Village Board of Trustees Meeting June 23, 2008

The Village Board of Trustees met on Monday, June 23, 2008 at 7:30pm.
Trustee Shaw was absent.

Mayor Stebbins began the meeting by thanking all 4 candidates who ran in the recent Trustee Election. He commented that 4 candidates is a strong number in a small community like the Village. He further commented he is looking forward to working with Trustee Worthy and Trustee-elect Hays and that he couldn’t think of two better candidates to address both the environmental and infrastructure issues currently facing the Village. Next, the Mayor gave a special thanks to Trustee and Deputy Mayor Darby, whose term as trustee will expire this month. He commented that Trustee Darby has had a direct influence on many issues such as the Village Police, both Village Dams and Village Finance and that his on-going contributions will be sorely missed.
The Village has entered into a contract with Princeton Hydro and is moving forward with the Lakes Management Plan. Mayor Stebbins offered a special thank you to Environmental Advisory Committee Chair Sally Spooner as well as committee member Susan Goodfellow for their hard work in putting the contract out to bid and evaluating bids received. In addition he recognized their tireless effort in pursuing this central environmental issue for the Village.
Together with engineers Weston & Sampson, the Village is moving forward with the GIS digital mapping system. Once completed, the Village will have converted 23 very old, paper maps into a digital format. This will allow for a more detailed understanding of Village infrastructure and will be a central element as the Village moves forward with infrastructure improvements and repairs over the next year.
Finally, Mayor Stebbins congratulated acting Chief Ken Sanford, who passed his Chief’s exam in the month of May. The Board looks forwards to considering Sgt. Sanford for the position of Chief of Village Police.

Trustee Darby reported that the Village is in sound fiscal condition.
He continued on to comment that while there is still much to be done, he feels that the Village has made several solid accomplishments during his term as Deputy Mayor. He offered specific compliments to both Sgt. Sanford as well as Acting DPW Superintendent Jeff Voss for running their departments smoothly and operating well within their budgets. He also extended a special thank you to Mayor Stebbins for all his hard work and support. Finally, he commented that he has enjoyed working with both his fellow trustees as well as the staff in the Village office and that it has been his great pleasure to serve the Village. He thanked the residents of Tuxedo Park for making this possible.

Acting Police Chief Sanford reported the following for the month of May:
Criminal Complaints – 1 (relating to potted plants stolen from the Wee Wah Beach Club)
Non-Criminal Complaints – 51
Property Damage Complaints – 2
Burglar Alarms – 6 (all false)
Fire Alarms – 6 (all false)
Medical Calls – 1
Speeding summonses – 10
13,128 non-resident vehicles entered the Village through the Front Gate.

Acting DPW Superintendent Voss did not have anything to report. Mayor Stebbins inquired about the plans for road resurfacing around the Village and was informed that the crew is diligently patching the roads as they can. In addition, once the construction has been completed on the Mengel home this fall, they plan to resurface a large portion of West Lake Road. Mayor Stebbins commented that the new GIS mapping system would allow the DPW to create a continuous rotating plan for resurfacing the roads.

On behalf of the Wildlife Advisory Committee, Sally Sonne reported that the deadline for wildlife questionnaires would be extended one more month in order to allow more residents to respond. The committee has received 87 responses so far, but would like to see more before tabulating their results and making a report at next month’s Board meeting.
The questionnaires were sent out to all residents by mail, but can also be downloaded from the Village Website.

During the Public Comment period, Alan Heywood inquired as to whether or not the Village Gate Guard could refine the number of non-resident vehicles entering the Park each month by categorizing them as landscapers, construction trucks or private vehicles. Sgt. Sanford responded that this could be done.
Susan Goodfellow offered her thanks to Deputy Mayor Darby for his hard work and service to the Village.
Former Mayor Kent Krober also expressed his gratitude to the Deputy Mayor.

A resolution labeling the 2 remaining firearms left over from former Police Chief Culhaine as surplus Police equipment was made and unanimously passed. This will allow Sgt. Sanford to sell the weapons for a total of $825. A similar resolution was passed in April and Sgt. Sanford sold the other 7 weapons for a total of $2,400.

A resolution to appoint Victoria Morrison as a part time traffic guard was made and unanimously passed.

