December 17, 2015

PB Minutes 11/19/15



Draft Copy PB Meeting 11/19/15
Meeting called to order at 7:05. Members present were Dave, Linda, Tom, Rich, Barry, and Hershey.

A motion was made by Tom to adopt minutes to October meeting, second by Linda, approved.

We spent some time discussing issues and questions that were raised at the IDA meeting concerning the depot. Overall it seemed to be a profitable discussion with many questions asked but not many answers given. The IDA would like the depot to be sold but will not necessarily take the highest bid. They seem to be concerned about the best development for the advantage of each town. They need to develop criteria for accepting bids on the depot lands.

It also seems to us that in order for people to offer bids they will want to know what the zoning is for the area. We are still waiting on the town board to accept the PB proposal for depot zoning.

Rich asked about the possibility of the TB adopting everything that we have forwarded to them except the depot area zoning. Tom said that SEQR requires adoption of the whole package. However, Linda is going to inquire about it. It may be that our attorney can help us.

We are going to move forward on the subdivision code language drawn from the town of Fayette. It seems to apply well to our town. We will discuss adopting it into our code at the next meeting.

We also think it’s important to get something into the code about wind and solar energy soon. We do not want to be too restrictive, but some basic parameters concerning aesthetics, affect upon neighbors, setbacks, glare, etc. need to be added to our code.

The next issue deals with docks that are not permanent. Permits should not be required after the first year. We also need to consider setback issues.

Meeting adjourned at 8:35, motion made by Hershey, second by Dave. Next meeting is Dec. 17.

Respectfully submitted,

Barry Somerville, secretary

PB Minutes 10/22/15



Draft Copy PB Minutes 10/22/15

Meeting called to order at 7:05. Members present were Linda, Bill, Tom, Rich, and Barry.

Previous minutes were reviewed and adopted, motion made by Rich seconded by Bill.

A proposal was made to send a letter to the Town Board that the PB would like a letter sent to the County Clerk that their office not accept any future subdivision requests without a certified approval from the Varick Planning Board. This is part of the required process for subdivision approval in the town. Bill will make a draft and forward to the rest of the PB for review. We hope to get this to the TB before their next meeting.

We were informed by Bob Hayssen that the TB has hired Barbara Johnston to devise a map of possible parcels of land to sell based on the residential /agricultural area of the depot. Bob would like one of us to accompany her on a tour of the depot if necessary to help her with ideas. The PB also looks forward to reviewing any proposals that may come from this.

We then discussed issues that were raised at our last meeting:

1) The question concerning subdivision and re-subdivision of property. The following definitions were taken from the Fayette Zoning Code which should be helpful in deciding what should be added or changed in our own code:

SUBDIVISION, MINOR - The subdivision of a parent parcel of land into less than five (5)
lots. No more than five (5) lots shall be created either concurrently or sequentially from a
parent parcel within a ten (10) year period of the date the minor subdivision is approved.
Should more than the five (5) lots be applied for within ten (10) years of the date that the
minor subdivision was approved, the subdivision will become a major subdivision and the
applicant shall be required to submit all the information and documentation required for a
major subdivision for the previously subdivided lots as well as for the lots under
consideration in the new application.
RESUBDIVISION - Revision of all or part of an existing filed plat including consolidation
of lots or alteration of approved lot boundaries. If the proposed "resubdivision" consists
solely of the simple alteration of lot lines, then normal subdivision procedures may be
waived at the discretion of the Town Planning Board. If normal subdivision procedures are
not waived by the Town Planning Board, the resubdivision shall be deemed to be a major or
minor subdivision at the discretion of the Town Planning Board in which case the appropriate
major or minor subdivision procedures set forth in these regulations shall apply.
2) The question of zoning code for wind and solar development. Bill is going to forward some of his research on the topic. Rich will resend material he obtained at one of the PB training sessions.
3) The issue of temporary docks – should this be further clarified in our code? After some discussion Bill said he could send us some information that he has gathered on the topic.
Meeting adjourned at 9:04, motion made by Barry, second by Bill.
Respectfully submitted,

Barry Somerville, secretary

PB Minutes 9/24/15



Draft Copy PB Minutes 9/24/15

Meeting called to order at 7:02 PM. All members present except for Tom B.

