BY MARIA MIRAKAJ BROWNSELL
The Clarkstown Town Board met Tuesday for their regular meeting for two public hearing, and approved the removal of the no left/no right turn signs at Snake Hill Road and Palisades Center Drive North.
Removing the signs at Snake Hill Road sparked a lot of interest at the meeting. Everyone who spoke agreed that the sign was not necessary but were worried about how this would affect other past agreements made with the Palisades Center.
Steven Levine, of Congers, wanted the board to add to wording to the resolution, so that the mall will have more responsibility to maintain the traffic situation. He worried that the mall might try to get out of other agreements if the wording is not specific. “We have a history with this applicant, and they aren’t trustworthy.” said Levine.
Another resident, Kevin Lang spoke about how the signs effect people not even going to the mall, if they park at the commuter lot. Oren Getts of New City continued that idea, saying it would be easier without the signs to access the lot.
He also said that traffic to get on the New York State Thruway would be alleviated with the removal of the signs. Getts said that all the street signs and signals around town should be looked at. Councilwoman Shirley Lasker explained that the signs were put into the agreement with the Palisades Center because residents worried that mall traffic would spill into neighboring streets.
Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner also agreed with Levine, but added that the Superintendent of Highways should still be able to monitor the traffic conditions. Supervisor Alexander Gromack said it will be the town that monitors, so it wouldn’t be tied to just one group.
The attorney for the Clarkstown Planning Board said that creating a resolution to remove the sign will not affect the agreement with the mall. He said they should consider changing the wording to “the sign may be removed” instead of “should be removed,” so that the town is not dictating what private property owners must do.
After Town Attorney Amy Mele added the suggested changes, the board approved it.
The board also held a public hearing about the abandoning a rarely used section of Rose Road. After comments from the attendees in favor of the abandonment the board passed the resolution.
There were 21 resolutions on the agenda for the night. Councilman Frank Borelli spoke about a resolution for roadway resurfacing, curb and sidewalk replacement, and the community center repairs. “Where is the money coming from for the road projects?” asked Borelli.
Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard responded, “Yes we are increasing the money spent.” He explained that the budget has remained the same year after year, but the price of asphalt keeps going up.
Borelli insisted that he needs more specific number amounts and details for the project, but Ballard retorted that everything was thoroughly presented at the last workshop meeting and in a memo sent to board members. Borelli was not satisfied.
“We need to go to bid so we can than know the exact numbers we’re looking at,” said Supervisor Gromack.
Borelli also voiced concern about the details of the community center projects. “What are the other costs associated with the project, besides the hard work? I’m concerned about where our debt is now and for the future.”
Resident Kevin Hobbs asked if the work for these centers in already in the budget. Gromack said it is not. Mike Hirsch of New City gave a handout to the members of the board about the work that needs to be done at the community centers.
“You are going about this all wrong. You need to figure out what it costs before getting the bids,” said Hirsch.
Another hot topic at the meeting was resolution number thirteen proposed a local law to amend Chapter 290, which is zoning, of the local laws of the Town of Clarkstown with respect to the creation of accessory apartments by seniors.
Mary Slattery of New City spoke about the changes that will be made and how it will affect other people on those streets. Bob McGlocklin said the town should look into code enforcement of the accessory housing.
“Why do you have to be over 60 and living in the house for twenty years? Is this ageism? Why not me? I’ve lived in Clarkstown for thirty-nine years,” asked Joe Chargula of New City.
Hausner who is on the committee for the accessory-housing project said that most of these issues were discussed at the last workshop meeting. She explained that it is not age discrimination. It is just like the other 55 plus or 62 plus communities in the county.
She also said that someone doesn’t have to live in one house the full twenty years, it can be in different houses within Clarkstown. They are working with architects to get numbers on how much it will cost to convert the houses to have these apartments. There will be a slight increased in the value of the assessed house, which will come out to about $1,000 more a year in taxes.
The apartments will not be limited to volunteers, but there will be applications for both volunteers and seniors to fill out so that they can be matched up as necessary. If someone with the accessory housing permit sells his or her house to someone under sixty years old, the new owner cannot keep the permit.
Lasker stressed that this is a very carefully crafted plan to help everyone out. It is necessary to keep low cost housing to keep the volunteers around. If the town had to go to paid firefighters and ambulance workers, it would be a whole new problem.
Tom Nimick asked about the increase in debt for the Town of Clarkstown.
“The state of our financials is good. We have triple A bond rating,” said Gromack. He also said how with the way the market is right now, it is the best time to get projects done. They are getting the lowest bids and prices ever. “It is a buyer’s market,” he said.
After many the different discussions, all resolutions were passed. To see what they, check out the Town of Clarkstown website at: http://town.clarkstown.ny.us/cgi-bin/public_notices_new.pl?action=show_cat&id=13