Town of Esopus Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes
April 18, 2006
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairman Don Cole. The Pledge to the Flag followed.

ROLL CALL
 
 Present: Catherine Charuk, Don Cole, Darin DeKoskie, Joe Guido, Rob Hare, Richard Wenzel, and Karl Wick.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Karl Wick made a correction to the minutes on page one. The last word should be ďifĒ and not ďitĒ. JOE GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO ACCEPT THE MINUTES AS AMENDED. KARL WICK SECONDED. CATHERINE CHARUK ABSTAINED. ALL OTHERS VOTED IN FAVOR.

APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS

Vouchers for secretarial work for 9.5 hours and a public hearing notice from the Freeman for $18.92 were submitted. CATHERINE CHARUK MADE A MOTION TO APPROVE THE VOUCHERS. JOE GUIDO SECONDED. ALL PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.

INFORMATIONAL MEETING

PICKNELL, JUANITA & ROY  Case #04-18-06-01

Mr. and Mrs. Picknell were present. Mr. Picknell advised the Board that they would like to install a 16'x32' in ground swimming pool in their yard which is already enclosed by a fence. Mr. Wick commented that it looks like the smallest lot on the street and the applicants agreed. Ms. Charuk asked how many acres the lot is and the applicants answered that it is .23 acres. Mr. Guido asked where the water would go if the pool overflowed. Mr. Picknell answered that looking towards the backyard from the house, in the back is a dip that goes into a stream. Mr. Guido asked the applicants to bring photos for the next meeting. Mr. Wick asked if the variance was just for lot coverage and not setbacks. It is only for lot coverage. Mr. Guido asked why the applicants have to have a pool that large and Mrs. Picknell said they were told that if the pool was any smaller, they could not have a diving board or a slide or anything like that. Mr. Cole advised the applicants that the next meeting will be a public hearing.

PUBLIC HEARING

KARL, KEN  Case #02-21-06-01

There was no one from the public present. Mr. Cole asked if there was anything that any member of the Board wanted to ask. Ms. Charuk mentioned that at the last meeting Mr. Wick asked for topographical maps. Mr. Cole asked if any members of the Board had been out to the location. Mr. Hare and Mr. Wick both said they had been. Mr. Hare stated that he thinks that there is no other place to put the guest house. The site where it will be located at comes up slightly and the house will be less visible. Mr. Wick commented that the intention of the code was to prevent unsightly outbuildings from being seen from the street. The main house and the guest house can be seen from the street but they are not unsightly. He feels that the Board could grant this variance and still meet the intention of the law. MR. GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO VOTE ON THIS AT THIS MEETING. MR. HARE SECONDED. ALL PRESENT AGREED.

JOHNSON, JULIE A.  Case #02-21-06-02

Mr. Guido asked if Mr. Carey had a copy of the deed as was requested last month. Mr. Carey presented a copy to the Board for their review. He also presented a letter from the previous owner with comments regarding the septic system. A copy is on file.

Mr. Wick stated that he was not comfortable with the deed since he did not see it crossing River Road. Upon review, it was determined that the deed does include the piece of property on the other side of River Road.

Ms. Charuk asked if Mr. Carey had submitted a copy of a letter from the Health Department. Mr. Carey answered that he is still waiting for it. Mr. Hare asked if the Waterfront Advisory Board had commented on this project. Mr. Cole answered that there was no comment. He said he brought it before them and they had nothing to say about it going to the DEC or anything like that. The only thing they were concerned about was the septic. They wanted to make sure that the septic was checked out and that it was large enough. Mr. Cole asked if a septic system could be put in the front of the house if there was any problem with it in the future. Mr. Carey stated that it could. Mr. DeKoskie said that there is a setback from the pool for the septic also. Mr. Carey said that in the worst case scenario, the applicant could put in a new system where the current one is.

Ms. Charuk asked how much the additional encroachment would be on the 80' setback. Mr. Carey stated that he thinks it would be another 7'. Mr. Wick asked if there had been any other additions to the house since 1971. Mr. Carey said that as far as he knows there have not been any.

