Posted by: Dawn Powell | October 1, 2010

Landscaping and other Planning Board issues, September 2010

Maple Leaf Associates – landscaping application on Oscawana Lake Road, adjacent to Hewitt Street.

“I feel that we are in order as far as the Tompkins decision and I think that’s what we’re here tonight to prove.” – Mike Raimondi, Chair of the Putnam Valley Planning Board.    Huh????  He was talking about the Maple Leaf Associates application for the Perosky/Tompkins property on Oscawana Lake Road, next to Morrissey Drive.  The Planning Board Chair thinks that they are meeting to prove the applicant’s case? Maple Leaf wants a landscaping business there, although everyone knows that this is not a use in our Town Code, and everyone has acknowledged it publicly.  From what was said, they are already operating from that location.

 Planning Boards and Zoning Boards are not permitted to legislate zoning uses.  That’s what State Law says.  That is what Judge DiBella said three times regarding Elite Tank Testing at 14 Morrissey.   I would just love to hear what he has to say about this September Planning Board meeting.

 Tax map number 83.75-1-41 – 1.9 acres in a CC2 district, the Lake Peekskill commercial district, which is supposed to be stricter than Oregon Corners, and conducive to the surrounding residences.  They will convert the existing residence to an office, put in 4 storage bins for materials storage, build a 43′ x 48′ building, and install a gravel pad to park trucks, which will be dispatched from that location. 

 The attorney for the applicant stated that the “code does not provide for landscaping use.”  He says that the business will have pick-up trucks, very small dump trucks, little backhoes, and will store sand and gravel.  The company builds drainage, grading, and retaining walls.  He feels that the use is identical to the Tompkins use, but as described, it does not sound even similar to the Tompkins’ Lake Peekskill use.

 We have heard the equipment argument before.  We use the same equipment, so it is the same use.  Mr. Steinmetz used it to defend Elite Environmental as a landscaping use.  The Planning Board and the Zoning Board bought it.  The Judge did not.  He did not buy it three times.  And here we go again!

 Since landscaping is not a permitted use, it is not defined in our code. There is really no reason why it should be.  It is not a permitted use.  So the Planning Board is doing back flips to legitimize this application.  They are using the Tompkins  application and Decision and Order from the Zoning Board of Appeals to define the use.  They are calling it “the Tompkins use.” 

So I requested that D&O, and the application.  Both clerks were very helpful.  The D&O and the application were not.  The application says nothing about the use, except that the ZBA had already “denyed (sic)” it.

 The D&O is pretty peculiar.  It acknowledges that landscaping is not a permitted use.  It decides that since it wasn’t listed, it wasn’t exactly prohibited, “….there is nothing inherently objectionable about the use so as to infer that its exclusion from the Ordinance was deliberate.”  That’s preposterous, even in a Town government that is pretty absurd.  The use that it cares about is construction material sales.  That has just about nothing to do with Tompkins Landscaping, Elite Tank Removal or Maple Leaf Associates. Mr. Tumolo has been clear that his intention is to store equipment and dispatch trucks, a clear industrial use that is not compatible with CC2, and is completely unrelated to what Tompkins is currently doing with their business.  It will generate lots more traffic than Tompkins, at a site that is already traffic impaired.

 Nowhere in the D&O or the application is there a definition of a landscaping business.

 Of course, using a D&O and application in place of Town Code is a very peculiar action, in and of itself.

 These shenanigans are costing you extra money because the Town must have outside counsel, for some reason times two, that is, two outside attorneys.

 Someone said that the Town Board has taken the position that the Tompkins use is still “effectively on the books.”  I don’t remember that vote.  When did they decide that?  Who was it that decided it?  One of the problems with frequent, continuous, unexplained backroom meetings is that the line between public and backroom gets continually blurred.

 This applicant will be on Monday’s Planning Board agenda for review, discussion, or whatever, and they will presumably set a public hearing.  It is only at this point that they will notify the neighbors that they plan to move ahead with this project that is not in accordance with the Town’s zoning code.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why the Planning Board is so stubborn about Judge DiBella’s rulings, and why they continue to bludgeon their way forward into areas that are not within their purview.  Everyone seems to want more and more power regardless of the law, or the costs to the taxpayers.

 The issue here is not whether Mr. Tumolo is a nice guy, or whether Mr. Perosky/Tompkins get to sell their land, or whether or not this should be an approved use.  The issue here is zoning, plain and simple.  We’ve got it.  We should follow it.

 The Tompkins D&O didn’t even establish a new use, but rather tried to approve Tompkins Landscaping on the basis that it was just like construction materials sales (it is not), and the framers didn’t mean to leave it out. Huh????

Planning Board – September 2010

There was more to the Planning Board meeting than uses that are not allowed. 

The agenda was changed to “accommodate some people,” but not others, and not the public.  The good thing is that for those who want to review Maple Leaf, it is first up.

 There were three PB members present. 

A house on Luigi Road – no one from the public was present to comment.  Mann – Cold Spring Road, an addition and replacement of the foundation and septic.

Rose Hills Cemetery is abandoning their plans for a scattering garden, footbridge, and adjacent parking.  They are seeking a refund of their fees, etc.

Mr. Rodrigues is seeking to put a house on Hudson Highlands Land Trust property, and that process is continuing to be reviewed.  There are wetlands and stormwater issues.

Mr. Kisslinger has satisfied the Justice Court, but the Planning Board is not sure that is enough for them. A single family house on 1.5 acres on West Shore Drive.

Stern on Clubhouse Road, wants to demolish an existing structure and rebuild a 1600 square foot house, and add 454 sq. ft.  It is very close to the lake (Lake Oscawana).

Homeland Towers wants to build a 150 foot tower on Piano Mountain.  For more information on this application, see  The Town Board has to find significant need for this application to move forward.

The next PB meeting is Monday night, October 4.  Go into the conference room for the 5:30 backroom meeting.


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