PLANNING BOARD DRAFT MINUTES
December 21, 2016
Chairman Ian Murray called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
Planning Clerk Linda McCabe called the roll: Chairman Ian Murray present, Laurie
Griffen absent, Patrick Hanehan present, Robert McConnell present, Joseph
Lewandowski present, Brandon Myers present, George Olsen - present,
Alternate Christopher Koval - absent.
Also attending: Town Engineer Ken Martin, Attorney Justin Grassi, Aspen Witt, Katie Gehl, Janet Limeri, Jeff Mancini, Kevin Hastings, John & Leslie Cashin, Linda & Al Macica, Chris & Maribeth Macica, Randall Odell, John Witt, Thomas Yannios, Marjorie McShane, Hub Miller, Terri Korb, Trish Perault, Lauren Kirkwood, Paul Murphy and other interested persons. (Sign-in sheet is on file in the Clerks office)
Major Subdivision Conference
John Witt, Witt Construction #15-05
563 N. Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
S/B/L 193.-1-17, 193.-1-18, 193.18-1-55 Lake Residential,
Rural District II, Rural District
Location: 142 Cedar Bluff Rd. (Co. Rd. 71)
Returning Applicant seeks a 32 lot major subdivision.
Applicant John Witt appeared before the Board and reviewed his recent submittals of the proposed 32 lot subdivision which will be on Cedar Bluff Rd., Trombley Rd. and Wright Rd.. He stated that 53.6 acres will remain open space, including the forested area that will be preserved in its natural state. The 'reclaimed farmland' will also remain open space in perpetuity, tied to the restrictions in the deed to the farm house, though he wants to talk about that some more. He then stated his goal is to establish a farm, back to agriculture and protect forest land at the northwest side and plant an apple orchard across the road from the farmland creating a visual amenity for anyone who passes by from nearby properties. Total acreage is 111.6 acres; the unbuildable land - 16.4% of slopes greater than 25% and wetlands - 2.2 acres, for a total of 18.6 acres. He said once you subtract that out, calculate the open space needed - 50% of the buildable land which is 46.5 acres, the proposed 56.5 acres of open space. 23.8 acres on the west side and 32.7 acres on the east side. The proposed lot coverage is 55.1 acres. They will have 31 buildable lots and the existing 'farm' lot. The road right-of-ways is included in that. He then stated they can begin going through the maps however the Board would like.
Chairman Ian Murray responded they can go through them one at a time and correspond the list that he and Town Engineer Ken Martin have generated as they reviewed the submittals.
Applicant John Witt introduced his assistant Katie Gehl, and they began going through the maps:
1. Land analysis map, showing the zoning districts where the lands of this project are located.
2. Conditions map
3. West side overlooking the lake
4. Proposed project layout map - showing 20 lots on the west side, the open space, the 3 lots on Cedar Bluff Rd., the farmhouse lot, a little farm land, which he'll talk about later.
Chairman Ian Murray stopped him and stated he had some questions concerning the west side wetland area. He said this Board had identified that area at previous meetings to be a protected area.
Applicant John Witt said that is correct.
Chairman Ian Murray asked him if he will list that on the print so in future there is no arguing the point or any gray areas.
Applicant John Witt replied yes.
Chairman Ian Murray questioned if the Applicant intended to stay with the current location of the driveway/proposed driveway for Lot 32.
Applicant John Witt responded he thought so, but he's not sure. The purchaser may be interested in using the farm and farmhouse as a small business of some sort; he assumes the owner would have to come back before the Board.
Chairman Ian Murray said the Board would like to know those locations and the sight distances on those locations.
Applicant John Witt stated the one client he's been talking to was talking about farm shops, flower shop, is that something that can be done?
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Town has provisions for road side stands in the Town, as long as it fits into that criteria. If it expands upon that criteria it would require a Special Use Permit. There's home industry, home occupation - if that's something that is being entertained, you can look at the Town Regulations for what is required.
Applicant John Witt asked if that needs to be done now or after this process; he was told after this process.
Chairman Ian Murray said last but not least for this map, on Lot 32 you have farmland and open space as 32.5 acres. It was this Board's assumption that that land was tied to Lot 32. Is it?
