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Bedford Town Board meeting | Bedford Hills Real Estate

NOTES FROM JUNE 20 TOWN BOARD MEETING
 
Proposed Continuation and Increase of Open Space Tax Levy Following a Public Hearing, the Town Board adopted a Local Law to set an open space tax levy to replace the existing levy which expires next month.  The Board made the law subject to a referendum on November 7 (on the same ballot as the general election ballot).  The replacement Local Law would continue the 1% levy and provide for a one-quarter of one percent increase starting in 2019 and each year thereafter until it reaches 2% after which there would be no further increase.   I have made clear our continued commitment to stay within the property tax cap, including the Open Space tax levy.  I believe that we can absorb the modest and phased increase while still meeting that commitment.  Click here for a memorandum from Comptroller Abraham Zambrano setting forth the Open Space fund balance and the tax impact of the proposed Local Law. 
Reaffirming Climate Plan and Joining Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Call
The Board adopted a resolution reaffirming the Town’s commitment to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by the year 2020.  The Town also joined with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call to join forces to declare that we will continue to support the Paris Agreement regarding climate change. Click here for the resolution.
 
NOTES FROM JUNE 19 TOWN BOARD MEETING – COMMUTER PARKING LOTS
At a meeting devoted solely to the commuter parking lots, the Town Board on Monday evening heard from residents regarding some ideas to reduce the waiting lists for the “prime” commuter parking lots; that is, the lots closest to the train platform; Lot 4 in Bedford Hills and Lot 1 in Katonah
Comptroller Abraham Zambrano who also heads the Town’s Parking Bureau presented data regarding the number of spaces and permits issued, location of the lots, waiting lists and other data.  He then outlined some of the ideas to reduce the waiting lists.   He also explained that the Town will be acquiring new software which will significantly improve our ability to track usage, provide flexibility in the type/duration of permits issued and enhance enforcement (e.g., vehicles parked without permits).  We then opened the floor to comments.  Residents who hold permits to the prime lots passionately urged the Board not to issue permits by hamlet, rather than parking lot.   There was support for moving holders of business permits in Lot 1 to Lot 2 on Katonah Avenue, however, there also was concern expressed that doing so would harm the businesses.  Some expressed interest in the idea of a “Commuter Council” to make recommendation to the Board regarding these matters.
Those holding the permits to the prime lots can be assured that we are not adopting a plan to issue permits by hamlet, so your permit is safe.  In addition, no significant changes will be taken in 2017.  As Mr. Zambrano explained, we are moving ahead with adding some parking spaces and offering permits to a limited number of individuals on the waiting list.  We will continue to keep you updated.
NOTES FROM JUNE 21 BOARD MEETING – SEWER PROJECT 
At a meeting devoted solely to discussing how we would allocate the limited capacity of the wastewater treatment plant, the Town Board on Wednesday evening had staff explain the policy regarding unallocated capacity.  As you may know, the Town will take over the WWTP as early as next year from the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (presently serving only the Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities).   After creation of the sewer system, which may be completed as early as Summer/Fall 2019, the WWTP will serve the central business districts of Bedford Hills and Katonah, the correctional facilities, Katonah Elementary School, property of St. Mary’s Church in Katonah and Bedford Park Apartments in Bedford Hills (together with a few other public buildings).   There will be remaining capacity of approximately 64,000 gallons per day (GPD).  As a point of reference, the average household would utilize approximately 400 GPD.   The Town Board will implement a sewer law governing everything from permissible waste to capacity allocation.
We had invited all property owners whose properties are along the planned sewer lines but not within the sewer district.  There were 18 such owners in attendance.  We heard concerns about the cost of connection and the timing of connection.   There also was concern expressed about being in non-compliance of Department of Health septic laws.
We emphasized that we are doing everything we can to move the project ahead expeditiously, which is the first phase in providing sewers to the most densely populated areas of the hamlets of Bedford Hills and Katonah (which, of course, are those with smaller lots and with septic systems more prone to failure).   We also assured property owners that the Septic System Repair and Maintenance Program has substantial funds remaining and is available for those who, under the policy, would be ineligible to connect to the system. Please see below regarding the program.
As part of the capacity allocation component, I will present to the Town Board at our July 6 the policy which we have been considering since last Fall and has been developed by staff, summarized as follows:
1. Sewer District Properties
Properties within the proposed sewer district will be permitted to use up to 15,000 gallons per day of uncommitted capacity on a first come/first served basis.
2. Out of District Properties
Residential or commercial properties outside the sewer district with cesspools or with failing septic systems and along a newly installed sewer main will be permitted to connect to the sewer main at the property owner’s cost on a first come/first served basis. These properties will be able to use up to 15,000 gallons of uncommitted capacity. Properties in this situation may utilize the Town’s Septic Reimbursement Program to pay for 50% of the cost to either connect to the sewer system or to repair a failed system.
3. Sewer Law Review
The newly enacted Sewer Law will include regulations governing the future connections to the sewer system. In this case, the law would specify the 15,000 gallon limits in items 1 and 2 above. The law will also determine estimates of sewer flow from newly connected uses, calculations for uncommitted capacity, application procedures and requirements, and costs and fees for future connections.
Review of the Sewer Law by the Town Board will be required for the following reasons, whichever first occurs:
A. Five years from the adoption of the original Sewer Law.
B. Sewer District properties using uncommitted capacity over 15,000 gallons per day.
C. Out-of-District properties using uncommitted capacity over 15,000 gallons per day.
In its review, the Town Board will be permitted to modify any of the initial capacity allocation requirements or any other provision of the law. Of course, the Board could conclude that no revisions would be required.
 
SEPTIC SYSTEM REPAIR AND REPLACEMENT PROGRAM
NOW THAT THE SUMMER HAS ARRIVED – PLEASE CONSIDER ATTENDING TO YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM: septic pump out – if you haven’t done it within the last five years, the law requires you do so.   And, if you have a problem with your system, please check out the Town’s Septic System Repair and Replacement program to deal with failing septic systems. The program allows Bedford property owners in the Croton Watershed (about 85% of the Town’s land area) for a 50% reimbursement of repair/replacement costs.  If you have a failing septic system, contact the Planning Department at 666-4434 for further information or visit our website.
SUPERVISOR’S NEWS & NOTES: UPCOMING DESIGN PHASE OF SEWER SYSTEM, REPLACING AN EXPIRING LOCAL LAW, INTRO. TO DEIRDRE COURTNEY-BATSON
Click here for the video
2017 PAVING
Please click here for the discussion of the Town’s paving policy and the list of roads to be paved in 2017. 
CALENDARS 
For the Community Events Calendar
For the Town Calendar
CONTINUING  POSTS
 
