The Village Board of Trustees met on January 21, 2009 at 7:30pm.
Trustee Worthy was absent.
During his Mayoral report, Mayor Stebbins gave a brief review of the Village’s economic standing as of December 31, 2008. While it appears that the Village’s current cash position is running about $7000 behind where it was at this time last year, this is a direct result of necessary out-of-budget spending related to engineering and infrastructure costs and that most of these funds will be reimbursed to the Village once financing for infrastructure projects has begun. The Mayor commented that the Village is rapidly approaching the point where arrangements for borrowing can be made and Sal Pennini, Capital Market Advisor to the Village, has suggested that the Village begin a dialogue with Chase, their lending bank. This process has begun. Priority number one will be the Village dams and as discussions with the DEC are ongoing, it is important to have the funds in place to proceed with this project as soon as it is possible to more forward.
In addition, there remain some outstanding professional fee bills and water bills, which, once collected, will help to improve the Village’s cash budget position.
Deputy Mayor Report
Deputy Mayor Jim Hays reported that several DPW vehicles have been moved under cover at the Town’s warehouse space located on Benjamin Meadow Road as discussed at the December BOT meeting. The Town and the Village continue to explore methods for sharing equipment and services. The Town has established a heavy vehicle inspection station, also on Benjamin Meadow Road, and will inspect Village trucks at no cost.
Chief Sanford reported the following for the month of December:
Non-Criminal Complaints – 37
Property Damage Complaints – 2
Speeding Tickets Issued – 0
Burglar Alarms – 10 (all false)
Medical Calls – 1
Assists Given to the Town Police – 3
Assists Received from the Town Police – 1
8, 873 non-tagged vehicles passed through the Front Gate.
Additionally, Chief Sanford reported that there have been some issues at the Front Gate related to non-residents entering and exiting the Village. More specifically, there have been several instances where the Gate Guard has been verbally abused by non-residents seeking entry for various reasons. As a result, Mayor Stebbins has asked Chief Sanford to consider possible methods of rectifying the situation and the Chief is proposing the installation of a video surveillance system complete with audio capability similar to that already in operation at the South Gate. Recording all interaction that takes place at the Front Gate would be a surefire way of protecting both the Village and the Police Department. Chief Sanford presented the Board with a proposal for the project, which he obtained from the company who currently maintains the camera located at the South Gate.
Mayor Stebbins commented that in his opinion installing the camera is a good idea and he would be in favor of moving forward with the project. Trustee Hansen suggested that at least one other bid for the project should be obtained. He also suggested that once installed, the system should be designed to capture only interaction between the Gate Guard and the public and not all interaction that takes place inside the booth. Chief Sanford agreed with both suggestions and stated that he would line up a second offer.
In DPW Superintendent Jeff Voss’s absence, Mayor Stebbins reported that the department has received their new truck complete with plow and that it has been put into service.
Infrastructure Advisory Committee: On behalf of the I.A.C., Jake Lindsay reported that the committee had submitted a detailed report outlining priority items for Board review. At this time, they strongly recommend that the Board approve Westin and Sampson’s request for $7,000 to move forward with the modeling validation of the Village water system. Phase one of this project, which relates to tying the Sterling Place development into the Village water system was approved by the Board and completed at the expense of Sterling Place. This second phase of the project, however, focuses entirely on the Village and has not yet received Board approval. As the proposed testing and analysis will tie directly into the eventual relocation of waterlines from the Tuxedo Lake Dam area as well as overall system improvements, the committee is urging the Board to move forward.
Mr. Lindsay also reported that the I.A.C. has determined the cost of replacing the guide rails along Tuxedo Road will be between $100,000 and $150,000 depending on the scope of the project (i.e. road stabilization, erosion repair, how much drilling needs to be done, distance covered etc)
Trustee Shaw inquired as to whether or not the committee had collected estimates for installing boulders similar to those that are currently in place, rather than rails. She commented that boulders would be more cost effective for the Village.
Mayor Stebbins responded that in his opinion since the area of road in question is located at the entrance to the Village, something more aesthetically pleasing than boulders might be appropriate. He also commented that in several spots along the road, the boulders might not be the safest option. Finally, he stated that he believes the entire project should be subject to BAR review.
