Village Board of Trustees Meeting January 16, 2008

The Village Board of Trustees met on January 16, 2008 at 7:30pm.

The meeting began with the Mayoral report.

The Village has been notified of a Public Hearing on January 28, 2008 for Tuxedo Reserve and the amendments they are seeking to their Special Permit. As reported previously, the amendments reflect areas of the preliminary plan that differ in any way from the Special Permit granted by the Town in 2004. Residents are encouraged to attend the hearing and keep themselves informed on this very important project that will affect the entire community.

The Orange County Department of Personnel will be holding their promotional exam for Police Chiefs on March 8 2008 and Sgt. Ken Sanford will take the exam.
Village DPW member Tom Malone will be retiring after 17 years of service. The Mayor thanked Tom for his hard work and dedication to the Village.

The Village received a letter from the New York State Committee on open Government. The question was raised whether the denial of a foil request of legal opinions prepared by attorneys for appointed Boards in the Village of Tuxedo Park was consistent with Law. The Committee’s conclusion, as stated in the letter, was that assuming the Attorney/Client privilege had not been purposely waived and that the record consists of legal advice from council to their client, the record would then be confidential and exempt from disclosure.

Finally, the Mayor reported that he has been working closely with John Ledwith to review delinquent water bills and recover accounts receivable. The two largest delinquent accounts are The Duck Cedar Inn (owned by the Buzz Reeves Estate) with $36,000 owed and McMullin’s tavernwith $15,520 owed. The Board voted unanimously to settle these accounts for $30,000 and $8,750 respectively. Moving forward, the Mayor announced that there will be a quarterly water bill analysis and report, which will allow the Village to spot delinquent accounts earlier and stay on top of these debts. Trustee Hansen suggested the Board conduct a review of the current Village policy and possibly make amendments to reflect payment deadlines and penalties for non-payment.

During his monthly police report, Acting Police Chief Sanford reported the following information for the month of December:
Criminal Complaints = 0
Non Criminal Complaints = 61
Accidents = 2
Fire Alarms = 6 (all false)
Burglar Alarms = 16 (all false)
Medical Calls = 1

10,589 non-tagged vehicles passed through the front gate bringing the year-end total to 147,975 non-residential, non-tagged vehicles that entered the Village.

Acting DPW Superintendent Jeff Voss reiterated the Mayor’s appreciation for Tom Malone and expressed his desire to hire one or two new employees in the near future.

Chief Budget Officer Larry Darby gave a financial report.
In his review of the Budget Reconciliation Report, Officer Darby reported that while there are still some monies to be collected, both the General Fund and the Water Fund are operating well within budget. In addition, the Police Department and the DPW are within budget. While not much has been spent on capital improvements to date, there are significant expenses associated with the repair of both the Tuxedo Lake and Wee Wah dams as well as work needing to be done at the Sewer Water Treatment Plant.
Village legal expenses have exceeded the amount budgeted by $15,000.
The 2008 budget process is in beginning stages.

Advisory reports were given.

Reporting for the Environmental Committee, Susan Goodfellow announced that on Thursday, January 24 at 7:30pm, Scott Kishbaugh, PE from the DEC will be presenting information to the committee regarding watershed management. This presentation is open to all Village Residents and will include general watershed information in addition to some information about algae in the water. In addition, CSLAPS: Citizens Statewide Lakes Assessment Program will be explained and discussed. The meeting will take place at the Village Hall and residents are encouraged to attend and educate themselves on this very important issue. Mrs. Goodfellow also reported that the committee has been talking with Orange County Soil and Water in an effort to explore methods of managing storm water run-off in the Village.

