Village of Dering Harbor
May 13, 2023, 9:00 AM
The meeting was called to order at 9:06 am
- Attendance- Karen Kelsey (mayor), Ari Benacarraf, Sam Ashner, Brad Goldfarb, Brandon Rose; Vicki Shields (village clerk), Wayne Bruyn (village attorney), Donna Ritzmann (stenographer), Stephanie Deutsch, Eric Deutsch, Joan McGivern (attorney, Twomey Latham) , George Birman, Philip Gubert, John Colby, Susan Carey Dempsey (SI Reporter), Alice Goldman, Stuart Goldman, Rob Ferris, Ken Tropin, Elizabeth Colby, Patrick Parcells, BJ Ianfolla, Beth Hird, Salina Truelove, Bridgford Hunt, Kimberlea Rea (attorney, Westervelt and Rea), Jeff Truelove (and kids), Jim Goldman
- A motion to accept the minutes from the April 15th was moved by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor. The minutes from the April 22nd Special Meeting were tabled.
- Treasurer’s Report- A motion to approve and authorize payments of the outstanding bills abstract was made by Sam and seconded by Ari. All Board members voted in favor.
- New Business
- Financial Update- Karen reported that the village is in a really good financial position. Same explained where the budget is now versus last year. He thanked Patrick Parcells for all his work in previous years. He went into some detail about what capital improvements the village plans to do. Karen made a statement in terms of how much the village has improved in terms of the budget and what good standing the village is in terms of taxes.
- Update on Village Improvements- more paving needs to be done but there is also a lot of construction going on, which the mayor wants to wait until that is finished before paving again. Potholes are being fixed on an as needed basis.
- Resolution to retain The Raynor Group, P.E. & L.S. for analysis, engineering by design, preparation of specifications, and construction monitoring for (3) new storm drains (Sylvester Rd, Harbor Lane, Locust Rd).
The mayor gave an update on where the village is with the need for this resolution. She explained that the scope of the work is listed in the proposals that the Raynor Group submitted. The cost is $4,500. A motion to pass the following resolution was moved by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor, hereby accepts the proposal of Vincent Gaudiello, P.E. of The Raynor Group, P.E., L.S. PLLC, dated May 11, 2023, for engineering services for Village wide drainage assessment and analysis at an estimated cost not to exceed $4,500.00.
- Resolution to authorize repairs to the gazebo on Sylvester Rd.
Brad explained the state of the gazebo and that it must be addressed. He announced a very generous offer from Ken Tropin to fund the cost of repairing it. The village has (3) proposals which they are considering. The Board thanked Ken Tropin. A motion to pass the following resolution was made by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor, hereby accepts the pledge from resident Kenneth Tropin, dated May 10, 2023, to donate necessary funds for the repair and renovation of the Village Gazebo located on Sylvester Road.
A motion for following resolution accepting the bid from Hobbs, Inc. to repair the gazebo was moved by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members in favor,
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor, hereby accepts the proposal of Hobbs, Incorporated, dated April 27, 2023, for the repair and renovation of the Village Gazebo located on Sylvester Road at an estimated cost of $9,365.80, which shall be paid from the funds donated by resident Kenneth Tropin.
Brad spoke to some other issues regarding some of the lights in the village. Bridgford Hunt commented about the color of the light. He thinks it should be warmer and many trustees said they were in favor. There was also a discussion of other projects that are planned to happen in the village.
- A motion for a resolution to reimburse Eric and Stephanie Deutsch their payment of an unnecessary permit fee moved by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
- A motion for a resolution to approve the request made by Mary Ellen Adipietro for use of village roads to facilitate the Shelter Island 10 K Run on Saturday, June 17th, 2023, was moved by Ari and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
- Old Business
- A motion to reopen the Public Hearing: Birman/Gubert Discontinuance of the end portion of South Street was made by Sam and and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor. Karen gave a brief synopsis of the matter. It has been under discussion since November.
George Birman was given the opportunity to speak first. He referenced a long letter that he submitted to the Trustees a couple of days ago, which was made part of the record. He did not read it into the record because it would take too long. He laid out what has happened to date regarding this matter. He explained that he and Philip are here to resolve their land and parking issues. He then turned it over to his attorney, Joan McGivern. She explained that the area in question has not been maintained in over 60 years and is not a critical area or a critical access point.