Applicant John Witt responded it is.
Chairman Ian Murray stated Lot 32 has square footage of 86,740 (roughly 2 acres), then you have the 32 acres identified as farmland and open space. What is your intent?
Applicant John Witt responded intent was open space.
Chairman Ian Murray questioned if it is now considered an HOA? Or is it tied to Lot 32?
Applicant John Witt responded it is tied to Lot 32. He said he's open for discussion about the rest of the land being tied to an HOA. It might make sense for the rest of the neighborhood to have an HOA to maintain the open space in perpetuity.
Chairman Ian Murray stated its the Applicant's option; he thinks it's a good one since he can put deed restrictions and protections in place so nothing happens. It's also good for the Town because we can pass storm water retention areas off to them and not have to worry about it.
Applicant John Witt replied it makes good sense. They will write an HOA with the restrictions for that property and he assumes the Town and Attorney will want to weigh in; Chairman Ian Murray agreed.
Chairman Ian Murray stated that for Lot 32 it is going to be 34.5 acres.
Applicant John Witt replied that is correct. He then stated he's protecting it, by creating farmland that continues back to the farm area belonging to someone else.
Joe Lewandowski questioned if there is an existing well there and if so, is it a drilled well; he didn't notice it on the map.
Applicant John Witt replied yes there is and yes it is a drilled well.
Patrick Hanehan stated there should be a cut setback between where the Applicant wants to clear cut and the farm to the east.
Chairman Ian Murray stated there is a 75' buffer there.
Patrick Hanehan replied that in the past this Board has made references to increasing that to 100' and he'd like to see that happen.
Chairman Ian Murray agreed and replied they can certainly do that.
Patrick Hanehan then stated that Chairman Ian Murray referenced the western part that is to be not touched, but on one page the Applicant has written 'removal of some trees on the northern most lots to create vistas to Saratoga Lake' and still mentions planting an orchard on that side when this Board has said no to that from day one.
Applicant John Witt responded that they are planning to clear for views of the lake, not clear cutting, but selective cutting for views for each house. He plans to plant apple trees - something the HOA would have to maintain - but it will give a nice visual as one is driving by. It's currently a forest, but not a maintained forest. He stated he's talked about forest management in the past, which allows them to remove dead stuff and the trees that are there can actually grow larger. They aren't going to clear cut it because it's forever protected. But there were apple trees across the street at some point and he wants to put an orchard there which will allow light onto the road at that point and it will create a visual amenity for people driving past.
Patrick Hanehan stated speaking for himself, he is very nervous about the Applicant going in and doing 'selective cutting' in that area.
Chairman Ian Murray stated, adding to what Patrick Hanehan stated, he doesn't mind the planning, but he does not believe there should be any cutting there. It is to be totally protected, left for mother nature.
Applicant John Witt stated that is something they can talk about.
Chairman Ian Murray responded no, they cannot. He said they already have, we already agreed upon that and we are not going backwards. It is a protected area and it cannot be touched, can we agree upon that?
Applicant John Witt responded no. He wants to meet out there and talk about it. We aren't talking about clearing anything, talking about forest management, possibly, and planting a small apple orchard that will be a visual for the Town. He also stated he feels it goes with the Town regulations and doesn't see any negative to it from an aesthetic point and a real estate point. He disagrees with the Board. If you let this forest stay natural you'll have a lot of blow down, you'll have unhealthy trees; it's not good practice to leave it natural.
Chairman Ian Murray stated it feeds the soil, feeds the ground plants that are there; there are benefits to leaving it untouched. The Board wants to keep it in its native state, as is.
Applicant John Witt said he totally agrees with that; that's what he wants - he told Chairman Ian Murray that he's agreeing with the Board.
Chairman Ian Murray replied, no, the Applicant wasn't agreeing with the Board. The Applicant wants to go backward again, he wants to clear cut that area and plant an orchard.
Applicant John Witt said he wants to clean it up and plant a small orchard. It's nasty looking right now.
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Board visited the site, completed a walk through and he's not going to debate this, the Board already said no, it's a protected area, a no touch area. This Board set its conditions down, the Applicant's view is so noted, let's move on.