Trustee Shaw then expressed concern with regard to the budget and recommended that the Board wait to see what happens with the DEC action and the Tuxedo Lake Dam before proceeding with this project.
Trustee Hays suggested that it might be beneficial to begin working on the design phase of the project now in order to ensure that the Village is ready to move forward with planning when the time is right.
Trustee Shaw agreed that initiating the planning phase of the project would be a good idea, but reiterated that the Board should not approve the project at this time. She expressed concern regarding the removal of existing boulders and also wondered whether or not the entire stretch of road in question requires a guide rail, suggesting perhaps a combination of boulders and railing could work.
Mr. Lindsay responded that during the design phase of the project, various surveys will be taken that will help to provide answers to these questions and also enable the Village to determine the scope of the entire project.
Mayor Stebbins suggested that the I.A.C. should commence with the design phase and that the BAR be asked to review the plans for the purpose of providing feedback.
Trustee Hansen agreed but also requested that the I.A.C. consider boulders as an alternative to rails in certain spots.
Mr. Lindsay reiterated that analysis is needed before it can be determined what is needed where.
Village Improvement Advisory Committee: On behalf of the V.I.A.C., Michele Lindsay reported that the committee has carefully reviewed Orange and Rockland’s response to the Villages street light concerns. Many of the repairs have been completed, however there is still work that remains to be done. Additionally, a letter was sent to Orange and Rockland with regard to their overcharging the Village for lights that were not in service and company has agreed to reimburse the Village an estimated $8,000. The V.I.A.C. suggests that the Board consider using a portion of this money to fund a new Village Sign at the Front Gate, which will cost roughly $950 as proposed and discussed at the December 12, 2008 BOT meeting.
Mayor Stebbins responded that while a new sign at the Front Gate would be nice, it is not a necessary improvement and at this time, the Board plans to defer this project until it has a better idea of what the budget will be.
Finally, Mrs. Lindsay reported that residents living on East Lake Stable Road have responded in favor of making Clubhouse Rd from its junction with E Lake Stable to its junction with Fox Hill one way. The V.I.A.C. is therefore requesting that the Board take the necessary next steps in making this change.
The Board was in agreement and Mayor Stebbins asked Village Attorney, Rick Golden to proceed with drawing up the necessary paperwork.
There were no public comments.
Request regarding Village Owned Land on Eagle Mountain Road
The Mayor reported that Village resident Gary Glynn has approached the Board regarding a parcel of land on Eagle Mountain Road and asked them to consider either selling him the property with a strict conservation easement on it or formally accepting the dedication of the land to the Village as parkland. His goal is to keep the property “forever green.”
Jake Lindsay commented that the most recent Village subdivision map already labels the parcel as Village parkland and that if it was dedicated as such it should remain that way. Attorney Rick Golden responded that the map labels the parcel as “proposed” parkland and while an offer of dedication was made by the T.P.A., that offer has not been formally accepted by the Village. This was followed by some discussion regarding the nature of the property, which contains both a waterfall and stream. Trustee Hansen inquired whether or not residents would be allowed to walk on and enjoy the property should Mr. Glynn purchase it. Rick Golden responded that if the Board decides to sell the property with a conservation easement on it, then it would be up to the Board to determine the contours of that easement. Dena Steele then inquired if such an easement would be part of the deed or made through a third party. JoAnn Hanson commented that it was her understanding that Mr. Glynn’s objective in purchasing the land is to preserve it and that if the Village is able to achieve the same goal without selling it, that would negate his need to buy.
Mayor Stebbins responded by stating that the Board would need to obtain legal advice from their counsel during executive session with regard to the ramifications of this decision.
Report from Ridgeline and Precipice Advisory Committee
Ridgeline and Precipice Advisory Committee Chair Chiu-Yin Hempel presented the Board with the committee’s Second Interim Report.
As part of their work, the committee is asking the Board to allow them to commission a lighting study, the results of which will be presented at the February 18 BOT meeting. They are also asking that the Village Engineer and Building Inspector complete a review of their precipice and ridgeline map along with the list of properties located in the effected areas for the purpose of ensuring accuracy. The committee proposes to submit their final written report, detailing their findings along with their proposal by February 28, 2009. They are also proposing to give a Power Point presentation of the full report to the BOT at a public meeting on or around the same date.
