Mohegan Lake Legal Defense Fund

History of this site

This site was originally set up to fight 3 of 5 zoning variances proposed by the FBC development at Sagamore Trail and Mohegan Ave that eliminates two single family homes while nearly quadrupling the parking and occupancy loads of the old Lakeland Jewish Center. That effort failed and the application is currently before the Planning Board.

While Save Mohegan Lake will continue to update you on that issue, we are moving on to all issues affecting the lake, such as Mohegan Lake Improvement District (MLID) meetings, agenda and budget. This site is not an official mouthpiece for MLID, but some updates will be provided on this site; the official site is located here.

We do it all here, so long as it's Mohegan Lake related. Feel free to submit comments, content, garage sale notices, police blotters, PSA's, essays on the virtues of our 105 acre ice rink, rants, raves, etc... We love it all.

Email: YorktownCode@gmail.com

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Wetland Parking Area

The two wetland lots were conveyed to the Grantee (Faith Bible Church) from the Grantor (Shrub Oak Lake Estates) with six terms and conditions.  Below is a photo of the deed. Take specific note of #'s 3 and 4.  Please, discuss amongst yourselves and we'll reconvene after the New Year.


3. The Grantor hereby reserves a permanent easement on behalf of its membership to use the subject parcel at all times for parking purposes at no cost to the Grantor or any of its individual members.  

4.  That the subject parcel be permanently posted by the Grantee [Faith Bible Church] to indicate it as private property for the exclusive use of the members of the Grantor [Shrub Oak Lake Estates] and the Grantee. 

In case you were wondering, yes--Shrub Oak Lake Estates is an active membership corporation in the state of New York.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chairman Gregg Bucci Didn't Read The Deed For The Wetland Lots

A quick snippet from Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals meeting minutes, June 2011.  

“Chairman Bucci told him [editors note: that would be me!] that if that is true, such uses are with the permission of the owner and that unless the parties using the applicants property have some sort of legal contractual arrangement or legal ability to claim some sort of ownership interest in that property, that’s done with the permission of the owner. It has nothing to do with whether the owner owns the property or makes arrangements to allow people to park there.”

 I'm a SOLE man.  More on that later.  

Merry Christmas. 



A Brief Intermission

I hope you are having a good holiday season.  News of the Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals' approval of all of the zoning variances is disheartening, for sure.  However, make sure to check back in after all the holiday hectic-ness ends.  I promise you exciting new developments.  Not only will there likely be a planning board hearing or working session, but we may even see some litigation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sewers

The new development requires a sewer connection to get planning and environmental approvals.  They have graciously offered the surrounding community a "dry" sewer pipe that would parallel their private sewer line.  We still need a site for the tank and pump house required to make it actually work.  This is something the church is not responsible for, nor should they be.  It is an opportunity to open a dialogue with the town about our sewer situation. 

 The vast majority of the community that surrounds the proposed new development has no sewer service.  We do, however, pay a sewer tax.  I understand that we "voted" ourselves into a sewer district.  They ran into trouble finishing the system and here we are today with no plan to ever finish the project.  Yet they gladly keep taking our tax money to pay for a service we are not provided.  I'm sure there's a lot of nuance in the law, but that smells like taxation without representation, if you ask me. 

If we, the Mohegan Lake community, are wise, we should lobby the town to at least formulate a plan.  A 5, 10, 15, 25? year plan to get us set up with modern sanitary services--THAT WE PAY FOR ALREADY.  The proposed new development provides us a golden opportunity to get some kind of commitment and the church's gracious offer provides us a foot in the door.  Even if it's just lip service, I think it's important the town recognize the issue formally.

Write the town board.  Write the town engineer.  Write the town supervisor.  Let them know this issue is important to you. 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feigning Deliberation

Sadly, it was predictable: the rubber stamp came down hard tonight.  The Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals granted all 5 zoning variances for FBC in the face of overwhelming evidence that the parking load cannot be supported by the new building. They never asked questions about whether or not the variances were the minimum adjustment to established, valid zoning laws.  They didn't ask the applicant if they could reduce the 3 major zoning variances by even 6 inches. 

Now that it's official, we've got an uphill battle--but one worth fighting.  Get ready for a 15 day window where we will be allowed to comment on the environmental concerns.   I'll bet we see a planning board working meeting in the near future.  I'll keep an eye out and keep this site fresh.  Please stay tuned.

Congratulations to Albert A. Capellini, Esq. on his successful bid for for 5 zoning variances which  the Yorktown ZBA unanimously approved tonight.  He certainly worked hard for them.












Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Under Penalty of Perjury"

"[P]ast supervisor and high-profile Yorktown attorney Al Cappellini" responded to our written submissions with some antiquated language.  He wrote that "Albert A. Cappellini, under penalty of perjury affirms as follows:"... Click on the image below to examine the first page of Mr Cappellini's affirmation.  It's kind of funny, because--in the "following" he goes on to perjure himself several times [editors note: I'm laughing out loud, or as the kids these days would write "lol"].

Please click on the image below to see one such instance.  

Albert A. Cappellini writes that "[t]he Code requires that a house of worship have one parking space for four pews" when--in fact--the Code requires one parking space per 4 pew seats.  

At this point, it is important to note that Mr. Cappellini neglects to note that the engineer employed by the developer has gone on the record that the absolute best ratio of parking spaces per pew seat they can provide is 2.7(the lower the ratio, the more crowded the parking).  But that's another an issue. That's an issue that will be addressed in the special permit process. 

