Village Board of Trustees Meeting May 13, 2009

The Village Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, May 13 at 7:30 pm.
Mayoral Report:
Mayor Stebbins began his report by welcoming all three candidates running for Trustee in the upcoming election this June. Those candidates are incumbents Chris Hansen and Tinka Shaw along with first-time candidate Gary Pompan. He thanked them for their interest in running and serving the Village. He then announced that he is running for a second term as Mayor and as no other Mayoral candidates emerged, he will run unopposed. He then reminded residents of the following important dates:

  • Saturday May 30 – Spring Bulk Pick-up Day (items must be curb side by 7am)
  • Saturday June 6 – Voter Registration Day at the Village Office 12pm-5pm
  • Tuesday June 16 – Village Elections – Village Hall 12pm-9pm

A team of US Census workers will be in the Village beginning May 16 updating address information as mandated by the federal government. They will go door to door collecting address information only. Residents are encouraged to comply.
The Village has been invited by the office of Assemblywoman Annie Rabbit to apply for a $5,000 grant for use in repairing the water and sewer systems along with upgrading the Village dams.
Finally, the Mayor reported that there have been multiple bear sightings in the Village over the course of the past several weeks mainly due to accessible garbage or open bird feeders He reminded residents that the bears are just coming out of hibernation and are hungry. He cautioned that in most cases the bears will move on fairly quickly if left alone, however should a bear become threatening, the Village Police should be contacted.
Deputy Mayor Report:
Deputy Mayor Jim Hays began his report with a tutorial on three invasive plant species that currently exist in the Village. These are barberry, garlic mustard and fragmites. After giving a brief physical description of each, the Deputy Mayor asked residents to please assist in ridding the Village of these species by pulling them up whenever possible.
On Monday May 10 the Town Board was briefed by their attorney with regard to Tuxedo Reserve’s proposed amendment to their special permit. The Town Planning Board has advised that the Town Board require a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Additionally, a new fiscal analysis will be needed for the project as there has been a considerable amount of change to the amount of proposed commercial space within the development as well as housing types. In his monthly meeting with Town Supervisor Dolan, the Deputy Mayor recommended that the Town seek the opinions of outside sources in addition to those of their consultants when moving forward with the project. In addition, the Village is requesting that their Engineers have the opportunity to review the portion of the development that is planned within the Village watershed and specifically to examine run-off issues and how these may effect the Tuxedo Lake.
Town Board Member Dan Castricone has announced that he will not seek re-election in the fall. This will leave a vacant seat on the Town Board and Deputy Mayor Hays feels that it is crucial that a Village resident fill this seat. He reminded the public that the Village is a part of the Town and that decisions made by the Town Board impact everyone. He stressed the importance of Village representation on the Board and commented that he has recommended David du Pont for the position, however anybody can run and interested parties are strongly urged to do so.
Finally, all Board of Trustee members have been invited to march in the Town of Tuxedo’s Memorial Day Parade, which will take place on Monday, May 25 at 11am.
Police Report:
Due to the birth of his second child on May 11, Police Chief Ken Sanford was not present and no report was given.
DPW Report:
On behalf of the DWP, Superintendent Voss reported that a portion of Tuxedo Road running from the front Gate to East Lake Stable Road will be resurfaced towards the end of next week. This process will take an entire day, during which one lane will be open for traffic. Signs will be posted at both gates. Additionally, Superintendent Voss suggested that the Board declare an old, retired police car as surplus so it can be sold. A motion to this effect was made and unanimously approved by the Board.
Finally, the DPW is in need of a new street sweeper. The sweeper currently in use is from 1981 and was purchased used. It has been refurbished once and the Superintendent feels that it is time to invest in a newer model. Trustee Shaw inquired as to whether or not a street sweeper is something the Village might be able to share with the Town. Superintendent Voss responded that because the Village uses sand as opposed to salt on the roadways during the winter months sharing is not option. Trustee Shaw questioned whether or not the Town should switch from salt to sand in an effort to become more environmentally conscious. (The Village uses sand in order to protect the lakes) Trustee Hays responded that this was a decision for the Town to make. After some further discussion it was decided that Superintendent Voss would explore the option of purchasing a newer, refurbished sweeper and report back to the Board.