Previous meeting minutes read and accepted, motion made by Bill, second by Rich.

Linda gave us a briefing of TB meeting on 9/1/15. Vote on depot zoning and cluster division was tabled. Some board members had not received a hard copy of the changes.

There seems to be a great deal of interest in farmers buying plots in the Varick area of the depot. The PB and TB would like to see smaller sections sold off to build our tax basis rather than sell to a few large buyers.

On October 6 the TB will receive questions and information on two subdivisions bought within the town. This stresses the need for the PB to review current subdivision code and make sure that subdivision plans be channeled through the PB.

The PB will address three issues at the next meeting. Members are encouraged to research the following areas:
 1) The issue of how many times property may be subdivided. Our current code says that once a property is divided it cannot be subdivided again. However, it seems that this is very restrictive, especially if someone divides a large plot containing many acres. Do we need to clarify the code further in this area?
2) The issue of zoning for wind and solar energy. The question was raised whether we should have a moratorium on the subject so we have time to study it and add some parameters in the code. Bill has some information he will email to PB members.
3) Question about temporary docks – do we need to clarify need for setbacks, are they exempt, etc.?

Our meetings for November and December will be on the 19th and 17th respectively. Our next meeting will be held October 22.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30, motion made by Hershey, second by Dave.

Respectfully submitted,

Barry Somerville, secretary

November 08, 2015

IDA Depot sale information meeting
Saturday, November 7, 2015.

General observations by Linda Mastellar

  • The IDA is working to make this an open and transparent sale process. 
  • The process will be open for competitive bids.  Decision criteria have not yet been established.
  • The towns and county are interested in a discussion with the IDA about ownership of the depot.   This will be discussed on Tuesday at the next meeting.
  • In general, white deer herd maintenance and tax benefit to the towns and county are a priority.
  • Some in the audience supported some sort of a public-private partnership. 
  • Most who spoke were in support of opening the road as soon as reasonably possible. 

Notes from the presentations. Statements and questions are described as presented by the speaker. Remarks in [square brackets] are by Thomas Björkman.

Steve Brusso, vice chair of the IDA led the meeting.

Brusso: The IDA is open to proposals for purchasing the Depot. They want to choose among proposals to find what will be best for the residents of the county. There is not a current plan that they are hoping the proposals will meet. While they have received two unsolicited bids, they have not entered into negotiations, preferring to wait for the open bid process.

Presentation by Bob Aronson, Executive Director SCIDA.
Aronson: The IDA has offered the property to the county and towns, but they have not been interested. [This assertion was later disputed by the town supervisors.] Therefore they are selling to private parties who can do the development.

Information is available at senecacountyida.org. The parcels as offered are described at senecaarmydepotreuse.com. That website has maps of the infrastructure. 

  • The IDA wants to sell the property in 1 to 3 parcels. They do not have the resources to do the subdivision. They prefer to have consortia that purchase large parcels and then do the subdivision.A 1000 acre parcel on the west side in Varick is not ready for release by the Army yet.
  • The maintenance costs incurred by the Army now are about $500,000 per year.
  • The deed transfer from the Army is taking longer than expected because there are many clearances that need to be obtained.
  • The timeline is to issue an invitation to bid December 15, and offer a tour of the Depot to prospective bidders at that time. Submissions will be due February 29, 2016.
  • The winning bids will not necessarily be those offering the highest cash price, but those that benefit the community the most. The IDA values job creation and the tax base.
  • They will accept bids on the railroad separately. [Separate ownership of the rail would have profound impact on the use of the rest of the Depot.]


Questions and comments from the audience

Seneca White Deer Representative
Q. When does the Fort Drum license expire?
A. The end of this year.
Q. When does permission to store railcars expire?
A. Finger Lakes Railroad can store up to 1000 railcars. The lease ends at the end of 2015, and will be maintained on a month-two-month basis in 2016.
Q. Who owns the mineral rights? It is not completely clear. In the deed transfer, the Army retains a 3% royalty on minerals extracted. The IDA would do the same.

