Town of Esopus Zoning Board of Appeals
July 19, 2005
Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairman Don Cole. Salute to the Flag followed.

ROLL CALL

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

Also present: Russ Shultis, Chairman Town of Esopus Planning Board
          Gloria VanVliet, Councilman

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

KARL WICK MADE A MOTION TO ACCEPT THE MINUTES AS SUBMITTED. RICHARD WENZEL SECONDED. ALL PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR WITH THE EXCEPTION OF JOE GUIDO WHO ABSTAINED.

APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS

Three vouchers for the Daily Freeman for public hearing notices totaling $51.42 and a voucher for secretarial work for 12..5 hours were submitted. JOE GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO APPROVE THE VOUCHERS. CATHERINE CHARUK SECONDED. ALL PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR.

INFORMATIONAL MEETING

PIRTLE, WOODY  CASE # 07-19-05-01

Mr. Pirtle was present to advise that he has an existing patio that he would like to put a roof over. His house is on the corner of Route 213 and Church Hill Road. The patio is 5 or 6 feet from the road and there was a roof on it at one time. There is a foundation there already and he would like to put a standing seam copper roof with beaded posts. There should be no concern with sight lines since the patio is above the road level. Mr. Pirtle advised that the stone work on the patio has been updated during his renovation of the property which has taken place over the last eight years. The patio might not be the same size as what was there originally but he did observe that there are some kind of hangers in the wall which would seem to indicate that there was a roof there at one time. Mr. Hare asked if there were any photos available showing the roof and Mr. Pirtle said that he doesnít have any. Mr. Guido suggested that for the next meeting, the applicant bring photos of the hangers or anything else that would prove that there was a roof there previously.

BEISEL, PETER  CASE # 07-19-05-02

Mr. Beisel was present and stated that he is requesting an area variance to construct an accessory building nearer to the front road than the front line of his house, the accessory building being a two car garage. Because of the slope of his property, his house is at an angle from the road. He chose that angle when he built the house nineteen years ago to match the slope of the property. It would have been out of character to put it parallel to the road. The difficulty now is constructing a garage since the property falls off rapidly behind the house.

Mr. Beisel pointed out two errors in the documentation that he submitted with his application. The Building Inspectorís referral states that it is a 24x30 garage. The actual dimensions are 30x30. The second error is the applicantís measurement showing it to be 65' from the road but that is to the center of the garage. Itís really closer to 50' at the nearest point. He is actually asking for an area variance to construct the garage nearer to the road than the principal building but no closer than 50'.

Mr. Guido asked if that was as far back as the applicant could put the garage. Mr. Beisel stated that there is a large rock outcropping just to the east of it and thatís where the drop off starts. He canít put it to the north of the house because there is no way to get access off the road because there is no line of sight to get a curb cut. Mr. Guido asked if the applicant would be using the current driveway and he answered that he will be. There were no further questions.

PUBLIC HEARING

SIEGMAN, DONALD CASE # 06-21-05-03

Mr. Siegman pointed out on the map where he would like to place his garage. He advised that it will be behind the stone wall. The property drops off on three sides. He pointed out where his well and septic are. An adjoining property owner, Karl Volk, asked that Mr. Siegman show him where the garage will be. It will be 110' from the road and all the trees will remain. He will be using the original driveway. Another adjoining property owner, Mrs. Edgar, stated that she has no problem with this project. The decision will be made at the next meeting.

GOLDIN, REENI  CASE # 06-21-05-04

Anne Hiller of 700 Old Post Road spoke on behalf of herself and her husband, Larry Hiller. She read the following letter, a copy of which is in the file.

Our comments this evening are regarding the use variance for the property
 located at 850 Old Post Road, which is currently grand fathered as summer cottages.
The variance if granted would allow Reeni Goldin to winterize and rent 5 cottages.
The town code Section 123-13D(4) states there shall be no more than one accessory
apartment or a total of two dwelling units per residential building or lot.
 
The criteria for granting a variance in the Town Code are found in Section 123-44A(a).