FOR THE SUPERVISOR’S MONTHLY REPORT (MAY) click here
ACTIONS AT JUNE 6 TOWN BOARD MEETING
 
Amendments to the Landlord Registry Law Adopted.  The Town Board had held a Public Hearing on May 16 to consider proposed amendments to the which requires owners of two-family and multi-family residential rental buildings to register with the Town Building Department, pay a fee for each unit that is covered and that each unit be inspected by the Building Department once every two years.  Following the Public Hearing the Town Board deferred action and allowed a public comment period through May 31.   No further comments were received and the Town Board, on recommendation of the Building Inspector and Town Counsel Keane & Beane, adopted the amendments.   The primary changes to the law are as follows:
  • Mixed Used Buildings Added   The amendment would add buildings which contain both commercial occupancy and at least one residential unit. It also clarifies that unoccupied rental units are subject to registration, fees and inspection requirements.
  • Inspections Every Three Years Rather Than Two         To coincide with the frequency required for fire inspections, the amendments would provide that the inspections are once every three years. Corresponding to the change, the registry fee would be paid at the time of the initial registration and every three years thereafter. In the current law, the registration / recertification fee must be paid every two years.
  • Owner Occupied Units Exempt from Fee       The amendment would exempt from payment of a registration fees units that are owner occupied or that are occupied by an owner’s immediate family (parents or children).
  • Staggering of Scheduled Filings   The Building Department would be authorized to stagger the scheduled recertification filings and inspections during the first two years the revised law is in effect. This will allow the inspections to be spread out over a three year period, rather than having to conduct all inspections in the same year.
  • Owner Responsibility for Arranging Inspections   Under the amendments, if an owner does not contact the Building Department to schedule inspections within the appropriate time, then they could be subject to penalties. Previously, it was unclear whether the Owner or the Building Department had the burden of scheduling inspections. The Building Department will continue to check to make sure that inspections are scheduled and conducted as required. The revised Local Law clarifies that the burden of scheduling inspections is on the Owners, rather than the Building Department.
Phase I Environmental Studies to Be Performed
Bedford Village Parking   The Town Board authorized a Phase I environmental review of property off of Court Road owned by The Presbyterian Church which the Town is interested in acquiring for municipal parking.
Open Space  The Town Board will consider a request to authorize a Phase I environmental review of property bounded by Route 172/Route 22, Crush Road and Country Kids Lane for possible acquisition for open space, as recommended by the Open Space Committee.
 
Town Board Approves Woodard & Curran for Sewer Project   The Board approved the engineering firm of Woodard & Curran for the design of the sewer system.  Commissioner of Public Works Kevin Winn provided the following statement to accompany this agenda item:
“On April 27, 2017 I issued a request for proposals (RFP) to eight engineering firms. The scope was for engineering services to design, obtain regulatory approval for, and bid the wastewater collection system and connection to the DOCCS wastewater plant. Proposals were due on May 24, 2017. Five proposals were received. The RFP, which is attached, stated that proposals would be evaluated based on equal weighting of:
· Firm qualifications, project team qualifications, and proposal quality
· Project cost and schedule
The cost proposals were broken into two parts:
A) A fixed fee to complete the scope described in the RFP and to submit applications to NYCDEP, WCDOH, NYSDOT, and MTA that are deemed complete applications by all agencies.
B) A budget to respond to agency comments after complete applications are acknowledged by the regulatory agencies, and obtain approval to construct. The budget was based on the firm’s experience with the regulatory agencies and will be negotiated between the Town and the firm once agency comments are received subsequent to complete applications being acknowledged.
The Town was fortunate to receive strong proposals from well qualified firms. Proposals were reviewed by the Sewer Working Group, consisting of Supervisor Chris Burdick, Deputy Supervisor Lee Roberts, Director of Planning Jeff Osterman, and myself. Interviews were held with the three firms deemed to have the highest in score. Cost proposals were:
Firm
Part A
Part B
Total
Dvirka and Bartilucci
 $  610,188
 $     47,996
 $658,184
Woodard and Curran
 $  483,974
 $     12,906
 $496,880
Obrien and Gere and Insite Engineering Team
 $  632,546
 $   262,677
 $895,223
Hahn Engineering and Arcadis Team
 $  780,300
 $     50,000
 $830,300
Delaware Engineering
 $  936,360
 $     22,270
 $958,630
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2017 Paving List Adopted The Town Board approved the recommendations of Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn.  I feel it’s important for the community to know the basis for the recommendations which Commissioner Winn makes each year.  Shortly after I came onto the Town Board in 2008, the Department of Public Works instituted a fair and equitable system for identifying the roads to be paved from year to year.  It is based on the condition of the road, with the roads in the worst condition to be paved first before they deteriorate further and result in far more costly paving.  Each Spring the DPW updates its assessment of the condition of all 97 miles of the paved Town roads, since roads deteriorate at different rates over the winter.   The condition assessment uses a rating system with 1 being in the best condition and 5 being the worst.   As a result of higher appropriation levels, we have been able to pave all roads rated at 4 and 5 and now are working away at a lengthy list of roads rated at 3.5. I recognize that this explanation is disappointing to those who resident on roads which they’d like paved. If at all possible, we will continue the higher appropriation levels so that we can get to those roads sooner than otherwise. Click here for the paving list for 2017 as set out in Commissioner Winn’s memorandum to the Board. As Mr. Winn notes: “These roads were selected based on their deteriorated conditions. Paving techniques will range from 1.5″ to 2″ of asphalt, varying based on road conditions.”
Sending a Message to Washington on Environmental Protection   The Town Board adopted a resolution supporting of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’s sail to Washington, D.C. to maintain clean water protections and other environmental protections.  The following is an excerpt from the resolution:  RESOLVED that the Town of Bedford hereby registers its deep concern over current rollbacks and threats to federal clean water protections as described above, affirms the need for sound, science-based water policy and for adequate regulation, enforcement and funding as pressure on water quality and safety continue to mount.  We also wish to express our support for the effort Clearwater is leading to carry our concerns and concerns of many New Yorkers for clean water and other environmental protections directly to Washington.  Click here for the resolution
Fee Schedule Change: the Board approved the recommendation to increase to $500 the annual permit fee for business parking fee for Lot 8.  
BEDFORD – A HORSE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY (updated)
Working with real estate brokers and some members of the horse community, we have developed FAQs for owners or prospective purchasers which we hope you’ll find helpful.  We’re also looking at possible revisions in the Town Code related to horses to make it easier for owners of horse properties.     Please click here for the “Horse Friendly Message,” the FAQ’s link is included in the message.
PLEASE CONSIDER HELPING OUR TOWN – Vacancies on Boards and Committees (updated)
Recreation and Parks Advisory (RPAC) Committee – for more information on the Committee click here.

The Town is also looking to fill a vacancy on the Tree Advisory Board (TAB) with preferably a certified arborist. For more information on the Board click here.

There is one vacancy on Committee on Seniors.  For more information on the committee click here.

There is a vacancy on the Blue Mountain Development Board and Bedford Housing Agency.
This Board and the Agency was created by the Bedford Town Board over thirty years ago to promote the creation of affordable housing stock. The Board has worked tirelessly with not for profits (such as A Home, Habitat for Humanity and ACE), religious institutions (such as Antioch Baptist Church), New York State and Westchester County.  Most recently Blue Mountain has been partnering with Antioch Baptist Church for the creation of 12 affordable housing units at the Church’s property on Railroad Avenue which the Church will be conveying to a separate not-for-profit corporation.   It has been a long standing practice for the Town Board to consult with its boards and commissions when vacancies arise, particularly for suggestions as to skill sets and experience desired.   In the case of Blue Mountain, the individual leaving the Board is an attorney, and it would be helpful to replace him as well with an attorney.

If you are interested in serving, please e-mail your resume with a cover letter to supervisor@bedfordny.gov.


LEAF BLOWERS

Several residents have expressed concern about the noise, dust and other impacts created by leaf blowers.   You may have seen letters to the editor of the Record Review advocating regulation of blowers.  A number of communities in Westchester County and in New York State have adopted local laws regulating blowers and other power equipment.  I would like to approach the matter in a deliberative manner in which all views are considered.  We need to listen and weigh all concerns; ranging from those who would ban the use of gas powered leaf blowers to those who want no hand of government in the matter.  Bedford 2020 has concerns about the significant emissions from gas powered leaf blowers and the topsoil which it carries away.  Residents complain about the noise.   On the other hand some homeowners object to the enactment of any local law which deprives them of choice in tending to their landscaping. Many landscapers are opposed to any regulation which adversely affects their livelihood or imposes significant capital outlays for new equipment.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be considering the means for a thoughtful and calm discussion with the community, landscapers and other interested parties regarding the matter.  I’ll keep you posted.
ALSO IN THE WORKS
We’re working with Bedford 2020 at ways to reduce the noise and pollution emanating from leaf blowers, especially gasoline powered blowers.  This may begin with recommended “Best Practices” for homeowners explaining how leaf blowers might be avoided altogether – better for your lawn and landscaping, better for the environment and easier on your and your neighbors’ ears. 
 