Infrastructure/Engineering Report:
Village Engineer Rich Messer updated the Board regarding repairs at the sewer plant. The crack in the foundation of the maintenance building has been repaired and as a result the situation is greatly improved. The next step will be repairs for the roof. Preliminary plans for repairs relative to the Chlorine building have been completed and the design process is underway. Plans include splitting the building into three small rooms, only one of which will need to be climate controlled.
With regard to the Tuxedo Lake Dam waterline relocation, Village engineers are currently exploring two options. One of these is to route the line through West Lake Road and in an effort to gain a better understanding of West Lake Road and its orientation to the dam, as well to ensure the viability of the route, drilling is planned for the coming weeks.
The second option would be to direct the line along the bottom of the embankment at level with the tennis courts.
Dialogue is currently underway between Village engineers and engineers for the Gruterichs with regard to a collapsing wall on the edge of their property. A road survey as well as soil borings have been completed.
Four State Revolving Fund (S.R.F.) applications have been submitted on behalf of the Village with the hope of qualifying for grant money to aid with various infrastructure projects related to water and sewer. The State Revolving Fund refers to federal grant money that is given to New York State and in turn delegated to the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) who then makes the funds available at a subsidized interest rate for water and sewer projects as well as other projects deemed “critical” in nature. Applications are ranked in order of importance and funded from the top down. The four projects submitted by the Village are:

  • Tuxedo Lake waterline replacement
  • West Lake water main relocation,
  • East Village water main trunk line replacement (two lines running parallel to Rt. 17 in the East Village)
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant facility upgrades (chlorine building repairs and work on the maintenance building)

Funding for these projects will be determined based on their ranking with the EFC. Additionally, a “green application” entitling the Village to possible reimbursement for the use of “green products” such as solar panels and efficiency lighting is being explored.
The Mayor mentioned the possible need for a mini hydroelectric unit at the Wee Wah Dam and inquired whether or not the Village would be eligible to receive additional grant money to assist with the cost. Mr. Messer responded that there is a possibility that funds can obtained however, the details of this are still being worked out.
The Sewer System evaluation survey is moving forward as per DEC scheduling requirements.
Building Permits:
Building permits for Dangoor and McLain were unanimously approved.
A request from Mr. Witte for relief from section 78-10 of the Village Code as it relates to the prohibition of more than one home on a lateral sewer main was granted by the Board.
A request from Trustee Shaw for permission to remove more than 4 large trees on her property was granted by the Board conditional upon BAR approval. (Trustee Shaw recused herself from the vote)
Public Comments:
Mary Graetzer inquired as to the length of time the Board has spent discussing Local Law Introductory #6 regarding flood damage protection as mandated by the Federal Government. She commented that the Town Board passed similar legislation in just one meeting with minimal discussion while The Board of Trustees has been discussing the legislation for 3 months with no resolution to date. Mayor Stebbins responded that because accepting the flood damage protection requires the Village to pass legislation immediately thereafter, it is important to ensure that the legislation is something the Village can live with. He also commented that there is a 30-day county review process required before the legislation can be adopted and that he hoped the Town had completed the process correctly. Trustee Hansen commented that because only a few properties in the Village are effected by legislation (roughly 5 or 6 residences along with the Sewer Plant and the Wee Wah Lake) it was important for the Board to take the time to determine exactly which ones they were and what types of potential restrictions the legislation place upon them.
Alan Heywood inquired as to when One-Way signage will be posted on Club House Road at its junctures with East Lake Stable and Fox Hill Roads. Mayor Stebbins responded that the signs should be posted on Monday May 18. Mr. Heywood then inquired as to whether or not the Village DPW intends to cut back vegetation along the walking path that surrounds the Racetrack and was informed that this will take place in the summertime.