Patrick Hanehan stated on the south west side, who will monitor the Applicant's cutting there?
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Board would have to designate someone or hire a consultant to do that. A lot clearing plan will need to be reviewed.
Patrick Hanehan replied at the Applicant's cost, not the Town, correct?
Chairman Ian Murray stated yes, correct.
Brandon Myers stated that on Lots 10 & 11, the Applicant isn't showing the slopes to be protected.
Applicant John Witt replied they aren't going to touch the slopes.
Brandon Myers stated he'd like to see an area of 50' from the ridge up designated as a 'do not touch' preservation area.
Applicant John Witt responded he'll do whatever he can to protect the slopes, but 50' is a lot and may be part of backyards. He said he's not going to sugar coat it, in reality they're putting the houses on that ridge for a reason - it's for the views. And he needs those views to sell those lots. The owner of those lots won't agree to that, they want the views.
Brandon Myers replied, he's not going to sugar coat it either, it's clear in the Town of Saratoga code that those slopes exceed what's allowable for development and until they are designated not developable, not to be touched, that's his condition.
Applicant John Witt said he understands and they will not touch the slopes. They will protect them.
Brandon Myers responded the Applicant saying that is not enough.
5. Trombley Rd. Area, showing a hammerhead turn-around or possible private road.
Chairman Ian Murray stated either way, there are no storm water provisions in place there and the Board needs that. He then questioned what the sight distances were of Lots 29 & 30 on Trombley Rd.
Applicant John Witt said Lot 30 is 400' - 500' either way.
Patrick Hanehan stated there is a hill in the curve half way up.
Chairman Ian Murray stated he doesn't know if the drive for Lot 30 will work due to sight distance with that curve. It will have to tie in to the private road or the town road; he doesn't believe the proposed location will work.
The Applicant responded they'll look at it and get back to the Board.
Chairman Ian Murray then said, also on that plan, where the island is, what is the 36,000+-/sq. ft. in reference to?
Applicant John Witt replied he didn't know; his engineer added it was a miscalculation and should be ignored - that shouldn't have been on the map.
6. Close up map showing old farm road.
Chairman Ian Murray questioned who measured the sight distance for Lot 20, west side, 480' to the south; where the vertical curve goes to the south?
Applicant John Witt's engineer replied they measured it.
Patrick Hanehan added if they increase the setback to 100', will Lot 21 be a viable lot?
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Applicant will have to reconfigure that lot - shift things over a bit.
Applicant John Witt stated the concept is that people will be buying knowing this is to be a farm. So that buffer is to protect the farmland and whatever else is going on, he guesses, but if he lived there, he'd like to look across clear to the farmland. He enjoys looking at farmland; 75' - 100' is a good buffer; but personally he would like to clear right to it.
Chairman Ian Murray replied maybe he would, but not everyone is like that. You talk to farmers and you'll find there is so much encroachment that it becomes a problem.
7. Map showing 20 lots on the west side.
Chairman Ian Murray questioned what the intent is of the entrance design; he stated he's not opposed to it, but the Highway Superintendant may be and his needs must weigh in on it due to the snowplows and emergency vehicles. It is 20' wide and he doesn't know if the Applicant was going to curb around those islands or if they'll be flush at grade. He thinks it will be tough to navigate the large snowplows and needs to be open for safety vehicles; fire trucks etc.
Applicant John Witt replied he's open to the Highway Superintendant's thoughts; he just was intending it to be a little boulevard. He added that the last time he spoke with Don Ormsby, Don was adamant that the road should connect through.
Chairman Ian Murray stated that the Board didn't think that was necessary and wasn't the direction they wanted to go as a Board.
8. East side slope map showing slopes over 25%
9. West side slope map showing slopes over 25%
10. Utility Plan for sewer
Chairman Ian Murray stated a concern of his is with the last manhole after the service road ends; it's a bit too close to the edge; at Lots 14 and 15. The Applicant can continue the road a bit further or shorten it up.
The Applicant's engineer stated that will be adjusted. They'll adjust it 4/10ths of a down slope because it's so flat there.