Carol Doolittle, representing the wine industry.
Comment. Please work with the wine industry to help increase overall value. The white deer would be a tremendous tourist magnet. The wine industry supports industry in Seneca County not only through wine sales, but also through companies like Vance metals and Waterloo Container. There is opportunity to increase overnight stays and other tourism related revenue. All of these complement the casino development in Tyre.
Tony DiPlato. Innkeeper and Solar Seneca representatives.
Q. What is the potential for small solar installations?
A. Solar and wind energy have been discussed. A wind power company did some testing. The major limitation is that there is an active bald eagle nest, which is eliminated interest by the wind energy companies.
For solar, six groups have tried to get NYSERDA grants but have not been successful so far. A helpful recent development is that the solar power can now go directly to the grid and does not have to be used locally. [FLTG could use the solar DC power directly.]

Bob Steele, Romulus Fire Chief.
Q. What will happen to the fire and police enforcement training at the airfield?
A. The future of that activity is undetermined.  A full scale training facility is operating in Oriskany, NY.  The next owner of the depot could definitely enter into longer term lease agreement or other negotiations with the training centers. The state does not want to own the airfield. 
Unknown questioner.
Q. How will the deer be protected as an asset? Hunters seem to be able to get in, but not prospective buyers.
A. The Army will not be doing a deer call as a service in the future. The 2015 call is the last one for which they are responsible.
Seneca White Dear Representative
Q. The Depot featured heavily in the recent DEC Open Space hearing. Will there be state funding available for buying the property?
A. There has been no contact from the DEC. The DEC has a priority list by region. It would be informative to look at the priority list for Region 8.
Matt Hilber, The Andersons (a Depot tenant company that repairs rail cars).
Q. His company uses the tracks to bring railcars to the shop where they repair them. They need continued use of the track.
A. Access from the rail entry points to the east side cannot be interrupted by new owner. That access remains in perpetuity. (The constraints created by the rest of the track were not specified. Switching yard may not be included.  They are not sure. 
Mary Ann Kowalski, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association.
Comment. Reeder Creek has highly elevated phosphorus levels. They suspect that the phosphorus is causing an algae bloom at the mouth of Reeder Creek. 
Please have Seneca Lake water quality be a criterion in choosing a winning bid.
David Kaiser, Romulus supervisor.
Comment. Federal law protects access to the rail. It is a valuable asset, particularly the turnaround.
Comment.  Did the county ever officially abandon County Road 135? If not, it may still be a county road.
Paul Kronenwetter. Seneca Falls Supervisor.
Comment. The revenue potential for white dear is substantial. Compare it to the business plan for Keystone Elk Country Alliance. That Pennsylvania reserve is currently getting 400,000 visitors per year and bringing in several hundred thousand dollars per year through their lottery for elk hunting permits.

Unstructured discussion. There was considerable discussion among IDA representatives and town representatives regarding who was involved in the negotiation leading to the county and the towns turning down the offer to take over the property. The parties agreed to revisit the issue because there appears to be significant interest from the towns. If the county or the towns take over the entire property, then the bid process would be canceled. That issue should be resolved within a couple weeks.
Kathy Russo, Varick town board.
Comment. The Romulus and Varick town boards want to see County Road 135 open.
Tom Bouchard, Romulus planning board.
Q. How will the value of the properties be assessed?
A. The value will be determined by the bidders. The IDA does not have specific values in mind.
Q. Is there the potential to have advisory involvement by the towns in the acceptance committee? What will be the mechanism for contact between the towns and the IDA during the bidding process?
A. Yes. [Subsequent discussion led to the proposal to have the two town supervisors on the acceptance committee.]
David Kaiser, Romulus supervisor.
Comment. Very large portion of Romulus is already tax-exempt, so increasing the tax base is a priority.
While the town likes the white deer a great deal, it is still not clear how they can be preserved. He has not seen a viable business plan, nor financial backing for Seneca White Deer over the past decade.
Ralph Lott. Farmer, former IDA board member.
Q. With Bruce Austic, he provided a good business plan in the bid they submitted in April. It would preserve the white deer in the north and had a dairy in the south. Why was that offer not accepted? What was wrong with the proposal?
A. All the bids need to be considered at once for the process to be fair. In particular, it would be inappropriate to accept a single bid from an IDA board member who had just resigned without any competition. [Part of this answer was from Cindy Lorenzetti, current IDA board member.]