I hereby do declare, under penalty of one bazillion tickles--so many tickles that I cannot breath and collapse in a pool of laughter so deep I never recover--Albert A. Cappellini perjured himself in paragraph immediatlely following his affirmation that his statements would be accurate.

May the enforcement body of Yorktown overlook this obvious instance of perjury for such a well respected fixture of our community. 





DEC App. #3-5554-00298/00001

Mohegan Lake:

I hope this post finds you well.  Though the Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals correctly took the time to thoughtfully deliberate the 5 zoning variances (3 of which we object to) for FBC until at least December 8th, 2011, we need to gear up and get ready for the next phases of the approval process.  The state Department of Environmental Conservation must approve the application.  There has been no action on the DEC application since 3/14/2011.

FBC's application is incomplete and will not be approved in its current form for various deficiencies For example, the "pervious pavers" proposed for the wetland lot are considered "impervious" by the State and the retention tank below does not constitute a buffer zone between the parking lot and the Class 1 wetlands; the "most desirable and sensitive" of all the designated wetlands.

Additionally, as the DEC engineer conveyed to me, the proposed retention tank under the "pervious" pavers does NOT constitute a buffer from the wetland.  Thankfully the DEC will not approve the wholesale elimination of the required wetland buffer as the applicant has proposed; there is no precedent for such action.

However,  we must be prepared.  There will be a very short, 15 day public comment period.  The church and the state will not let you know when it begins, but I will make sure you are fully aware when the 15 day window is opened.  Please start drafting your letter outlining the numerous environmental concerns for the proposed new development of a church and school for troubled youths. 

You can monitor FBC's progress with the DEC by clicking on this link to the State's website and entering application #3-5554-00298/00001 (don't enter the # sign).  The image below illustrates what you should see/enter.



If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the DEC engineer assigned to the project, Rebecca Crist.  She is much more versed in these applications than I am.  Her information is as follows:

Rebecca S Crist
21 South Putt Corners Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561
Tel:(845)256-3054
email: rscrist@gw.dec.state.ny.us









Sunday, October 30, 2011

Public Service Announcement: It's A Hot Mess Out There

A "hot mess" is how a neighbor described the aftermath.  He, unfortunately, has several large trees down on his property.

First, I hope that everyone is ok.  That was quite a fierce, early storm.  All those leaves still on the trees sure didn't help us out.

If you parked on one of the 2 Shrub Oak Lake Estates/Faith Bible wetland lot and drive a gold Nissan Sentra [?], it was crushed by a tree last night. 

 In light of the fact that Yorktown never approved parking on this parcel, it may raise some interesting questions about the tree removal and whose insurance pays for what, but that's none of my business.

Despite all the destruction, there are some beautiful scenes out there.  I like the white, red, orange and green all on that one tree, below.

Friday, October 28, 2011

About Last Night's ZBA Hearing

There was no vote last night. The Board has a "substantial file" to review and 3 weeks from the date the file closed was not enough time to arrive at a conclusion.   Considering the application was "approved" 7 months ago, it is encouraging to see the Board taking the necessary time to deliberate the issue; it's an important one for our residential community of Mohegan Lake. The Board will reconvene on December 8th.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10/27/2011: The Zoning Board Will Vote on FBC's Application

Seeing as a senior member of the board has made it clear, they--the Zoning Board of Appeals--can't vote against Faith Bible's five (5) zoning variances, it seems a fore-drawn conclusion all 5 variances will be approved, but we are still holding out hope that logic and reasoning will prevail.  

Below is the text of the document I submitted to the zoning board on 10/3/2011.




Zoning Board Members:

I appreciate your continued attention to detail and thoughtful consideration of this Faith Bible Church application.

You are being asked to consider a variance to the established laws of our town.  Mr. Capellini responded to my initial written submission by writing that I had based my entire argument on the wrong section of the town code.  He went on to cite Town Law of the state of new york, not the Town Code.  Specifically, section 267b(3)(b).

Let’s discuss NYS Town Law section 267b(3)(b).
Part 1:

(b)  In  making  its  determination, the zoning board of appeals shall  take into consideration the benefit to the applicant if the variance  is  granted,  as  weighed  against  the  detriment to the health, safety and  welfare of the neighborhood or community by such grant. In  making  such  determination  the board shall also consider: (1) whether an undesirable  change will be produced in  the  character  of  the  neighborhood  or  a  detriment  to  nearby  properties will be created by the granting of the  area variance;

I argue that the requested variances are the first step in a process that will have cause both undesirable changes to the character of the neighborhood and be a detriment to nearby properties. Furthermore, there are a couple of issues which require resolution before any variances should be considered, let alone approved. The first issue is that the proposed uses will require special permits to bring the land into conformity with the Yorktown code. The second issue is that one of the lots used for parking near the wetlands has restrictions and easements written into it’s deed that must be adhered to. The proposed changes have glaring deficits in available parking a clear zoning issue. Lastly, I believe that these variances are significant and would result in undue overdevelopment in an area that does not have the capacity to accommodate such development.