(1) Use variance. No such use variance shall be granted by the Board of
      Appeals without a showing by the applicant that applicable zoning
      regulations and restrictions have caused unnecessary hardship. In order
      to prove such unnecessary hardship, the applicant shall demonstrate
      to the Board of Appeals that for each and every permitted use under
      the zoning regulations for the particular district where the property is
      located:
(a) The applicant cannot realize a reasonable return, provided that
      lack of return is substantial as demonstrated by competent
      financial evidence.
We believe that this property has been used as a seasonal bungalow property.
Reasonable return on this property should be assessed in terms of legal use,
not the applicantís ďconceptĒ. Considering the purchase price, applicant should be able to realize a reasonable return if the property is used as legally allowed.
(b) The alleged hardship relating to the property in question is
      unique, and does not apply to a substantial portion of the
      district or neighborhood.
We believe the conditions upon which the variance application is based are not
unique to this property. This code is applicable to many seasonal properties and
other properties in Esopus.
(c) The requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential
      character of the neighborhood.
We believe this variance will alter the essential rural character of the neighborhood.
(d) The alleged hardship has not been self-created.
We believe the alleged hardship has been self-created. The applicant should have
made the purchase of the property contingent upon obtaining necessary approvals.

We believe that in an R-40 district all lots shall comply with the minimum requirements
of the area, which is one acre unless served by a central water and/or sewer system. This
is a steep, rocky property that does not lend itself to dense development.

We are opposed to the granting of this variance, as we are not convinced that the
applicant has proven unnecessary hardship that would deprive her reasonable use
of her land or building under the current zoning.

Sincerely,
Anne Hiller
Lawrence Hiller
700 Old Post Road
New Paltz, NY 12561

Mr. Cole asked the applicant to come forward to explain exactly what she wants to do. Laurie Willow spoke on behalf of Ms. Goldin. The property is ten acres that has been a farmhouse and six rental units up to this point. It has been 7 units on 11 acres which is under what the density code would allow, which is 11 units. They will not be changing the number of units allowed by law but will be clustering these cottages and the main house in one place and all the rest would be left as open land. Instead of doing a subdivision with 11 houses on 11 lots, it would be clustering the units in one place and leaving the rest as open land. One of the things that Anne Hiller mentioned was a possible problem with the septic system. They have had an engineer there and have had two foot test holes and four foot test holes and have found places for upgrading the septic systems. That would have to be done if they were just summer rentals as is grand fathered now or whether they went all year. The engineer has found that there is reasonable room to do that. Ms. Willow stated that as far as the hardship is concerned, they were not able to seek approvals before they closed on the land because it was an estate sale. Also, the house had many years of deferred maintenance and has required a huge amount of work to put it back together which the owner has been doing over the past year. In order to bring the property to a point where itís beautiful and well taken care of and in order to put enough money into these little cottages so they look nice and are nice, they have to operate full time. The rental for just the summer will not pay for the renovations that they need. The financial hardship was really caused by a property that had so little maintenance for so long that it got extremely shabby and rundown. The only way to bring it back and make it pay for itself is to go to full time.

Mr. Guido asked if the applicant intended to keep the rentals where they are now or if they would be torn down and new ones put up. Ms. Willow stated that they would like to renovate them. Mr. Guido asked what will be happening to the house and Ms. Willow answered that it has been undergoing major renovation and is just about done. Mr. Guido asked if it will be the house and six rentals and Ms. Willow said that is correct. Mr. Guido asked if there is another phase to this and Ms. Willow stated that they donít know. They are trying to take it one step at a time. They are thinking that if people own the rentals instead of just renting them, it will improve the condition of the property. If people own the property instead of just renting, they will take better care of them. She stated that they have not figured out how they would do that. Mr. Guido asked if the units will be made larger since they are about 500 square feet now. Ms. Willow answered that a couple of them would have to be made larger. Mr. Guido stated that he would like to know how big they will be and how many bedrooms. He also asked if there are restrictions on the deed that prohibit subdivision anyway. Ms. Willow answered that there are.

Ms. Charuk asked if there were restrictions on the deed when the property was purchased. Ms. Willow started to say that there were but corrected herself to state that there are not restrictions on the deed. They are on the map. Ms. Charuk asked if she meant an earlier subdivision map and if the applicant had that. Ms. Charuk asked the applicant to bring a copy of the deed to the next meeting.

