Posted by: Dawn Powell | May 18, 2010

Putnam Valley public hearings, May 12, 2010

note: Mr Zutt responded to my public comment, kindly and professionally.  I appreciate the reply.

Public hearings, May 12, 2010 landscape contracting, construction materials storage, nonconforming buildings

Unreality tv!

A number of years ago, the Town Board granted the right to the ZBA to legislate new uses in the town code. By New York State law, that is not a right of the zoning board. The ZBA decided to allow Tompkins Landscaping. There was no lawsuit. The zoning board no longer has that right, if they actually ever did, to legislate uses. This amendment would eliminate a use that was never legislated.

As it stands, this is a confused irregularity, and has resulted in much ambiguity and litigation, and should be eliminated.

To add to confusion, this amendment was coupled with construction material sales.

Enter Mr. Andy Tumolo of Maple Leaf Associates, who wants to have a landscape truck dispatch business on the Perosky property on Oscawana Lake Road. Now, Mr. Tumolo has been at public planning board meetings, where he has acknowledged that there was a legal problem with his proposal. While the backroom meetings are not videotaped, his appearances before the board were. He clearly understood that the future impact of Tompkins Decision and Order allowing landscape was questionable. And when the Board decided that they would follow through with the clarification of the code to eliminate this peculiarity, now he says he never heard anything about it. He says that there were no negative comments from anyone – the planning board or the consultants.

Yikes! He is right about one thing. It is public record.

So now, he is saying that he spent tens of thousands of dollars on engineering because nobody told him.

But they did.

 And the precedents that he is using? ….. Tompkins, McKinney… there’s quite a legal situation for you – what pre-exisiting use! And Elite Environmental – with no site plan approval (vacated by order of the judge).

So everyone is out to get him, some political mumbo-jumbo.

And for the rest of us, what exactly is the definition of “landscape contactor”? Is storage and dispatch of trucks compatible with a residential community?

Mr. Perosky wants to sell his property. And so he came to talk about that. I can’t blame him. He has run a business in a residential zone for years. He just wants to sell.

Mr. Zutt has recused himself because his partner represented Mr. Perosky. He left the room. So the one person in attendance, other than Mr. Tumolo who was present during those discussions of the Tompkins D&O, was not there to counter Mr. Tumolo’s assertion that he was not informed.

But the law is not on the meeting agenda, and we will have to see if the code is changed merely to allow this applicant’s use.

And one more question, did Mr. Tumolo read the code before he spent his tens of thousands of dollars on this ill-conceived application? Did you see landscape contractors on the list of approved uses?  That’s two questions. 

It is not a “pretty broad stroke” to prohibit landscapers, as Mr. Tumolo asserts. The error in the law was specific to landscaping.

The Town Board should limit their legal exposure, and repeal this legal ambiguity.

Mr. Tumolo thinks that landscapers are an asset to the community, but I can give you several examples of problems with communities and landscape contractors, including Putnam Valley.

The issues of landscape contracting and this law are completely separate. This is “putting the law back where it was before” – Mr. Tendy is right.

Mrs. Tompkins who benefited from this hole in the law, and this controversial decision would be “heartbroken” to see landscapers banned from this town. She doesn’t understand why there is a problem. She is right that her business is an improvement over what was there, even it was approved irregularly.

So, not discussed, construction materials sales. I don’t understand why these two laws were bundled. Lots of good things in this law. The heights of materials, however, are too high. 15 – 25 feet. Some people have publicly expressed that they would like to see construction material sale eliminated as a permitted use. 

Non-conforming uses

I sent public comment in about this one. I sent it in a timely manner. Putnam Valley did not receive it in a timely manner, and I wonder what the law says about that.

My comments: 

 May 12, 2010

public hearing Non-conforming structures

Dear Board members:

1. Mr. Zutt made reference at last month’s meeting to an applicant who he is facilitating with this law. Can he please identify that application or proposal?

2. If the damage or destruction can occur by any means, then conceivably the non-conforming structure can be intentionally demolished. In that event, the non-conforming structure should be required to go to the planning board, and should not be protected under this law.

3. It would seem that the Town Board should have the ability to determine that a non-conforming use or structure may be noxious and undesirable under current code and in some neighborhoods, and that in those instances, there should be a mechanism for the Town Board to make that determination when the structure is destroyed.

Thank you for your consideration,

Dawn Powell

Mr. Tendy answered my email, but did not comment on my concerns. No other Town Board member responded. Par for the course. Some people’s comments are more important than others.


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