(Click on the "read more" button below, to continue reading)


A Letter To The Zoning Board From A Long-Time Mohegan Lake Resident

I present the following, which was submitted to the ZBA objecting to zoning variances, from a supporter who is intimately familiar with the character of our neighborhood.  Other than noting that some of the text is oddly formatted because of technical reasons on my end; the substance remains unchanged. I present it without commentary:

When I was 8 years old in 1947, my aunt and uncle bought a little summer house in the residential
community known as Shrub Oak Lake Estates, in the northern area of Lake Mohegan. So my parents,
brother, and I were frequent visitors to Lake Mohegan during the summer months in the late 1940s. In
1950, when I was 11 years old, my parents rented a house down the road from my aunt and uncle's
house for the month of August; and the following year, 1951, when I was 12, my parents purchased the summer house across the street from where we had rented the previous summer. Since 1950, I have spent portions of every summer in the midst of the bucolic eden that is known as Lake Mohegan. If we count my introduction to Lake Mohegan from 1947, that means that I have been acquainted with Lake Mohegan for the past 64 years. So if anyone dares to question my claim to expertise on the subject of Mohegan Lake, I defy them to match my record of 64 years worth of intimate knowledge of the territory. That's 64 years worth of association. I repeat, 64 years. And I am now 72.



 (click on the "read more" button below to continue)



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Planning Concerns: Clearing and Grading of a Woodland Lot, Up To Lakeside Drive

Below you will find Site Design Consultants' "tree inventory plan" of the proposed combination of five (5) separate lots.

I have an architecture degree and have been employed as a building code and zoning consultant for over 10 years. This is one of the most confusing plans I've ever read. I made it extra big so you can see what I'm talking about; you should be able to enlarge it by clicking on the image and then zoom in by clicking on it again. One might argue it's an intentionally busy drawing to mask the detrimental impact the proposal will have on the neighborhood.


Below: The developer shows a the property line of the undeveloped woodland lot ( 1 of 5 lots to be combined) with a 20 foot buffer between the undeveloped property line and Lakeside Drive. County records clearly indicate the property line abuts Lakeside Drive. Considering the developer proposes to clear and grade that entire lot, the residents of Lakeside drive are keen to know: is there a 20 foot buffer between the clearing and grading of the steep woodland lot, or will it run all the way up to Lakeside Drive?


It's interesting to note that the developer's engineer, Joseph Riina, chose to cut off the two single family homes immediately adjacent to the site in this plan; none of the other homes, driveways, etc...immediately around the proposed development site are shown either. I went ahead and filled in the footprint of the house they are demolishing and the house the parking lot will come within 10 feet of.

Considering the dramatic, adverse impact this proposal will have on the neighborhood, I guess it's advantageous for them to obscure the character of this small, residential community as much as possible.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Historical Map: "Mohegan Lake Club Estates"

Below is an undated map that a member of the Mohegan Highland Property Owners Association, who has deep roots in the community, provided.

There's actually a few streets that appear here that were never built. "Rockledge Terrace" and "Rockledge Lane" were never built because they were on a very steep slope composed of an enormous rock ledge.

If you click on the image below, and then click on it again, it should zoom in--a bit. My best guess is circa 1927 or 1928, as MHPOA was being developed. I hope someone can correct me in the comments.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thank You, Mohegan Lake

We ended up with 55 signatories to the petition. It's important to note that all of those came within a 5 minute walk of the site and that several people contributed letters to the board. 3 "interested parties" even submitted notarized letters opposing 3 of the 5 variances. I've missed a lot of sleep collecting signatures and preparing my response to the the church's attorney's response to my initial submission. It clocks in at 4, 444 words over 9 pages with an additional 12 pages of exhibits (GIS maps and lots of other fun stuff).

Now we wait until 10/27/2011 when the Zoning Board of Appeals votes.

Thanks, friends.



The Zoning Board of Appeals File Will Close At The End of Business Today, 10/3/11

Europe, The Final Countdown


Friday, September 30, 2011

Parking

If the developer's engineer, Site Design Consultants, report is to be believed, then the developer would require 128 parking spaces to support an occupant load of "344" people at a ratio of 2.7 persons per parking space. Please note that the 128 parking space requirement is based on THE BEST occupant to parking space ratio--2.7 cars per occupant. THE WORST ratio observed by Site Design Consultants' was 2.3 cars per person. That ratio would require 150 parking spaces to support a load of "344" people.

Wow.

You can enlarge the image below to review Site Design Consultants' parking analysis; if you click on that image a second time, it will enlarge even more.

To allow the developer a zoning variance that allows an three fold increase in the legal occupant load knowing that the developer already parks 90 cars on the site occasionally is wrong. That's elementary math and don't need an architecture or planning degree to understand that 90 cars is more than the proposed 86. Additionally, "344" occupants is significantly more than the legally allowed 100 people, max, 3 hours a day 3 DAYS A YEAR.

Let's talk about the historic character of the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How You Can Help

If you are opposed to granting 3 of the 5 variances because it makes the development too big without enough parking, then you can:

A) Write a letter to Yorktown's Zoning Board of Appeals urging them to deny the 3 major zoning variances. I'm including contact information below.

B) Sign the paper petition. If you don't know how to get in touch with me, you can email me at SaveMoheganLake@Gmail.com

I would prefer that you deliver a physical copy of your letter, notarized; but that's quite a lot to ask. You can email your letter to Maria Ricci at mricci@yorktownny.org

Ms. Ricci is the legal secretary of Yorktown who receives and distributes comments to the zoning board, BUT, if you do email her, please only email your letter regarding the zoning variances. DO NOT ask her questions about the project or other things that are outside her job description. There are lots of other town officials that can address any questions;
If you're not sure who to talk to, or need any help, email me at SaveMoheganLake@gmail.com. Let's respect Ms. Ricci's inbox.