- Kimberlea Rea (on behalf of the Hunt family) asked for the record what the case Mr. Birman’s attorney referenced in her comments regarding “critical crossing.” Wayne asked George’s attorney which case she was referencing. She said it was the case Mr. Hunt had cited in his presentation to the BOT at their last meeting. Ms. Rea had a follow-up question for the applicant. Karen reminded Ms. Rea that this is a public hearing, not a court of law.
Brandon Rose spoke directly to George Birman’s comment that there had been a violation of ethics by some board members. Brandon went on to ask George about whether or not this is about parking. George Birman’s attorney responded to Brandon’s question and Brandon responded. Karen interjected with some clarification on the unique situation of the area in question and the history of the village.
Ari’s spoke regarding the impetus of George and Philip’s request and Brandon’s question of the math not adding up. Their request came after receiving a notice of violation from the Building Inspector- the first in over 50 years. Ari stated for the record that he has had no conversation about this topic outside of village hall. He said the conversation about this matter should be happening here.
Same asked George Birman if he understands that if he were to acquire this piece of land, he would still need to go to the ZBA to request a variance for parking. George said yes, they would follow the procedures of the village.
Ari stated that this matter is complicated and Brandon agreed.
There was discussion among the board members about different hypothetical situations and Karen interjected that they were getting bogged down in a solution when they should continue to listen to public comments.
- Patrick Parcells commented that this area has been looked at in the past (regarding the front porch at 6 South Street encroaching on village land). He then referenced a part of George Birman’s presentation. George Birman said that the parking illustrated on page 17 of his presentation is incorrect. It was a preliminary sketch and their intention is to contain parking in the area in question.
- Eric Deutsch asked George if he is able to turn around now. George explained.
- Stephanie Deutsch had a question/comment for the board about planting. The Board asked Wayne to look into it. George Birman and his attorney then answered Stephanie’s question.
Karen clarified the situation relating to Patrick’s previous comment about how the porch of the house of 6 South Street encroaches on village property. It’s been an issue for 50 years and seems like something that should be resolved.
Sam added that there is an outstanding liability that the village has regarding this matter.
Brandon agreed that the village has a responsibility to take care of its property. He said the BOT also has a responsibility to address this issue but thinks agreeing to the discontinuance creates a bigger problem. He said that the trustees are charged with coming to a solution. He then asked Wayne about what the next steps are. He is concerned about where this is leading.
Ari commented about the steps the Trustees took regarding the Planning Board and dispelled any rumors that it was done in an effort to allow for this request for discontinuance to go through.
Karen asked Wayne to clarify this particular point. He did so, reiterating the points that were made at recent Trustees meetings where this proposed law was discussed and passed. Allowing the Board of Trustees to fill the role of the Planning Board when needed is something that other local municipalities do, especially small ones.
Ari spoke to directly to John’s question in his petition regarding the SCPC to clarify that they deemed it a matter of local determination.
- John Colby commented by citing a portion of village law to support his claim that the Trustees’ decision to pass the new law regarding the Planning Board violates the code. A discussion ensued regarding what the letter from the SCPC actually said versus what it was rumored to say regarding this.
Brandon Rose asked if the Board of Trustees is capable of acting in the capacity as the Planning Board.
Karen clarified what the role of the Planning Board is and explained that the way it was structured was not functioning.
Sam’s commented that there have been 4 meetings regarding South Street and 2 regarding the Planning Board. 47 people signed John Colby’s petition that was submitted to the BOT and circulated. Only 12% of those that signed the petition were in attendance at those meetings and only 4% spoke at any of the public hearings. As it relates to the Planning Board, the Trustees only received one comment in favor of the change. He stated that any implication that the village is not acting in a transparent manner is absurd. He encouraged everyone to attend the village’s monthly meetings so that they can have a clear understanding of the various matters of the village.
At this point in the meeting, Karen read a portion of the former building inspector’s resignation letter to dispel any rumors about why he left the position.
- John Colby continued with his comments. He believes that if the board approves the discontinuance, it should be by unanimous consent by the neighbors/abutters.
