permit review. 

This week, the Village opened the Public Hearing on the draft zoning amendments. The proposed amendments must also be reviewed by our Waterfront Advisory Committee to ensure it is consistent with our Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) as well as a review by the Planning Board.  While all this is taking place, the Board must seek further input on the zoning amendments. 

Only when all these steps are completed will the Board be able to makes its decision on the proposed amendments. The length and scope of the approval process is meant to ensure that all aspects of any zoning amendment are duly considered before any decision is made.

I encourage you to follow and engage in this process.


Ann Gallelli

Brian Pugh: Thank you, Croton!

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standingDear Neighbors:


I would like to thank every Croton resident who showed up at the polls on Election Day or took advantage of Early Voting. Over the last two years, working with the Board of Trustees, local residents and the Village’s professional staff, we’ve achieved the following:

— Protected taxpayers by keeping the total property tax growth under 1% for both years combined.

— Prioritized sustainability by securing electricity from 100% renewable energy sources for all Croton households through Sustainable Westchester’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program.

— Added the first Electric Vehicle (EV) to the Village’s fleet with more EV and hybrid vehicles included in our capital plan.

— Installed public EV charging stations at the train station and at the Municipal Building.

— Supported the continued diversifying of our Police Department with the addition of our first bilingual police officer, first bilingual park ranger and only female officer.

— Created a Committee on Diversity & Inclusion to promote tolerance and advise the Village government on enhancing services for an increasingly diverse population.

— Lowered the speed limit to 25 MPH in key areas to protect pedestrians and drivers.


I am grateful for the hard work of the volunteers that came out to support Moving Croton Forward and for the sacrifices my family has made as part of this effort. I also deeply appreciate the endorsements of the Croton Democratic Committee, the Working Families Party, the Independence Party, the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body AFl-CIO, the Building Trades Council of Westchester & Putnam, and the Hudson Valley Stonewall Democrats.


It has truly been an honor to serve as the Mayor of my hometown. I will continue to do my best to serve the residents of the Village. If you ever need to reach out to me about any issue, please email me at or call me at 914-374-3960.


Your Mayor,

Brian Pugh

Rick Olver: How can we preserve our community’s character?

Dear Neighbors:Image result for rick olver croton

I love San Francisco weather: springtime all year round. Our four seasons are great, but it gets awful hot and humid some summer days, and February, well the cold and ice get old fast. But I absolutely would not like to have San Francisco’s housing problems!

What has gone wrong there? It’s so liberal! Except, while everyone supports moderate income housing, many people want it to be built anywhere other than in their own neighborhoods.

Sound familiar? When we try to zone our Gateway business districts to attract investment in much needed retail, offices and apartments, we hear “yes, I’m in favor of moderate income housing, but not here!”

We all want to preserve Croton’s character, but by resisting modest change in our Gateway areas we are losing Croton’s character. Keeping Croton the same will not preserve what we most value: our wonderful mix of young and old, and moderate and upper-middle income families. Younger adults between ages 25 and 44 fell as a share of population between the 2000 and 2010 census. And everyone knows older people who “downsized” and left Croton.

The middle class is being displaced: households earning under $100k fell from 31.5% of the Village in the 2000 census to 21.8% in the latest census estimate. Families with incomes over $200K more than doubled from 12.8% in 2000 to 26.9% now. Our current, restrictive zoning artificially limits housing supply, further increases prices and worsens these changes to our community.

We need to fight these ongoing changes that none of us want. The experts tell us that transport-oriented housing is the way to do this. Not hulking apartment blocks everywhere, but 3 stories within the same 35-foot height currently allowed, limited to our Gateway corridors – like at the corner of Benedict and South Riverside in Harmon.

Rick Olver, Village Trustee

Ann Gallelli: The Roadmap for Municipal Place and N. Riverside

Dear Neighbors,ann2016

At its meeting this past Monday, the Board of Trustees formally moved ahead on a Zoning process that actually began in July 2017.  At that time, under the prior administration, the Board unanimously voted to approve an updated Comprehensive Plan on a 5-0 bipartisan vote.

