Village Board of Trustees Meeting July 16, 2008

The Village of Tuxedo Park Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, August 20 2008 at 7:30pm.

Mayoral Report
During his Mayoral report, Mayor Stebbins announced that The DEC Consent Order against the Village (Tuxedo Lake Dam) is an ongoing situation. It is now clear that all trees and vegetation immediately surrounding both Village dams must be removed in order to improve the integrity of the earth as well as the individual embankments.
With regard to the Budget, the Mayor reported that the Village’s cash position is running ahead of where it was at this time last year. However, $64,000 has been spent on legal expenses in the last two months, largely as a result of the DEC consent Order. While this is certainly a dismaying figure, the Mayor commented that expenses would be much greater if litigation were involved
During the months of July and August algae has been building in the Wee Wah, which is normal for this time of year. Because the amount of algae is minimal and poses no immediate threat, treatment action has not been taken. Princeton Hydro, the firm hired by the Village to create a watershed management plan, has been informed of the situation. In addition, the Village has learned that a permit much be obtained from the DEC before algae treatment can take place and the permitting process is a lengthy one (9-10 months). Therefore, in order to obtain the option of treating the algae bloom next summer, the Village must apply for a permit within the next few months.
Finally, the Mayor reported that 70% of Village residents are now participating in the recycling program, which up from less than 50% earlier this year.

Trustee Reports
Deputy Mayor Jim Hays
announced that moving forward each Trustee would have an opportunity to update the Board regarding their individual areas of focus at monthly meetings. He then went on to report on the following:
DPW – Jim met with Acting DPW Superintendent Jeff Voss in an effort to better familiarize himself with the department and any issues they are currently experiencing. These meetings will continue on a monthly basis. Currently, most pressing is the need for a new coat of paint on the DPW shed.
VIAC – Jim met with the VIAC to discuss committee membership as well as current and future projects for the group. Membership is down and the committee is seeking motivated residents to join in their efforts. The committee has expressed concern that electricity for Village streetlamps is not metered. Because roughly 40% of Village street lamps are currently not working, Village residents could be paying more than necessary for electricity they are not receiving.
Town of Tuxedo – Jim met with Town Supervisor Peter Dolan to discuss issues in the town that have a direct effect on the Village and it’s residents. Tuxedo Reserve has submitted a revision to their Special Permit, which contains substantial changes from the original plan. On September 15, 2008, the Town Council and the Town Planning Board will hold a joint meeting with Tuxedo Reserve to discuss these changes. Concerned residents are encouraged to attend.

Trustee Charlotte Worthy reported on the following:
Infrastructure Advisory Committee - this committee has begun assembling a master list of repairs that are needed. Immediate attention must be given to the chlorine mixing building, where equipment needs to be replaced due to corrosion. While investigating these structural repairs, the committee has also been looking at solar power as an alternate source of heating for the structure. Trustee Worthy commented that this effort might be viewed as a way to “jumpstart” the Village in terms of using alternate sources of power.
The BAR – In reviewing the overall BAR process, this board has been discussing the manner in which neighbors of applicants are notified about projects before the BAR. Some Board members feel that the applicant, rather than the Village, should be responsible for informing their neighbors of proposed plans. Neighbors would then need to check the Village website for BAR meeting agendas in order to ascertain the progress of the project.

Trustee Tinka Shaw reported on the following:
Princeton Hydro has begun testing samples from all three Village lakes in an effort to establish a baseline for their study of our Watershed. The results of this study will ultimately be used to establish a lakes management plan for the Village. Sampling will continue throughout the fall.
The Citizens Statewide Lakes Assessment Program (CSLAP) is in progress and running smoothly. The next round of testing will be done on August 24, with testing to continue through the month of October. Results of the testing will be condensed into an annual report, which is due out in March of 2009.
Finally, Scott Kishbaugh of the DEC has begun taking samples from the lakes for the Village’s role in the New York State Study of Lakes.

Trustee Chris Hansen had no report to offer. Instead, he commented that he had written an article on the Sterling Place Settlement back in early June and was disappointed that it had not yet been posted on the Village website. He requested that it be posted as soon as possible in the section established for Trustee comments.

Police Report
Chief Sanford was not present. In his absence Mayor Stebbins commented on a few key points from this month’s Police Report. In the past month there have been a few incidences of non-residents gaining access to the Village. In one case, an individual pulled their car up to the Tuxedo Club and asked for directions to the Renaissance Festival. In addition, police have noticed non-resident commuters parking their cars in the St. Mary’s lot, probably in an effort to avoid paying parking permit fees in the town. While the later can be fairly easily monitored, several possible solutions, including random security checks on non-residents, are being considered as a way to beef up security in general.
Several complaints have been received with regard to dogs roaming free, relieving themselves on residential properties and in some cases frightening young children. The Mayor reminded everyone that while there are no leash laws in the Village, dog owners must be more diligent and clean up after their pets when they leave a mess on somebody else’s property.
Due to the high number of complaints, Police have begun issuing more summonses for speeding. To date, 10 tickets have been issued for the month of August.

