The Muttontown Village Board members, from the left: Highway Commissioner "Raz" Tafuro; Village Clerk/Treasurer Vivien Van Wagner, Trustee Russell Corker; Trustee Laura Shapiro (seated); Trustee William Floyd-Jones; Mayor Richard Murcott (seated); Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Madden, Trustee Randolph Bartholomew; Trustee Edwin Henn (seated) Village Attorney Peter MacKinnon.
The Village of Muttontown continues to do well financially, they didn't raise taxes this year and are coming in under budget. At their Dec. 8 meeting Mayor Richard Murcott said they were approximately $97,000 under budget and had revenues of $159,000 which includes safety inspections and building department fees. "The mortgage tax is doing very well," he said.
The village signed their East Norwich Volunteer Fire Company contract for $235,515, a slight increase over last year.
The village board voted on an exchange of village land by changing their designation that created four acres of parkland that all flow together so that future boards can decide what to do with it, said the mayor. There was no cost to the village for the exchange. They had to apply to the state for permission to change the designations of the property. The State of New York requires a public hearing and appraisal for the land. The plots have the same monetary value. Trustee William Floyd-Jones abstained from the vote, otherwise it passed.
The mayor said there was no time for his report: the Nassau County Parks Department had made a lengthy presentation on uses for the Muttontown Preserve, Chelsea and the Jericho farm triangle that will involve the village's participation. (See article on page 1.)
Trustee Ed Henn said there was nothing new to report on the Old Brookville Police Department desire to create their new headquarters on land at the DeMatteis Center. They are waiting for the Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre to give his approval for the project which will utilize the building currently used by Catholic Charities.
The early December blizzard cost the village $26,000 on Sunday Dec. 7 and $4,900 on Monday, Dec. 8 for snow removal and sanding. "The men worked around the clock and there were no significant complaints," said Highway Commissioner "Raz" Tafuro.
The village did not get snow insurance this year as they did last year. The reason was the price of the insurance more than doubled, from $4,000 to $9,000. "Last year's insurance company went out of business," said the mayor. "In my wisdom I thought you couldn't have another year of heavy snow like last year when we had 35 to 45 inches." They didn't get the new policy. The mayor said there was $30,000 budgeted for snow removal. Muttontown Village clerk/treasurer said they might get FEMA money for the December emergency.
Trustee Edwin Henn said the planning board has given preliminary approval to the Kirby Estate subdivision.
Martin Viette has come before the board to discuss a change of their special use permit. As of now they have not submitted plans for their proposal. Earlier in the year they appeared before the ZBA to discuss what they were interested in doing. They said the business of garden centers has moved light years ahead of Martin Viette as it exists today. They have been considering a change for about three years. They said they wanted to create a "quaint nature friendly facility," and would design it into the surrounding area.
They want to cover over much of the area because they said retail studies show that people, if it is raining, will still come out and shop if they know they can get out of the rain. Mr. Ireland said, "When the garden center is covered the peaks and valleys in the customer sales will even out. That's what we want to have happen. On a bad rainy weekend, business is cut down to 10 to 20 cars."
They plan to keep a rustic, rural look with barn and other structures. "We want an old world look. It won't look like Home Depot," said one of the Ireland family members.
Russ Ireland said, "We focus on the green side of the business. People come for plant material. Other products are secondary. We integrate things that go together into an up-to-date garden center so people can shop and find items they need together. It is one-stop shopping." He said they want to keep pace with other nursery businesses operating on Long Island.
Mr. Ireland said they were sensitive to the community. "We had an issue over our Fall Festival that got a life of its own. It was too popular. We realized it was not in keeping with what the village wanted and we cut it back."
The owners said they were not interested in advertising to get more customers. "We'd rather sell 20 percent more to our existing customers, than get 20 percent more customers. We don't want to attract a tri-state customer," said Mike Ireland.
Peter MacKinnon said the questions before the board were traffic, density of use and the scope of growth proposed.
At the time, the board said it needed to see drawings of their concepts of what a state-of-the-art facility would be like but that hasn't happened as yet, said Village Attorney Peter MacKinnon.
Russell Ireland currently is in the business of importing glass conservatories from Ireland and erecting them here for customers.
Several tax-exempt properties in the village asked for tax exempt status again: including The Hoffman Center; the Province of the Society of Maribah, a Chaminade retreat; and the St. Dominic's sports fields. The Brookville Jewish Center which owns a parcel along Route 106 in Muttontown did not ask for tax exemption for their property, again.
The next meeting of the village board is on Monday, Jan. 12 at the village hall.