On behalf of the Wildlife Advisory Committee, Sally Sonne reported that the group has put together a questionnaire focusing on the different types of wildlife existing in the Village and their primary locations as well as resident’s thoughts and opinions on wildlife within the community. The committee is requesting permission to post the questionnaire on the Village Website as well as to include it with the Mayor’s monthly newsletter. They feel it is extremely important because it will help the committee to determine how the Village should move forward in this area. They are also requesting the names and addresses of all residents so that they can track who has responded and who has not. Mrs. Sonne assured the Board that the addresses would be kept confidential and not used for any other purpose. It was also reported that the DEC has asked the Village to cooperate with them on a Wild Turkey study. As part of the study, residents who habitually see wild turkeys either on their property or in specific locations would report this information to the DEC, which would hopefully enable them to tag some of the birds.

Finally, Mrs. Sonne commented that the Wildlife Advisory Committee page on the Village website is outdated and should be changed to reflect the more recent activities of the committee.

Reporting on behalf of the Village Improvement Advisory Committee, Michele Lindsay announced that there are several major projects for which the committee now has estimates. These include improving guide rails on Tuxedo Road as well as open storm drains and drop-offs both on Tuxedo Road and West Road. In addition, a Racetrack sub-committee has been formed, with the Environmental Committee, to take a closer look at improvements and changes for the property. A Road Safety survey has been posted on the Village Website and residents are encouraged to continue to give their input on this very important issue. The committee is continuing to investigate new options for street lighting within the Village. Finally, the process of removing dead trees both on land and in the water from the area known as “the rramble” at the south end of the lake has begun at no cost to the Village thanks to the help of a generous resident.

Trustee Hansen expressed his desire for the Village to install a traffic mirror across the street from his residence on West Lake Rd.. Mayor Stebbins responded that items of this nature should be channeled into the VIAC’s Road Safety Study. Trustee Hanson commented that completion of the study could be a lengthy process and he would prefer the mirror be installed as soon as possible. Peter Regna commented that historically, the Village Building Inspector has handled issues such as this. After a brief discussion among the Trustees, Trustee Darby made a motion to approve the installation of a traffic mirror at a location agreeable to both Acting Police Chief Sanford and Acting DPW Superintendent Voss at a cost no greater than $500, to be paid by the Village. The motion was approved by the Board.

During the Public Comment Period, Michele Lindsay inquired as to whether or not the Trustees had formed a long-term infrastructure improvement plan and if so, would it be ready for the 2008 budget process. Trustee Shaw responded that a plan has been formed and will be ready for the budget process. Trustee Worthy inquired as to how extensive this plan is and exactly what it encompasses. Trustee Shaw responded that iwater, sewer and Dam repairs are addressed in the plan. Trustee Worthy expressed her desire to see a more extensive five year plan outlining other infrastructure improvements such as roads, guide rails and street lights. She commented that a 5-10 year plan, which outlines these as well as other elements in need of repair, must be formed regardless of cost.

Nancy Hayes commented that residents have been cutting down and topping trees beyond what is permitted by Village law. John Ledwith responded that he is aware of two such situations and that the Village is dealing with them accordingly.
Meg Vaught inquired as to why the Village will be funding the Hansen traffic mirror when historically, residents have paid for things like this themselves. Trustee Darby responded that because it involves a public safety issue, the Village is responsible for the cost. He went on to say that other residents with similar concerns should bring them to the Board’s attention. Mary Graetzer commented that she felt the Village was setting a dangerous precedent by picking up these costs.

Alan Heywood inquired if there were other delinquent water bills in excess of $2000 and was told that there are not.

Following the Public Comment Period there was a Public Hearing on Local Law #1.
This new legislation has been proposed by the Board or Architectural Review as well as the Planning Board and seeks to change and more clearly define which board has jurisdiction when siting properties. Under current law, if a property owner wishes to build on a lot with a preexisting structure, they are able to bypass the Planning Board entirely and go directly before the Board of Architectural Review. Once instituted, the new law will require all applicants seeking to build new construction on raw land to go before the Planning Board before coming to the Board of Architectural Review.
Susan Goodfellow expressed her gratitude to the Board for clarifying the roles of each Board, commenting that these issues had been discussed when the Boards were initially split and have now been corrected.