DPW Report
Acting DWP Superintendent Jeff Voss expressed his gratitude to the Board for hiring new full-time employee William Kyles. Mr. Kyles has proven himself to be a knowledgeable, hardworking addition to the department.
The Orange County Department of Labor paid a follow-up visit to the Water Plant. All previous violations have been abated and the plant was given a satisfactory report.
The Orange County Department of Health has reported that only 65% of production coming from the Water Plant is reflected as metered water sales. Both the Mayor and Trustee Shaw expressed extreme concern over this issue and suggested that the Village must first validate this calculation and then investigate where the other 35% is going.

Advisory Committee Reports
On behalf of the Infrastructure Advisory Committee, Jake Lindsay reported that the group has completed their Mission Statement and submitted it to the Mayor for approval. The committee is working to put together a comprehensive five-year plan and plans to work with the Village Engineer as well as the Board of Trustees to identify and prioritize projects. The committee is open to new members. Currently, there are four, as follows:
Jake Lindsay – Chair
Oliver Parker
Eric Honor
Charlotte Worthy (Trustee Liaison)
Having reviewed the crack in the foundation at the sewer plant, Mr. Lindsay reported that the damage, appears to be caused by soil settlement in one corner of the building. Soil borings will determine the extent of repairs. The condition looks worse than it is and should be relatively uncomplicated to repair.

Building Permits
Building permits were approved for Applicants Lin/Mott and Markus.
The Board then discussed escrow deposits from both The Tuxedo Club and The Mengels with regard to their permits.

Public Comments
Tony Mason inquired as to when Orange and Rockland would begin trimming trees in the Village and was informed that this service has already begun. He further inquired about the number of nonfunctioning streetlamps and was informed by Mayor Stebbins that O & R will no longer service the light fixtures that the Village currently uses. As O & R does not offer any environmentally friendly lighting solutions, the Village has decided to wait until they do. In the meantime, they will work to see that lighting is restored in key areas. Mr. Mason responded that in his opinion, the Village cannot depend on O & R and offered the name of another company that might be able to assist with the problem. The Mayor thanked Mr. Mason and asked him to please forward along the contact information, but assured him that O & R has agreed to take action. Mr. Mason suggested giving O & R a deadline for repairs as daylight savings time is rapidly approaching. Trustee Worthy commented that perhaps O & R should be contacted and asked to provide us with a schedule of repair, which should then be posted on the Village Website.
Alan Heywood commented that recent strong storms have left a great deal of debris on Village roads and as a result, there are many areas that need sweeping. The Mayor responded that the DPW is already at work on this task, however Mr. Heywood should report any specific areas of concern to the Village Office. Mr. Heywood then inquired about future plans for paving and resurfacing the roads, commenting that there are specific areas (such as the upper section of Club House Road and the stretch of West Lake Road between Duck Hollow and the Mengel residence) that are badly in need of repair. Jeff Voss responded that repaving and resurfacing is on the DPW’s agenda for the fall and that the aforementioned areas are on their list.
Finally, Mr. Heywood commented that he has observed several fallen trees in the Village lakes and suggested that the individual property owners should be responsible for their removal. Mayor Stebbins agreed and asked Mr. Heywood to please site the specifics of his observations to the Village Office.

Old Business
The Mayor made a correction to the Reorganization Memorandum, which was circulated in July. The Village Planning Board will meet two times a month (first and third Mondays) and not one as originally noted

The Board considered draft legislation for a new local law pertaining to noise on weekends and holidays. The legislation proposes banning all noise-baring work (lawn mowing, leaf blowing, weed whacking, tree removal, use of chainsaws etc) by professional firms (landscapers, tree services etc) on Saturday, Sunday and NYS recognized Holidays. Individual property owners, however, will be allowed to engage in noise-baring work Saturdays and Sundays between the hours of 9am and 4pm. No such work will be permitted on NYS recognized Holidays.
Trustee Hansen suggested that leaf blowing by professional firms should be permitted on 2 weekends each fall, to allow for timely leaf removal.
A public hearing on this proposed legislation will be held on Wednesday, September 17.