SO… IN THE INTERIM
FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR’S SAKE
Please consider your neighbor when you go to work with your lawn mower or weed whacker (or your lawn service uses them). We realize that your busy schedule makes it difficult to find time to get work done on your property. We all try to squeeze in time to do it. But please not too early and not too late. Our Town Code does not permit high noise activities, such as these, before 8 AM or after sunset.  

POLICE DEPARTMENT RENOVATION PROJECT
Work continues to progress on the renovation project for the Bedford Police Department headquarters. For detailed information from the construction manager, I invite you to review the executive summary byclicking here.
POTHOLE REPAIRS SEASON HAS OPENED
As to potholes you find in our Town roads, please call our Pothole Hotline at 666-7669 or feel free to contact me at 666-6530 or Supervisor@bedfordny.gov.
For potholes on state roads in our Town, such as Routes 22, 117, 121, 137 and 172 we would suggest that you call NYS’s pothole line at 1-800-POTHOLE.
ACQUISITION OF WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT FOR $1 MOVES FORWARD
As has been recently reported, the property owners in the Bedford Hills-Katonah Business Sewer District on March 30 approved a referendum for the creation of the district and a $1.1 million bond issue.   The sewer system will utilize the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) for the Bedford Hills correctional facilities.  The agreement between the Town of Bedford and DOCCS provides for conveying to the Town title to the WWTP, which has excess capacity and can accommodate the other properties in the district.   The procedure for conveying title is the enactment of a Home Rule Law by the NYS Legislature and signed by the Governor, which would authorize the conveyance.   This is the regular procedure which DOCCS has followed in other instances in which a municipality received land from DOCCS; for example, DOCCS conveyed land to Greene County to construct a County jail; and to Beacon for athletic fields.   Special thanks to Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn, Planning Director Jeff Osterman, DOCCS and especially State Senator George Latimer and State Assemblyman David Buchwald and their respective staffs for turning around very quickly the proposed law.  I also wish to thank Town Clerk Boo Fumagalli who is familiar with the process and has been handling the documentation.   Accordingly, the Town Board approved at the May 2 meeting the Home Rule Request for the enactment of S5786 & A7559 to vest authority to the commissioner of the NYS Office of General Services subject to the consent of the commissioner of the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Services to convey title to the Town of Bedford to approximately 9 acres of unappropriated state lands in Bedford Hills on which is located the wastewater treatment plant presently operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. 

2016 AUDIT REPORT
The Town’s financial operations for the year ended December 31, 2016.  Click here for the audited financial statements that have been prepared by PKF O’Connor Davies LLC.  In addition to the Town’s audited financials, click here for the results of the review of the Town’s Justice Court.   Among the highlights are that the Town spent less than the adopted 2016 budget and revenues in most areas were higher than budgeted, resulting in a substantial increase in General Fund balances (over $1.1 million) and in Highway Fund balances (over $400,000).   The Town Board adopted a policy last year which states in part “The Town of Bedford finances will be managed so as to maintain balances of the various funds at levels sufficient to mitigate current and future risks, such as revenue shortfalls, unanticipated expenditures, stabilization of tax rates and user fees, protection of the Town’s creditworthiness, and to provide for adequate cash flow needs.”    The General Fund balance now is at approximately 35% of 2017 budgeted expenditures and the Highway Fund balance at approximately 20% of 2017 budgeted expenditures.   The Town Board believes that such levels are responsible, prudent and not excessive. 

ALLIED COMMUNITY ENTERPRISES (ACE)
ACE, a local affordable housing organization, has received funding for a Septic Repair/Replacement Program.  ACE is led by Joan Arnold and has as its board members Katonah residents Don Scott and Betsy Weir.  This Grant is administered by ACE and funded by New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) to provide eligible homeowners with funding for septic repair/replacement. Grants are for systems that are in failure or failing, not for expansion.
Click here for Supervisor Chris Burdick’s letter explaining the program
Click here  for the link to the repair/replacement program

EMS AND FIRE DEPARTMENT LIFE MEMBERS VOLUNTEERS
I am pleased to report that the Town Board at its May 2 meeting adopted a policy to extend “free” pool membership to “life” members of each fire department and to the Katonah-Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
BEDFORD PLAYHOUSE UPDATE
Click here for the press release and photos
UPDATE ON PROPOSAL FOR BIKE PARK AT KATONAH MEMORIAL PARK
Several Katonah residents, both those favoring the proposal and those opposing it, have asked about the status and the process.   Ultimately, the Town Board will make the decision.  We follow a process and rely heavily on our staff and the Recreation Parks Advisory Committee (RPAC).   We have asked staff and RPAC to review the proposal together with comments and concerns raised.   Below are questions and concerns which have been raised and need to be addressed.  This will require time.  All interested parties will have an opportunity to address the Board at such time.
In answer to questions raised by those opposed to the proposal, I wish to assure you that we have received many valid and legitimate comments and concerns, and as detailed below from Recreation and Parks Superintendent Bill Heidepriem, they all will be considered and addressed.   In answer to questions raised by those supporting the proposal, even if the Board were to approve the proposal, the actual creation of the park would need to await the fall after the conclusion of the summer park season.    

Among points/questions to be considered: 

