Town Board Meeting September 8, 2008

The Town Board met on Monday, September 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm. All members were present.

The meeting began with a moment of silence for Town residents Renee Lamouree and Celeste Cornelius, both of whom recently passed away.

During his Supervisor’s Update, Peter Dolan stated the following:

  • The Town has started the annual budget process with department heads submitting their budgets.
  • If anyone in the vicinity of Long Meadow Rd should hear loud boom noises from September 6-12, it will be testing of the Millenium Pipeline, which is happening during that period.
  • The town has a new electronic voting machine, which will hopefully be put into use at the November election. At that time, the County will take over running town elections. Residents in District 2 (Laurel Ridge, Clinton Woods and Southfields) are reminded that their polling place will now be the Sterling Forest Firehouse on Long Meadow Road.

The Board voted unanimously to reduce the bond on Sterling Mine Estates to $75,000.

Permission was given for temporary signs announcing the arrival of a pet grooming business on Nolan’s Way.

Plans for the old Powerhouse property were discussed. The Town is planning to install a covered pavilion and a ball field as well as convert what was the Powerhouse building into a band shell or amphitheatre. Supervisor Dolan stated that the Town has grant money left to spend on these projects and requested authorization to put out bids so that when the Town is ready, they will have contractors in place. After some clarification that this didn’t mean that work would be starting right away and that input from residents would still be accepted, the resolution was passed unanimously.

Supervisor Dolan announced that The Related Company has submitted an amendment to the Special Permit for Tuxedo Reserve and has requested that the town send the document to the Orange County Planning Department, the Town Planning Board as well as neighboring communities for their feedback.
Several residents in the audience expressed their concern that the process for the amendment is being rushed. Tuxedo Park Deputy Mayor Jim Hays inquired as to whether or not the amendment has been accepted by the Town Board and commented that outside agencies are usually presented with approved documentation for feedback. He questioned the need to share the proposed amendment with outside agencies prior to the Towns acceptance or approval. Supervisor Dolan responded that feedback from these agencies as well as the surrounding communities would be helpful to the Board in their review process. Town Planner, Bonnie Franson commented that should the proposed amendment be altered during the review process, it would have to be sent back to the same agencies for repeated review. Supervisor Dolan stated that Related Company will make a formal presentation of the amended plan for both the Town Board and the Town Planning Board on Monday, September 22. After some further discussion it was decided that the documents would be sent.

The Public Comment period began with Nate Wolinsky, Chairman of the local Democratic Party announcing that he has learned of 4 jobs available with the State Highway Department. These jobs are being made available through Governor Patterson’s office. They pay $28 per hours with enforced overtime and full benefits. Anyone interested should call Mr. Wolinsky.

During the Public Comment period of the meeting, Mary Graetzer asked for a progress report on the set up of the LDC as a condition of the Tuxedo Reserve Special Permit to disburse funds for Town Revitalization. Specifically, she wanted to know what had been done to establish this entity, as well as a listing of who would be the members and what, if any, standards have been set for businesses to apply for these funds. The Supervisor responded that the LDC has been set up. In addition, the first check from Tuxedo Reserve in the amount of $1 million has been received and deposited in a Bank. (HSBC) The LDC members for the first year will be Town Board members Peter Dolan and Lisa Spivak, Town Planning Board Chair Nils Gerling, Town Attorney Howard Protter, two people from The Related Company and one representative from the Bank. The first order of business will be to hire an attorney and an accountant.
Mrs. Graetzer further commented that she had begun the process of reviewing the proposed amendment to the Special Permit and was surprised to read, in the opening cover letter written by Andrew Dance of Related Company, that members of the Town Board, Town Planning Board and Town’s “consultant team” have been meeting with Related “over the past four months to provide needed input and comment on drafts” of the amendment. The Supervisor stated that the full Board had not been attending meetings with the applicant. Lisa Spivak stated that she had only attended one workshop meeting. Mrs. Graetzer commented that since the original application for Special Permit had undergone 10 years of study and consideration and since the changes being proposed in the amendment are substantial ones, she hopes that the Board will take their time and consider them fully instead of rushing them through. She wondered what plans had been made to bring new Town Board and Planning Board members up to speed on the entire Tuxedo Reserve project.

The public hearing on the Draft Comprehensive Plan was called to order at 8:45. Dan Castricone opened the hearing by thanking everyone who had been involved in the creation of the plan. He went on to say that the previous Master Plan had been passed by the Town in 1972 and is seriously out of date. Specifically, zoning and land use regulations must be brought up to date. The updated plan promotes linkage between the various areas of Town and strives to encompass Tuxedo Reserve by providing for planned growth while respecting the environment and striving to maintain the rustic small town atmosphere of Tuxedo. In closing, Councilperson Castricone stated he hopes the new Plan will be used as a tool to let future developers know what kind of development will be considered in the Town of Tuxedo.