The Board considered draft legislation for a new local law regarding a Building Moratorium for Ridgeline and Precipice areas. A new draft of this law, prepared by Planning Board and BAR Attorney Rick Golden was presented.
Trustee Shaw inquired about a section of the new draft, which eliminates the possibility of applicants receiving waivers from the BZA during the proposed moratorium. Mr. Golden explained that the purpose of the Moratorium is to allow the BZA time to focus on the issue at hand and that they would not be able to do this if they were faced with constant waiver requests. He further commented that the waiver process is a lengthy one and could potentially take an applicant almost as long as the proposed Moratorium. Trustee Shaw further inquired about the proposed increase in length of the moratorium from 6 to 9 months. Mayor Stebbins responded that the process of ironing out and establishing clear ridgeline and precipice zoning laws could be a lengthy one.
Trustee Hansen expressed concern with a section of the proposed law, which sets an elevation of 800 ft as the baseline for those areas to be affected by the Moratorium. He further commented that there are many properties in the Village that are above 800ft in elevation and sit nowhere near either a ridgeline or precipice. He argued that these properties should not be affected by the proposed Moratorium.
Mr. Golden responded that because the terms “ridgeline” and “precipice” are not clearly defined by the Village Code, it is necessary to come up another delineation in order to determine which properties will be affected.
Trustee Hanson suggested that the Building Inspector should be given the task of determining the affected properties.
Richard Witte inquired as to whether or not his property on Tower Hill Loop would be affected by the proposed legislation. Mr. Witte has received the necessary variance from the BZA for construction on a ridgeline, however he does not have final approval from the Planning Board or the BAR.
Mr. Golden responded that under the proposed legislation Mr. Witte’s property would be affected.
Trustee Shaw expressed serious concern with Mr. Witte’s situation, commenting that Mr. Witte should not have to put his project off for 9 months if he has already received BZA approval.
After much discussion it was decided that a new version of the legislation, reflecting these concerns would be drafted and put to public hearing on September 17, 2008.

New Business
The Board considered pursuing civil litigation in Orange County Supreme Court against Doug Dyne for on going violations on his property located on Summit Road. Attorney Rick Golden explained to the Board that while legal action has already been taken against Mr. Dyne in Justice Court, only a Supreme Court Judge has the power to force abatement. Law requires that the Board pass a resolution authorizing action in the Supreme Court.
Mayor Stebbins inquired about the potential costs of such litigation. Attorney Golden responded that while it could become costly, civil penalties will be awarded to the Village if they are successful and these should cover much of the cost.
Commenting on his own behalf, Mr. Dyne stated that he has made terrific progress on the property in the last 2 months, having removed 10-12 truckloads of material and between 55-60 large objects. He continued on to say that he is working diligently every day to improve the situation and feels that he is doing the best he can.
The Board thanked Mr. Dyne for his statement and informed him that they would make their decision during Executive Session. Later in the evening, the Board voted in favor of allowing the Village Attorney to pursue legal action against Mr. Dyne. Mayor Stebbins abstained from voting on the grounds that Mr. Dyne is his next-door neighbor.

The Board of Trustees is looking for an Attorney, who will attend its monthly meetings and offer advice as needed. After a lengthy discussion a resolution was passed naming Burke, Miele & Golden, LLP as Attorneys for the Village.

Formation of Advisory Committees and determination of their membership was discussed. The Mayor commented that committee members had been listed as TBD in the Reorganization Memo in an effort to reflect the revolving nature of committee membership. He further commented that it was not his intention to imply that committees should begin each year with an entirely new membership and that he regretted not giving a more thorough answer when the issue was brought up at last month’s meeting. Trustee Hays inquired about the amount of control the Board of Trustees holds over Advisory Committees and to what degree they should be involved in determining committee membership. He further commented that perhaps the Board should determine the Chairs for each committee and the Chairs would then determine the committee members. Trustee Shaw expressed some concern with this idea and suggested that residents at large should be informed of committee openings and encouraged to join if interested. She suggested that the Mayor should compose a target e-mail to be sent to Village residents in hopes of soliciting new volunteers.
Mayor Stebbins commented that the Mission Statement process, which requires each committee to outline their primary focus for the coming year as well as provide the Board with a list of members and a meeting schedule, is a good way for the BOT to manage the committees and to make sure they are focused in the right direction. He then expressed some concern over the Environmental Committees’ use of New York State Regulators (specifically Scott Kishbaughof the DEC) and commented that these regulators must be closely monitored in order to make sure that they do not reveal information about Village lakes to other regulators. He further commented that while the Village certainly has nothing to hide, he feels that it is important to monitor the situation given the on-going situation with the Tuxedo Lake Dam. Both Trustees Hays and Shaw responded that they do not believe Mr. Kishbaugh poses any potential threat to the on-going DEC action with the Tuxedo Lake Dam.

Finally, The Board discussed the collection policy for unpaid professional fees. Currently, the Village is owed a total of $116,000, which is roughly half of the original amount owed a year ago. After a lengthy review of outstanding debts, it was decided that Village Attorney Rick Golden would draft a cordial but firm collection letter. Trustee Hays suggested that those residents who do not pay their debts to the Village should have their names posted to the Village website for all to see, adding that perhaps the threat of such publicity would hasten payments.

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