Chairman Ian Murray then stated that concerning Lot 14, when he was doing calculations on the stations and profiles, from Lot 13 to 12, he came up with 12% on that pipe. The Applicant's engineer mentioned 10%; he asked what the requirement is for the County Sewer District is.
The Applicant's engineer responded he wasn't sure, but they could hold 10% as maximum.
Town Engineer Ken Martin stated they show 6" sewer line; he'd like to see 8". And no matter what size the sewer is, he'd like to see the slopes because some of them look shallow which concerns him.
Chairman Ian Murray agreed and added that he calculated from Lot 13 to 14 which was 10% as they stated.
Applicant's engineer responded that once they get their preliminary package together and correspondence with the County, it'll be up to the County to do their review and communicate back to them.
Chairman Ian Murray questioned if they thought of sending it to the County sooner since it could be good guidance for them since no one knows what the allowable slopes are for that pipe; he thought it was 10% for the County but he came up with 12%.
Applicant's engineer responded no, he was told by someone at the county they didn't want to waste their time or theirs until they have a final plan.
11. Utility Plan showing sewer coming up the road.
Applicant John Witt stated there will be a sewer easement once they go to the County; more than likely it will be a 30' easement and most likely it'll be 15' on each side of the center pipe, but it's up to them.
12. More sewer line map
Applicant John Witt said some will need grinder pumps.
13. Cedar Bluff Rd. crossing to Trombley Rd.
14. Map showing down from Rt. 9P
15. Utilities Profiles
16. Grading Plan
Chairman Ian Murray stated he has serious concerns here. Lots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - if you look at your proposal for finished floor elevations, and correspond that with the road stations, and the road cross sections - some of those houses are 12' - 20' out of the ground.
Applicant John Witt's engineer responded more than likely it is.
Chairman Ian Murray stated it is.
Jeff Mancini said that is the intent of those lots. Applicant John Witt added they're the toughest lots to grade (Lots 1, 2 & 3) which is why they showed the proposed concept-it's the only one that would work.
Chairman Ian Murray stated it's actually troublesome for Lots 1 - 5. He said he understands Jeff Mancini's point, but looking back to prior meetings that they've had, to the focus the Board wanted and the focus the neighbors wanted: the Board clearly stated there is to be no mass clearing. He said if the Applicant and his engineers go back to the road section, the stations, the profiles and look at the grades and the finished floor elevations they propose on the houses, they're wiping out the entire corridor of any trees that are there; it's an airport. And that is why, way back when, this Board asked you for the clearing plan so they could make this work. He then stated he is totally against the way this is proposed. There are some homes proposed with walkout basements, some with retaining walls, but all those lots will be cleared to make this work.
Applicant John Witt responded that's part of a conservation subdivision.
Chairman Ian Murray told the Applicant to show him, where in the Town of Saratoga regulations, it says for a conservation subdivision you have to clear cut the land.
Applicant John Witt replied he didn't know.
Chairman Ian Murray responded the Applicant just said it was in there.
Applicant John Witt said to make it work, that's just what you have to do.
Chairman Ian Murray stated no, you have to rework it, that's how you make it work.
Applicant John Witt said he's open to suggestions.
Chairman Ian Murray replied this Board is not the Applicant's design professional.
Applicant John Witt responded when he came with his conceptual plan this is the exact grading plan they had for those three lots. Nothing has changed from conceptual to preliminary.
Chairman Ian Murray stated that is right, and again, the Applicant knew the Board's focus then was to NOT mass clear cut everything. And by grading these lots out with this final plan, the Board can now see it and it is not what the Board wants.
Applicant John Witt replied when you make the lots smaller, you have to clear it. Even if this was a flat site, they'd be clearing it to get the houses in that location.
Chairman Ian Murray again stated the Applicant needs to look at the grade and look at the profiles. They are 12' - 20' out of the ground. Not a tree is saved on any of those lots.
Applicant John Witt replied that is right. It's no different than houses he's done on Lake George.
Patrick Hanehan stated this is not Lake George.
Applicant John Witt's engineer Jeff Mancini stated he's sure there are multiple subdivisions in this Town and when you put a road in, you have a 60' right-of-way and there's not a tree in the right-of-way.
Chairman Ian Murray replied correct.