  • The appropriateness of this new park amenity in a hamlet park
  • Family Bike area size of 1 acre – it doesn’t seem big enough for the three areas and the potential number of users
  • “Good neighbor” impact
  • Traffic impact on Wildwood Road & neighbor concerns
  • Parking impact – new parking area and by the shelter
  • Insurance questions – rate increase, liability issues, additional requirements from our carrier
  • Storm water discharge from the shelter access road to the wooded area proposed for the family bike area
  • Trail walker vs bike ride – potential conflicts
  • Bikers going “off course” into undesignated areas of the woods as well as onto the trails
  • Supervision, monitoring concerns – who, how etc.
  • Impact to the environment – wooded area – trees – soils – habitat
  • Erosion concerns – down the hill 
Bike Area Trails:
  • Construction – who reviews and approves the design drawings?
  • Pump & Strider track material – Clay proposed – maintenance requirements, run off, etc.
  • What amount of money needs to be budgeted for yearly maintenance/repairs improvements etc?
  • Maintenance – need to better understand the maintenance requirements associated with the trails as well as perimeter area
  • Are there maintenance standards that exist?
  • What are the maintenance requirements?
  • Yearly
  • Seasonal
  • Weekly
  • Daily
  • Weather impacts:
  • Freeze/thaw
  • Heavy rains
  • Bike Area season – what is the season?
  • Teamster vs volunteer work
  • Staff impact
Other Options:
  • Within Katonah Memorial Park
  • Other Town Parks
  • Other Areas
NOTES FROM THE APRIL 18 TOWN BOARD
1.     Overhaul of Historic Building Preservation Law   The Town Board, following a well- attended public hearing with many presenting their views, adopted amendments to the Historic Building Preservation Law.  Each property owner subject to the law was mailed notice of the public hearing (and had previously been notified of public information sessions held last year and one held this year).  The amendments include adoption of a list of historic properties; reduction in the number of historic properties subject to regulation; reduction in the authority of the Historic Building Preservation Commission (the HBPC review authority is limited to the 258 properties in “Tier 1”), clear establishment of “as of right” activities (no historic approval required); a new administrative permit to cut time and expense; and plain English rewrites of several provisions of the law.   The Town Board also adopted a resolution for a partial rebate in building permit fees for historic work.   The following summarizes the changes adopted in the HBPL:
SCOPE & PROCEDURES PRIOR TO AMENDMENTS
NEW SCOPE & PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AMENDMENTS
Properties subject to HBPC review:      807
Subject to administrative permit only:     0
HBPC applications/year (average):        12
Properties subject to HBPC review:           258
Subject to administrative permit only:        349
HBPC applications/year (estimated):          5
Total number Historic Buildings:          807*
The law requires that all permit applications affecting any of these Historic Buildings be referred to the HBPC
Tier I:                                                        258 properties
  • As-of-right projects are defined and will require no application or review
  • Substantial alteration or demolition will be subject to HBPC review
Tier II –                                                   349 properties
  • Only demolition will require approval; approval will be by administrative permit (no HBPC review)
2.    Support for Installation of Replacement Fire Tower at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation   The Board adopted a resolution urging Westchester County to proceed with the largely community-funded effort to install a replacement fire tower a short distance for Pell Hill in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  The tower would provide a magnificent view of the tristate area, draw visitors and be a boon financially for the park and local businesses.  Click here for the resolution.
APRIL 20 UPDATE FROM THE TRAFFIC SAFETY WORKING GROUP COMMITTEE
1.  Update from DPW:
a.  Bedford Village Traffic Calming Measures Along Village Green – Kevin Winn gave an update. The design for the traffic calming measures has been approved. The existing crosswalk will be changed to a raised concrete block crosswalk that looks like brick. A speed hump is also set to be added near the church on the Route 172 side. Hahn Engineering drafted the design and presented it to the Bedford Village Historic District Review Commission. After some minor modifications, the plan was presented again to the commission and was approved. These measures are set to be implemented in summer 2017 and coincide with the paving in the Village Green area.
b. Haines Road/Bedford Road Crosswalk – Kevin Winn gave an update. NYS DOT has given its permission to place a rapid-flash beacon at the crosswalk. The beacon goes below the sign indicating the crosswalk. They are currently trying to secure funding.
c. Parkway/Katonah Avenue – Kevin Winn gave an update. The island on the east side of Parkway is slated to be extended out to create a “refuge island” in summer 2017. The northeast corner of the intersection has been changed to a parking spot. The parking spot idea has seemed to work better than the previous idea of placing flower baskets in the area. Don Scott reports that the spot is used frequently during the late morning and afternoon hours.
2.  Update from Police Department:
a.  Vehicle Weight Scales – Mel Padilla gave an update. A second set of scales has been acquired. There was a delay in the state certifying the scales; however, both sets are now ready to be deployed. One commercial vehicle detail has been scheduled each month between May and September. The officers will be checking for gross vehicle weight, in addition to other items such as uncovered loads and missing placards. The goal of these inspections is to reduce truck traffic in the hamlets and throughout the town. Don Scott brought up the local delivery only signs which are placed in certain locations in the town. Chief Padilla stated that the law, as written, is too ambiguous to enforce properly. Chris Burdick and Jeff Osterman will look at the previous research done on the signs and law and see if there are any improvements that can be made.
b. Speed Limit Enforcement on Route 172 – Mel Padilla gave an update. The last speed study was done in October 2016. This study found that the 85% of drivers were doing an average speed of 47 MPH on this stretch of road. Chief Padilla brought up that officers have mentioned that one side of the roadway is 35 MPH and the other side is 30 MPH. The same situation exists on Route 35. Kevin Winn said he would look into the signage and bring any inconsistencies to the attention of NYS DOT. A traffic study is currently being conducted now to see if there has been any abatement in speed in this area. Once the study is completed next week, the speed board will be deployed to this area as a short-term fix. A lengthy discussion followed regarding the feasibility of installing speed camera signs or actual speed cameras to deter speeding in the area. There were questions regarding the legality of doing so and Chris Burdick stated he would be able to gather more information on the topic. Don Scott mentioned that other municipalities such as Yonkers and New York City have successfully implemented cameras. He also mentioned that he would be including a question on the speed cameras on a survey he is planning to send to Katonah residents and would share the results.
GREAT NEWS – ALL OF I-684 RUNNING THROUGH BEDFORD TO BE PAVED 
I am delighted to share with you some great news.  In a follow up call with NYS Department of Transportation Regional Director Todd Westhuis, he reported that DOT in 2018 will proceed with the paving of I-684 from Harris Road to the Exit 5/6 interchange (at Route 35).   This is in addition to the funding which Assemblyman Buchwald helped secure for the portion from the Route 172 interchange to Harris Road which will be carried out in 2017.
     My thanks goes to the community for making your voices heard.  The petition drive, the letter writing, the phone calls, the lobbying, the work of our elected representatives collectively paid off.
Click here for the press release.
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF MARCH 30 SEWER VOTE – IT PASSES OVERWHELMINGLY
Property owners in the central business districts of Bedford Hills and Katonah voted yesterday on whether to create a sewer district and approve the issuance of $1.2 million in bonds toward the estimated $20.5 million to build the sewer system.
I am pleased to report that the referendum was approved by 94% of the vote with 97 voting yes and 6 voting no. Most gratifying is that 86% of the eligible votes were cast.
I wish to thank those who have made this possible, especially the strong support of my colleagues on the Town Board.  I also wish to thank our tireless staff with Planning Director Jeff Osterman and Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn doing a superb job in developing an affordable and intelligent plan, with the able assistance of our consulting engineers, Arcadis.  Thanks, too, to Town Clerk Boo Fumagalli and Deputy Town Clerk Nina Kellogg and the Election Inspectors who did an excellent job running the election and handling all the procedures, mailings, ballots and election rules.  Our counsel, Joel Sachs, and bond counsel, Doug Goodfriend, ably navigated us through the intricacies of New York State sewer law, election law and SEQRA.  Most of all, thanks to the voters who approved our moving ahead with this plan so crucial to protecting water quality and ensuring the vitality of our business districts.   Please see my March 31, 2017 Supervisor’s Report on next steps.
TOWN BOARD ACTIONS ON PARKING AT COMMUTER LOTS
The Town Board met on March 27 with Comptroller Abe Zambrano, who heads the Town’s Parking Bureau, to consider recommendations for the Town’s commuter lots, including strategies for reducing waiting lists at certain lots, a modest rate increase (there has been no increase since 2011) and a modest increase in the parking spaces.   There is a more detailed discussion in my March 31, 2017 report.