- Kimberlea Rea commented that the Trustees have a fiduciary duty to their constituents over the requests from private individuals.
Ari made it clear that the Trustees are still taking in information on this matter and have not made a determination. They are still listening.
- Patrick Parcells’ subsequent comment that the new law regarding the Planning Board is a good one .
- Elizabeth Colby thinks the easiest solution to this matter is to change the parking laws on South Street.
- Kimberlea Rea followed-up on Mrs. Colby’s comment to say that would make this all go away. It gives relief to everybody.
- George Birman’s lawyer explained that the relief would be incomplete. The standard is whether it’s useless as a public fair.
Karen said that the Board is looking for constructive comments.
- Jeff Truelove agrees that Betsy Colby’s suggestion is a good one and he wouldn’t want to see the village put itself in a box.
- Kimberlea Rea spoke on behalf of the Hunt Family. She stated what standards the BOT must consider. She spoke on the point of “uselessness”,which must be considered. She also spoke to the case law regarding “corner crossing” and spoke to the rights of her client regarding that. She also spoke to the point of how the proposed area in question is massively non-conforming and would require several types of variances. Wayne asked Ms. Rea if her opinion would change if the lot in question was merged into the existing lot. She said no and that the BOT should refer this matter to the ZBA. She agrees that the porch is pre-existing/non-conforming. That said, she does not think that gives the landowner a right to go for what she described as a land grab. She also spoke about the petition that was circulated on May 13th and Sam’s Ashner’s comments on that.
Brad comments read into the record a letter from Joey Modica regarding her and her mother’s disapproval of the approach of the petition that was circulated.
- Ken Tropin commented that he would like to see the village go back to being the sleepy little village that they all love to live in and made a suggestion regarding how to solve South Street by doing what Betsy Colby suggested, while also giving George and Philip a permanent easement. He did state for the record that even though his name was on the petition, he subsequently followed up with John Colby privately saying that he wanted his name taken off.
Ari made a request that all ill-informed petitions stop being circulated.
- Jim Goldman commented that if the Trustees want to hear from the people of the village, they should create a poll.
- Bridgford Hunt gave a presentation with aerial photos and a letter which he read into the record. He added that easements to allow for their porch and lawn would be a much better solution to the problem.
- George Birman responded that he does not think there is a good view of the creek that Bridgford stated and responded to the claims that Bridgford included in his letters regarding the newest comments from the Ruttenberg family. He went on to share a conversation he had with Jullie Farris and subsequent emails. He pointed to a portion of the code regarding public nuisances and how the Farris’s are in violation of that part of their code with the dilapidated and overgrown tennis court on their property.
- Bridgford responded to George Birman’s misstatement about there being no view of the creek. He also said that he has been in communication with the Ruttenberg family regarding this matter.
- Patrick Parcells said there is an assumption of rights that George Birman has stated that shouldn’t be considered by the Trustees. George responded.
- Kimberlea Rea spoke to the improvements that George Birman states that they have been making and says it’s not improvement. It’s encroachment.
There was a conversation about precedent or lack thereof. Several of the Trustees stated that a precedent is not being set and that this request for discontinuance is very specific.
- George Birman’s attorney’s requested to submit a short statement related to the legal standards that she thinks would be helpful to the BOT.
A motion to close the Public Hearing and keep it open for written comment for 10 days was moved by Brad and seconded by Sam. All Board members voted in favor.
- A motion to open the Public Hearing: LL amending Ch. 173 (Taxation) moved by Ari and seconded by Sam. All Board members voted in favor. Wayne explained the reason behind the proposed amendment. He explained that the state allows for villages to opt out of hearing grievances and leaves it as the responsibility of the town. Other municipalities have done this and new villages are required to do it this way. He said this would streamline the process of grievances.
Sam commented that he thinks this falls under the category of good governance.
- John Colby commented that he does not think the village should give up this mechanism.
- Patrick Parcells asked if it’s possible for the village to negotiate an assessment that the town assessor’s office have done and Wayne said no.
Ari said that it’s one or the other. Either take over the entire assessment process at great expense to the village or allow the process to work best the way it already exists.