Jeff Mancini said so actually they're clearing it out for the road. If while grading for a house and there's a tree that can be saved, he'll save it. So if the Board wants selected trees then the Board should go out, identify the trees that are to be saved, then they can do the plan.
Chairman Ian Murray said okay. He then told Jeff Mancini to provide the Board with an inventory of all trees 6 inches in diameter and larger. The Board will then look at.
Jeff Mancini stated there are things they can do to make adjustments in certain areas, but if anyone is under the assumption that they're not going to clear beyond the roadway some, they should stop this right now.
Chairman Ian Murray responded that may happen, to be perfectly honest. From the beginning of this application, this Board understood what the Applicant wanted, but this Town has a lot clearing plan and way back in the beginning, the Board told Applicant John Witt that you need to file a lot clearing plan before you can get a building permit. What's being proposed tonight - you're wiping everything out. He then said, on sheet G3, it states 'know all lots do have an individual grading plan submitted to the building department prior to issuance of a building permit. Lot grading will have to take into account consideration future adjoining lots to make a uniform plan.' That is a real generic statement. You could go in there and clear it all and then just tell us afterwards. It is not bullet proof enough for this Board.
Applicant John Witt stated the toughest lots will be 1 - 3 and trees will need to be removed, on lots 4 & 5 they can definitely save some trees in that area. He added that Chairman Ian Murray is right, he'll have to remove everything to get those houses in on Lots 1 - 3. He doesn't know if the houses will be 3,000 sq. ft., 7,000 sq. ft. or 1500 sq. ft. To try to balance all that out-there's no one is this room that can do that. Until they know what house will go on each lot. This is not going to be a cookie cutter subdivision.
Chairman Ian Murray responded there's got to be more thought put into it. This Board doesn't want to approve and then have the Applicant clear cut it.
Chairman Ian Murray added on Lot 20 they propose walls along the driveway and questioned what materials they propose to use there and secondly, it shows it being in the right-of-way; they'd have to be adjusted to get it out of the right-of-way.
Applicant John Witt responded it'll be re-engineered and they will be using some kind of stone veneer.
17. Chairman Ian Murray stated he has no questions on this, just that lots 21 - 23 need a bit of work to fit there. Brandon Myers questioned what the limit of clearing is and Chairman Ian Murray responded that is why the Board needs the inventory.
18. South side Road Plans & Profiles
19. Road Plans & Profiles
20. More Road Plans & Profiles
Applicant John Witt stated nothing major here.
Chairman Ian Murray said not here, but lots 1 - 5 have major fills.
21. Road Sections, Cuts & Fills
Chairman Ian Murray stated lots 1 - 5 have major fills; lot 20 shows a proposed 468 grade and the house is set at 418.
22. More Sections
23. Army Corp. Flagged Wetlands
Chairman Ian Murray asked if the wetlands been certified.
Applicant John Witt responded no, not yet. Jeff Mancini stated Army Corp. added two more areas on the south side of Cedar Bluff Rd., x and y. They've been added to the map and the map will be revised and reprinted.
Chairman Ian Murray stated they should wait until the review before printing the revised map since there may yet be other revisions. He added that it is all tied into the Board's SEQR review.
24. East side tie in
25. Overall View of Site
26. Proposed Storm Water/Erosion Plan
Chairman Ian Murray stated there are serious problems here. This has been discussed at many past meetings; the Board needs more than this. The Applicant needs to show water quality volume along with storm water design on it. The Board needs that for the SEQR review. The Board would love for the Applicant to have an H.O.A. with this subdivision, because the Board would love to give them the storm water maintenence. There are no provisions or anything for any maintenance or repair on this, in fact, Chairman Ian Murray doesn't even know how one would get in there to do any maintenance. There is no way he can burden the Town by approving this.
Town Engineer Ken Martin stated they still need to provide an easement for the Town to get in even with an H.O.A. in case the H.O. A. doesn't take care of it.
Applicant John Witt responded okay.