Mr. Wick asked why the apartment canít be scaled back to 600 square feet from 740 since it is not a permanent residence. Itís only supposed to be a guest house for mom and nobody has to live in that space. Mr. Carey stated that living spaces are a lot bigger today than they were and he thinks that 600 is the minimum. Mr. Hare stated that 600 is the current maximum and the zoning review committee is looking to increase it to 750 square feet. There followed some discussion about whether this is really an accessory apartment or guest space since it was presented at the last meeting as being for occasional use. Mr. Carey said that in the future it might be used for a caregiver. The applicants want flexibility. Initially they want to use this for guests but they donít want any restrictions in the future. They would like to maintain their rights under accessory apartments. Mr. Guido stated that what he would like to see is something like no further subdivisions, no other buildings on the property, not to be used as a residence or a rental. Mr. Carey answered that there is code for an accessory apartment. Isnít it a dwelling unit? Mr. Guido commented that this was originally presented as guest space. Now heís looking at it and it looks like itís almost another house. He has a problem with two houses on an undersized lot. Mr. Hare agreed.

Mr. Cole suggested that if anybody has a problem with the apartment they can always put some kind of stipulation on a variance stating that only family members or caretakers can live in the apartment. Mr. Guido said he still has a problem with the caretaker. Mr. Carey said that the reasons the owners are looking for these variances is because the garage that is there is falling down. With the size of todayís cars you are looking at different standards for garages. With the accessory apartment they would like additional parking. Parking is tight now so they are looking for three bays for cars and one for storage. Mr. Guido said that you can still have a three car garage and one open parking space on the outside.

Mr. Hare stated that every encroachment is being increased. Everything on the property is being pushed to the max and that is where he concern lies. The kitchen addition will practically be hanging over the river. The accessory apartment is 1300 square feet and the maximum allowed is 600 square feet. The room that is labeled study looks like a bedroom to him.

Mr. Carey stated that the house as it is is all chopped up. The existing kitchen is a galley kitchen and the addition will open it up to 16'. Years ago the lots on the river were cut up that way. The owner wants the use of his lot and to enjoy it. Mr. Hare said that he doesnít disagree with that but the extent that they are going is pushing it. Mr. Wick asked when the owners purchased this property and Mr. Carey said that it was November 2005. Mr. Wick then stated that the owners should have known the zoning restrictions yet they chose to buy it anyway so this is a self created hardship and that has to be considered. Mr. Carey said that they are looking for bulk relief and for an undersized lot thatís not unusual. Mr. Wick said it has to be considered and that does not stop the Board from granting a variance but they could have bought a bigger lot. It was their own choice to buy this particular lot.

Susan Wick of 600 Main Street, St. Remy asked two questions. She stated that she is hearing the concern that the applicants need more parking spaces but if they add an apartment they will need even more parking. She also questions if the people who purchased the property looked at it before they bought it. Living standards have changed but they should have had a pretty good idea of what they needed. Mr. Carey answered that he couldnít give an answer to that but there is no parking there so they want to increase that. Mr. Wick stated that what they want to do is increase the indoor parking. They could have the same number of spaces with some outside parking. Mr. Wick also asked if they are any other storage buildings on the property. There is a boat house but Mr. Carey doesnít know if the owner wants to save that. Mr. Wick asked if that meant that there is really no other storage on the property then and Mr. Carey agreed.
 
Ms. Charuk expressed the opinion that the building is much too big and too amenable to conversion. She feels that it could be made smaller and that it is much too big for the site. Mr. Carey asked if she meant the garage and she said that she does, both that and the apartment above it. It looks to her like a nice, comfortable, expensively rentable place with a kitchen that would not be hard to install. Mr. Cole thinks that that is a good statement but he doesnít think the Johnsons need to rent it and as long as they own it and the approvals that the Board puts on it that it only be used for a caretaker or family it will be alright. Ms. Charuk said that that is the point. The Johnsons will not own it forever.

Mr. Guido also mentioned that there is a dock on the property.

Mr. Cole asked if there were any other questions. There were none. Mr. Cole asked if the Board would like to vote on this at this meeting or if there is anything else they need. Mr. Guido stated that he would like to see a three car garage and he would vote against it the way it is now because he feels that it is too much. Mr. Wick said that he agrees with Mr. Guido. The apartment could be 600 square feet. The rest of the issues are alright. Mr. Guido stated that he doesnít have a problem with the house. The code says that variances are to be kept to a minimum. If it was on more property he would not have a problem with it. Mr. Cole said that thatís one of the problems with the property there and Mr. Wick agreed but he stated that the applicant knew what he was getting into. If he inherited the property it would have been different.