Local Law Introductory #5:
The public hearing for Local Law Introductory #5 on proposed changes to the Zoning Code relating to Non-Conforming Uses, Non-Complying Structures and Substandard Lots was continued. As there were no comments from the public, the hearing was closed.
Following a brief review for the benefit of Trustee Hays, who missed the April meeting the Board proceeded to discuss the proposed legislation in detail. Trustee Hays inquired as to whether or not residents who own contiguous nonconforming lots should be required to merge them in an effort to create more conforming lots within the Village. Mayor Stebbins responded that following a discussion on this topic at last month’s meeting, during which the Board determined that a merger clause of this type could be averted by an applicant and would therefore be ineffective, they had decided to eliminate it from the legislation. There was a lengthy debate regarding the amount of time to be allotted for rebuilding damaged structures. Trustee Hansen stated that in his view, there should be no time limit. He suggested that if the Village removes a residents’ right to rebuild their home, they might decide not to build on their lot at all. He feels rebuilding should be allowed at any time.
Trustee Hays responded that the intent of the legislation is to increase conformity and that what Trustee Hansen is suggesting, allowing people to do whatever they want whenever they want, is too libertarian in nature.
Trustee Hanson stated that the nature of the Village is defined by historical homes, the majority of which are nonconforming.
Mayor Stebbins agreed with Trustee Hansen’s assessment of historical homes in the Village, however he pointed out that these homes were constructed before the Zoning Code was put in place. He then suggested a 5-year time period for rebuilding.
Trustee Shaw commented that in all probability, victims of severe home damage would choose to rebuild. In her opinion a 10-year rebuild period would be more appropriate as it would make things clearer in the event that the property is sold.
Trustee Hansen expressed concern with the idea of placing a deadline on rebuilding a nonconforming structure, commenting that putting pressure on somebody to rebuild a nonconforming structure seems contrary to the stated purpose of the law, which is to create more conformity within the Village.
Trustee Worthy responded by stating that in her view the proposed time limit would provide incentive for rebuilding historical structures as they were in timely fashion. She further commented that the fabric of neighborhoods and their surrounding landscapes change over time so that in 10 years something that fits perfectly today might no longer work.
The Board then completed an Environment Assessment form for Local Law #5, giving it a negative declaration.
Consulting Architects for Design Guidelines and BAR:
As per the Board’s directive, Trustee Worthy along with BAR Chair Paola Tocci and Deputy Chair Robert Simon interviewed several applicants for the position of consulting architect to the BAR. Part of this job would entail reviewing the Village’s draft design guidelines for the purpose of moving them forward and creating a usable tool for the BAR. During the process of candidate review, it became clear to the group that the Village should consider hiring two architects; one to focus solely on the design guidelines and another to assist the BAR with application review. With this in mind, the following two candidates were introduced:
Stephen Tilly – Design Guidelines - Having been the Chair of an Architectural Review Board in Dobbs Ferry, NY for many years, Mr. Tilly has first hand knowledge of the review process and the contention and drama it can sometimes entail. In his view, the best method of combating this is keeping applicants well informed and clear guidelines is an excellent way of doing that. Mr. Tilly has worked with other municipalities, such as Cold Spring, New Rochelle and Yonkers to establish similar guidelines and has found them to be successful in those communities. He commended Trustee Worthy for the draft guidelines, commenting that the Village is off to a very good head start, however, the job has two parts. Part one is establishing the guidelines with an understanding of the specific architectural issues and the context of those issues in Tuxedo Park, as well as an understanding of the law and limitations of the review process. Part two is effective communication of the guidelines to applicants.
Mayor Stebbins inquired as to the timetable for preparing the guidelines as well as the estimated cost.
Mr. Tilly responded that work could be completed in as little as 6 months with an estimated cost of $10,000 to $12,000.
The Mayor then inquired as to what the mechanism for making changes to the document would be once it has been put in place.
Mr. Tilly responded that while consulting would always be an option, the goal is to create a living document that can adapt and also be amended as necessary by the Village.