Peter Regna also expressed his gratitude and added that the proposed legislation is extremely valuable to the Village as the current law is unfair. He also commented that potential problems were identified in 2004 when the Boards were split, but ignored by the previous administration.

A letter written by former Mayor David McFadden was read into record. In his letter, Mr. McFadden thanked the members of each board for their hard work on drafting the new law.

Jesse Green commented that the new law does not give the Board of Architectural Review the power to deny building permits when there is a preexisting structure on a lot. Both JoAnn Hanson, Planning Board Chair, and Chiu Yin Hempel, Chair of the Board of Architectural Review, explained that this has nothing to with the new law, stating the power to grant or deny permits is not encompassed in the legislation. Rather, the Board of Zoning Appeals determines the buildability of a lot.
The Board voted unanimously in favor of adopting the new legislation.

Proposed new Local Law #3, which addresses payment of escrow monies for Village Consultants’ fees for applicants seeking Board reviews was discussed at great length. Various fees for different services, such as Public Hearings and Special meetings were discussed. Trustee Hansen suggested that moving forward, all Applicants must be paid in full before they are allowed to appear before a Board and was told that this has already been provided for in the resolution. Both Chiu Yin Hempel and JoAnn Hanson participated in the discussion. Following the lengthy discussion, Mayor Stebbins made a motion to set a public hearing on the legislation for February 20, 2008 at 7:30pm. Trustee Hansen argued that he would like to have a clean copy of the legislation, reflecting all changes that had been discussed along with suggestions from both the Planning Board and Board of Architectural Review for review before setting the Public Hearing and he did not feel there was enough time for this to happen prior to February 20. Mayor Stebbins replied that clean copies of the law could be produced along with review and suggestions from both the Planning Board and the Board of Architectural Review in plenty of time for a Public Hearing on February 20. The Board voted in favor of the hearing, with Trustees Shaw and Hansen abstaining.

Orange County will no longer provide Workers Compensation Insurance for Municipal Employees. Therefore the Village must find a new provider. Trustee Hansen collected two bids from Perma and Comp Alliance, and he shared his findings with the Board. Each company has offered their services in managing existing claims, which the Village is required to buy out from the County. Trustee Darby inquired as to how effective these companies are in favorably resolving claims. He further commented that he would like to see future and past coverage disentangled and requested copies of all Orange County documents regarding discontinuation of service and past claims. Following the discussion, the Board voted unanimously in favor of adopting the Perma bid at $31,800 plus fees associated with settling the past claims.

Renegotiation of the Wee Wah Beach Club lease was discussed. The Mayor opened this discussion by outlining his ideas for a new lease with the Club. He addressed the issue of safety first, suggesting a complete review of the facilities, including the beach (line of sight, ease of access, recreation and play areas) in terms of safety and in the context of a capital plan. He went on to suggest that the Village Improvement Advisory Committee and the Wee Wah Beach Club work together to develop a 5-year capital improvement plan, focusing first on safety amenities and aesthetics second. Phase 1 of this plan would be considered in the Village budget process for 2008/2009. In addition, the Mayor stressed the importance of water quality in the lake, stating that the Village must fix the stop-log leaks in the Wee Wah Dam and develop a water-testing program during the summer months. With this in mind, Mayor Stebbins has asked the Environmental Advisory Committee to specifically recommend how the Village should proceed to evaluate the water quality of the Wee Wah Lake in time for the beach to be open for swimming during 2008 as well as maintain water quality during the season. Next, the Mayor addressed the issue of Management at the Beach Club and proposed that the Club Board be asked to evaluate and respond to a number of the issues raised at the Special Meeting on January 10, including hiring an outside management company to run the WWBC. Second, the Mayor suggested that the Board of Trustees should also obtain recommendations from the Beach Club to provide guidance for increased capital spending by the Village to improve safety as previously addressed. Finally, the Mayor proposed that the Board authorize a new 2-year License Agreement with the Wee Wah Beach Club with several major terms including:
Annual Fee – the Village will charge the WWBC an annual license fee of $5,000, based on common membership fees being paid by the Village and Hamlet and on the mix of memberships for 2008.