Mr. Guido stated that he doesnít have a problem voting on it tonight but he feels that it should be worded carefully. Mr. Cole asked Mr. Carey if he wanted to have a vote or if he would like to wait. Mr. Carey said that the applicants would like to move forward and get things done so he would like a vote at this meeting. Mr. Guido stated that there are four different variances on this so the Board could approve the ones for the house.

Ms. Charuk asked if the applicants had considered having parking on the other side of River Road. Mr. Carey said that they looked at that but the estimates were astronomical. Mr. Cole polled the Board and all agreed to vote tonight. The public hearing on this case was closed.

VANHEUSEN, JANET Case # 03-21-06-01

Mr. Cole asked if there was anyone from the public present and there was not. He then asked if anyone had anything to say. Mr. Guido said that for the record, the County disapproved this and it would take a majority plus one to pass any variances because of that. Mr. Wick stated that this is a use variance and the tests are much more stringent. Mr. Cole asked what the feeling of the Board is on moving on this. Mr. Guido stated that his feeling is that he would not grant a variance to keep that trailer there and Mr. Cole agreed. Mr. Guido said that possibly one year and the applicant would have to do what she needs to do and then get the trailer off the property. Mr. Cole added that he thinks the applicant would need to provide a certified check to remove it at the end of the time if she doesnít take care of it herself. Mr. Guido stated that what usually happens is that it would be turned over to the Supervisor to set up an escrow account. Mr. Cole asked the applicant if that is agreeable with her. Ms. VanHeusen asked if it would be possible to get more time because her funds are limited and she doesnít think she will be able to get the building demolished and rebuilt in a year. She stated that it has taken her a year to get as far as she has gotten because sheís doing it herself. Mr. Guido asked the applicant what building she is demolishing. She answered that it is the side room that is on the north part of the house. She is also working on the top floor. The outside looks nice but the side room has to be totally demolished and that is where all her things are stored. She doesnít know how long it is going to take because she has been doing a little at a time. She has a demo permit but she still doesnít have a Certificate of Occupancy and she still canít get homeowners insurance.

Mr. Cole asked the Board how much the escrow account should be for and asked if it should be $1100.00. Ms. VanHeusen said that that would again limit her funds and Mr. Cole replied that the trailer should not be there under any conditions and the Board is bending to let her have it there for a certain amount of time. Mr. Guido asked the applicant what time frame she is looking at to get this project done and she said she is hoping for two to three years. Mr. Cole said that three years is too much. There are other trailers on the property beside. Thereís a travel trailer and another one. Ms. VanHeusen stated that there is a camper and there is a job site trailer that the contractors use. Mr. Wick said that the applicant is saying two to three years but will there come a point where the applicant will be moving the materials out of the trailer and into the house if she is making progress. Ms. VanHeusen answered that possibly that could happen and she is also working on the garage so she can move things into that. Mr. Wick said that conceivably in a year the trailer could be empty and she wouldnít need it for the full duration of the project.

Mr. Cole asked what kind of work was being done in the trailer at night that caused the man next door to make a complaint about noise. Ms. VanHeusen answered that there was no noise except for the tractor that was being used to move things from the garage to the trailer. Mr. Cole also mentioned that the trailer is an eyesore because it is painted two colors. Ms. VanHeusen said that they ran out of paint. Mr. Guido said that possibly this could be for a year with a one year extension. Mr. Wick suggested that if the applicant is short on cash the escrow could possibly be a property bond.

Mr. Guido said that he thinks the variance should be for one year with possibly a one year extension with an $1100.00 escrow account. Mr. Hare said that he would like to see photos that establish a baseline so that next year if an extension is requested the Board could see if there is any concrete evidence that some progress has been made. Mr. Cole asked if Ms. VanHeusen has a construction permit and she said she hasnít been able to get that far. She has a demo permit. Mr. Cole said that already that presents a problem. The demolition could take a day. She would need a permit to start moving forward with what she is asking for. Mr. Cole said that he has heard from a couple of people already who are not happy with the way things are going but she is entitled to some kind of relief. Ms. VanHeusen said that she has spoken to all her neighbors and the only one who is giving her a hard time is Sam Adel from LaMirage who has a ton of fill on her yard and a garbage dumpster on the edge of her property. Mr. Cole said that he recalls that a letter was received from a neighbor. Mr. Guido read the following into the minutes:
  Dear Mr. Cole,
   I wish I could attend the meeting on April 18, 2006 at the
  Town Hall except that I work at night. So I am sending this letter
  and hope all goes well.
   Janet VanHeusen is one of the most pleasant people I know.
  However the mobile home doesnít look very nice where it is. If she
  moved them to the back of her property and cleaned them up I would
  have no objections to them staying on the property for storage.
   If you need any further information please call.
  Sincerely,
  Dolores Bruno