Mr. Cole asked if the applicant had approached the Board of Health on this project. Ms. Willow answered that they have an engineer. Mr. Cole asked if the engineer thinks they will get approval on this and Ms. Willow said that he does.

Mr. Guido asked if there are variances already on that property. Ms. Willow said that there are variances because the road was too close to the house but that was before their time. Mr. Guido stated that his concern is if the buildings will be expanded and, if they are, which way will they be expanded. Will they be going closer to the road?  There already is a variance and there may be something on there saying no subdivisions. Mr. Guido stated that he needs to know exactly what will done in order for him to approve something. He wants to know how big the units will be and if they will be turned into condominiums. Mr. Cole stated that all the applicant is asking for is to make what is there year round. There is nothing in there about changing to condominiums.

Mr. Hare stated that the applicant came before the Planning Board last year and started the process of turning it into a cluster development. Ms. Willow stated that it doesnít look like that is possible with the restriction on it for no further subdivision because a cluster development is a subdivision. It just has to remain in one personís name. Mr. Hare stated that they couldnít draw property lines separating the parcels. Ms. Willow said that they could rent or lease properties.

Comments for the public are as follows:

Barbara Carroll, 678 Old Post Road - There are things that she likes such as the fact that the property is being rehabilitated, the fact that it provides moderate housing, the fact that it is a cluster development and provides green space. However, she has serious concerns about the water and septic issues. She feels it is highly improbable that this could ever be built out to the full 10 units because she doesnít believe there is enough road frontage. She went on to express her concern about how precarious the water situation is.

Debbie Bresler, 866 Old Post Road - Ms. Bresler stated that she did not receive notification although a copy of the letter that was sent to her New York City address was in file. Irene Robbins also stated that she did not receive notification and there was no letter in file. This person is not an adjoining neighbor. Ms. Bresler went on express her concern about the number of units on the amount of acreage. She stated that the units are clustered closely so in effect it is 7 units on 2 acres. She also stated that she has concerns because she saw the original proposal before the Planning Board and it appears to her that this is an attempt to create condos next door to her single family, private home. It is now six rentals and the property has not been functional for several years. There has been no rental activity. She has concerns about where they will park 20 cars and the noise. This is a single family, rural neighborhood. She looked at the property and it was not difficult to get information on zoning so she doesnít think the statement that the applicant did not have time to research the zoning is legitimate. She looked at it for the very reason that she did not want someone to buy what was originally 40 acres and throwing up ten houses. She wants to preserve her neighborhood. She also is concerned about renovating versus rebuilding. She doesnít think the cottages are habitable and has a suspicion that they will be torn down and new buildings will be put up. She has concerns about septic and water also although she doesnít have much knowledge on that subject. She knows that the area is being developed and large parcels are being broken up but she doesnít want it to happen next to her. She feels that it is important to preserve what she has. She understands that it is the responsibility of the Zoning Board is to protect the property owners and the citizens of the community. She feels that it will affect the value of her property and is deeply concerned about that.

 Ms. Willow responded that she lives in Gardiner and the process there is one of total gentrification. They are totally being converted by people from away who buy large pieces of land and donít want to see any other neighbors. Basically, what she is trying to say is that this is a political and cultural aspect of this. There are 11 acres here and people who could not afford to spend a lot of money on a farmhouse with seven acres could find a place to live here that would keep a large part of it green but still provide housing for people who, whether they own their own little unit or whether they rent their own little unit, could find a place to live in Esopus.

Linda Wagner, 706 Old Post Road - Doesnít know how Ms. Willow can say she didnít have time to research the zoning. Would like to know what Ms. Willow considers affordable. Thinks the property should remain the same as it was - summer rentals and one year round house.

Ms. Willow responded that the rule of thumb as far as what is affordable is that someone who makes $30,000. a year can afford a house that costs three times that much. There are no $90,000. houses so the only way to provide them is to cluster. That would mean a $90,000. two-bedroom, 1,000 square foot house.