Operation and Staffing must be in full compliance with the laws of New York State regarding public beaches and recreational areas.

An insurance carrier satisfactory to the Village must be hired (licensed in and regulated under the laws of New York State) with the Village listed as an additional insured and with the addition of $2 million of umbrella coverage under the liability policy. An original copy of the entire policy must be delivered to Village no later than one week prior to the start of the season.

New eligible members should include: (1) volunteers of Tuxedo Volunteer Fire Dept - Company #1 who hold a minimum of 50 LOSAP points; (2) members of the Tuxedo Ambulance Corp. who have been active for the prior twelve months; and (3) full time employees of the Village.

Beach Managers must be employed during the weekday operating hours of the peak season running from not less than June 23 until August 1 Beach in order to ensure the safe operation of the Wee Wah beach facilities. On the weekends, qualified adult volunteers will serve in this capacity.

Subject to legal review, new boundaries should be set to delineate the beach area to facilitate the non-beach use of the recreation and picnic areas by Village residents during off- season periods.

Beach Club Board Elections should be held by April 16 with 3 weeks prior notice given. Signed absentee ballots with write-in candidates should be permitted. Cumulative voting should not be allowed.

A member from the Board of Trustees (or a Village representative) must be named by the Village to serve as a voting Board member. Trustee Worthy has been so named for 2008.

A list of necessary capital improvements should be developed jointly by The Beach Club Board and the Village Improvement Advisory Committee and submitted with cost estimates to the Village by February 15 each year to enable the Village to evaluate the funding requests in its annual budget process.

The Wee Wah Beach Club must report periodically to the Village on the results of its elections and on its officers, employees and volunteers as well as its goals and the concerns and complaints of the membership. In addition, the Board must receive detailed annual financial information of the Wee Wah Beach Club regarding the prior season’s operating results by December 31.

The Village of Tuxedo Park can suspend the rights granted to the Beach Club under the License Agreements at any time in its absolute discretion without cost or consequence, for the cause, including but not limited to, water conditions, dam repairs, public safety, or any material violation of the terms under this License Agreement.

The Mayor then made a motion to authorize negotiations, following which the Board discussed the suggested terms at length. Trustee Shaw expressed her strong desire to see a 1-year lease agreement, stating that a 2-year agreement is not in the best interest of the Village. A 1-year lease would give the Village greater flexibility moving forward. The Mayor responded that 1 year is not enough time to institute any meaningful change at the Club, however two years would allow more time for capital improvements as well as new memberships. Because Club elections are limited to members only, the two year time period would allow Village residents, who wish to institute change, to join the club this year and potentially impact next year’s election. Trustee Worthy commented that re-evaluating the lease on a yearly basis and addressing the same issues again and again would be a burden for the Board. She suggested that a 2-year lease would be a good compromise from the current three-year term. The issue of equalizing fees between Village and Hamlet members was discussed. Trustee Darby stated that the Club should run at cost and fund itself entirely without help from the Village. He also suggested that the Club provide for some of the capital improvements. Trustee Worthy suggested that the $5000 users fee be earmarked for capital improvements and the Board was in agreement. Trustee Shaw commented that hiring a third party management company to run the Club has many advantages, specifically liability coverage as well as administrative responsibility. She continued on to say that hiring a third party management company would allow the volunteers to focus their efforts elsewhere. Trustee Hansen seconded Trustee Shaw’s comments on third party management, suggesting that it would be easier for lifeguards who didn’t know the members personally to make judgment calls (such as when to come out of the water) associated with their job. Human Nature, he commented, can sometimes be a conflict of interest. Mayor Stebbins responded that while the idea of third party Management is worthy of consideration, there is not enough time to implement such a plan before the 2008 swimming season. Trustee Worthy commented that if residents are not getting what they want out of the Beach Club as it is currently, they should join the club, run for the Board and make the changes they desire from within the system. It should be up to the Beach Club and NOT the Board of Trustees whether or not to investigate third party management. She further stated that she feels there is a great benefit to having lifeguards who know the members personally. The Mayor agreed with these comments and stated that third party management needs to be properly evaluated before it is instituted. It was agreed that the Beach Club should be asked to investigate this possibility. The Trustees then discussed the idea of having Village Residents vote for Village Board members and Hamlet residents vote for Hamlet Board members. It was agreed that the Club would be asked to implement this change in the voting process.
The Board then voted 3 to 2 in favor of renegotiating a two-year lease, encompassing the discussed terms. The Mayor along with Trustees Darby and Worthy voted in favor of the negotiations, while Trustees Hansen and Shaw voted against them.