Following the presentation, the Board commended Chiu-Yin and the committee for their hard work.
Trustee Hansen inquired as to whether or not the Village should consider regulating houses below the precipice line as well as above it. There was a lengthy discussion regarding the line of demarcation for inclusion during which several specific properties were discussed.
Mayor Stebbins commented that he would like to grant the committees request to commission a lighting study.
Trustee Shaw expressed concern with regard to the cost of the study and inquired as to how much money has been spent to date on the project.
Trustee Hansen agreed and asked Chiu-Yin if she felt the lighting study was a critical aspect of moving forward with legislation.
Chiu-Yin responded that all of the proposed standards are intended to work in concert with each other and therefore each aspect is of equal importance to the whole.
Trustee Hays commented that the Village is a sensitive area in terms of lighting and in his opinion the study is a good idea.
Trustee Shaw countered that applicants proposing to build in the ridgeline and precipice areas would be subject to the BAR process which already includes Village lighting regulations. She stated that she does not see the urgency in spending money on a lighting study at this time.
Trustee Hays responded that some of the ridgeline and precipice properties might require restrictions that are different from those in the current regulations.
Mayor Stebbins commented that regulating visual impact was one of the main reasons for proposing the legislation and that lighting is key to visual impact. In his view completing the lighting study is a necessary step in creating the law.
Chiu-Yin reiterated that the proposed standards are meant to work together and that to eliminate one would be detrimental to the process.
Mayor Stebbins made a motion to grant the R.P.A.C. a special budget of $2000 for the purpose of commissioning the lighting study.
More discussion followed, during which Trustee Hansen expressed concern that the Village might be “opening a can of worms” or “biting off more than they can chew”
Finally, the Board voted in 3-1 in favor, with Trustee Shaw voting against.
Hanson Building Permit
Mayor Stebbins began the discussion by stating that the Board has been asking Mr. Hanson to provide them with an erosion control plan, a site plan table and a schedule for project completion for the last 8 weeks. Two of these documents were received on Saturday January 17 and the third just that morning. The next step is review by Village attorneys and experts.
On behalf of Don Hanson, Attorney Brian Nugent stated that packets containing a letter of intent, a plan for construction and a map of the site as requested had been distributed to each of the Trustees. Additionally, an erosion control plan was submitted to the Village Engineer on January 20. Mr. Hanson is seeking an extension to his building permit with conditions to be determined by the Board. He would like permission to proceed with “limited work” (such as garage doors, a basement window, a concrete slab below the pool or any other work that won’t effect drainage or sentiment control) immediately. He is suggesting that the remainder of the project move forward conditional upon approval from the Village Engineer and the Building Inspector. Mr. Nugent stated that while there are some outstanding issues pursuant to the original permit (Mr. Nugent claims that Building Inspector John Ledwith told him the permit was never issued and then a day later that it had been misplaced) allowing Mr. Hanson to proceed with conditions is a reasonable interim solution. He cautioned the Board that tabling Mr. Hanson’s request is not permissible under the Village Code.
Mayor Stebbins responded by explaining to Mr. Nugent that when Mr. Hanson first applied for the extension, the Board requested specific documents from him so that they could make an informed decision. Because the information requested has only recently become available to them, it is reasonable that the Board take time to properly review it before they make a decision. In his view, this is not considered tabling.
He then asked Mr. Nugent to confirm that what Mr. Hanson is requesting is a partial lift of the Stop Work Order as well as a Building Permit Extension with conditions put in place.
Mr. Nugent confirmed this. He further commented that extending the permit with conditions would allow the project to move forward when and if those conditions were met. This will eliminate the need for Mr. Hanson to come before the Board in February.
Trustee Hansen inquired as to whether or not there are actions in place to mitigate run-off as part of the Erosion Plan?
Mayor Stebbins stated that there are a lot of questions remaining and that in order to make an informed decision he feels that the plans must be thoroughly reviewed with the Village Engineer. He suggested a special meeting at which such a review could take place.
