ARB Minutes – Special Meeting October 22, 2021

Village of Dering Harbor
Architectural Review Board
Special Meeting Minutes
October 22nd, 2021, 9:00 AM

● The meeting was called to order at 9:03 am.
● Attendance: Susannah Rose, Mickey Kostow, Stephanie Deutsch Bridgford Hunt, George Birman, Mary Walker, Rob Ferris, Wayne Bruyn (village attorney), Vicki Shields (village clerk), Donna Ritzzmann (Timothy Hogue’s stenographer) Kirk Ressler, Marian Brownlie, Bradnon Rose, Ari Benacerraf, Eris Deutsch, Kimberly Carey, Karen Kelsey
● New Business

○ Susannah started the meeting by reading the following announcement, to clarify and establish the purpose of the meeting:

Several weeks ago the Board of Trustees asked the Architectural Board of Review to discuss and adopt an advisory report to be sent to the board with respect to the architectural review standards and guidelines for driveways and parking areas. In response to that request, the purpose of this meeting is for the ARB to discuss and adopt an advisory report to be sent to the board with respect to the architectural review standards and guidelines for driveways and parking areas. A motion to open this public discussion among ARB Members was made by Susannah and seconded by Mickey. All Board members present voted in favor. Before beginning the discussion, Susannah also announced that George Birman, an alternate of the ARB, would be filling the vacant seat of the ARB for the purpose of the meeting. Susannah opened the discussion with her comments. It is her feeling that the village’s zoning code, which has been in place for a long time, has served the village well and she does not recommend the Trustees make changes to the zoning code regarding driveways at this time. The section of the code that addresses driveway construction already contains clear and specific language. Regarding the ARB’s involvement with review standards and guidelines for driveways and parking areas, the village code is clear as to the ARB’s role in that process and does not recommend making changes to those provisions. She believes that the standards established in Section 230:65 are sufficient for the ARB to review driveways and to provide proper guidance and impose appropriate safeguards if needed when reviewing an application for approval or denial.
Wayne clarified exactly what the Board of Trustees are considering in terms of amendments to the zoning code- Section 230-21: Driveways and Off-street parkingwhich has been discussed over several public hearings. When looking at the specific language of Section 230-65 (ARB standards), the question arose of whether a section should be added to the code to help the ARB in their review of a driveway or parking area. Bridford commented that he agrees with Susannah. How the ARB addresses these things has been working and it allows for greater flexibility within the village. He liked Susannah’s opening comments could be turned into a motion as a response to the Trustees from the ARB. Mickey commented that he thinks a lot of the amendment is cleaning up language that was added 30 years ago or more. He doesn’t object to that. He is concerned about adding more restrictions to the code and thinks by doing so, the villages invites more challenges and possible lawsuits. He thinks the section related to the 50’ setback for driveways and parking areas in Zone A is onerous and doesn’t leave the flexibility needed when it comes to addressing existing topography and tress. He agrees with Susannah and Bridg that the code works as is. Stephanie commented that just by having this discussion demonstrates that the ARB needs more clarification on this issue. It seems to her that some ARB members think the ARB has purview over driveways and some do not. She agrees with Susannah that the law does not need to changed, but that it does need to be clarified. If everyone agrees that driveways and parking are indeed considered structures and therefore under the ARB’s purview for review, then she doesn’t see the need for amending the code. But she thinks ARB needs to have a very clear understanding of the code. George added that he thinks there is some confusion over what the ARB has purview over with respect to driveways and sees this as an opportunity for clarification, since driveways and parking areas can have a major impact on the appearance of a property and how it relates to other properties. He agrees with Stephanie that clarification would be helpful to help the ARB avoid confusion on this topic. He agrees with others regarding the ARB’s ability to be flexible and allowing for diversity of driveways in the village but thinks the ARB must be clear that they have purview over what are major elements of the design of a property.
A subsequent discussion ensued regarding various things members brought up in their comments, especially whether or not having a list of approved materials is a good idea. Mickey had a final comment that the ARB has always reviewed driveways and that if it is considered a structure (as Stephanie clarified in her comments), then the ARB has purview over them.
Bridgford made a motion on the following read by Susannah:
At this time, the ARB does not recommend that the Architectural Review Standards and Guidelines for Driveways and Parking Areas be amended in the code as it is currently written.
Mickey asked for clarification on the language in the motion. Wayne assisted in that clarification. The members further discussed what their recommendation will be to the Trustees- not go forward with the entire amendment regarding Driveways and Parking Areas or just the section that clarifies that driveways and parking areas will be subject to ARB review. Wayne clarified the impetus for the amendment, which has been discussed and modified in a variety of ways over several hearings. There has been confusion over time as to the applicability over time of the ARB’s review of parking areas and driveways. It has been inconsistent and there have been challenges as to whether it is required or not. The aim of this amendment is to clarify and make it clear that there are minimum standards for driveways and parking areas and that they are subject to ARB review. That is the position of the current board and building inspector but in the past, that position has been inconsistent. This includes the review of existing driveways and parking areas as well as proposed. The latest draft does require that both proposed and modification to existing driveways and parking areas would require review by the ARB, again for clarification purposes. He believes what the Trustees are asking for from the ARB is clarification and recommendations, if any, to the standards in Section 230-65. Bridgford expressed his concern for the entire amendment. He then went on to read the email the mayor sent to the ARB regarding what the Board of Trustees are asking the ARB to consider, which is the whole amendment. Stephanie commented that she disagrees with the mayor’s email. That Susannah and Wayne have clarified what the ARB has been asked to consider and that this ARB (and of other villages) do have purview over driveways. Stephanie asked Bridgford what he doesn’t like about what is in the current amendment and he listed various things- parking on grass, parking in driveways, etc. He thinks they are well-intentioned but don’t match what is actually in the village. He is not in favor of the amendment as a whole. Ultimately, the ARB could not find complete consensus.
Since the motion above was never seconded, Susannah made the following motion:
At this time, the ARB does not recommend the adoption of a Local Law amending 230-7, 230-8, 230-9 and 230-21 of the zoning code for driveways and parking areas and we stand by the code as it is currently written.
Mickey seconded the motion. 3 votes in favor (Susannah, Mickey, and Bridgford), 2 votes abstained (Stephanie and George).
Members of the ARB also wished to communicate as a board to the Trustees via a motion that they want to see clarification in the code regarding the ARB’s purview over driveways and parking areas. However, it was suggested that those members bring their concerns to the Board of Trustees at the next public hearing where they will be discussing the proposed Local Law.

● Next meeting date: November 13th, 2021.
● A motion to adjourn at 9:54am was made by Susannah and seconded by Mickey. All Board members voted in favor.