Trustee Hansen asked Mr. Tilly whether or not any of the other communities in which he has helped to establish guidelines have chosen to mandate them.
The answer is no.
BAR Chair Paola Tocci commented that because there is so much architectural variety in the Village, establishing the guidelines here will be a tricky process and in her opinion, Mr. Tilly is the man for the job.
Following these remarks, the Mayor asked Mr. Tilly to prepare a contract for Board consideration.
Barry Rice – Consulting Architect to the Bar - Barry Rice has been recommended for the job of consulting architect to the Bar. His job would entail working directly with the BAR to review certain applications for the purpose of providing a detached, professional opinion within the confines of the Village code. Additionally, Mr. Rice would help to ensure the new guidelines are implemented in a fluid manner.
Having owned his own firm for 10 years, Mr. Rice now works mainly in New York City and serves as consulting architect for St. Andrews and St. Lukes in Manhattan. He also serves as president on his co-op board, which he feels gives him a greater understanding of historical preservation.
Trustee Hays asked Mr. Rice if he has had any experience working for Villages in the past and Mr. Rice responded that while he has not worked directly for a Village he has worked in Villages such as East Hampton, NY (which he noted is a great example of how design guidelines have worked to preserve the historical nature of the community.)
Trustee Shaw expressed concern that the addition of a consulting architect to the BAR would increase costs for applicants. She commented that process is already extremely costly and inquired as to whether Mr. Rice would be reviewing all applications or just a select few. In her opinion, the BAR should not rely on Mr. Rice’s advice for every application.
Trustee Worthy responded that moving forward the Village may change the number of plan sets required as part of the Application process and that when the Building Inspector feels that substantial architecture is being proposed, a set would be forwarded to Mr. Rice’s office for review. She further commented that having a professional leader whose charge is to be thorough in reviewing applications will, in many cases, cut down on the amount of review time required and thus lower the cost to applicants.
Board Chair Paola Tocci assured Trustee Shaw that had the Board had somebody like Mr. Rice on board as a consulting architect in the past the procedure would not have been nearly as costly emotionally or financially as it has been. She commented that there are not currently enough people serving on the BAR with enough expertise to make expeditious decisions that are in the best welfare of the applicant and the community in general.
Trustee Hansen commented that it is important that Mr. Rice’s advice be technical in nature in terms of assisting the non-professionals on the Board with understanding what the issues are and not necessarily subjective unless there are extenuating circumstances that require this type of review. He then asked Mr. Rice if he is currently working with any clients from Tuxedo Park or if he has done so in the past.
Mr. Rice replied that while he has worked with clients from the Village in the past, he has not done so in quite a while.
Trustee Hansen then proposed a prohibition for Mr. Rice on accepting work in the Village moving forward to which everyone agreed.
Mayor Stebbins commented that in his view the addition of a consulting architect would help to focus discussions within BAR meetings and make the process more cost effective for the applicant.
Trustee Worthy reiterated that it would help to create a more thorough and efficient review process for everyone.
Following these comments, Mayor Stebbins asked Mr. Rice to prepare a contract for consideration by the Board.
Local Law Introductory #7:
The Public Hearing for Local Law Introductory #7 regarding Ridgeline and Precipice Overlay District and regulations was opened.
JoAnn Hanson spoke in favor of the proposed legislation commenting that it is an important step forward for allowing development in environmentally sensitive, safe and responsible way. She commended the Ridgeline and Precipice Committee for their hard work and thorough research and asked the Board to please consider adopting the legislation as proposed.
Peter Regna echoed Ms. Hanson’s remarks, commenting that ridgeline and precipice building has been a “bone of contention” in the Village for many years and that providing a clear definition for ridgeline will help to speed up the application process.
As there were no further comments from the public, the hearing was adjourned to June 10.
The Board then completed an Environmental Assessment Form.
Trustee Hansen expressed concern with a section of the assessment form, which asks the Board to determine whether or not the proposed legislation will have any adverse environmental effects. He commented that by lifting the current prohibition on ridgeline building and allowing construction to take place in these areas, they would be allowing for increased environmental impact in these areas.