If you do email her, copy me(email address above and below). I am bundling letters for the file. I have to make ten copies, per town rules, of my entire submission so send me your letter sooner rather than later.

If you have a question and are not sure which town official to direct your inquiries to, or if you need any help, email me at SaveMoheganLake@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Commenting Guidelines

Below is a comment that cannot be published because the writer fails to disclose their identity and interest in the project. Because it appeared in the early morning only a few hours after the item that he or she was commenting on first appeared, either the Zoning Board of Appeals has groupies or that was from one of the members; that would be my guess.

To reiterate: in order to have your comment published you must include your name and relationship to the project. And for the record, the adjourned and new meeting items were reversed, which is not how previous meetings proceeded.

(Click on the image below to view text)

The following comment is an example of an accountable opinion. Just wanted to clarify what types of behavior will be tolerated in the comment section.

(Click on the image below to view text)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Ethical Question

Below are two videos from the Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals' hearing on 8/11/2011. The first one shows the developer's attorney, Mr. Capellini, presenting two zoning variance applications to the ZBA chairman, Mr. Feine.

At the 30 second mark of this video Mr. Capellini remarks that "Mr. Tripodi [another ZBA member]was doing a great job" on a previous hearing. Mr. Feine jokes he could leave; Mr. Capellini says he was only kidding and they continue. There is an interesting exchange at the 1:12 mark as well.



The second video shows Mr. Feine recuses himself for the FBC variance application because he "shares office space" with Mr. Capellini. Sequentially, the following clip occurred minutes before the first one. It is strange that Mr. Feine would only recuse himself for the the FBC application, no?

Points of interest: 16 seconds in, after the recusal, one member says "follow the leader" (nearly inaudible, turn up your speakers). At 20 seconds in, another board member chimes in "coward." It's unclear why Mr. Feine was not recused for the other applications where Mr. Capellini represents the applicant.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wetland Parking

The panoramas below illustrates the extreme proximity of the illegally paved, and expanded, parking lot. It was paved after 2005, when the developer took title of the property.

We ask that the Zoning Board of Appeals ask Mr. Capellini and the development team to submit a current survey. The survey in the file is more than 7 years old. If they find no difference in the current conditions than those appearing in the signed and sealed survey in the file--WE WILL CONCEDE DEFEAT ON THIS ISSUE.

Click on the images to enlarge them. Click on them again to zoom in.


The lake edge and wetlands have been adversely affected by the illegal paving and expansion of the development site. Any rain event, as seen above and below, results in the lake proper and the wetland outfall connecting. Mohegan lake sits in the middle of these two water bodies and is covered by two to three feet of water. New York State troopers close the road for days or weeks at a time.

Friendly Reminder Regarding Comments On This Website

Please feel free to comment on any one of these posts. Anonymous comments will not be published. You must identify yourself, and relation to the project. We wanted to reiterate this policy as this morning we've received a few anonymous comments which cannot be published.

We encourage commenting, because this issue is vitally important for Mohegan Lake. However, we request a civil discourse and full accountability. You can speak your mind but you must reveal your name and relationship to the project with your comments; otherwise, comments will not be published.

If you do not have one of the accounts that is required to log into the comment section, you can choose "anonymous;"that option requires no account of any kind. But again, identify yourself and relationship to the project in your posted comment. All comments will appear unedited.

"Character of The Neighborhood"

Below, please see an image from September 18th, 2011. You are looking at the wetland parking lot plus an additional lot that was never approved for parking. There were 83 cars parked on the site that day. (click on the image to enlarge)



Both lots have been paved without approval or permit. Now the developer is trying to get credit for correcting this illegal development all within a State and Town required buffer zone. Is this "the character" of our small, unique residential community?

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOKTOWN HAS NEVER APPROVED MORE THAN SIX (6) CARS TO BE PARKED ON THE WETLANDS. You can view those approval documents, by clicking on these big orange letters.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Coming Up: The Rubber Stamp

I showed up 30 minutes late. I parent 3 children, but am not offering any excuses. I should have been there 30 minutes early.

It appears that the Zoning Board of Appeals deviated from the published agenda and the developer's hearing was done by 7:30. In the last hearings, the agenda followed the order as published online. This time, they started with the adjourned items first. Regardless, they knew we were to present. This pass was telegraphed. I was instructed to make 10 copies of the package which included expensive color copies; 10 copies, per ZBA rules. But that's water under the bridge.

For those of you who arrived late (at my direction), I apologize for the inconvenience. The hearing is now closed to verbal comment.

There is a ten (10) calendar day period that the Zoning Board of Appeals will accept written comments. If you are an interested party or neighbor, we encourage you to write the town about your position on the subject.

A fresh petition will be circulated to Mohegan Lake community. It will reflect the current state of the application, and clearly outline the strong opposition to these major zoning variances that the developer does not need.

