Unbeknownst to the Village of Lewiston Planning Board at the time of its Oct. 11 meeting, the Tops Xpress proposal presented that night to members was essentially in keeping with the village code. Upon learning that, the Planning Board held a special meeting Monday, prior to the Village Board's monthly session, and approved the idea.
The Planning Board had previously sent the project to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which meets on Nov. 9.
After seeing the Tops Xpress proposal on Oct. 11, Planning Board members told DiMino the project would definitely need a sign variance from the ZBA, it might require a parking variance, and it would also need a special use permit allowing for the sale of gas in a B-1 (general business) zoning district.
Following that meeting, the Village of Lewiston Clerk's Office informed Planning Board members that the mart has enough parking spaces and the gas station's previous special use permit was already extended.
Village trustees also OK'd the Tops Xpress project, giving Lewiston Tops owner Anthony DiMino the green light to begin refurbishing the former Crown Mart gas station at 845 Cayuga St.
"Mr. DiMino, you're in business," Mayor Terry Collesano said.
The Planning Board and the Village Board both signed off on exterior changes to the new Tops Xpress location. Modifications include the installation of new windows in pre-existing openings and the replacement of the building's doors.
Proposed signs will still need a variance from the ZBA.
DiMino previously said the Tops Xpress would ideally open by March 2011.
Both the Planning Board and the Village Board also approved a 238-square-foot addition to Collesano's Olde Time Barbershop on Center Street. The mayor plans to add a third chair to his shop, and a waiting area overlooking the Binational Peace Garden in the Lewiston Courtyard.
Festivals Breaking the Bank?
In his monthly report, Village of Lewiston Police Commissioner Al Soluri informed trustees the preliminary police budget for next year is $50,000 higher than the current budget. The total police expenditure is hovering around $1.4-$1.5 million right now. The village is responsible for 23 percent of that total.
"It's getting quite expensive," Soluri said, adding, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that's how it looks."
He revisited this subject when the topic of street closings came up later on in the meeting.
On the board's agenda was a request by the Lewiston Garden Club to close Center Street, from Fourth to Fifth streets, for the GardenFest on June 25-26, 2011.
"You've got to start looking at what this is costing the taxpayers," Soluri said. "We got along all those years without closing Center Street. We close Center Street on a whim these days."
Since taking office in July, Soluri has regularly informed trustees of the safety costs related to Lewiston police officers manning the streets both for events at Artpark and for Center Street-area festivals. Overtime costs for these activities topped the $10,000 mark.
Collesano said the village is looking to work with the Town of Lewiston on a new police contract.
With regard to GardenFest, Garden Club member Claudia Marasco said the street is preferred because it's difficult for vendors to set up products on the sidewalks and hard for patrons to navigate their way around uneven elevations, fire hydrants, benches and other obstructions. Moreover, holding the event in Academy Park would pull people away from the open gardens on display further up in the village.
Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland questioned the logic of assigning outside food vendors a spot directly in competition with village eateries, as has been the case with festivals in the past. The board and members of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce have also sought ways to overcome festival dead air. In other words, what happens when the festivals end at 5 or 6 p.m. and the streets are still closed?
"Let's discuss this a little further," Collesano told Marasco.
Trustees tabled the GardenFest request.
News and Notes