27. Subdivision Details
28. Septic Details
30. More Details
Chairman Ian Murray stated slopes on driveways 18, 19 & 20, the Town has a standard on those and they cannot be over 12% on a driveway over 150' in length and no more than 15% on any one. They are less than that, but there are PSI standards to consider in the design of the lengthy driveways. Chairman Ian Murray then stated getting back to SEQR, the Board will be getting back to it in the future at some point. What about archeological?
Applicant John Witt stated they've completed Phase I & II, they're waiting to do Part III after preliminary approval is given by the Board.
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Board needs that done before giving preliminary approval.
Attorney Justin Grassi stated when the Board undergoes SEQR, the Board will be required to look at the most intensive uses to determine the level of impact. So the Board can either review Phase I & II and decide that they're comfortable with the potential impacts or the Board can, after reviewing Phase I & II, find that more information is needed or the level of impacts may be very significant for instance.
Chairman Ian Murray added, with that being said, the Board still needs sign-off; this still needs to go to SHPPO and back to us with approval. SHPPO may want Phase III completed prior to approval and the Board has no way of knowing that they will sign off on it for the Board to complete SEQR.
Applicant John Witt said it's expensive, could be $100,000.00 and he's already spent $60,000.00 and he doesn't want to spend another $100,000.00 without preliminary approval. The Board can look at Phase I & II.
Chairman Ian Murray responded the Board can look at it but he offers no guarantees. This Board has to follow SEQR and SHPPO.
Applicant John Witt replied he understood but the Board could approve it contingent upon...
Chairman Ian Murray stated no, they cannot. The Board cannot do a Negative Declaration. They'd have to do a condition Negative Declaration or Positive Declaration. You cannot make SEQR conditional. SEQR must be complete before the Board can approve a preliminary plat.
Applicant John Witt responded saying don't approve the preliminary plat, say everything is good except for Phase III of the Archeological.
Chairman Ian Murray stated he doesn't understands what benefit that allows the Applicant.
Applicant John Witt replied it just holds off him spending $100,000.00 until he knows it's approved.
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Applicant will get back to us by next submittal on what the intentions are for the road on the east side; private road or proposed town road.
Applicant John Witt said he'd like to sit down with Town Engineer Ken Martin and look at the road; a town road is 24' and he doesn't want a 24' road that accesses only a few houses.
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Town has rural road standards and we can drop it to 22'.
Applicant John Witt replied he doesn't want even 22'. He'd like to do 18' or 20' and do nice shoulders.
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Board cannot deviate from that; it's Town regulation.
Applicant John Witt responded so now he has to decide if it'll be 22' or a private road.
Chairman Ian Murray said right. He then stated getting back to the farm land on the east side it is now part of Lot 32.
Applicant John Witt replied that is correct.
Chairman Ian Murray stated in regards to that, as Patrick Hanehan brought up earlier, if your intent is to use that land as farmland, the Board requires a report and review from NRCS on that land; which the Board has stated in past meetings.
Brandon Myers questioned how the Board can evaluate and completed SEQR without information on that land, so he thinks it is good that we get those reports.
Patrick Hanehan stated the Applicant will need to contact NRCS and see exactly what they come up with and yes, NRCS will provide them a report.
Chairman Ian Murray stated the Board spoke with Soil Conservation and received a report from them, but not NRCS.
Attorney Justin Grassi stated you cannot do a conditional review on SEQR, it's either neg dec or pos dec.
Chairman Ian Murray stated we have a couple of lists; we can provide the Applicant a list if he wants to call us or email us.
Gil Albert seeks information concerning a second residence on his property.
Gil Albert appeared before the Board and stated the foundation in the front of his property
is meant for Eisha's shop being moved there. If that doesn't pan out, he asked if he will he be able to turn it into a second residence? He knows he meets all the setbacks and acreage and that he'll need to put in a well and septic system. He also knows he needs 400' of frontage, so he'll need to go before ZBA for a frontage variance. The driveway will remain as is.
The Board reviewed his information and plans and said this will have to go to the ZBA and it will go with a positive recommendation.
Gil Albert thanked the Board.
Old Business: none
New Business: Due to the Planning Training and Conference being held the same day as the scheduled meeting, next month's meeting will be held a week early; 1/18/2017 instead of the 25th.
The next regular meeting will be held Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at .
Linda A. McCabe