A Comprehensive Plan is a document that identifies broad goals and objectives for a municipality and then identifies specific steps or goals that would result in the broader goals being met.  Under NYS General Municipal Law, adopted Comprehensive Plans have the force of law when it comes to zoning; i.e. municipalities must ensure that their local zoning laws are consistent with that plan.

The zoning study that has been under development since late last year is a direct result of the goals identified in the 2017 Comprehensive Plans which called for considering rezoning of some areas to better achieve these goals  

Since late 2018, the Village has engaged a Planning consultant, BFJ Planning, and conducted two public input sessions and a mailed survey.  With this input and the guidance of both the Comprehensive Plan and our planning consultant, amendments to the zoning code are now under consideration.

Last Monday, the Village started the actual process required to approve a zoning amendment.  This includes taking responsibility for the State Environmental Review (SEQRA) process, referring the proposed changes to the Planning Board and to the Westchester County Planning Board for comments.  The proposed amendments must also be reviewed by our Waterfront Advisory Committee to ensure it is consistent with our Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). While all this is taking place, the Board must seek further input on the zoning amendments.  It has scheduled a public hearing beginning on November 6. This hearing may be continued to future meetings as well.

Only when all these steps are completed will the Board be able to makes its decision on the proposed amendments. The length and scope of the approval process is meant to ensure that all aspects of any zoning amendment are duly considered before any decision is made.

I encourage you to follow and engage in this process.


Ann Gallelli, Deputy Mayor


N.B.: Further reading is available here:


Ann Gallelli: Decoding Village Agendas No. 466

ann2016Dear neighbor, Here is the 466th 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 18, 2019

Work Session of the Village Board

7: 30 p.m.

 (Open to Public and Televised



  1. Village Board of Trustees will enter into an Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter pertaining to a particular individual.
  2.  Discussion on request for driveway ROW over Village parcel on Harrison Street.  The owner of 41 Harrison Street would like to accommodate two cars on an addition to an existing driveway which already has an easement over the Village ROW.  The Village Engineer is recommending favorably on this request as it would provide more on street parking in an area that needs it and would ease snow plowing in the winter. If the Board is favorable, he also recommends that all future maintenance responsibility be that of the property owner, that the existing driveway portion be repaved, and that an infiltration system be installed to handle any drainage issues.
  3. Update on Piney Point Construction Projects.   The Manager and Engineer will update the Board on the status of the two lots on Piney Point for which there are partial stop work orders, both of which are currently before the Planning Board for revised plans.
  4. Review of Proposal for Annual Manager Evaluation Process.   The position of Village Manager requires that an evaluation process be put in place.  The Board has reached out to local resident, Len Simon, who has considerable experience in developing professional evaluations, and the process for performing such, for Municipal government Managers and other personnel.  Based on many sample evaluations from professional associations such as the ICMA, and with consultation with a subcommittee of Board members Olver and Gallelli, as well as with the Village Manager, Mr. Simon has developed a proposal for putting the Manager Evaluation process in place.   The Board will discuss the proposal.

Brian Pugh: Planning for our future

To The Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped

The Board of Trustees for the Village of Croton voted to move forward with the process of reviewing and potentially adopting the rezoning recommendations from our planning consultant for the North Riverside Avenue and Municipal Place Gateway Area. The recommendations broadly mirror the mixed-use zoning now in place on South Riverside Avenue at Benedict Blvd., in the Harmon Gateway, which has stimulated the redevelopment of the site of the former Nappy’s auto body and the current convenience store. We began the SEQRA process (State Environmental Quality Review Act) at last night’s meeting, which will culminate with a public hearing on November 6.

The zoning study for North Riverside and Municipal Place is a direct outgrowth of the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan, the legal roadmap for land use in our community, was adopted unanimously and on a bipartisan basis by the Village Board in 2017.
The need to provide more housing options for seniors and young workers was a key theme in the Comprehensive Plan (the full text of which can be found on the Village web site,, in the “public documents” section).

