Cold Spring Village Board Notes
Public hearing suggests need to rethink zoning laws
The Cold Spring Village Board meeting on Tuesday, September 7 also served as a public hearing on proposed changes to five chapters of the village code, as part of an ongoing update of over 500 pages. bylaws that affect almost every aspect of the village. life.
No one in the small audience commented on the chapters dealing with signs and placards, land subdivision or dangerous buildings. But with regard to the noise (chapter 76), an inhabitant broke the silence.
Stephen Rose has advocated a ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers, which he says exceed village noise limits. He also said the blowers’ gasoline engines are carbon intensive and the particles they stir up pose a health threat. He added that village workers using gasoline blowers to clean the streets are among the worst offenders.
“I feel like I’m being assaulted” when the blowers are on, he said.
The noise regulation hearing will remain open until administrators consider comments from Rose, who was supported by two other spectators at the meeting.
Zoning (Chapter 134) generated the most discussion.
Donald McDonald, who has served on village committees including the Planning Council, Zoning Appeal Board and Code Update, praised the Council for its work, but suggested that improvement beyond that update is required.
“There is too big a gap between the code and the ‘as built’ characteristics of the village,” McDonald wrote in a letter to the board. This situation, he said, leads to ZBA decisions which can be arbitrary, subjective and vary over time.
He suggested a detailed measurement of the village, including each building and land, to create a database.
“Informed and defensible standards and regulations could [then] be proposed and their potential effects reliably predicted, ”he wrote.
Michael Reisman, a former member of Code Update and other village committees, commented on the need to “conform the code to the reality of the village”, adding that the technologies to help do so are getting cheaper and cheaper.
Reisman also said there was a risk in making the zoning chapter too complex, which he said can make it difficult for residents to understand what is expected.
Eric Wirth, who chairs the ZBA, called the board’s work to improve the chapter “heroic” and submitted additional suggestions, questions and corrections.
Wirth said that under the code the ZBA is “forced to legislate by granting substantial waivers over and over again” and that a “barrage” of minor waiver requests, and the paperwork associated with them, is also a problem.
“The solution is not easy; it is an issue that needs a fundamental overhaul, ”he said, suggesting that the village be mapped into two sections:“ the old village and the new village ”.
He said the current code is fine for the new village, but the old village, which includes hundreds of non-conforming grandfathered properties, requires a separate code.
In a letter from Putnam Independent Living Services, Joseph Guagliano urged the village to demand that more properties, including shops, be made accessible to people with disabilities. The village, he said, can avoid violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York State Human Rights Act by proactively addressing accessibility in its code. .
The public zoning hearing will remain open until council considers comments received on Tuesday.
Juhee Lee-Hartford of River Architects, who is overseeing the design of a new wine bar and cafe at 15 Main Street, told council she had received verbal state approval for a waiver that will allow a ADA ramp at the entrance which is slightly steeper than normally required.
However, she said the ramp allowed by the exemption would be “a safety concern” for people in wheelchairs and others using the ramp.
Deputy Mayor Marie Early was dubious. “They gave you a waiver and you say it will create a security hazard?” ” she asked.
“Yes, that’s my professional assessment,” Lee-Hartford replied, adding that the state had urged her to apply for an easement on village property to allow for the construction of a standard ADA ramp.
Early said state officials, in recent discussions with the village’s building inspector, made no mention of an easement.
Mayor Dave Merandy also asked why state officials would suggest an easement after approving a waiver. “I don’t see how [the variance] would result in a safety hazard, ”he said, later commenting that the state would not approve a waiver that created risks.
When Lee-Hartford continued to advocate for a less steep ramp, administrator Fran Murphy said, “The people who gave you the gap are subject matter experts; they didn’t do it for fun.
“This is the end,” Merandy said, adding that there would be no consideration for an easement unless the state, which has not yet responded in writing, indicates that the waiver is not acceptable.
Trustees Kathleen Foley and Tweeps Woods both advised Lee-Hartford to wait for the state’s official response and then return to the board with the decision.
The project has been publicized at several previous board meetings as well as to Historic District Planning and Review Boards.
In other cases …
- The village will once again be advertising to members of a community stakeholder group to help with an ongoing review of the Cold Spring Police Department. The first call for volunteers produced five applicants, the minimum number required for the group.
- Council voted unanimously to accept a plan recently submitted by the parking committee. The proposal includes a residential permit program on 11 streets east of the railroad tracks, paid parking zones and schedules, designated areas for parking for business owners and employees, and free parking zones. No timetable for implementing the plan has been set.
- The Board of Directors unanimously approved a “Share the Growth” proposal presented by Jason Angell, a member of the City of Philipstown Board of Directors, which will ask the County of Putnam to share with local municipalities some of the funds. future increases in the retail sales tax it collects.
- A public hearing will be held on September 28 to consider changes to the village code chapters on the historic district, streets and sidewalks, pools and vehicles and traffic and a new chapter, Waterfront Consistency Review.