- BJ Ianfolla commented that she sees no benefit to the taxpayer to having to go through the process twice.
A motion to close the public hearing was moved by Ari and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
Wayne read the resolution out loud and explained that it is subject to a permissive referendum.
A motion for a resolution to adopt the following was moved by Sam, seconded by Karen. All Board members voted in favor.
WHEREAS, Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor have proposed a Local Law amending Chapter 173 (Taxation) to add a new Article III entitled Termination of Status as Assessing providing for the voluntary termination of the Village’s status as an assessing unit, to abolish the Board of Assessors and Board of Assessment Review, and to terminate responsibility for the review of the assessments of real property within the Village of Dering Harbor; and
WHEREAS, a public hearing was held on May 13, 2023; and
WHEREAS, the adoption of said local law is considered to be a Type II action under 6 NYCRR §617.5, SEQRA and will not have a significant adverse impact upon the environment;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Local Law No. 3 of 2023 is hereby adopted as follows:
LOCAL LAW NO. 3 OF 2023
A LOCAL LAW amending Chapter 173 (Taxation) to add a new Article III entitled Termination of Status as Assessing providing for the voluntary termination of the Village’s status as an assessing unit, to abolish the Board of Assessors and Board of Assessment Review, and to terminate responsibility for the review of the assessments of real property within the Village of Dering Harbor.
BE IT ENACTED by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor as follows:
SECTION 1. AMENDMENT. Chapter 173 (Taxation) is amended to add a new Article III entitled Tax Assessment as follows:
TERMINATION OF STATUS AS ASSESSING UNIT
- 173-30. Legislative Intent. The intent of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor is to implement §1402(3) of the New York State Real Property Tax Law providing for the voluntary termination of the Village’s status as an assessing unit, as provided in the Village Law and the Real Property Tax Law. It is also the intent of this article to abolish the positions of Assessor and/or Board of Assessors, abolish the Board of Assessment Review, and to terminate any and all responsibility as provided by law for the review of the assessments of real property located within the Village of Dering Harbor.
- 173-31. Cessation of Assessing Unit. On or after the effective date of this article, the Village of Dering Harbor shall cease to be an assessing unit.
- 173-32. Abolishment of Position of Assessor and/or Board of Assessors. The positions of Assessor and/or Board of Assessors in the Village of Dering Harbor are hereby abolished.
- 173-33. Abolishment of Board of Assessment Review. The Board of Assessment Review in the Village of Dering Harbor is hereby abolished.
- 173-34. Assessment of Taxes by Town. On or after the effective date of this article, real property taxes in the Village of Dering Harbor shall be levied on a copy of the applicable part of the assessment roll of the Town of Shelter Island with the taxable status date of such Town controlling for Village purposes.
- 173-35. Filing of local law. Within five (5) days of the effective date of this article, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor shall file a copy of this article with the Town Clerk and Town Assessor of the Town of Shelter Island and with the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services.
SECTION 2. AUTHORITY. The proposed local law is enacted pursuant to Village Law Real Property Tax Law §1402(3) and Municipal Home Rule Law §§10(1)(i), 10(1)(ii)(a), 10(1)(ii)(a)(12), and 10(1)(ii)(e)(3).
SECTION 3. SEVERABILITY. If any section or subsection, paragraph, clause, phrase, or provision of this law shall be adjudged invalid or held unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, any judgment made thereby shall not affect the validity of this law as a whole, or any part thereof other than the part or provision so adjudged to be invalid or unconstitutional.
SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE. This local law shall take effect upon filing with the Secretary of State pursuant to Municipal Home Rule Law, provided, however, that this local law is subject to a permissive referendum and the Village Clerk shall forthwith proceed to notice such fact and conduct such referendum if required by petition.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Village Clerk is hereby authorized and directed to publish the following Notice of Adoption:
NOTICE OF ADOPTION SUBJECT TO PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM
VILLAGE OF DERING HARBOR
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that after public hearing was held on May 13, 2023, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor at their meeting of May 13, 2023, adopted LOCAL LAW NO. ___ OF 2023 as follows: “A LOCAL LAW amending Chapter 173 (Taxation) to add a new Article III entitled Termination of Status as Assessing providing for the voluntary termination of the Village’s status as an assessing unit, to abolish the Board of Assessors and Board of Assessment Review, and to terminate responsibility for the review of the assessments of real property within the Village of Dering Harbor.”