It's all probably a moot point anyway as a senior board member has already declared that the ZBA "can't refuse it[all the variance requests]." (the orange words are a link to video of that quote)

We are going to insist that is not the case. We believe the Zoning Board of Appeals can thoughtfully, independently consider the application at hand and decide whether or not it conforms to existing Yorktown zoning ordinances. We also believe that when all the facts are out in the open, the Zoning Board will see that the proposed development far exceeds the occupancy that the proposed parking number of parking spaces can support. The 83 spaces to over 90 spaces (on average) they utilize today is equal to or greater than 86 the developer is proposing. More than tripling the legal occupancy while not increasing the amount of parking seems terribly inconsistent with existing Yorktown law.

Dr. John "Right Place, Wrong Time"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

9/22/2011: Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Hearing For Faith Bible Church (FBC)

"You know what, you can't refuse it; they'll article 78."
-Howard Orneck informing Bob Fahey he can't consider the facts and vote against 3 of the 5 FBC zoning variances.
That begs the question: why have a zoning board of appeals at all if you can only vote yes?

Why do we even have town zoning ordinances? If the board can't register a legitimate objection to 3 MAJOR zoning variances, why does it exist at all?

Below you will see 4 minutes from the last ZBA hearing for FBC's proposed new development. There are a few things I'd like to bring to your attention to, after the video.



Of note is when the acting chair, I believe his name is Anthony Tripodi, suggests the overall proposed floor area will actually be less than what exists. The applicant's attorney, Mr. Capellini, corrects him and states that it will be larger; larger by 4,000 square feet, Larry Dalfino--the project architect--chimes in (that's big, no? approximately 7,500 square feet of occupiable area is proposed).

There's also a long moment where the board is whispering, but it's still picked up on the microphones [turn up your speakers]. Mr. Orneck tells Mr. Bob Fahey that he "can't refuse" the zoning variance because the church will "article 78." [starts at 3 minutes, 33 seconds into the video]. Shortly after, special counsel advises the board it should stop whispering into the microphones.

This is troubling on several levels. First, it's not his place to be strong-arming another board member against arriving at his own conclusion--after weighing the facts of an application; that's the job of the board, at the end of the day.

Additionally, he's obviously not familiar with what an article 78 petition is. Article 78 requires the petitioner to prove that the town acted against its own rules. Ironically, Mr. Orneck's words might be grounds for an article 78 petition against his actions as a ZBA member; it's unethical, in my mind, at a minimum.

At any rate, come out on 9/22/2011 to Yorktown Town Hall to watch the ZBA pull out the rubber stamp and approve these major zoning variances that will result in a grossly inappropriately scaled mega-church, school and auditorium for over 500 people. Trust me, it's an offer you can't refuse.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hot Fun In The Summertime

As we approach the dog days of summer, I wanted to offer a gentle reminder that next Thursday, August 4th, 2011 is last day Cablevision channel 20 will be re-playing the last Zoning Board of Appeals hearing for FBC's application. It lasts three hours, so make some popcorn.

I will be making relatively frequent posts on the run up to August 11th. That's the date of the next ZBA hearing on the application. It's still open for public comment. If you can't make it, it is simulcast on channel 20 as well.

Here's a quick clip of my opening remarks from the 6/23/2011 hearing. It's starts out a bit contentious, but--honestly--both the board and members of both interested parties conducted themselves civilly.

We welcome the church's expansion; the debate is about what scale is appropriate.



Stay cool.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lake Day

Sunday, July 17, 2011 is Lake Day--sponsored by the Mohegan Lake Improvement District. There are various activities at several beaches. Highlights include, a demonstration of the weed harvester (have you seen it? It's very cool), talks about the health of the lake, volleyball, and a water taxi. Take a look at one of the various posters up around the lake, as seen below. You can click on and enlarge the image below and should be able to probably read most of it.

My contribution to Lake Day will be to raise awareness about snapping turtles. I spotted one in my backyard about a month ago with a shell about 2 feet long (apparently they get much bigger). Below you will find a very short film on how one can safely move a snapping turtle, in case you find one on Mohegan Ave, or in another dangerous situation.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Community

I hope you were able to watch the simulcast of the 3 hour long hearing that took place two weeks ago. If not, it will air again every Thursday until August 11th, 2011; that night they will simulcast the next ZBA hearing, in case you can't make it. Channel 20 Cablevision in Yorktown [that includes us up here in Mohegan Lake :)].

Here's two sequential excerpts from the last hearing.



I would like to note that while FBC certainly has a special community distinct and apart from the Mohegan Highlands Property Owners Association, they are also--de jure--a part of our community as well.



Mrs. Gordon spoke most directly to the concern over the proposed zoning variances: there are too many cars and not enough parking--even after two single family homes are converted to part of the church and a parking lot. This has nothing to do with the proposed new development being a church or its people. This has everything to do with zoning, planning and a unique, lake/hill-side community. More on that later.

Annnnd...We're Back

Objection: Allowing an encroachment of 15 feet into a required 30 foot rear yard will allow the developer to build some portions of the building approximately 33% more than what Yorktown's zoning allows. The present structure accommodates--legally--less than one-third of the population of the proposed new development.

Granting a variance to allow such a major increase in occupiable space is imprudent, especially considering the current parking load already exceeds the proposed development's parking capacity.

According to the architectural plans on file with Yorktown, section B-B (above) is 60 feet wide. Section B-B requires the 15 foot encroachment. Hence, if the developer was not allowed this major zoning variance, the building would only be 45' at that point; 33% less space.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Intermission

We'll be back on July 5th, after the Independence Day Holiday. Have a great weekend and God bless America.