NEW FAIR & AFFORDABLE HOME OWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES IN WESTCHESTER
            Applications are now being accepted for more than 30 new, fair and affordable homes in Westchester. These homes are single-family properties and condominiums, ranging in size, from one to five bedrooms. All of the homes are in good condition and located in the following communities: Bedford, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Pelham Manor, Peekskill, Pound Ridge, Somers, and Yorktown. “The county is pleased to offer these homes at discounted prices to families that want to live in Westchester County, but may not have been able to afford it in the past,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “I urge anyone who is interested to apply to purchase these homes.”
            Westchester County purchased these homes at market value and is selling them at affordable prices to qualified individuals and families. The price for fair and affordable homes range $125,000 to $300,000.
Qualifications for buyers to purchase an affordable home include:
  • A  household income at or less than 80% of the Area Median Income for Westchester County:  $60,400 for a one-person household; $69,000 for a two-person household; $77,650 for a three-person household; $86,250 for a four-person household ; $93,150 for a five-person household.
  •  Households must also have savings for a down payment and closing costs, satisfactory credit, and incomes sufficient to carry the monthly mortgage payments.
            These 30-plus homes are among the 790 units that the county is developing in accordance with the 2009 housing settlement.  The settlement permitted the county to satisfy up to 25% of the required 750 units with existing housing.  The properties will remain affordable for 50 years.
   Information on each unit is available on the county’s Homeseeker website at www.westchestergov.com/homeseeker, where interested families can view the information, download the application and sign up to receive information on additional properties and open houses.
The county’s housing marketing consultant, the Housing Action Council (HAC), is handling the marketing of each unit. Rose Noonan, executive director of the HAC, said the available homes have a number of options for potential buyers, such as proximity to public transportation, amount of yard space, and communities with a pool or near a lake.
“There are also the condominiums with amenities and common areas cared for by management companies,” said Noonan. “Each home has its own style ranging from townhomes and flats to raised ranches to Cape Cod style and colonials.”
The HAC is a not-for-profit organization that helps the county identify and qualify prospective purchasers.  As a member of the New York Mortgage Coalition, the HAC also provides homeownership counseling and assists buyers through the mortgage approval process.
            The buyers will be selected through a lottery process. Applications will be accepted through April 24, after which public lotteries will be held for each property. Buyers can expect to be in their homes by the end of the year.
            For additional information about the homes and their communities, contact the HAC at (914) 332-4144 or hac@affordablehomes.org or go to http://homes.westchestergov.com/homeownership/homeseeker-opportunities.
FOR THE SUPERVISOR’S LATEST VIDEO WITH COMPTROLLER ABRAHAM ZAMBRANO 
S&P GLOBAL RATINGS – REAFFIRMS BEDFORD’S AAA BOND RATING
I’m pleased to inform you that S&P Global Ratings has assigned a AAA Bond Rating to the Town. Fewer than 3% of municipalities are awarded this coveted rating which has a direct impact on taxpayers by providing a lower rate of interest than those municipalities whose ratings are not as high.  We are delighted that we received on our $10 million bond issue to finance 2016 and 2017 Capital Projects a 3.078% interest rate, well below the 3.5% which Comptroller Abe Zambrano used for budgeting purposes.

TOWN BOARD ADOPTS RESOLUTION REAFFIRMING MORAL STANCE
The resolution referred to below has now also been posted in Spanish, for both the English and Spanish Versions – The Town Board adopted the resolution which I proposed setting forth the Town’s Moral Stance on Recent Events and Related Town Policies.  I am grateful to my colleagues on the Board for their unanimous support and for the community for their involvement in the discussion which led to the development of the resolution and its adoption.  I do wish to emphasize the need for understanding, tolerance and civility for all members of the community regardless of their background and viewpoints, as the resolution recognizes.  While the great majority of those in attendance at the Town Board meeting on March 4 at which the resolution was adopted, there were some opposed.  To paraphrase Voltaire, I may disagree with your viewpoint, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
LOOKING FOR AFFORDABLE APARTMENTS AND CARING LANDLORDS
“A safe and peaceful home is the dream of every domestic violence victim.
Hope’s Door has a wonderful opportunity to make their dream come true.
We received a 3-year grant award to provide rental subsidies for victims fleeing abuse.
During their subsidy period, we will work with victims to become economically self-sufficient. We have all the victims we need and all the funding we need. What we do need are reasonably-priced apartments with landlords who want to make a difference in the lives of victims and their children. Please help us. If you know any landlords that would be interested in partnering with us, please have them contact: Debbie Lauro Conn
Director of Community Services DLauroConn@HopesDoorNY.org
(914) 747-0828 x 1017.”
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2017 MOBILE SHREDDER EVENTS – MARK YOUR CALENDARS
The Town of Bedford is pleased to announce that in response to requests from members of the community, the Town is providing mobile paper shredder events in 2017:
  • September 16, and November 18 at the Town Recycling Center at 343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
At the event, a Mobile Shredding Trucks will securely destroy documents. The company’s customer service professionals never physically touch your documents so the entire process is “touch-free”. The company can shred paper, paper clips, rubber bands, staples and even the black clips. They cannot shred 3-ring binders, or anything that is non paper (CDs, tapes, DVDs, hard drives, etc…).  There will be no charge to residents for the service.
FIVE YEAR UNAUDITED FINANCIAL PROJECTION 2017-2021
Click here for our projections prepared by our Town Comptroller Abe Zambrano.

2016 ANNUAL REPORT NOW POSTED TO WEBSITE!
Please take a few minutes to review our 2016 Annual Report, which summarizes what your Town government did to serve the community in 2016.  You’ll find a department by department summary of continuing to provide a high level of service and highlights of improvements made. Click here.

CON EDISON PRUNING
Con Ed is pruning branches around power lines on the Mt. Kisco electrical loop, this week and next weather permitting.  Con Ed has notified the abutting residents. At present they are only pruning branches and there are no actual tree removals to be done. They have a wood chipper crew with them and they are removing debris as they go. However, Con Ed will be assessing the health of the trees as they proceed and there could be a request for actual tree take-downs.   The roads are: Bedford Rd; Valeria Ct; S. Beechwood Rd, Green La, Edna St,  Center St,  Norm Ave,  Mclain St, Springhurst Rd,  W. Patent Rd, Broad Brook Rd, Guard Hill Rd,  Darlington Rd Christopher Rd, Rock Gate Farm Rd, Letitia  La, Charles Rd,  S. Bedford Rd,  Old Wagon Rd,  Chestnut Ridge Rd, Linden La, Sarles St, Deer Knoll Rd.
MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (MAP)
A new program offered by the NY AG’s Office. The program will provide up to $40k to homeowners facing foreclosure due to delinquent mortgage payments, property taxes or Gmaintenance fees.  If they qualify, they do not need to pay it back monthly.  It is paid back if the homeowner refinances or sells the house over the life of the loan.   Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc. (WRO) is designated to process the application from their office.  Homeowners can call Veronica Raphael,
Director of Foreclosure Prevention to see if they qualify for this program.  914-428-4507 x334 or vraphael@wroinc.org.