Mayor Stebbins made motion to appoint current Vice Chair Paola Tocci as BAR Chairman due to the necessary but unfortunate resignation of former BAR chair, Chiu Yin Hempel. This motion was unanimously approved.
The Mayor then made a second motion to appoint Jackie Urra to the BAR for a 3-year term in an effort to fill the vacant seat. He commented that Ms. Urra, originally considered for the BAR in 2007, is very close to receiving her architectural license and has expressed an interest in serving the Village. He continued on to comment that Ms. Urra is in the process of selling her home and possibly relocating, however, the details of her relocation are unknown at this time.
Trustee Hansen questioned whether it was a good idea to appointment a resident who may only be able to serve for a short period of time.
Mayor Stebbins responded that because of recent inquiries into former Mayor McFadden’s appointment of P.A. Howard to the BAR, there is a possibility that this board might lose another member. Should P.A. resign, the Board will be left with 3 members and therefore complete attendance will be necessary at all meetings in order to ensure a quorum, The appointment of Ms. Urra would solve the quorum issue for the month of July. The Mayor suggested that the remaining make-up of the BAR be discussed at the July BOT meeting, as this would give him more time to talk with PA Howard directly in an effort to better understand both his position and intentions for the future before moving forward.
Trustee Hanson suggested that the Board affirm P.A.’s appointment to the BAR, despite the “grey area” surrounding his original appointment, in order to ensure that the decisions he has made while serving are valid.
Trustee Darby concurred that affirming P.A.’s appointment would be the prudent thing to do.
Mayor Stebbins replied that there is no “grey area” surrounding P.A.’s original appointment because the Village Code (which states that all appointments to the BAR must be voted on and approved by the Board of Trustees) preempts the NYS law, therefore he was not properly appointed by then mayor McFadden. He then reiterated that he would like to speak with P.A. directly before moving forward.
He continued on to say that previous BAR rulings are not in jeopardy and that waiting a month would also allow him time to review other potential candidates for the BAR. He further commented that it is his belief that positions on the Village Boards should be filled by candidates who posses the necessary skill sets for the job and not by political appointments. In the meantime, he stressed the need to move forward with Ms. Urra’s appointment in order to ensure a quorum for the coming the month.
Trustee Hansen commented that in his opinion, the Board should wait to see if P.A. wishes to resign before moving forward with a candidate search and that the Village would not be setting a good precedent by appointing a candidate to the BAR whose home is under contract and whose relocation plans are uncertain.
Mayor Stebbins commented that it would not be necessary to wait for P.A. to resign before moving forward as he was never properly appointed.
Trustee Worthy responded that Ms. Urra is an architect in training who possesses the credentials that the Village desires in a candidate for the BAR. In her opinion it would not be fair for the Trustees to make assumptions about Ms. Urra’s future plans when considering her candidacy.
The Mayor concurred with Trustee Worthy and repeated his motion to appoint her to the BAR. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved by the Board.

The Public Hearing for Local Law Introductory #4 (pertaining to lakes and ponds) was continued. Susan Goodfellow expressed concern with a section of the legislation that
allows any resident of the Village or accompanied guest of a Village resident to fish in or on the waters of Wee Wah Lake. The Village Code does not state which properties owned by the Village are included or excluded for access. Mrs. Goodfellow questioned whether or not it should be permissible for residents of any age to fish from any and all Village properties that abut the lake, as there are many hazards around the shorelines of the Wee Wah, including muck that acts like quicksand. In addition, the DPW property is loaded with machinery and trucks and materials that constitute an “attractive nuisance.” She then inquired about the liability the Village would be incurring by allowing unhampered, unsupervised access. Mrs. Goodfellow continued on to cite a section of the law that allows residents to launch and retrieve boats from the Wee Wah at the Village DPW site. Again, she questioned the wisdom and safety of allowing young children unsupervised access to a water hazard.
In response, Trustee Darby suggested that a new section be added to the legislation authorizing the Board to create and apply a diligent set of rules and regulations, which would address Mrs. Goodfellows concerns. After further discussion, the Board agreed to this suggestion and a new section was drafted and added to the law.
Former Mayor Kent Kroeber commented that the section of the law pertaining to boathouses was discriminatory as written because it stated that “no person may own more than one such structure” however there are residents who own multiple lake front properties and they should be allowed to have a boathouse on each. After much discussion it was determined that the rights to own a boathouse should run with the property and not the individual resident and that each property should be allowed only one such structure. The law was redrafted to reflect this.
Tom Salierno commented that throughout the law rights are given to Village residents, however there are land-owning taxpayers who are not Village residents and this should be reflected in the law. The Board agreed and this change was incorporated into the language of the law.
Jim Hays commented that there should be specific sites from which boats can be launched on the Wee Wah in order to avoid shoreline erosion.
Peter Regna questioned the section of the law pertaining to grandfathering docks currently in existence and inquired as the whether or not a dock needs to be deployed on the lake to be considered for this status. He suggested that the wording of the law be altered to say “docks currently in use” rather than “currently in existence” as a dock might exist in a location other than the lake and this loop-hole might allow for sneaky residents to put large docks on the lake in the future. Trustee Darby suggested that the law be altered to say “docks legally employable on the lake” and the Board agreed with this change.
Dena Steele inquired whether the section of the law that forbids dogs to swim in the Wee Wah was only applicable during the months that the Wee Wah Beach Club is open. She was informed that State Regulations mandate that animals are not allowed to swim in a secondary water source.
As there were no more comments, the Public Hearing was closed.
Attorney Mike Donnelly reviewed the changes and identified them as clarifications rather than major alterations.
Trustee Darby then made a motion to adopt Local Law Introductory #4. The Board voted unanimously in favor of adopting the law.
Immediately following, the Board voted unanimously in favor of approving the Village Boat Club’s application for expansion.
Former Mayor Kent Kroeber then inquired about the Tuxedo Club’s application and after much discussion with regard application alterations and dock positioning, the Board voted unanimously in favor of approval.