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Epic Yorktown Zoning Board Of Appeals (ZBA) Hearing

Gentle Reader:

It's not often something so seemingly banal as a ZBA hearing can be described as epic. Last night FBC's application alone took 3 hours to hear and it was adjourned to August 11th, 2011. Save the date. It's still open for public comment.

You can catch reruns on Channel 20, Cablevision in Yorktown. It will rerun every Thursday until August 11th from approximately 8:30pm until 11:30pm.

I will be uploading portions of the hearing with commentary consistently until the next hearing. Below is one of my favorite moments from last night. Al Capellini, attorney for the developer, backs me up and corrects the Yorktown special counsel to the ZBA and the acting chairman of the ZBA, Gregg Bucci, who didn't know the zoning had changed to require special permits for churches in R1-10 zones.

At one point, Mr. Capellini rightfully notes that the law requiring the special permit was put on the books 4 or 5 years ago. Neither special counsel, nor the board chair had a current copy of the Yorktown Zoning Ordinances. The entire Town Code and Zoning is available online and, luckily, I had a copy with me last night. I make a motion that the ZBA have a current copy of the Town's zoning on hand at all hearings. All in favor, leave an "aye" in the comment section, below.

You may want to turn your speakers up, the audio is not the best.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Extra, Extra.

I just got myself a fresh copy of The Northern Westchester Examiner. I hope you pick it up as well and read the article by Sam Barron on page 6 outlining community concerns relative to the proposed new development.

Fun Fact of The Day

Did you know that the Mohegan Highland's Property Owner's Association is an active, not for profit corporation in New York State? It was formed on January 24th, 1930 and has it's own by laws.

Did I mention that there's a hearing tonight at Yorktown Town Hall to hear FBC's proposed major zoning variances?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ZBA Meeting Tomorrow at 7pm, Yorktown Town Hall


Please note that if you plan to attend, do not rush. They've put FBC at the end of the agenda. It may not start until 9pm; to be safe though, I recommend arriving by 730. I'll be there for the whole thing though, just in case. For those who cannot attend you can watch or DVR the simulcast on Channel 20, Cablevision. I'm looking into what channel it airs on Direct TV.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals Public Hearing June 23rd, 2011, 7PM

It's going to be a hectic week leading up to the public hearing. I wanted to mention a couple things as we kick the week off.

1) We are not opposed to the Faith Bible Church, or their right to redevelop the site. However, to redevelop the site, the applicant does NOT need major zoning variances. It's a matter of scale. There is not enough parking to support the development in its current form. Granting major zoning variances to increase the degree of non-conformity that leads to overcrowding the site is not prudent.

2) Hello there. Thanks for paying attention and getting involved in the discussion. Below you will find some of the metrics for SaveMoheganLake.com for the last 30 days. Mohegan Lake had a respectable 28 unique visits with an average of 4 minutes, 40 seconds spent on the site 3.36 pagers per visit. However, Somers wins the the paying attention prize with an average time of 29 mins, 28 secs, with 13 page views per visit; impressive. Leave your name in the comments and I'll email you a gift certificate to Auggie's Prime Cut.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

A School For 172 People

Perhaps the large swath of land being cleared toward Lakeside Drive will be used as a recreation area for the new, proposed occupancy for a school for a 172 people? Based on the sewer design criteria the school would be able to operate daily (I'll get to the sewer issues, shortly). Mohegan Avenue is already deficient in clear width--not to mention sidewalks--to accept the added traffic load to support such an operation.

Mohegan Avenue runs directly through the outfall of Mohegan Lake. This spring it was actually shut down by State Trooper's for about a week because the lake and wetland merged and the road was under more than 2 feet of water. Without significant upgrades to the existing road infrastructure, it is irresponsible to approve such a major new development.

Click on the image below to view Site Deign Consultants' engineer's report for FBC.
Not much has been discussed about the new school use. It's important to note that a school has never been established as a legal use or occupancy. The current legal occupancies and uses are two single family residential homes and small house of worship. We can glean some details in the Youtube video below.

Part One:



Part Two:


Friday, June 17, 2011

Correction

Yorktown's Planning and Conservation Board records were, in fact, complete. When Yorktown copied the files for my FOIL request, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation document was double sided(it was the only double sided document in the file). It makes sense; that's the environmentally responsible way to print and they are the DEC. : )

Page 2, below.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today In Euphemisms: Tree Inventory Plan

Below: A couple details from Site Design's tree inventory plan. Looks like that 55,000sf of woodlands they need to clear and grade will come within about 15 feet of Lakeside Drive. Wow. It's unclear what that area will be used for. Though as we've noted previously, preserving steep slopes in single family neighborhoods is one of the duties of the Planning Board.

Below: Those are the 12 trees they are required to inventory before they kill because they are over 7 inches in diameter; at least I believe that's the threshold. Many more trees and vegetation will have to be killed to make this new development happen.

Increasing The Degree of Non-Conformity

I object to the major zoning variances because they will increase the degree of non-conformity. The bulk, height, area, an lot coverage will all be increased substantially if these variances are approved.



Please note that the applicant correctly dropped the phrase "legalization of existing structures"
from the application. It now reads "construction of a building." There's a major difference how zoning laws will be applied to a new building as opposed to an existing structure.