LIMITED PARKING AT TOWN OFFICES DURING POLICE STATION CONSTRUCTION
Please be advised that during the renovation work at the Police Station, parking at both 425 Cherry Street and 321 Bedford Road will be limited.  Please note that starting on Monday, February 6, there will be “Resident Parking Only” for certain spaces in the parking lots.   We would also strongly recommend that if you need to visit the Town Offices, you consider doing so on a day other than when the Justice Court is in session.  For the Justice Court schedule and other information regarding parking, please click here.
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THREE MAJOR INTERSECTIONS IN KATONAH: ROUTES 35 AND 22, ROUTE 35 AND THE I-684 OVERPASS AND ROUTE 25 AND WOODBRIDGE ROAD
I have been working with Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and Police Chief Mel Padilla to address the danger posed with power outages knocking out the traffic lights at the three major intersections in Katonah: Routes 35 and 22, Route 35 and the I-684 overpass and Route 25 and Woodbridge Road.
As was recognized in the discussion of the outage, posting officers either to direct traffic or place flares in a multi lane highway with additional turning lanes in dark rainy/icing conditions is extremely dangerous (especially with some careless, heedless drivers disregarding the intersections and basic traffic law).
We are exploring other means of addressing the problem. Because there have been previous incidences of power outages at these locations, I have contacted NYSEG to ask what measures NYSEG is taking to “harden” the circuit which power the traffic lights. I have also asked whether there might be a “dual feed” whereby if one circuit goes down, another circuit might pick up the load. It’s not a likelihood, but I still felt I should ask. I also placed a call to the regional office of the NYS Department of Transportation to discuss our concerns, given that the traffic lights are owned by and the responsibility of DOT.
Most important is getting the traffic lights back into operation as quickly as possible. Given that FEMA did not grant our post-Sandy request for funding generators, we purchased them ourselves. The generators are portable and may be used in emergency situations throughout town. As such, the generators are not fixed in a given location but are transported from safe storage to where most needed. Commissioner Winn and Chief Padilla are instituting new procedures for mobilizing the generators more quickly. They are confident that doing so should significantly reduce the time that the traffic lights are out.
POLICE STATION RENOVATIONS  
            This is the second installment of the explanation of the project to renovate the station building to which there hasn’t been any significant work in over 30 years.  The $7 million project is comprised of the renovation of the lower level of the Town Offices at 321 Bedford Road to house the police department while the one-year renovation project is being carried out; the gut renovation of the station building; the removal of a portion of the adjacent building (known as the “Milk Building”) to allow room for an addition to the station building; and a second addition to the station building.   The following describes the improvements/renovations to the interior of the station building and the facilities to be housed in it with the additions:
  • Increased security measures will include electronic access control to secure areas and increased video surveillance of sensitive areas.
  • Locate Interview room in lobby to limit entry to the inner secure area of building.
  • Dedicated office space for sergeants to conduct their secondary duties and counsel officers under their command
  • Larger lockers for officers to accommodate all equipment and uniforms (current lockers are insufficient in size).
  • Location of lieutenant offices, detective division and records office to be consolidated into one area to facilitate efficiency of operations.
  • Conference area to be added for executive-level meetings as well as in-house emergency operations management center capabilities.
  • Classroom to be expanded and updated with modern A/V equipment.  This will give the ability to host regional training and reduce training costs for Bedford Officers.
  • Access to classroom from lobby to be added to limit unnecessary entry to the inner secure area of building.
  • Training area for defensive tactics and dynamic tactical training t. Having this capability will reduce scheduling and training overtime costs by conducting smaller trainings with on-duty officers.
  • Health and wellness area included for officers to stay in good physical condition; area will also include provisions for officers held overnight during inclement weather/emergency situations.
  • Larger evidence room to allow for appropriate secure storage in accordance with state accreditation requirements.
  • Secure prisoner intake to maintain the safety and security of the arresting officers and the defendant.
  • Centralized server room for all departmental IT and telecommunications equipment.
  • Secure enclosed space for weapons maintenance and storage
  • Garage for storage of specialty vehicles and equipment (UTV, Motorcycle, Message Boards, etc..)
  • Report writing, muster, and break areas combined and located near dispatch to facilitate communication between the oncoming and outgoing tour.
             Also the Better Business Bureau offers other Scam Alerts at https://www.bbb.org/council/news-events/lists/bbb-scam-alerts/
NYSEG ~ EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS UPDATE
To report an outage or an electrical emergency, please call us at 1.800.572.1131 or go to our Emergency Preparedness web page, “Outage Central,” at
 You can sign up for Outage Alerts to receive notifications regarding power outages and the estimated restoration time at  http://www.nyseg.com/YourAccount/AboutAlerts.html
 NYSEG urges customers to stay away from downed power lines – even lines that appear dead can be deadly. NYSEG customers should call 1.800.572.1131 to report downed power lines or other hazardous conditions.

DAILY PARKING RATE CHANGE 
Effective 1/2/17 the daily parking rate is $8 per calendar day
For more information on Parking Permits click here
TEXT MESSAGES FROM NYSEG AND CON EDISON -outages and emergencies
You can sign up for text alerts from NYSEG by going to http://www.nyseg.com/youraccount/aboutalerts.html  and from Con Edison by going to
http://www.coned.com/mobileapp/. In addition, here is some useful information if you need to contact either NYSEG or Con Edison. Both NYSEG and Con Edison encourage customers with special needs to enroll in special services for them.  “NYSEG is committed to providing their customers with safe, reliable energy delivery. They also offer many services for special need customers, including: Special Identification for households where everyone is elderly, blind or disabled. Large print, sight-saver Bills for visually-impaired customers.  Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grants  NYSEG’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) Project SHARE emergency energy assistance program. If you or someone in your household relies on life-sustaining equipment, you should contact NYSEG immediately! How to call NYSEG: Electricity interruptions or emergencies: 1.800.572.1131 (24 hours a day, every day) Customer relations center: 1.800.572.1111 Payment arrangements: 1.888.315.1755 Hearing and speech-impaired: Dial 711 (New York Relay Service)” Message from Con Edison: Customer Central Special Services Safety for Special Customers: It is important that we have a record of everyone who uses electrically operated life-support equipment or has medical hardships so we can contact them in an emergency. To learn more and complete the survey, please visit the link below. You can also let us know by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). Con Edison customers can enroll for this service by visiting www.conEd.com, clicking on Customer Central, and then the “special services” link. You will need your account number. To keep our records current, each year we send a letter asking you to recertify. http://www.coned.com/customercentral/specialservices.asp
Customers with Special Needs: We recognize that senior citizens and people with disabilities need special attention. That’s why we offer a variety of services and billing and payment options that make life a little bit easier for the elderly, visually or hearing-impaired, or customers with permanent disabilities. Please visit the link below to view the Customers With Special Needs brochure. http://www.coned.com/customercentral/specialservices.asp

SMOKE & CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
 I would like to take this opportunity to urge residents to check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
CON EDISON
Warns Customers Not To Fall for Scam Callers
Refer Suspicious Calls to Police or 1-800-75CONED
NEW YORK – Con Edison is warning customers not to fall for scams in which a caller threatens a service turnoff unless the customer purchases a pre-paid card or arranges for a transfer via MoneyGram to pay a bill.
These callers are not from Con Edison and Con Edison does not accept payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards, or by MoneyGram or similar transfers.
The company has recently seen a spike in reports from customers who were contacted by the scammers. Con Edison believes the scammers are calling customers randomly, not targeting just those who owe back payments. The company has received complaints from residential and business customers.
The scammers sometimes even tell the customer about a store near the customer’s home that sells pre-paid cards. The scammer instructs the customer to pay cash to put money on the card and to then provide the number on the card to the person who called.
Once the customer provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money on the card.
There have even been reports of these scammers making a Con Edison phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID.
With MoneyGram, scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. The money goes into someone else’s bank account or is available for the receiver to pick up in cash.
Be alert if anyone asks you by telephone to arrange for pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer as payment for your bill, or to send money to an out-of-state address. Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to a Con Edison representative.
Anyone who feels they may have been a target of an impostor or a payment scam should call their local police department. They may also call Con Edison at 1-800-75CONED.
Con Edison’s website, http://www.coned.com/customercentral/managemybill.asp, offers a variety of approved and convenient options for bill payment.
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT   
Over the last couple of years, I have brought together about quarterly the chiefs of our fire departments and the president of the Katonah Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps to discuss matters of mutual concern. Results of some of the last couple of meetings was the Town agreeing to assume the expense of a larger monitor and certain other improvements to the OEM center housed on the second floor of the Bedford Hills Fire House. In addition, we have discussed ways to reduce false alarms which result in unnecessary deployment of emergency forces and unnecessary charges to property owners.
TO SIGN-UP FOR NIXLE ALERTS
POW-MIA FLAG NOW BEING FLOWN ON ALL TOWN OF BEDFORD FLAGPOLES
In 1990 a federal law was enacted which recognized the National League of Families POW/MIA Flag which identified it “as a symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.”   The flag has become a symbol for prisoners of war and those missing in action from all American wars.  Joining the Westchester County and other Westchester municipalities, I have directed that the POW/MIA flag be flown on all Town of Bedford flagpoles.   This began on Monday, December 5.
A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week.   I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it.    In response to the comment, however, you will see that I’ve divided the newsletter into two sections “New Posts” and “Continuing Posts”.   Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review.    I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I’ve not only changed format but added content based on them (for example, why the flags are flow at half-mast). 