Charles Shanok, 34 Soper Road - Owns property that is in trust for his children that is contiguous to this property and some other property for a total of about 113 to 115 acres. Confused by what he has heard tonight. Got a package from Anne last Thursday. Has known the property for 30 years. The purpose here tonight is for a change requested because of economic hardship. Property was sold at a very distressed price. Can year round usage be allowed? Arenít properties grand fathered if they are used? Property has not been used in years. When does the right expire? Mildred Bart and other developers have asked to winterize these cabins and have been told no by the Town. They were bought at the cheapest price so how can there be economic hardship. The property is rock. How can you allow full time usage without knowing the consequences. Not against development but hears about a lot of problems. This is unreasonable.

Nancy Rosen, 570 Old Post Road - Appreciated that the zoning board was interested in this project at last months meeting. She is interested in it. She has lots of questions that have been raised here. She understands it needs Health Department approval for septic. Thatís a given. Not thrilled with all the McMansions going up in Esopus. Canít complain about it because people can have what they want. Just because this is different, it doesnít deserve this sort of out of hand rejection. These are legitimate questions. Thinks we ought to listen and not be so apt to become hysterical.

Susan Wick, St. Remy - Feels any decision the Board makes will set a precedent that will be Town wide. If she buys a piece of property with tumbledown cabins on it and came before the Board and said she bought it at a really cheap price but now considers it a hardship. Thinks the Board should keep in mind that it will set a precedence. There are only two wells on the property.
Reeni Goldin, 850 Old Post Road - Would like to add a couple of points. Several people have said that she bought it at a really cheap price and is now coming up with an economic hardship. She would like to say that buying it at the price she bought it at was an economic hardship for her. She is not a multi-millionaire, not a developer. A few of them have each put in a few thousand dollars to buy this property because they had a dream. It irks her to hear ďOh, they bought it for a bargain basement price.Ē Not for her it wasnít. Mr.Cole advised that he doesnít think that the statements that she bought it real cheap will make any difference to this Board. Ms. Goldin went on to say that theyíre also saying that she made up this hardship. Itís not about that hardship. Before they bought the property they went to the Planning Board and laid out what their plans were. The Planning Board said that it sounded like a good idea and to go ahead. Itís not like they came up with something that they knew couldnít happen. They did their homework and research and went to the Planning Board. The Board said it sounded like a huge job but if they were up to it to go for it.

Debbie Bresler - Would like to address the last point. Believes that her interpretation is correct that there is legal precedent in the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division that information given to property owners by Zoning Board, in the particular case that she knows about, as far as hardship goes, it is not a legitimate defense as far as waiving zoning regulations. The case she is referring to is Bernard Schaeffer versus Zoning Board of Appeals, Town of Esopus July 21,1988.
Financial hardship is not a legitimate argument. The applicant is trying to politicize this and it is not a political issue. Mr. Cole asked in what respect and Ms. Bresler said that the point of gentrification by outsiders was brought up. She is an outsider and her primary residence is in New York City. She states that she is not the gentry. She paid $125,000.00 for her property, half of what they paid. She stated that she is not rich and so the point of the outsiders trying to maintain their country homes because they are rich and they feel like they deserve it. She does not have a lot of money. She thinks the issue of gentrification is a non-issue.

Peter Beisel, 71 Old Post Road - Have heard a lot of interesting points. Most of the points have nothing to do with the decision this Board has to make. Anne Hiller read the very strict criteria that has to be met to issue a use variance. The applicant doesnít meet any of them.

Maryanne Staccio - Her son owns the property adjoining this property. Some points she would like to make - concern regarding the sight of view if there are a lot more tenants coming out of that property. Assumes approval for a driveway would have to go before the County. That might have some impact. Also the septic system. There is also a variance where their roadway is 100' from those cottages. Would that have any effect on this variance? When she bought her property they bought 27 acres and a restriction was put on it that they could only build one house.

Mark Bass, 891 Old Post Road - Agrees with all his neighbors. Doesnít feel good about this project. Application should be rejected on all counts. Should be sent back to the drawing board to spend some money and put a site plan together to try to comply with the current codes. Cabins that are there have not been used for probably 10 or 15 years. Pool has been out of order for 15 years. The property is dilapidated. Here it says they are going to renovate the cabins that are 500 to 900 square foot. The application says they are going to expand them to 1500 square foot. Not the right time, not the right place, and not the right property.

