Wheatfield considers changes in public hearingsby jmaloni
by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Wheatfield Town Board on Monday held three public hearings before getting its regular meeting under way.
The first hearing involved rezoning that would allow a carwash behind the Bailly's convenience store and gas station on the northeast corner of Shawnee and Lockport roads. The other hearings involved an update to the town's master plan and a proposal for an airport overlay district.
The Town Board went on to OK the rezoning for the carwash. Colby Smith, chief executive officer of Colby Development, said the 1.9-acre property on which the business is located is zoned commercial for 1.6 acres. The rest is rural residential. The change allows about 0.9 acres of rural residential land to become commercial. The remainder of the rural residential portion would stay with its current zoning to act as a buffer zone.
"We thought it would be good for the neighborhood - another service for that neighborhood that they could use," said Planning Board Chairman Richard Muscatello.
No action was taken on the master plan updates or the airport overlay district. Both projects were to be put on the town's website to allow further resident comments.
Muscatello said the goals for the town in the master plan remain fairly constant. "However, some new objectives were added, for example, preparation of a town-wide emergency management plan, creation of a master greenspace plan, protecting the farming industry, regional planning and smart growth.
With the airport overlay district, Muscatello said the goal is to promote and attract well-planned economic development in the town.
There probably will be further public hearings on this matter, he added.
"Misinformation has been circulating ... I guess for political reasons," he said. "If adopted it would not shut down any existing business ... those scare tactics simply are not true."
The plan would focus on the location of the airport to attract related industry to that area.
Resident Patti Weiss objected, saying the expanded boundaries for the district would infringe upon the residents of Bergholz and could put industry on the 11 acres of farmland she owns.
In other matters:
•The board approved a new contract with Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers for services during 2013, with a retainer amount of $2,610 per month. Supervisor Bob Cliffe noted that this represents an increase of $50 per month and is the first time the rate has gone up in four years.
The board also authorized Wendel to prepare a cost proposal for extension of the sewer line about 1,100 feet on Wendt Drive.
Water/Sewer Department Superintendent Rich Donner said there are three structures on that portion of the road that could use sewers and one business intending to move in that would like to have sewers.
•County Legislator Dave Godfrey was among the speakers at the meeting. He assured residents that the new federal drone project at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station will not mean that drones will be flying overhead.
"The FAA will not allow that in commercial airspace," he said, likening the training project to "kids in chairs with joysticks."
•Recreation Director Ed Sturgeon reminded residents that the town currently is actively accepting registrations for spring sports.
•The board approved the job description and pay rate for a deputy recreation director. The new position is subject to approval by Niagara County Civil Service and will be posted internally first. The board also approved creating a second automotive mechanics position in the Highway Department, filling a vacant position.
•The board authorized the highway superintendent and water/sewer superintendent to each solicit bids for a mini excavator. The highway department also is seeking a skid-steer loader.
•The next Wheatfield Town Board regular meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28.