Mr. Hare again stated that he would like photos showing what the garage and house look like now and something to scale of what she is storing so that as soon as the garage or the room is done, everything could be moved out and put into that room. Ms. VanHeusen said that although she wanted more time, she is willing to get the trailer moved out in a year. It is jacked up and would be difficult to move to appease the neighbor across the street. Because of the slope of the property she does not want to take the chance of getting it stuck and it is already quite far back.

Mr. Wick asked the Board that if this was a storage building other than a trailer, would it be permitted in the location that it is in now. Is the fact that it is a trailer the only issue? Mr. Cole stated that it is. He advised the applicant to bring photos and a certified check to the next meeting.

DECISIONAL MEETING

KARL, KEN  Case # 02-21-06-01

Mr. Guido stated that because of the size of the property he has no problem with this but the only thing he would like to see is if the property is ever subdivided that the house and the guest house be on at least four acres. The applicant doesnít have a problem with that. If the Board wants more that would be alright also. Mr. Hare thinks it should be five acres.

MR. GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO GRANT A VARIANCE TO ALLOW CONSTRUCTION OF A GUEST HOUSE IN THE FRONT YARD WITH A MINIMUM DISTANCE OF 200' FROM PLUTARCH ROAD WITH THE STIPULATION THAT IF THE PROPERTY IS EVER SUBDIVIDED THE GUEST HOUSE AND THE MAIN HOUSE MUST REMAIN ON AT LEAST 5 ACRES, THE GUEST HOUSE TO BE NO MORE THAN 19' AVERAGE ROOF HEIGHT WHEREAS THE ALLOWABLE LIMIT IS 15'. DON COLE SECONDED. The vote was as follows:

   RICHARD WENZEL - I vote in favor. The height requirement is a reasonable request, both to put it 200' from the road and 19'.
 
   CATHERINE CHARUK - I vote in favor. It is certainly far enough back from the road and I donít think the extra four feet is very much at that distance.

   JOE GUIDO - Iím in favor because of the size of the property and the topography. It doesnít change the character of the neighborhood at all.

  DON COLE - I vote in favor because of everything that was said.

   ROB HARE - I vote in favor. The size of the property reasonably allows for a second structure and the setback from the road makes is so the house has no visual effect on the neighborhood.
 
  DARIN DeKOSKIE - I vote in favor.

   KARL WICK - I vote in favor since I believe that this does not change the character of the neighborhood. It will not have any adverse impact upon the neighborhood. The benefit achieved is great compared to the risk. There is no other practical method to achieve this benefit. I do think the hardship was self created but that does not legally stop me from voting for the variance since he decided where to put the main house.

MOTION CARRIED 7-0.

JOHNSON, JULIE  Case # 02-21-06-02

The Board reviewed the variances being requested. It was determined that they are as follows:
a variance to allow a new accessory apartment in a new structure (code allows an accessory apartment in an existing structure); a variance for an accessory apartment to exceed the allowable  600 square feet; a variance to allow an addition to the existing house in violation of setback requirements. The proposed accessory structure which would house the garages and the accessory apartment would be in violation of the 15' height allowance but no formal notice of disapproval regarding that has been received.

Mr. Guido said he has no problem granting a variance for the house but he would like to see a stipulation on all variances that the piece of property on the other side of River Road could never be subdivided off.

There Board discussed at length how many square feet the proposed apartment actually consists of. There were two notices of disapproval received from the Building Inspector with two different figures on them. One says the apartment is 720 square feet and the other says it is 740 square feet. Neither is correct. The size of the building is 50'x26' and the entire second floor is the apartment. Mr. Carey stated that the stairwell should not be included in the square footage.

KARL WICK MADE A MOTION TO GRANT A VARIANCE TO SECTION 123-21.C(3) OF THE ZONING CODE FOR THE PURPOSES OF AN ADDITION TO THE PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE WITH THE FOLLOWING MINIMUM SETBACKS FROM THE PROPERTY LINE AT THE HUDSON RIVER: KITCHEN AND SCREENED PORCH - 20'; POOL AND POOL DECK - 15'; STEPS TO POOL DECK - 14' WITH THE STEPS NOT TO EXCEED 36" IN WIDTH. DON COLE SECONDED. The vote was as follows:

  KARL WICK - I vote if favor.