The Public Hearing for Local Law Introductory #2 (pertaining to Gateway Overlay District) was opened.
Former Mayor Kent Kroeber read a copy of a letter he had written to the Mayor and Trustees in which he expressed opposition to the proposed legislation. In his letter, Mr. Kroeber suggested that the portion of the law pertaining to Tuxedo Road will affect very few undeveloped parcels and, therefore, appears to be improper spot zoning. With regard to the portion of the law that will affect Southgate Road, Mr. Kroeber questioned the boundaries of the district as several of those noted in the law, including one undeveloped parcel he owns, are actually located in the Town of Tuxedo and not the Village. He continued on to say that the Village already has in place extensive requirements for site plan and architectural review of any construction that may be proposed on this lot or any other and that part of the existing architectural review process is a consideration of how proposed construction fits into the natural terrain. He suggested that whatever goals are sought by the new legislation can already be accomplished through the proper application of the existing code provisions. He also expressed concern that the proposed legislation would force his home as well as the Libby home into a state of nonconforming use and that this might prevent them from adding on to their homes in the future. Mr. Kroeber concluded by stating that the proposed legislation is entirely unnecessary to achieve its stated purposes and appears to be unlawful spot zoning intended to place unreasonable burdens on two or three parcels of property.
Mayor Stebbins responded by asking Village Planner Bonnie Franson to address Mr. Kroeber’s concerns with regard to the proposed district boundaries. Ms. Franson began by clearly defining the boundaries of the Southgate District, explaining that they had been derived from tax maps. She further commented that the actual map (which was circulated), rather than the descriptive language of the law, governs where the law would be applicable.
Attorney Mike Donnelly then explained that there is a difference between a nonconforming use (which requires a very difficult variance to get around) and a non complying building. While he acknowledged that the proposed legislation would make it difficult for Mr. Kroeber to build an addition on his home, he noted that it would not be impossible.
Greg Libby expressed concern over the restrictions that the proposed legislation will have on his property as he has already invested quite a bit of time and money into plans for his home.
Joe Perez commented that he owns one of the only undeveloped parcels of land in the gateway district, which is located at the corner of East Lake Stable and Tuxedo Roads. He expressed concern that the proposed legislation would eliminate the possibility of building a home on the parcel and would also devalue the property dramatically. He questioned the need for the law considering the number of restrictions the Village already has in place.
Viewshed Committee Chair Gary Glynn asked attorney Mike Donnelly to explain why the legislation would NOT constitute reverse spot zoning, as has been suggested by Mr. Kroeber as well as Richard O’Rourke, attorney for Tuxedo Park Estates at a previous meeting. After some discussion, it was decided that Mr. Donnelly would not offer an explanation as the situation with Tuxedo Park Estates is ongoing.
As there were no more comments, the public hearing was closed.
The Mayor then asked each of the Trustees for their comments on the proposed legislation.
Trustee Hansen stated that while he supports the concept of preserving Tuxedo Road, he does not feel that this should be done with a zoning law. He further commented that many of the restrictions outlined in the proposed law are already in the Village code and that it was unnecessary to burden property owners with further restrictions. He expressed concern that the legislation would have unintended consequences. He commented that building in the Village would be much harder with the law in place and that potential property owners would simply seek to buy land in other communities. In addition he suggested that because of the increased number of restrictions, the Village would likely see more speculators building cheap homes of low quality rather than individuals seeking their “dream home.” He commented that in his opinion, there are other ways to accomplish the same goals set forth in the law without passing this legislation. Finally, he cited the potential lawsuit, threatened by Tuxedo Park Estates at the May BOT meeting, and suggested that the Board should discuss these matters in executive session before moving forward.
Trustee Worthy commented that she did not agree with Trustee Hansen and that the Board was not in a position to hypothesize that speculators will come to the Village to build. She stated that the legislation was designed to enhance the quality of all residents’ lives and that she is in strong support of it because she feels it will both protect and enhance the Village of Tuxedo Park.
Trustee Darby commented that the proposed law had been years in the making and that in his opinion the need to enhance and protect the Village viewsheds is crucial. He further stated that he has full confidence in the abilities of both Village Planner Bonnie Franson and Committee Chair Gary Glynn and that he feels the law achieves its objectives in both an effective and appropriate manner. Finally, he pointed out that the Village Boards will retain the right to grant exceptions as need be and concluded by expressing his support for the law.
Mayor Stebbins commented that the overall goal of the proposed legislation is something that needs to be addressed now and as it has been in gestation for two years he feels that the time to move forward with it has arrived. With regard to Trustee Hansen’s concerns about unintended consequences, specifically the threat of speculators building low quality houses, the Mayor commented that existing code provisions and Board expertise makes it extremely difficult for speculators to build cheap homes. He concluded by stating that he could not think of a more important viewshed in the Park other than the gateway area and that it must be protected.
A motion was then made to adopt Local Law introductory #2. The Board voted in favor of the law 3-1, which Trustee Hanson voting against it.

back to top