Mike Oslacky who resides in the East Village was the first speaker. He is concerned that any buffer between the residences in the East Village and commercial properties (i.e. SOS Fuels) may vanish under the new plan. He would like to see the Town restrict commercial use of residential property. Town Planner Bonnie Franson explained that much of the land in the buffer is wetland and flood plains and that isn’t going to change. The proposed River Walk would be a buffer between commercial and residential properties.
Mr. Oslacky was followed by Bill Clark who complained that the Town has filled in wetlands on the old Powerhouse property. Supervisor Dolan explained that the Town is just trying to beautify what many consider was becoming a dump!

Susan Scher, a Hamlet resident, began her remarks with a plea for the Town to take it’s time when reviewing the proposed Tuxedo Reserve amendment to the Special Permit. “If they are now reconsidering the entire project, then we should call back our consultants and put in as much time and energy as we did the first time around, “ she said. “ A permit is put in place to protect us.” Ms. Scher also made a plea for better preservation of the Ramapo River, encouraging cooperation with the Towns above and below us on the River when we make plans for our River Walk. Finally, she hopes the plan will encompass plans for expanding the transportation within the Town and expressed concern that if County Road 106 is turned over to PIPC, they will close it down for the winter as they already do many of their roads.

Andy Berish, President of the Tuxedo Silver Dollars, congratulated the Town on what he called a “very comprehensive plan,” but stated he saw nothing for seniors in it.

Jake Lindsay of Tuxedo Park reminded the Board that agreements had been negotiated between The Related Company and The Tuxedo Club as well as the Village of Tuxedo Park. He commented that those agreements should be included in the Master Plan. He also expressed concern over a proposed exit for Tuxedo Reserve onto South Gate Rd. According to the agreements made between Related Company, The Village of Tuxedo Park and the Tuxedo Club, the road in question was to remain an emergency access road only. A discussion followed with Town Councilman Castricone who stated that he supported the proposed exit to South Gate Road as a much-needed access for people in Maple Brook and Eagle Valley to reach Route 17. He stated that he didn’t think it would create much traffic on South Gate Road as he thought most people living in Tuxedo Reserve would choose to use the exit onto Route 17. Mr. Lindsay disagreed with this and stated that he thought excessive extra traffic would negatively affect the Tuxedo Club Golf Course.

Patsy Wooters, Chairman of the Torne Valley Preservation Association, spoke passionately in favor of Tuxedo’s “open spaces and small town size.” She feels that giving the role of “the most important determinant of community and land use over the next 10-20 years” to Tuxedo Reserve is wrong. She would like to see this role filled by the Town and not any private developer.

Mary Yrizarry of Benjamin Meadow Rd, delivered several thoughts on the Plan’s Land Use Recommendations. Since much of the Arden Valley contains a major aquifer recharge area connected to the Ramapo River, she feels it should remain as open as possible. She believes Bramertown should all be zoned R-1 which is most compatible with the surrounding State Park lands.
She also agrees that Southfields Hamlet needs revitalization and thinks attention should be given to the opportunity presented by the Renaissance Faire property, which, among other things is a better location for Research/office development than Long Meadow Rd. She feels that the Town needs to work with Rockland County, Monroe and PIPC to create a Ramapo River Trail (River Walk) for which grant funding is available.

Dale Mottola, President of the Tuxedo Chamber of Commerce feels the Town needs to focus on transportation issues. We have virtually no bussing here. She feels the Town needs to put pressure on County, State and Federal resources to bring some kind of bussing. The plan to expand Tuxedo Reserve’s Jitney service should be done sooner rather than later. Lastly, she feels we need to put more emphasis on housing affordable to seniors and young families as the median age in Town is rising.

The last speaker of the night was John Kwasnicki of Sloatsburg. He handed in a four-page document in which he questions how the Town selected Tim Miller & Associates to help prepare the Master Plan. Mr. Kwasnicki also questions the procedures of the Town Board in preparing the Plan.

Following these comments, the Board voted unanimously in favor of keeping the Public Hearing on the Draft Comprehensive Master Plan open. The hearing will not be continued at the next meeting, on September 22nd, as that is the meeting where Tuxedo Reserve will formally present their proposed amendment to the Special Permit. Proper notification will be given when they are ready to resume the hearing for the Master Plan.

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