As stated in the Comprehensive Plan: “In many municipalities, the shift in age distribution has led to a re‐examination of priorities, as issues such as affordable housing for seniors have become more pressing…At the same time, the Village must provide the services and quality of life that will attract and retain the new Village immigrants and younger workforce needed to replace a labor force that is shrinking as the population ages.”

There is a clear demand for new multifamily housing in our community. In 2003, the Board of Trustees declared a continuing housing emergency (a vacancy rate less than 5%) and imposed rent stabilization on Bari Manor. Since then, the underlying “emergency” condition has continued with the latest Census data indicating that the rental vacancy rate stands at about 1.3%. This is an issue that affects a large section of the Village population, as more than a quarter of the Village rents.
The Comprehensive Plan also explicitly called for the Village to “ prepare a summary of current and recommended conditions that distinguish and reinforce the Village Gateway Districts and three Commercial Districts – Upper Village, North Riverside, and South Riverside / Harmon,” and “Develop a land use plan for the Village‐owned Gateway properties near Route 9/9A, Municipal Place and Riverside Drive (i.e. former Katz property and former skateboard park / storage yard.).”
The North Riverside and Municipal Place Gateway areas are a strong candidate for revitalization through rezoning. These areas are already a commercial corridor for the Village featuring the Croton Commons, Croton Auto Park, and a host of small retail establishments.

The current zoning for the areas is primarily commercial zoning with a maximum of 2-stories (although their exist many existing non-conforming structures built before the adoption of zoning in our Village in the 1960’s that are grandfathered in–including several multistory mixed use buildings). According to the research of our consultants, this is out of step with the demands of the real estate market, which now favors mixed-use construction of a minimum of 3-stories.
The recommended zoning changes will have only modest impacts on the larger community.

Any changes in the built environment will come about organically. Rezoning does not require an immediate change in use by current property owners. Zoning laws are “forward looking” and regulate future uses of a land or property site rather than the existing ones. Zoning laws are not retroactive. Individual property owners decide if, when and how they will to make new investments in their property.

The entire zoning study area is close to major transportation links, including Route 9, the Croton-Harmon Metro North Station and several Bee Line stops–minimizing the effect of additional traffic on the rest of the Village. The recommendations DO NOT include any changes to the maximum allowable height of 35 feet. Further, the recommendations include a requirement for off-street parking for new construction. Finally, the recommendation for the addition of mixed-use and/or multifamily housing is the least likely to add new students. School enrollment in the Croton-Harmon District is down by some 10% over the last ten years.
Our Village was recently ranked No. 1 in New York State by USA Today. That’s not because we’ve been frozen in amber in 1896. Rather, it’s because successive generations have planned prudently and acted deliberately. If we are to keep our community vibrant and affordable we must continue to do so.

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Rick Olver: The Police Department We Need

Dear Neighbors,Image result for "richard olver" croton

On Monday evening our Village Board took a big step toward renovating and expanding our inadequate and potentially dangerous police headquarters. We often have very different views on the Board, and some of us initially doubted the need for an expensive investment in our police. But after careful review and a visit to Ossining’s 20-year old facility, we unanimously approved bonding for detailed architectural designs for a police department that will occupy the entire first floor of the municipal building.

Public safety is the most fundamental duty of government. We need to be able to respond fast, should a major incident occur – but the cramped and scattered storage areas we have don’t allow for instant mobilization.

We strongly support the rights of the public and of those accused of crimes. We have supported our department in shifting to modern, community-based policing, in diversifying, and in preparing for contingencies. But our current facility makes it impossible to process and hold prisoners safely and with respect. We can’t handle youthful prisoners discreetly, as the law now rightly requires. And worst of all, we can’t always keep sometimes belligerent prisoners away from the general public.

Over the last decade, Board majorities of both parties have made far-sighted decisions to invest in needed improvements. Flood-proofing the train station parking lot; renovating our firehouses; an EMS facility; Water Department wells and offices; a new DPW facility. It’s past time for us to upgrade our police headquarters. And this is an excellent moment to do so – the cost of borrowing is extremely low.

We insist that the Croton police perform to the highest, modern standards. We are now working to give them the facility they need to do so.


Rick Olver, Trustee