Trustees Hays and Worthy disagreed with Trustee Hansen and pointed out that the EIF was not specific to individual projects that might occur as a result of the legislation, but rather to the legislation itself.
After a great deal of debate, Village Attorney Kelly Naughton stated that Trustees Worthy and Hays were correct in their assessment and that Trustee Hansen’s concerns were unfounded.
The Board then voted unanimously in favor of a negative declaration.
A line-by-line review of the draft legislation was then completed.
Trustee Hansen expressed concern with a portion of the legislation that proposes that the maximum height for structures built in the Ridgeline/Precipice Overlay District shall be limited to no more than 20 feet above the highest elevation of the ridgeline or precipice on which sits the foundation. He pointed out that many of the large historic homes in the community could not be built under these regulations and that the unintended consequences of instituting such a provision could be multiple ranch style homes on ridgelines and precipices.
Ridgeline and Precipice Committee Chair Chiu Yin Hempel responded that in her view, this was not the case and that under the proposed regulations structures would be allowed a total height of 50ft.
Trustee Hansen then expressed concern with a portion of the proposed legislation that requires applicants to site their homes on the lowest possible point of their lot, commenting that this will remove the applicants’ ability to have a view.
Trustee Worthy pointed out that the legislation only requires applicants to start off by siting their home at the lowest possible point and that in many cases, siting in these areas might not be possible and therefore things will change. She also reminded Trustee Hansen of the Appeals process, stating that variances can be an option for many applicants.
A debate regarding the overall intent of the proposed legislation ensued with Trustee Hansen repeatedly expressing his doubts regarding the restrictive nature of the law as it relates to siting and height requirements for structures as well as landscaping and screening requirements and the potential unintended consequences of these.
After a great deal of circulatory debate, the discussion was tabled.
Local Law Introductory #6:
The Public Hearing for Local Law Introductory #6 regarding flood damage prevention in compliance with the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program was opened. As there were no comments from the public, the hearing was promptly closed.
A Review of the draft legislation was then completed, with focus on potential issues related to the Village Sewer plant and DPW facility, both of which have been identified as part of the flood plain.
New Business:
The following resolutions were adopted:
A resolution declaring Saturday June 6 Village Voter Registration Day from 12 noon to 5pm in the Village Hall and that the Village election will be held on Tuesday June 16 Village Election Day from 12 noon to 9pm in the Village Hall
A resolution authorizing unpaid water accounts of Village residents to be levied onto their 2009/2010 tax bill.
Finally, the Board has received several complaints from residents with regard to speeding as well as unleashed dogs. Mayor Stebbins commented that he plans to speak with the Village Police to determine what further action can be taken to reduce speeding in the Village especially heading into the summer months. He suggested that certain areas are more troublesome than others and that perhaps a warning system should be established in those areas for speeders who are going 39 mph or less but all those exceeding 40 mph should be ticketed.
Trustee Hansen suggested a traffic survey in order to determine the extent of the overall issue.
Mayor Stebbins responded that in his view a survey is unnecessary as the issue is cut and dry and that speeders should be ticketed. He commented that perhaps a change in strategy is necessary, as residents seem to be aware of where the police run radar and as a result are able to slow down temporarily in those areas and avoid being ticketed.
Trustee Hays suggested the possible strategy of having an officer run radar on foot and then communicate with another officer who would be stationed ahead in a car. He went on to suggest that a survey could be completed at the same time.
Trustee Hansen reiterated the importance of the survey in order to determine the scope of the issue (percent of speeders, trouble spots etc), which would help the Village to properly combat the problem.
Trustee Worthy agreed with this idea.
With regard to complaints about unleashed dogs, the Mayor commented that he would like to encourage residents who are experiencing issues with unleashed dogs to approach the dog owners directly, before filing a complaint with the Village.
The possibility of a leash law was discussed, with Trustees Shaw, Worthy and Hays expressing support for the idea.

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