The Board then discussed the Mission statements of both the Village Improvement Advisory Committee and the Emergency and Disaster Advisory Committee. It was agreed that both mission statements would be accepted with some slight modification to the VIAC’s statement.

Proposed new Local Law #2 regarding Viewshed Overlay Districts in the Village was then discussed. On behalf of the Viewshed Advisory Committee, Gary Glynn gave a synopsis of the proposed legislation. The Committee, together with Village Planner Bonnie Franson, Technical Consultant Tim Miller and Attorney Mike Donnelly, has put together new legislation which strives to protect key visual landscapes within the Village. The thought behind this legislation is that there are critical scenic Viewsheds within the Village that if altered would diminish the historical and aesthetic character of Tuxedo Park. The committee voted unanimously on the identification of two such districts, which they have named Gateway and Ridge. The Gateway District encompasses those landscapes visible from either of the gateway roads entering the Park. The Ridge District encompasses those landscapes visible while circling the Lakes or from the Lakes themselves. The legislation proposes new standards for building within these districts, which require structures to blend in with the land and limits them in terms of height and size. In addition, structures must be constructed with materials and colors that fit the surrounding landscape and cannot be built on certain areas identified as high spots. Finally, under the proposed legislation no new driveways will be allowed on either Tuxedo Road or South Gate Road. If adopted, these standards will apply to existing structures as well as new development. Also, changes to the Village Zoning Code will be required. In closing, Mr. Glynn stated that if adopted the legislation should reduce any uncertainty for people who want to build in the proposed districts as well as the Boards overseeing these applications as it clearly defines the standards for building in these areas.

Following the presentation, Mayor Stebbins commented that public input will be an extremely important aspect of the process and suggested scheduling a Public Hearing as soon as possible. Trustee Darby stated that because the proposed law is extremely complex and so important, he would like to schedule an informational meeting for Board members and residents alike in order to have a better understanding of the legislation before moving forward. Such a meeting would allow for the Committee along with Village Planner Bonnie Franson and legal counsel Mike Donnelly to make a more thorough, detailed presentation and answer any questions that Board members might have. In addition, Trustee Darby stated that he would like to see formal, written comments from both the Planning Board and the Board of Architectural Review before moving forward with the legislation. Planning Board Chair JoAnn Hanson commented that the Planning Board has already circulated the proposed law and that Board members are completely comfortable with what it proposes. Board of Architectural Review Chair, Chiu Yin Hempel commented that while the BAR has been thinking about the issues associated with Viewsheds in the Village for quite a while, she can see the value of a public education. A meeting date was then set for January 29, 2008 at 7:30pm.

Finally, the Board discussed membership in the Ramapo River Watershed Intermunicipal Council. This organization is backed by both the states of New York and New Jersey and seeks to bring municipalities together in order to evaluate the current state and conditions of our watershed as a whole. The Board voted unanimously in favor of joining the Council for an annual fee of $300. Resident Jim Hayes will represent the Village at Council meetings and report back to the Board.

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