by Susan Mikula Campbell
Monday's Wheatfield Town Board meeting showed that residents remain skeptical about plans for the Captain's Way subdivision off Shawnee Road.
Partners in the proposed development, David Burke of Burke Homes and David Pawlik of CSS Construction, emphasized again at the public hearing on rezoning for the project, that they have no connection with the former Church at Shawnee Landing, other than they plan to purchase the property from the church.
Pawlik said they had received some "bizarre" comments and questions about the proposed development recently.
The developers are planning to build 13 single-family homes on Captain's Way and two commercial buildings on Shawnee Road.
"With everything that has occurred in the past, it is difficult for us neighbors to believe this," said town resident Cozette Bayer.
"We've been burned twice, that's why we're asking questions," explained Councilman Larry Helwig after the developers spent more than 30 minutes answering questions.
Helwig referred both to the Planned Parenthood building on Williams Road, which was supposed to be a medical complex, and to the Church at Shawnee Landing property, which was supposed to be a church and recreation center, but low income housing was built first.
One resident asked if the businesses could include a "gentleman's club," and another feared picketers in his neighborhood as there was at Planned Parenthood.
"There's not going to be a gentleman's club, or even a ladies club," said Pawlik, noting that such things are not what the people who would be purchasing the single-family homes want. "We're not there to lose money."
Resident Don Wallace said his concern was the already busy traffic along Shawnee Road.
The developers said entry to the businesses would be off Captain's Way and that the businesses were expected to cause less traffic than the church would have.
Councilman Gil Doucet was concerned about the planned water detention pond in the development due to the large number of children living nearby.
Pawlik said it was designed only for water flow. "It's not a fishing hole; 90 percent of the time, it's just dry."
The developers said they would have no problem with rezoning the Captain's Way portion of the property from R-3, which allows multi-family housing, to R-1, which only allows single-family housing. They are seeking to have the zoning on the portion of the property bordering Shawnee Road changed from R-3 to C-1 for two commercial buildings that would be one or two stories tall.
Supervisor Bob Cliffe suggested that the developers talk with town officials about Wheatfield's rural neighborhood business zoning, which is more restrictive, requiring small-scale commercial development appropriate to neighborhoods.
No action was taken on the rezoning, because the State Environmental Quality Review Act environmental impact study has yet to be completed. The earliest rezoning action can come before the board for a vote is Oct. 10.
In other matters:
•The board approved a five-year contract for library services with the North Tonawanda Library. The library had threatened to ban Wheatfield residents from using its services without extra funding from the town, asking for $150,000 per year. Library officials argued that the large number of town residents using the library was unfair to city residents who are separately taxed for its budget. They said the town provides 16 percent of the library's users, but funds only 3 percent of the library's budget.
Wheatfield currently budgets $45,000 for the library. Under the new contract, that would increase to $65,000 in 2012, $85,000 in 2013, $105,000 in 2014, $125,000 in 2015 and $150,000 in 2016.
•Councilman Art Gerbec suggested that the board take another look at possible term limits.
The board previously did not approve a proposal by Cliffe after he was elected to increase the supervisor's term of office from two years to four years and set a limit of two terms.
"I am still very much in favor of that," Cliffe said, noting that a referendum could be set to let residents decide.
•Doucet asked that 35 mph speed limit signs be put on Church Road near Town Hall and that the sheriff's deputy assigned to the town be stationed there on Tuesday court nights.
"It seems like our judges are making the people so happy they're leaving real quick," Doucet said, adding that some residents have volunteered their driveways for the deputy to use.
•Arlene Mante, senior director, reported that the seniors baked cookies for the Adams, Bergholz and St. Johnsburg volunteer fire departments.
"It was really nice to honor the firefighters for all the work they do," Mante said, adding that the cookies were quickly devoured.