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, http://www.crotononhudson-ny.gov, 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.
Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

Rick Olver, Trustee

Richard Masur: Hope to see you Sunday, October 20th, 5-7pm, at The Green Growler, 4 Croton Point Ave.

Richard MasurDear Neighbors:

 

In a March 1936 newspaper report in The Yorkshire Post of West Yorkshire, England,

Sir Austen Chamberlain was quoted as saying —

 

“It is not so long ago that a member of the Diplomatic Body in London, who had spent some years of his service in China, told me that there was a Chinese curse which took the form of saying, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ There is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us.  We move from one crisis to another. We suffer one disturbance and shock after another.”

 

In fact, there is no record of any such curse existing in Chinese.  But, regardless, there is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us as well.

 

All politics is local, and who we elect to represent us in local government matters. How we support inclusion and tolerance matters; how we promote sustainability locally matters; how we take action to protect our children matters; how we uphold democratic governance and encourage civic participation at all levels matters.

 

With that in mind, this Sunday please join The Croton Democrats and Barry Graubart, NYS Deputy Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for an informative and lively discussion of what we can do locally to move the needle on common sense gun safety regulations.  

 

Hope to see you Sunday, October 20th, 5-7pm, at The Green Growler, 4 Croton Point Ave.

 

Richard Masur, Chair Croton Democrats

Andy Simmons: Electric Vehicle Discount Program Extended

simmons2018Dear Neighbors:

Excellent news! The Nissan Leaf Discount Program has been extended until January 2, 2020. Westchester residents are eligible to save up to $14,500 on an all-electric 2019 Nissan Leaf or up to $12,000 on a 2019 Nissan Leaf PlusLearn how to go green and save green (in your wallet) by going to sustainablewestchester.org/.

Andy Simmons

The writer is a Croton-on-Hudson Village Trustee

 

Mayor Brian Pugh: Thank you to the Trails Committee

Dear Neighborsbrian-pugh-group-cropped:
I am writing to thank the volunteers of the Village of Croton’s Trails Committee for doing their part to keep Croton beautiful with last Saturday’s trails clean up.
Croton-on-Hudson is a community rich in natural beauty. There are nearly 13 miles of wooded trails in the village.
The Trails Committee helps to maintain the Jan Wines Memorial Trail System, which is named in honor of the first chair of the committee. Mr. Wines was chair of the committee from 1992 to 2018.
The Trails Committee was established in 1992. The Trails Committee inventoried present open space that could potentially be part of a trail system, identified existing, potential and connecting trails, trail linkages, and explored other trail concepts within a master plan.
The Trail System runs from Hudson and Croton Rivers. Its rugged topography provides a dramatic landscape that offers a wide range of passive and active outdoor activities.
A link to a map of the Jan Wines Memorial Trail System can be found on the Trails Committee’s webpage: crotononhudson-ny.gov/trails-committee

 

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Brian Pugh: Happy Oktoberfest!

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

Last Saturday’s Oktoberfest was an opportunity for neighbors to meet and welcome the arrival of autumn together.  It was also a chance to introduce visitors to our Village. Who knows which guests from the weekend will be inspired to purchase a property, raise a family or establish a business in our community.

I am writing to congratulate the Croton Police Department and the Village’s Dept. of Public Works on ensuring a safe and successful Oktoberfest on Saturday.  Protecting and preparing for hundreds of guests is no small feat and, as usual, our Village workforce did an excellent job.

We thank our sponsors for their generosity and support of this event!: CKO Kickboxing,  Croton Youth Lacrosse, Coldwell Banker. DGA Insurance, Geberth Electric, the Hilpert Law Firm and M&S Custom Builders.

Also noteworthy was the financial contribution and full-day presence of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored an informational booth highlighting its newly re-launched “Croton Business Council’, an innovative program that is rapidly evolving into Croton’s own village-focused, Chamber of Commerce.

Based on my discussions with participants Oktoberfest was profitable for many of our local businesses. Vendors included: 105-Twenty; ASAP Mortgage; Baked by Susan; BHHS Realty; Bias Cut LLC; Birdsall House; Black Rock Kitchen; Campbell Meats; Croton Tapsmith; Cub Scouts; Dam Good English Muffins; Deprez Wines; Donna Baker Photography; Fable Farms; Farmers Touch; Fino; Grandstand; Green Growler; La Bella Sophia; Redline Roadhouse; Second Mouse Cheese Shop; The Dessertist; Touchstone Crystal; Tree Juice Maple Syrup; Zwilling Cooking Studio.  Special thanks to Tracy Shea and Toni Senecal of the Tapsmith for suggesting to the Village Board that our planned for fall festival be located on Grand Street and take the form of Oktoberfest.

This year’s Oktoberfest was the first of its kind in our Village.  It’s strong attendance is a testament to the spirit of the community and the quality of our local businesses.  The successful management of Oktoberfest is a testament to the professionalism of our Village’s professional staff–who also recently assumed responsibility for organizing Summerfest.

Thank you again to all that participated and made this such a great event for our community.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh, Mayor

Richard Masur: What’s going on with Piney Point Avenue?