Ralph Lott.
Comment. The EPA regulation Waters of the United States, which went into effect at the end of August, will restrict agricultural and other uses on most of the Depot. Any use will require a 2 to 5 year permitting process even if it is ultimately allowed. Those restrictions reduce the value of the land and the price they would be prepared to pay.

Lee Davidson, Lodi town supervisor.
Comment. County Road 135 is only one lane wide in some places.  That is his observation from traveling on the road recently.  That makes it a poor prospect for reopening. [The Varick Highway Department and members of the Varick Planning board and examined the road closely and determined it to be two lanes with shoulders, with very deep concrete, perhaps as deep as 4 feet, that is in good condition.]


October 21, 2015

PB Minutes 7/23/15



Draft Copy PB Minutes 7/23/15

Meeting called to order at 7:04. Members present were Linda, Rich, Bill, Dave, and Barry.

The following are notes from Tom B in regard to the public hearing held on 7/7/15:
     I noted only a few changes based on the comments. Others probably caught more. 
  1. Change Canned Hunt from P to N in the ARR  district  on page 22 
  2. Despite my flippant reply to him, John Saeli’s  comment is serious. The definition of canned hunt should be explicitly exclude livestock slaughter.
  3. We need to tighten up the definition of a significant change of use, to determine the threshold for a Site Plan Review of work at an existing commercial enterprise.  One threshold might be an expansion of use beyond what was approved in the prior site plan review.  Another threshold might be beginning a commercial use listed in the Use Table. Would that be any use in the table, or would it be only Special or Conditional uses?
       I don’t think we’ll deal with the enforcement section this time around. However, I spoke with Larry Colton after the meeting. He will come to our next VPB meeting. Larry wanted to avoid writing tickets if possible, and preferred an intermediate step of a fee to remove a stop-work order.  That would put more teeth into the stop work order. He agreed to ask some of his peers in neighboring towns how they dealt with contractors who repeatedly did work without permits. Our town attorney sounds amenable to providing advice on a useful escalation sequence. 

Larry Colton attended our meeting. Linda reviewed the issue involving Tim Crutchfield’s camper. At this time it appears they are still in violation of code. This may be an issue where Larry will need to follow the procedure outlined in the code to insure compliance.

Larry also raised the issue of contractors who repeatedly do work without proper permits. We stressed that obtaining such permits is the responsibility of the property owner even though a contractor may obtain them on the owner’s behalf. New construction or substantial remodeling requires a county building permit and a town zoning permit. We need to clarify in our code exactly who is responsible for obtaining the permit. We agreed that the enforcement section of the code needs to be reviewed.

Larry needs to follow through with the procedures outlined in the code where violations are found. If a summons is needed he has the authority to acquire one.

He also informed us that an antenna and small building were being constructed at the water tower in the depot. He found that this work does not require a special use permit.

He also made us aware that the cell tower constructed at the corner of 96 and 336 was moved 8’. Bill later informed us that the purpose for this was to better acquire a proper signal. It is alleged that the company should have sought new permits to perform this work.

Larry brought up an issue he has had to deal with concerning livestock or animals (birds) roaming outside of property lines. This is an issue the PB should discuss and possibly add to the code.

Since our CEO has some other areas of concern about the code it was suggested that he go through the code and present any issues he may have that need clarification. The PB will gladly consider these suggestions and make changes or additions that may be necessary.

Jeff Hogue emailed a question concerning subdivisions to Rich – is it required that every subdivision be presented to the PB for review? We are not sure what the code says at this time but agree that this should be part of the subdivision acceptance. This would simply require that anyone who desires to submit a subdivision for approval should first approach the PB with a general plan of intent. This would include property lines, etc.

Jeff will be contacted – a suggestion will be made that anyone who desires to subdivide property should first be directed to the PB and then complete the necessary procedures for approval.

Linda also raised a question about how often a property should be allowed to be subdivided. Currently, once a property is subdivided it cannot be done again. Is this reasonable, should we review the intent here?

We believe that there may be one or two cases in the town where subdivisions were approved but may not be code compliant. Linda will contact Harriet Haines (sp) for help in contacting the right people at the county level to find out the procedures for subdivision.

Our next meeting will be 8/25. However, if there are no people or immediate problems on the agenda we will not hold a meeting until September.

Meeting adjourned at  9:02, motion made by Bill, second by Rich.