There are existing structures that do not conform to zoning currently. Some have argued they are "legal non-conforming," I disagree because the non-conformity is for a single family home, not ancillary church uses.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stuck Between A Rock and A Wetland

The State's environmental concerns have disappeared from the Town's Planning and Conservation Boards' records for the FBC application.

I have a request in with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation engineer who is reviewing FBC's application. Their most recent comment to the applicant came in the form of a 3 page "Notice of Incomplete Application." In Yorktown Planning and Conservation Board records, only pages 1 and 3 are present. Since page two would seemingly have nearly all of the recommendations, it is imperative that Yorktown's files be made whole. I hope that serious errors and omissions do not become a recurring theme with this application.

Below are the two pages that are in the file. I underlined a couple items; let's discuss:

The DEC is concerned with the wetland parking area. We are also. Considering the applicant is proposing 27 cars to be parked on this lot and in light of the fact that the applicant consistently uses the same lot for about 40 cars already[!], it's hard for me to contemplate how more than tripling the legal occupant load of the current development while decreasing the actual amount of parking makes any sense.

It's especially disturbing that the applicant is the one who paved the wetlands in the first place. Now they are taking credit for returning it to an impervious state? I believe that would be considered buttering your bread on both sides and completely contrary to our environmental laws.

I will share page two of the document below as soon as it is made available.




Monday, June 13, 2011

June 23rd, 2011: Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing on FBC's 5 Variances

[The orange words below are links to additional information]

At tonight's Planning Board working session, it was confirmed by Joseph C. Riina of Site Design Consultants of Yorktown and Albert A. Capellini, Esq. (former Yorktown Town supervisor) that the developer did not notify several of the legally interested parties of their previous application for 3 zoning variances (2 major and 1 minor). This was cited as the reason for the revocation. Mr. Capellini basically stated that the applicant didn't know that they owned property that had frontage on Lakeside Drive. It's a steep hill, but, seriously? There is a survey in the file that clearly labels "Lakeside Drive."

Sadly, they also confirmed that the retaining walls proposed under the new zoning board application with 5 variances (3 major, 2 minor) were not new and were actually a part of the original application [note: the two additional variances are compounded in that the 10 foot encroachment into a required 12 foot side yard will also be nearly 3 times the legal limit for a retaining walls].

Retaining walls will be used to level an incredibly steep hill-- a hill the town is charged with preserving; oh, and did I mention the parking lot and retaining walls requiring MAJOR variances are replacing a single family house? We are up to 3 major variances and 2 minor to make this happen; that's a 3 fold increase from what was presented about 3 months ago.

That means that these preeminent professionals either missed, or intentionally omitted the two biggest zoning variances. It should be noted at this point that the project could move forward with no variances whatsoever. Therefore, it's disturbing that the developer is proposing such radical deviations from laws enacted to preserve the few remaining low-density, single family neighborhoods and the steep slopes that make them so unique.

What amazes me, personally, is that the developer's team repeatedly cites the unique slope of the site and the challenges that it presents, but not a single section through the hill exists; please do share. Add to that, the near dismissal of the "interested parties" (that's a legal term and refers to you, Lakeside Drive) in the ZBA application are the ones most affected by the proposal and I'm scared.

The Planning Board ultimately recommended the application be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals on June 23rd at Yorktown Town Hall @ 7:30pm. We can make ourselves heard; if we don't, my family and tax dollars are out of here. I'll donate my house (immediately adjacent the development) to the church for parking. At that point we'll have solid precedent for giant retaining walls encroaching 90% into required rear yards in Mohegan lake and they'll be able to provide the parking to sustain this monstrosity.


Take it away, Joni Mitchell:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Section 300-201 Powers and duties [of the Zoning Board of Appeals]

Below is an outline of the 3 criteria that the Town Code requires the Zoning Board must find to grant approval of a variance. Let's discuss.

"(1) That there are special circumstances or conditions, fully described in the findings of the Board of Appeals, applying to the building or land for which the adjustment is sought, which circumstances or conditions are peculiar to such land or building and do not apply generally to land or buildings in the neighborhood."

Click on image to view the code.

I think we call all agree that all of the lots and the buildings that sit upon them are all a bit peculiar; since that holds true for the entire neighborhood of Mohegan Lake, then peculiar is the norm and this criteria of variance approval is not met.

"(2) That, for reasons fully set forth in the findings of the Board, the aforesaid circumstances or conditions are such that the particular application of the regulations of this chapter would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of such land or building and the granting of the adjustment is necessary for the reasonable use of the land or building, and that the adjustment as granted by the Board is the minimum adjustment that will accomplish the purpose. "

Click on image to view the code.
The "adjustments" the variance, as currently worded, would have a severe impact to the neighborhood; classifying these adjustments as minimum would be a farce. Encroaching 14.5' into a a required 30' rear yard (please note that this yard is the side of the property that become very steep and requires the most disturbance of the environment)? Building a 12' high retaining wall that will literally require the removal of tons of rock and earth (mostly rock) in a zone that allows retaining walls of only 4.5'? Remember, that one of the town's goals is to preserve "steep slopes?" I wonder if that's the same retaining wall that requires a variance to be set back only 2' where 12' is required. Why even have zoning laws if a variance that nearly eliminates a required setback altogether is found to be a minimal adjustment of the said laws?