   ROB HARE - Iím voting against. I think the encroachments on the Hudson just go way beyond the standards set in the zoning code.

  DON COLE - I vote in favor of the motion.

   JOE GUIDO - I vote against it. I have no problem with the addition to the house itself but the deck I feel is something that could be cut back.

   CATHERINE CHARUK - Iím not if favor. If they were separate, I would vote in favor of the house additions but the decks do come very, very close so I have to vote against them all.

  RICHARD WENZEL - I vote in favor.

   DARIN DeKOSKIE - Iím going to vote against. I see it as being, as was just demonstrated, that they knew about the hardship when they purchased the property.

MOTION DENIED 4-3.

Mr. Guido suggested that another motion be made for just the house part.

MR. WICK MADE A MOTION TO GRANT A VARIANCE TO SECTION 123-21.C(3) OF THE ZONING CODE DEALING WITH THE KITCHEN AND SCREENED PORCH, SPECIFICALLY NOT INCLUDING THE POOL, STEPS, OR DECK, TO ALLOW A SETBACK OF AT LEAST 20' FROM THE PROPERTY LINE ON THE RIVER SIDE. JOE GUIDO SECONDED. The vote was as follows:

   KARL WICK - I am in favor of this one because I donít itís going to undesirably  change the character of the neighborhood. I do think this is a very substantial taken as a whole, all these pieces. I definitely think this was self created. On balance, I can live with this one piece although I am not 100 percent happy with it. I can live with it. I think it meets the intention of the law.

     DARIN DeKOSKIE - Iím going to vote in favor primarily for the reasons that Karl just mentioned. I agree with this one. Perhaps this is one of the few areas on the lot where they can do this.

   ROB HARE - Iíll vote in favor of this. The applicant stressed the need to renovate the house. I can see the value in that but I canít see the value in the other variance for the pool and the pool deck.

   DON COLE - I vote in favor of it for the various reasons that were discussed.

   JOE GUIDO - Iím in favor of this variance also for the reasons that Karl and Rob gave.
 
   CATHERINE CHARUK - Iíll vote in favor of this variance because it meets a need with respect to the usability of the interior of the house. It will barely be visible from the road and will affect the character of the neighborhood.

   RICHARD WENZEL - Iíll vote in favor. Thereís no undesirable changes here although it was self created and thereís going to be no adverse effects.

MOTION CARRIED 7-0.

Mr. Guido asked if anyone was in favor of the garage as presented and no one was. He advised that the variance for the garage should be denied and the applicant should come back with a new plan. He stated that he has no problem with the height or with the distance but he has a problem with the size of it. Mr. Hare said that theyíll have to reduce the size of it and make it three bay. Mr. Wick agreed and also said that the apartment should be 600 square feet. Mr. Carey said that that will just be expanding the existing footprint by eight or nine feet. The existing footprint is 31'. The proposed is 50'. Cutting back one bay would be cutting it by 10'. Mr. Wick said that there should be storage downstairs then but Mr. Carey said that there will be a gym there. Mr. Hare suggested that the ten feet that will be cut off should be on the south end.

There was discussion again about the size of the apartment and most of the Board felt that it was much too large as proposed. If it could be cut back to 750 or 800 square feet. Mr. Guido made the suggestion that a motion should be made to deny the variance. He said that the applicant should resubmit the plans and there will be no additional application fee. Mr. Cole stated that the decisional phase will not be closed. The applicant should come back with new plans and it should be put in for another public hearing. MR. GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO TABLE THIS UNTIL NEW PLANS ARE RECEIVED FOR A SMALLER ACCESSORY BUILDING AND THAT A PUBLIC HEARING BE HELD WITH THE NEW SIZES OF THE ACCESSORY BUILDING. KARL WICK SECONDED. ALL PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.

Mr. Guido advised that even if the applicant does not come next month with new plans, the Board has to vote even if just to deny it.

OTHER BUSINESS

No other business.

ADJOURN

JOE GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO ADJOURN. CATHERINE CHARUK SECONDED. ALL PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR. Meeting adjourned 9:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathleen Kiernan
Secretary