by Terry Duffy
The Town of Porter Town Board met and heard it from residents Monday on the contentious boat and RV storage issue on private properties.
"The town is here to listen to your comments," opened Porter Supervisor Mert Wiepert.
And did they ever.
Over the course of nearly one hour, more than a dozen residents spoke. Comments varied; some decidedly against the measure, some favored it, still others felt it could be improved.
Posted on the town's website, the proposal reads:
"Amending Article V paragraph 80 of the Town of Porter Law related to the storage of Recreational Vehicles/Utility Trailers in the Town of Porter
"80 - Storage of Boats, Trailers and Recreational Vehicles.
"A. One Boat and boat trailer, utility trailer, camp trailer or recreational vehicle not exceeding 30 feet in length may be stored on front yard no closer than 20 feet to the nearest road right of way during the period April 15 through Oct. 30. Any boat and boat trailer, utility trailer, camp trailer or recreational vehicle to be stored in a front yard must have a current registration issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or other New York State Department as required by law. One additional boat and trailer, utility trailer, camp trailer or recreational vehicle not exceeding 30 feet in length may be stored on rear or side yards and must have a current registration issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or other New York State Department as required by law. This limitation shall not apply to trailers for use in agricultural and livestock activities in areas zoned Rural Agricultural and Low Density Residential on lots of five acres or more."
At times, the hearing appeared to pit residents of one area against another. Disagreements on the visuals or aesthetics of boat storage were heard. So too were grumblings on the impact of housing values.
Many suggested the town should just revert to the older versions of the law, those dating prior to the latest adopted zoning code, from 1983, even from 1968. Still others called for the town to better word its latest proposal.
"It sounds like a very good rule for people in a rural setting," said resident Marge Stratton, who suggested the law be sectionalized to apply to certain areas - one for medium density neighborhoods such as Youngstown Estates, Collingwood, Youngstown and Ransomville and another to cover the rural balance that comprises the rest of the town.
Many expressed their approval in favor of that plan.
Attorney F. Warren Kahn, a longtime resident of Youngstown Estates, commented that permitting the parking of boats in front of properties "creates a nuisance," impacts housing values and goes against the intents of the town's master plan.
Youngstown Estates resident Peter Macki agreed, saying the town needs to realize there's a big difference with boats in medium density neighborhoods. "We have to recognize we have medium density (and) rural areas," here.
Former town Supervisor Tom Beachy commented that changing the law as proposed would make Youngstown Estates "look like a marina."
And Youngstown Estates resident George Spira, who serves as Planning Board chair for the town, joined his wife, Joan, in voicing their disfavor to the latest proposal. In fact, he said, recent "changes in the zoning manual were just not the right way to go." He suggested the town might want to revert to the '68 law, one that had greater restrictions on boat and RV storage in medium density neighborhoods like his.
Not everyone was on the same page with those arguments, however.
Boat owner and resident Jim Caprio, who has spoken out at earlier Town Board sessions in support of permitting storage on private properties, called the latest proposal unfair and inconsistent. "It targets some, but not others," said Caprio.
Lockport Road resident Mike Muchowski, another returning speaker, likewise said he viewed the measure as having the wishes of some put on all residents of the town. "This law is the influence of others trying to impose their views on others." The resident said he felt it would be more effective if it was shaped to apply to certain areas.
And Youngstown Estates resident Pat Gray, yet another returning speaker, voiced support for the latest law, telling the board that boat storage has not impacted housing values. "Four properties sold in Youngstown Estates over the past month, all with boats. Where's the impact?" Gray asked.
As comments ended, Wiepert suggested keeping the public hearing process open. "The choice is yours, keeping the public hearing open will allow comments to continue," said Town Attorney Mike Dowd. He suggested the Town Board and Planning Board continue to accept input as both boards consider the issue and that any updates could be posted on the town's website.
The board ended doing just that with no action taken on the amendment that night.
In news from the regular meeting that followed:
•The town approved a $1,499 repair for the outside Justice Court entrance at Town Hall, with work to be performed by Dave Webb Concrete at prevailing wages.
•Supervisor's assistant/ town bookkeeper Norm Ault informed he completed renewal of the annual bond anticipation note for $166,000, covering water line improvements, with HSBC Bank at 1.85 percent interest.
•Town Highway Superintendent Scott Hillman said the town would be seeking reimbursements from damages incurred from the April windstorm that swept the area. The town would be conducting field assessments over the next two months to assess damages.
•Hillman and town engineer Dave Britton reported they were working on a corrective action plan to address drainage problems at a Brentwood Drive residence that were aired at last month's meeting.
•The town announced that a public informational meeting on the Porter on the Lake master plan, presented by Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers, would take place Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m. in Porter Town Hall.
•The board referred to the Town Cable Commission a letter received from Time Warner Cable, informing the town of TW's intent to seek renewal of its cable franchise contact that expired on July 5, 2011. Other than comments heard from Councilman Joe Fleckenstein, a Cable Commission member, on the lack of new cables installed in the town by TW, no action was taken.