Village Attorney Rick Golden stated that to grant Mr. Hanson an extension conditional upon approval from the Engineer and the Building Inspector would be delegating their authority to those individuals. He cautioned the Board that they should carefully consider whether or not this is what they mean to do. He expressed support for a special meeting, commenting that the meeting would allow Board members to get advice from their advisors and make an informed decision.
Mr. Nugent stated that the decision before the Board is whether or not to extend the permit and that engineering issues should be left to the engineers.
Mr. Golden responded that it is important for the Board to be fully informed before making their decision.
Mr. Nugent countered that it is inappropriate for the Board to limit work that is unrelated to drainage at this time. By issuing an extension with conditions, they can still limit the work in question while allowing the rest of the project to proceed.
Mr. Golden stated that Mr. Hanson’s Building Permit has expired. He was issued a Stop Work Order because work on the site continued after the expiration occurred. The code allows for an extension of the permit, but Mr. Hanson must have that extension granted before he can proceed with any work.
Mr. Nugent strongly expressed his opposition to these remarks stating that because the Village has been unable to produce the Building Permit, there is no proof that it was ever issued and therefore that it expired.
Trustee Hays suggested that the Board obtain feedback from the Village engineer and then call a special meeting for the purpose of voting on the permit extension.
Mayor Stebbins commented that Mr. Hanson should be included in the meeting along with his professionals so that everybody could be on the same page with what is being proposed.
Mr. Nugent inquired as to whether or not limited work would be allowed to proceed in the meantime.
The Mayor replied that the Board would like to reach a consensus on the entire project before it moves forward.
A special meeting was set for Thursday, January 29 at 5:30pm in the Village Hall.
The Board voted unanimously in favor of accepting a bid from Tech Supply for $18,346.58 for covers for clarifiers at the sewer plant.
Trustee Shaw reported that much progress has been made with straightening out issues with the water billing. She proposed that the Board consider making the water billing system available on second computer station for a cost of roughly $800. She commented that this would be a worthwhile expense to ensure office efficiency.
The proposed new fence law was discussed. Mayor Stebbins reported that Peter Regna had submitted suggestions to the Board as per his comments at the December meeting. Specifically, he recommends that a clear definition for the term “secondary fence” be established. Additionally, the terms fence and perimeter fence should be redefined. It is important that the legislation accommodate existing conditions within the Village rather than create a large number of non-conforming situations. Mr. Regna proposes categorizing fences into three subsections: deer, structural and decorative/perimeter.
Mayor Stebbins suggested that a new draft of the legislation, incorporating these suggestions be put together for Board review.
Trustee Shaw commented that if the objective was to gather information in order to put together a new piece of legislation than there should be a formal process by which this done, similar to the process being undertaken by the Ridgeline and Precipice committee. She inquired about BAR participation in drafting the legislation.
The Mayor responded that the proper thing to do was to incorporate Mr. Regna’s comments (with which the Board was in agreement) into a working draft, which can then be presented in a public forum.
Trustee Hansen suggested forwarding Mr. Regna’s comments to each of the Boards, inform them that they are to be incorporated into the legislation and ask for their feedback in return.
The public hearing for this law is expected to continue at the February 18 meeting.
The Mayor reported that there have been some complaints with regard to leaf blowers being used to move snow on the weekends. He expressed concern with this as it relates to the recently adopted law regarding noise on the weekends. A somewhat lengthy discussion ensued regarding the difference between snow blowers and leaf blowers and the sound they emit as well as various methods of snow removal and what necessitates them. The Mayor suggested that leaf blowers should not be permitted for snow removal.
Attorney Rick Golden suggested that the Board amend the language of the law to reflect their intent.
Trustee Hansen reported that he has discovered a device that plugs into computer networks and backs up all the e-mail content, both historically and currently. The cost is roughly $2,500. The devices are commonly used by municipalities and can be exceedingly helpful in terms of processing F.O.I.L. requests among other things.
Mayor Stebbins asked Trustee Hansen to collect further information.
The Mayor announced that he will be requesting initial Preliminary Budget Reports from each of the Department Heads to be submitted by February 11, 2009. He has asked Trustee Hays to work with the DPW, Trustee Hansen to work with the Police Department, Trustee Shaw with the Water Department and he will work with the Village Office.