Dear Neighbors:image.png

In the past few weeks, there have been many complaints lodged against Croton’s Village Board, the Mayor, the staff, the Planning Board (PB), as well as the owners of three properties on Piney Point Ave. The physical degradation of the properties in question is plain to see. And the clear-cutting of those fine old trees, in direct violation of the plans that were approved by the PB is most certainly a travesty. However, the explosion of finger pointing and vitriol that we have witnessed in these pages and on various websites does nothing to clarify where the responsibility for this situation lies, or what’s to be done about it.

Screaming at each other in print does not advance the steps necessary to ameliorate and repair the damage done. It seems obvious that it is past time for everyone to take a step back and get clear on what has actually transpired since to date.

A good place to start is with the informative front page story in last week’s Gazette. It clearly laid out what went wrong:

First, the contractor hired by the owners to clear the trees preparatory to other work beginning exceeded the limits that were laid out in the plan that had been submitted and approved by the PB after years of painstaking work. In addition, there was an amount of “steep-slope disturbance” that had not been authorized. The unstable conditions that these actions created on the lots precipitated decisive actions by Village Engineer and the PB.

As the Gazette article laid out, after learning of the unauthorized tree removal, the Village issued a stop work order while the lots were inspected and the damage assessed by the Village Engineer and an outside firm. The Village then issued an amended order so that the owners could temporarily stabilize the hillsides to protect the soil on the lots and the surrounding properties. That was put in motion and has largely been accomplished.

It was also demonstrated that the original approved plan had been ignored and that many trees that had been removed should not have been. Further recommendations and an amended stop work order was issued so that work on certain elements of the original plan could be done. This work will help to permanently stabilize the lots, as well as protecting the surrounding properties.

In addition, the planning Board ordered the owners to create a plan to mitigate the loss of the trees and caused them to pay the cost of a full-time inspector to oversee the work, and to place an additional $20,000 in escrow to ensure that the work will be done. Finally, court appearance tickets will be served on the people involved to appear before the Village court to answer for their violations of the terms of the initial plan and Village code.

As for the multiple claims that the Village Board or staff somehow “allowed” this to happen, that’s just inaccurate. Under long established practice, they are not the parties charged with oversight of construction in our Village. As with most municipalities, the process in the Village code is clear, the Village Engineer, the Planning and Zoning Boards, and other boards of responsibility have been delegated the authority to deal with these issues, not the Village Board or the Mayor. And they are doing so.

It is impossible to preempt all conceivable violations or monitor all activity in the Village at all times. Consequently, the ultimate responsibility here lies with the parties that violated the law. As the reporting in the Gazette has made clear, the Village has responded appropriately and will seek the sanctions allowed under the Village code.

Sincerely

Richard Masur, Chairman

Brian Pugh: Thank you to Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni

TYTIM

Dear Neighbors:

I am writing to thank Westchester County Clerk, Tim Idoni, for dispatching the Mobile Passport Unit to the Village of Croton on September 20th.
At the County Clerk’s Mobile Office, Tim Idoni’s staff assisted residents apply for a United States Passport, including having a photo taken. Over 1,000 applications were processed by the Westchester County Clerk’s mobile office.
More than 30 residents from the Village of Croton took advantage of the opportunity to apply for or renew a US passport during the mobile’s office visit.
If you weren’t able to make it down to the Mobile Passport Unit during its visit to Croton, you can still obtain one from the office of Tim Idoni, Westchester County Clerk. County Passport office hours are Monday – Friday 8am – 4:30pm. If you have any questions call us at (914)995-3086 or email CC-Passports@westchestergov.com.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh
P.S.: I would like to thank the Croton Climate Initiative for helping to organize the 9/10 Climate Plan presentation at the Croton Free Library. I apologize for forgetting to mention the contributions of this dedicated grassroots group in my 9/19/19 letter in these pages.

Brian Pugh: Turn the key, be idle free!

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

 

As we end climate week, I write to remind readers that the Village of Croton’s anti-idling fee will be going into effect on September 29, 2019. Excessive vehicle idling wastes gas, contributes to climate change and contributes to local air pollution

 

Westchester County has an F in air quality from the American Lung Association due to the amount of ozone pollution in the County. Tailpipe emissions are a major contributor to ozone pollution. Everyone can be affected by poor air quality. However, children and those with chronic respiratory problems are the most sensitive to ozone pollution in the air.

Over the past two summers, the Village has sought to encourage compliance with Westchester County’s 2009 anti-idling law by educating the public through e-mail blasts, notices in the Village newsletter and by directing police to issue warnings to drivers caught idling.

At the televised August 12th regular meeting of the Village Board of Trustees, the Board adopted a $35 fine for anyone found to be idling a vehicle in excess of three minutes whenever the air temperature is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Emergency vehicles are exempt from the provisions of the idling law. The full text of the relevant section of the Village Code, § 215-20.1 “Restrictions on idling of motor vehicles”, can be found on the Village’s website.

By adding a fine to our fee schedule, we empower our local police to collect a fine (equivalent to a parking ticket) for violating the County anti-idling law to further protect public health and our environment.

Hopefully, we will all remember to limit our idling and few residents, if any will need to pay the $35. With some consideration, we will all breathe easier.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh, Mayor