The developer is allowed to build as of right, meaning requiring none of the major variances. Why should these severe, high-impact variances be granted? They shouldn't.


"(3) That the granting of the adjustment will be in harmony with the general purposes and intent of this chapter and of the Town Development Plan, if such exists, and will not be injurious to the neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare."

Click on image to view the code.

"The Town Development Plan" does exist in the form of the "Comprehensive Plan," and this proposal flies in the face of the spirit of the goals outlined in the Plan to preserve Mohegan Lake. This is whole other post (stay tuned), but suffice it to say that approving these reckless deviations from the law will not only be detrimental to the neighborhood and public welfare, but also the environment.

Don't forget: Zoning Board hearing regarding the developer's proposal is open to the public on June 23rd at 7:30PM.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Consideration For The Planning and Zoning Boards

Please consider the following: the Town Code describes the "intent and purpose" of the board's duties(see below).

The developer's new zoning variance adds two new major variances; one of them nearly triples the legal limit for retaining walls allowing them to carve out a flat area on the steepest slope in the entire hamlet of Mohegan Lake! Just ask the residents who can't get their vehicles up the hill in winter and have to park on the community's wetland parking; it could be argued that this is not the developer's land--it belongs to the community of Mohegan Lake.

The emphasis on a few words below, is mine.

Planning Board

§ 10-13. Legislative findings; intent and purpose

The Town Board hereby finds and determines that in order to protect and safeguard the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of the Town of Yorktown and its residents; protect wetlands, water bodies, habitat areas, steep slopes, and other sensitive areas from encroachment; protect drinking water supplies, including both reservoirs and aquifers; protect and enhance the community character of residential neighborhoods; and protect the visual quality of scenic corridors, as well as key scenic vistas; it is necessary and proper to preserve significant remaining areas of open space throughout the Town of Yorktown. The Town Board further finds and determines that in endeavoring to accomplish said goal it will be most beneficial to have the advice and assistance of a committee of residents from throughout the Town who can formulate an open space preservation plan, advise on the Town's preservation efforts, identify open space preservation opportunities, form tactical plans and generally provide advice regarding open space preservation matters to the Town Board.

I'm not sure if the last sentence refers to the committee that developed the Comprehensive Plan for Yorktown, but it may very well apply to the staunch defenders of the Mohegan Lake Community. See you June 23rd at 7:30PM at Town Hall.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Save The Date: June 23rd, 2011 @ 7:30PM

A new application will be presented the Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals on June 23rd, 2011 at the Yorktown Town Hall building. Be there or be square.

It's a new application in that there are two additional variances . My question: was a design change made that warranted the additional variances--major variances, I might add--or were these variances present in the first iteration of the plans and omitted?

If it's the latter, it would be hard for me not to believe that the deficient notifications to many of the legally interested parties, plus the omission of two major variances, may have been an attempt to fly in under the radar--so to speak. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and I'll reach out to the developer's attorney as recommended in the closing of the letter below; I'll keep you abreast of their response.

Click on the image below to read variance "22" that proposes a retaining wall on the easterly side of the site [that's you, Lakeside Drive!] that would be almost 3 times the legally allowed height allowing them to carve out a huge parking lot; I bet they encounter rock that requires blasting. The other variance is 6 times the legal limit for a retaining wall setback in a side yard. Harrumph.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Houston, We've Got Cygnets (that's what they call baby swans)

Four, to be exact. I call the small, cute one Cutey. I'll let you all name the other three in the comment section, below.

I suppose we should name Mr. and Mrs. Swan, as well. Feel free to name them in the comment section.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hello, Mohegan Lake.

Last Thursday, 3/28/2011, the Town of Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals revoked their previous approval of Faith Bible Church's application. FBC's attorney indicates they will submit a new application and the proper "interested parties" shall be notified.

This is welcome news as it effectively serves as the "do-over" we sought; no legal action required. Yay.

Video of the revocation and lots more to follow.

Thanks for all your support.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Residences

I'm just not clear as to whether the 3 or 4 zoning and tax lots being merged into 1 to make this project work consist of 2 or 3 residences, plus the church proper. Please click on the image above; my confusion is highlighted. Also, by "vacant," does Mr. Riina, PE, mean "occupied as daycare/school/meeting hall"?

It's common knowledge that the residences have been altered [legally?] from residences to different occupancies and uses; uses and occupancies not on file with the town of Yorktown.

"The property is bordered to the south, east, and west by residential use."

You may enlarge this partial copy of the planning board application, below, by clicking on it. You can read the first three pages of the document by clicking here.

What, may I ask, is the property bordered by on the northerly edge of the premises? [Is it still rhetorical if I answer it?]

It's bordered by "residential use" to the north, as well.

Site Plan

The developer has retained Joseph C. Riina, P.E.,of Site Design Consultants. Below you will find an engineer's report dated 12/10/2010, prepared for the developer.





Parking Is The Developer's Limiting Factor



Below you will find a detailed photograph showing 39 cars parked on "parcel B," as the developer refers to it. I wanted to correct my previous calculation of 44 cars.

I also want to note that, under the plan which proposes over a three-fold increase in legal occupancy, the developer proposes a net decrease of total parking spaces in "parcel B."

Under the proposed new development, where we see 39 cars parked below, this parking area/wetland will be decreased in area and a total of 27 spaces will be legal.


That's some "fuzzy math."

[ Click on the image below, to embiggen.]