Ann Jones, 584 Old Post Road - Go on record as saying she thinks this sounds like a very interesting project that should not be rejected out of hand just because it is thinking to rehabilitate existing buildings and because it is cluster housing. The questions should be answered but she is hearing a lot of people who just want to dismiss it because of the type of unusual proposal.

Jane LaForge, 790 Old Post Road - Go on record as saying that she opposes the granting of this variance and would like to see the zoning code enforced as it is written. A letter from Ms. LaForge is in file.

Mr. Guido stated that he would like to know exactly what the variance is here for. For the next meeting he would like a map showing the boundaries, where the buildings are, which ones will be kept and which ones will be taken down, and how large they will be made and how may bedrooms in each one. And if they will be on the original footprints. Because of this the public hearing will be held over to the next meeting. Ms. Willow asked if Mr. Guido could explain again exactly what he wants. Mr. Guido said that the application says that they want to expand the cottages and make them condominiums and now they are saying they just want to make them full time rentals. Ms. Goldin stated that what they are here for is purely to make them five accessory apartments where one is allowed. The footprints will stay the same. They will be winterized.

Mr. Hare stated that he feels they have run into a real problem with their choice of calling them accessory apartments. Accessory apartments are structured to one apartment in an existing house, not an apartment complex which is really what they are looking at. Ms. Willow stated that they are here because they went to the Building Inspector and asked him the best way to go about trying to winterize summer cottages. He went through all his codes and came up with this use. He said to just go to the ZBA for a variance on accessory apartments. Mr. Cole stated that according to the application, that is exactly what they want to do - winterize them. The only thing is that the Board of Health is going to come into it. That will be the main objection in the long run. Ms. Willow said that they realize that but they just donít want to go through the whole Board of Health thing unless they think the variance will be granted contingent on the Board of Health. Mr. Guido stated that if the variance is granted it will be for those buildings where they are now.

Michelle (last name inaudible) - About the buildings, you said you can insulate them and put a skirt around them. Underneath the buildings the pipes are all exposed. Theyíre about a foot above the ground. Mr. Cole explained again how to winterize them. The speaker also questioned the number of bedrooms and how big they will be.

Ms. Willow answered that that has not been established yet. She then asked Mr. Guido to explain again what he wants for the next meeting. Mr. Guido stated that he wants her to write up what she wants the variance for, if sheís going to keep the buildings exactly like they are, if they are going to use them all year, if they will be putting additions on the buildings. He stated that he believes there are variances on the property already and there is also the deed restriction.

Gloria VanVliet - The bottom line was stated by Anne Hiller, what she read from the zoning code. Does that restrict the applicant from applying for a variance? Mr. Cole advised her that it does not. Mr. Guido explained that for a use variance you need a  lot more reasons to grant one than for an area variance.

Thomas Bruck, 848 Old Post Road - In order to change the variance, you have to prove a hardship. Is that correct or not? Ms. Charuk answered that that is one of the factors. Mr. Bruck asked if it has been proven. Ms. Charuk answered that the Board doesnít know yet.

DECISIONAL MEETING

BANKS, DOROTHY L.  CASE # 05-17-05-02

Mr. Banks was present. He presented a drawing of his property and a diagram showing the carport but he was unable to give any definite measurements on the setbacks. Mr. Hare suggested that the applicant provide some photos of neighboring properties to show how far their setbacks are. He also asked the applicant if he has a survey of the property. Mr. Guido asked if this will be a permanent structure or if it is temporary. He would consider it a permanent structure even if it is just staked and not on footings.

Mr. Banks advised that the structure will have metal sides and the end will be closed. Mr. Hare stated that it is a garage then but Mr. Banks said that it is not a garage unless it has doors on it. He maintains that it is a carport.

The consensus of the Board was to postpone a decision until the next meeting. The applicant was advised that he has to provide lot lines and measurements. He was also asked to get a copy of his survey.

OTHER BUSINESS

Ms. Charuk read part of the memo from Town Clerk Diane McCord regarding the applications for the zoning board.

JOE GUIDO MADE A MOTION TO ADJOURN. RICHARD WENZEL SECONDED. ALL PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR. Meeting adjourned 9:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathleen Kiernan
Secretary