THIS LOCAL LAW IS SUBJECT TO A PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE 9 OF THE NEW YORK STATE VILLAGE LAW.
Copies of the adopted law are on file in the Village Hall, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, or by appointment.
BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
VILLAGE OF DERING HARBOR, NEW YORK
- A motion to open the Public Hearing: Design Guidelines was made by Brad and seconded by Sam. All Board members voted in favor. Brad made a statement regarding this revision. He said that creating an Historic District was never on the table. This revision reflects the feedback the board received at the November 2022 Special Meeting.
- Brad read into the record an email that was sent by Peter and Jaimie Neckles.
- Jim Goldman agreed with the letter regarding the windows and roofing material. Other than that, this document is a spec sheet about everything a property owner is allowed to do on their property and thinks it is the most intrusive document on construction that has ever been introduced in the village. It’s draconian and thinks the whole thing needs to be tabled.
- Patrick Parcells thinks what is proposed in this revision is very prescriptive. He gave an example of the proposed requirement for a real stone facade of foundations and how much more expensive it would make it to build a home in the village. He thinks it’s a rabbit hole the village doesn’t want to go down. He appreciates the work that has been done so far. He suggested the board take an intermediate step about explaining the expectations would be appropriate. He thinks the ARB as it is chartered now works.
Karen responded that people’s definition of “nice house with nice materials” is different. What is expected right now is way too broad and confusing.
Ari commented that the range of opinions is very broad and said this is the product of trying to reconcile the variety of feedback they’ve received. Ari asked Patrick how he defines how the ARB “works.” He disagrees that it doesn’t work as it is.
- Stephanie Deutsch echoed what Ari expressed and explained that this would streamline the process for the ARB and the applicants. Several recent applicants have requested something like this. And she disagreed with Jim Goldman’s comment that this is draconian.
Brandon asked how this works. Wayne explained that it was recognized that the village needs stronger standards when it comes to applicants coming before the ARB.
- Stephanie Deutsch commented that a lot of what is in this revision is already in the code but is buried.
Sam commented that this document helps alleviate what might be construed as personal opinion of ARB members. Sam thinks that the village left itself open to a lot of liability with Yoshimi Kono’s approval process. A written document minimizes that risk. Brad explained that the intent here is to level the playing field and make it clear what is expected and encourage quality homes.
- Jim Goldman suggested one page that could delineate what the ARB would like to see. It would be guidance without overreach.
- Rob Ferris does not think it would be possible to do what Jim Goldman suggested regarding a one page document. He then spoke about a recent application that the ARB heard and estimated that they could have saved about 60% of the time spent reviewing that application if they had a document like the one proposed to refer to. It’s not a hammer. It’s meant to help applicants to consider what the expectations of the village are before they go through the process. It’s meant to provide clarification.
- Stepahnie Deutsch said she had heard from several real estate agents who said that this kind of document would be very helpful and good for property values.
Karen stated that this revision is very different from what Patrick Ahearn originally proposed and has come a long way.
Ari commented specifically on Jaimie Neckles comment regarding simulated light. Brad acknowledged that it was a typo and that the word “or” simply needed to be added between the words “simulated” and “true” in the document.
Brandon Rose excused himself, as he had to leave.
A motion to close the public hearing was made by Sam and seconded by Brad. The motion passed by a vote of 4-0, Brandon absent.
A motion to adopt the latest draft of the Design Guidelines as amended was made by Brad and seconded by Sam. The motion passed by a vote of 4-0, Brandon absent.
- Reminder: Village Election- May 26th from 12pm to 9pm.
- Legal/Litigation Update- no new litigation to report.
- A motion to go into Executive Session to discuss Litigation/Personnel matters at 12:19 was moved by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members present voted in favor.
- A motion to reopen the meeting at 1:08pm was moved by Ari and seconded by Brad. All Board members present voted in favor.
- Date for next regular Trustees meeting- June 10th, 2023
- A motion to adjourn at 1:08pm was moved by Sam and seconded by Brad. All Board members present voted in favor.