Mortgage rates average 4.14% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average mortgage rates dropping for the second consecutive week.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.14 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 30, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 4.23 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.71 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.39 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.44 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.18 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.24 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.90 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quote
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“The 10-year Treasury yield remained relatively flat this week. The 30-year mortgage rate fell 9 basis points to 4.14 percent, another significant week-over-week decline. Despite recent mortgage rate fluctuation, new home sales far exceeded expectations in February and jumped 6.1 percent to an annualized rate of 592,000.”

Average Boston-area rent falls for the first time in almost 7 years | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Boston, Mass - 06/20/2016 - Construction workers work on the Pierce apartment under construction at corner of Boylston and Brookline Streets in Boston, Mass, June 20, 2016. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)

After years of going up, rents in Boston’s super heated real estate market may have finally reached a peak.

Data released Thursday show that apartment rental prices fell slightly at the end of 2016 — the first drop since 2010 — amid a surge of new buildings that have opened in Boston and neighboring cities such as Cambridge, Chelsea, and Somerville.

The decline was modest, just 1.7 percent — or $36 a month on the average lease of $2,038, according to the rental-tracking firm Reis Inc. But it was the latest and clearest sign that the flood of construction in Boston is putting a lid on prices, at least at the upper end of the market.

“When you put that much supply on the market, you’re going to disrupt the equilibrium,” said Sue Hawkes, chief executive of Collaborative Cos., a real estate marketing firm in Boston. “That’s what’s happening.”

During the first nine months of 2016, more than 5,100 apartments, most renting for top dollar, opened in the heart of the Boston area. Another 7,200 are under construction in Boston alone, according to city figures.

While rents may no longer be uniformly escalating, city apartments remain unaffordable for many people, something unlikely to change over the next few years.

Only New York City and San Francisco have higher average rents than Boston.

Still, the expanding supply of rental units is clearly having an effect on the balance of supply and demand, according to Hawkes.

That means renters —at least well-heeled ones — can be choosers for a change.

To woo tenants, some landlords of new luxury buildings are offering free rent for a month or more, covering brokers’ fees and dangling gift cards or other goodies in front of prospective tenants.

But those kinds of perks aren’t available to the majority of renters, especially outside of the immediate Boston area. In parts of the region where there hasn’t been as much construction, rents continue to climb — in some places, far faster than in the market as a whole.

In Malden, for instance, rents are up 5 percent over the last year, according to separate data from the website ApartmentList.com.

Rents in Allston/Brighton and Mission Hill have climbed about 8 percent over the same period, said Ishay Grinberg, president of the Somerville-based website RentalBeast.

“People are getting priced out of downtown,” Grinberg said. “But all it’s doing is pushing rents up higher in areas that may have been slightly less desirable a couple of years ago.”

Over the last year, large apartment buildings have opened up in Chelsea and Quincy, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester. In Brighton, a wave of new projects is getting underway, and renting at a brisk clip.

In November, Hamilton Co. opened a 49-unit building on Malvern Street in Allston, with two-bedroom units starting at $2,500 a month — less than half the going rate at new complexes in the Seaport District. It was nearly full in a week.

“That’s a very good sign for a working-class building,” said Hamilton’s president, Carl Valeri.

But the demand is also leading to a surge in land and construction prices in Boston’s outer neighborhoods. That’s putting financial pressure on projects that are aiming for a modest price point. If developers believe they won’t hit their projected rents when they open in two years, they might pull back on construction projects, said Travis D’Amato, a broker who specializes in multifamily investments at the real estate firm JLL.

“We are at an inflection point in the market,” D’Amato said. “If construction costs continue to rise and rents don’t continue to rise, we could see some slowdown in development.”

So far, there’s little evidence of that happening.

A number of major projects in outlying neighborhoods — such as the 650-unit Washington Village development near Andrew Square — are poised to get underway later this year.

More proposals, such as a plan to build 680 graduate student-oriented apartments on the grounds of St. Gabriel’s Monastery in Brighton, are going through the city’s approval process.

If those projects come to fruition, rents should eventually flatten in the outlying neighborhoods, just as they appear to be doing downtown, said Sheila Dillon, the city’s housing chief.

“What’s playing out is, really, exactly what we want,” Dillon said. “We want to see investors continue to build housing, and that’s taking pressure off the existing housing stock.”

Meanwhile, the market for high-end living downtown will soon face more tests.

Two huge rental buildings, 832 units in all, are set to open this spring in the Seaport.

In addition, a 585-unit complex in the South End is under construction, and a 45-story apartment tower is planned to break ground soon atop the Government Center Garage.

Builders who have recently launched downtown apartment projects say they’re not worried. Avalon North Station, a 38-story tower that opened in November, has leased 85 of its 503 units. That’s an impressive showing, especially during the holidays, said Scott Dale, senior vice president of development for the developer, Avalon Bay.

read more…

 

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/01/05/average-boston-area-rent-falls-for-first-time-almost-years/2JMoK39bFND08wKhQT2BnM/story.html?s_campaign=email_BG_TodaysHeadline&s_campaign=

U.S. new home sales jump to four-month high | Bedford Hills Real Estate

New U.S. single-family home sales rose more than forecast to a four-month high in November, likely as expectations of higher mortgage rates drew buyers into the market.

Other data on Friday showed consumer sentiment holding at near a 13-year high this month as Americans anticipated that a stronger economy would create more jobs.

The Commerce Department said new home sales increased 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units last month.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast single-family home sales, which account for about 9.5 percent of overall home sales, rising 2.1 percent to a 575,000-unit rate last month.

New home sales, which are derived from building permits, are volatile on a month-to-month basis and subject to large revisions. Sales were up 16.5 percent from a year ago.

Separately, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index edged up to a reading of 98.2 from 98 earlier this month. That was the highest reading since January 2004.

The U.S. dollar .DXY pared gains and was trading lower against a basket of currencies after the data. Prices of U.S. Treasuries were trading higher while U.S. stock indexes were mixed.

Mortgage rates have been rising rapidly in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, which economists say could be pulling procrastinators into the market in fear of further increases in borrowing costs.

Trump’s plan to boost infrastructure spending and cut taxes is expected to stoke inflation. A report on Wednesday showed sales of previously owned homes rose to near a 10-year high in November.

INVENTORY RISE

Since the election, the interest rate on a fixed 30-year mortgage has increased more than 70 basis points to an average of 4.30 percent, the highest level since April 2014, according to data from mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rates are likely to rise further after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark overnight interest rate last week by 25 basis points to a range of 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent. The U.S. central bank forecast three rate hikes for next year.

Higher borrowing costs come at a time when house price increases are outstripping wage gains, which could make purchases unaffordable for many first-time buyers.

 

read more…

 

http://www.marketbeat.com/stories.aspx?story=http%3a%2f%2ffeeds.reuters.com%2f~r%2freuters%2fbusinessNews%2f~3%2f96u5-iu_kio%2fus-usa-economy-idUSKBN14C1NI

Homeownership Rate Edges Up | Bedford Hills Real Estate

According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate rose to 63.5% in the third quarter 2016, reversing the downward trend of homeownership rate nationwide. It is 60 basis points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2016, which is largely driven by the increase in the millennial and 65+ homeownership rates.

Compared to the peak at the end of 2004, the homeownership rate has steadily decreased by 5.7 percentage points and remains below the 25-year average rate of 66.2%.
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The millennial homeownership rate increased by 1.1% after reaching its own historically lowest level of 34.1% in the second quarter 2016. It suggests that millennials are gradually returning to the housing market.

Compared to a year ago, homeownership declined among all age groups except for those ages 35 to 44 and over 65 since a year ago. The homeownership rate for 44-45 age group decreased from 69.9% in the third quarter of 2015 to 69.1%, which is the largest drop among all age groups.

slide2

The nonseasonally adjusted homeowner vacancy rate remained low at 1.8% in the third quarter 2016. At the same time, the national rental vacancy rate held at 6.8%, around the historical lowest level ever since 1990s.
slide3

The HVS also provides a timely measure of household formations – the key driver of housing demand. Although it is not perfectly consistent with other Census Bureau surveys (Current Population Survey’s March ASEC, American Community Survey, and Decennial Census), the HVS remains a useful source of relatively real-time data.

The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the number of households increased to 118.6 million for the third quarter 2016. This is 1.2 million higher than a year ago and sustains gains recorded at the end of 2015. Growth in household formations will spur rental housing demand first, and ultimately, home sales.

read more…

 

http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/10/homeownership-rate-edges-up/

Builder Confidence Remains Solid in October | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes remained on firm ground in October, declining two points to a level of 63 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

hmi_oct

Despite the decline, the HMI now stands at its second-highest level in 2016, a sign that the housing recovery continues to make solid progress. However, builders in many markets continue to express concerns about shortages of lots and labor. Mortgage rates remain low and the HMI index measuring future sales expectations has been over 70 for the past two months. These factors will sustain continued growth in the single-family market in the months ahead.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Two of the three HMI components posted losses in October. The component gauging current sales conditions dropped two points to 69 and the index charting buyer traffic fell one point to 46. Meanwhile, the index measuring sales expectations in the next six months rose one point to 72.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/10/builder-confidence-remains-solid-in-october/

Mortgage rates average 3.54% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates increasing to their highest level since late June.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.54 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending November 3, 2016, up from last week when it averaged 3.47 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.87 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.84 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when they averaged 2.78 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.09 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.87 with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.84 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.96 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quote
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“A jump last week in the PCE — the price index tracked most closely by the Fed — raised the prospect that inflation might not be completely dead after all. Investors reacted by driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury to its highest point since June. The 30-year mortgage rate jumped 7 basis points to 3.54 percent, the largest 1-week increase in over six months.”

New York requires maintenance of zombie homes | Bedford Hills Real Estate

The state of New York is taking its fight against zombies homes to the next level, as the state announced a series of new regulations for mortgage lenders and servicers that aim to hold the companies “accountable” for the maintenance of abandoned foreclosures.

Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed what the state called “sweeping” legislation to reform the state’s foreclosure process and address the state’s issues with zombie homes.

The state’s new laws impose a pre-foreclosure duty on banks and servicers to maintain zombie homes, creates an electronic registry of abandoned properties, and expedites foreclosure for vacant and abandoned properties to get them back on the market, among other requirements.

Cuomo’s office announced Tuesday what lenders and servicers will be required to do under the new laws and what punishment the companies will face if they don’t comply.

According to Cuomo’s office, the New York Department of Financial Services proposed a new regulation that mandates lenders and mortgage services report vacant and abandoned properties, in accordance with the state’s new laws.

Under the state’s new laws, lenders and mortgage servicers must complete an inspection of a property subject to delinquency within 90 days and must secure and maintain the property where the bank or servicer has a reasonable basis to believe that the property is vacant and abandoned, the NYDFS said.

Additionally, lenders and mortgage servicers will now be required to report all vacant and abandoned properties to the NYDSFS and submit quarterly reports detailing their efforts to secure and maintain the properties and any foreclosure proceedings.

According to the announcement, if the NYDFS determines that an abandoned or vacant house not “properly maintained” by the lender or mortgage servicer, the NYDFS will “exercise its authority” to hold the bank or mortgage servicer “accountable.”

According to the NYDFS, that means that lenders and servicers will face a civil penalty of $500 per day per property for violations of the new regulations.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York passed groundbreaking ‘zombie’ legislation that will provide real relief to communities all across the state,” NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said. “DFS will take necessary and appropriate action to make sure this law is followed and those responsible are held accountable.”

These new laws and regulations aren’t the only steps undertaken recently by New York in its fight against zombie homes and neighborhood blight.

In July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a new program that will help New York’s city governments track and address zombie homes in their respective cities.

According to Schneiderman’s office, the Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative will provide $13 million in grants to local governments to fight zombie homes.

And earlier in July, New York City announced plans to launch a “first of its kind” program to buy a number of delinquent loans from the Federal Housing Administration as part of an effort to keep struggling homeowners from losing their homes to foreclosure.

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/38149-new-york-announces-new-requirements-for-maintenance-of-zombie-homes?eid=311691494&bid=1541935

Riskiest areas see fewer homes insured as premiums rise | Bedford Hills Real Estate

As Florida and the Carolinas begin digging out from the from the record flooding and high winds that Hurricane Matthew delivered over the weekend, thousands of homeowner insurance claims are sure to follow.

The Consumer Federation of America, a Washington D.C.-based consumer advocacy group expects about 100,000 homeowners to file damage claims for as much as $7.5 billion from the Category 3 storm, though well short of the record claims made from the most severe storms such as Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Andrew, where damage claims were more than $100 billion.

But if it turns out that fewer-than-expected insurance claims will be filed for damage, it may not just because Hurricane Matthew was a less-powerful storm than expected, it may be because far fewer homeowners are carrying property insurance.

That’s the analysis from Trulia.com, a San Francisco-based real estate research firm, which looked at homeowners’ insurance rates in some of the most hurricane-prone regions of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, the so-called southernmost “Hurricane Alley” states comprised of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The study also looked at Gulf Coast insurance rates including Texas. Hurricane insurance is often supplemental, but is typically required by mortgage lenders if the home is located in a storm-prone market like Florida.

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Overall, the U.S. Census noted that in 2014, 94.7% of homeowner households that had outstanding mortgage obligations had property insurance. The property insurance rate however dropped to 75.5% of those homeowner households that did not have any mortgage.

While property insurance is typically required by banks to protect their investment while the mortgage is being paid, Trulia’s data shows that many homeowners are dropping insurance once the mortgage is extinguished, primarily due to cost.

The percentage of Miami households reporting that they had homeowners’ property insurance fell to 78% in 2014 down from 90% in 2006, according to U.S. Census data cited by Trulia. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., saw the steepest drop in insured homes, to 79% in 2014 from 92% in 2006, Trulia said.

Nationally, the number of insured homes fell to 89.2% from 94.1% eight years ago. Almost all major southeastern U.S. metros had insured rates below the national average, Trulia said.

On a national basis, Trulia noted that premiums have climbed on average more than 28%, with 10 of the 25 most expensive markets for homeowners insurance in the Southeast.

 

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Sales of previously owned homes decline | Bedford Hills Real Estate

United States Existing Home Sales  1968-2016 

Sales of previously owned houses in the United States declined 0.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5330 thousand in August of 2016. It is the second consecutive decline, missing market expectations of a 1.1 percent gain. Sales of single family homes shrank 2.3 percent which those of condos increased 10.5 percent. The average price fell 1 percent and the months’ worth of supply went down to 4.6. Existing Home Sales in the United States averaged 3868.24 Thousand from 1968 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 7250 Thousand in September of 2005 and a record low of 1370 Thousand in March of 1970. Existing Home Sales in the United States is reported by the National Association of Realtors.

United States Existing Home Sales
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http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/existing-home-sales