by Susan Mikula Campbell
A Wheatfield developer seeking rezoning on a Ward Road property came under fire Monday by residents concerned that his plans would worsen drainage and traffic in the area.
In a public hearing before the board's regular meeting, Fred Mallone, a Wheatfield resident himself, discussed preliminary plans for MallBary Estates. He wants the rear of the property on Ward Road near the Niagara Road intersection rezoned from farmland to R-2 residential to allow for 28 lots on which would be built 56 single family homes, duplex style, attached by an interior wall.
These would actually be patio homes designed for the 55 and older community. Both sides of the 28 buildings would each have an individual owner and the development would be overseen by a homeowners association.
"There is nothing like this in Niagara County at all," Mallone said, adding that his own parents probably would have stayed in the area after retirement if something like MallBary Estates was available.
To concerns that the development might turn into low income or rental housing, Mallone said, "You're not going to get in there for less than $250 to $300 thousand."
Although the project is in the preliminary stages of engineering, Mallone said retention ponds would ensure that drainage from the development would not impact neighboring properties. To concerns by councilmen Gil Doucet and Ken Retzlaff about the entrance on Ward Road, he said the design is not finalized, but the entrance is far enough away from Niagara Road that it should not cause problems.
Potential neighbors in the audience didn't agree. One Ward Road resident said he sometimes has to wait five to seven minutes to get out of his driveway. "Traffic is awful ... you don't live there, you don't have to get out." Another neighbor said his backyard already floods and a new development would overburden the area.
Supervisor Bob Cliffe said if the rezoning is approved, the project still will have to go back to the town's zoning, planning and fire advisory boards as well as go through the environmental impact process before a final vote by the Town Board.
No action was taken on the rezoning at this time.
In other matters:
•The board also heard more from opponents of Quasar's plans to use the equate leftover from anaerobic digestion at its new plant on Liberty Drive as fertilizer for farmers. This would necessitate construction of storage ponds.
"We still have nothing before us (to approve or not). We have been working on getting as much information as we can," Cliffe said.
•The board also heard from engineer Tim Zuber that fill being delivered from a county water district construction site off Williams Road to the north end of Mario Park should be completed within the next four weeks. Plans for that area include additional parking and playing fields. The board authorized proceeding with the design improvements at a cost of $29,000.
•The board appointed Marshall Chapin to a five-year term on the Board of Assessment Review.
•The board authorized the town Highway Department to perform drainage remediation work on property owned by the Shawnee Volunteer Fire Co. for its substation on Shawnee Road in furtherance of area-wide town drainage.
•The board approved advertising for four recreation aide positions at the Youth Center.
•The board approved having town teams participate in the Lewiston instead of the North Tonawanda baseball league for 2014. Mike Ranalli, interim recreation director, said the move was suggested by Wheatfield parents because the NT house team was also the travel team, which was discouraging for some young players. Also the Lewiston program does not have weekend games.
•Councilman Art Gerbec said the tentative site for the town's proposed Heroes Memorial is behind the Community Center property. Everything is still in the planning stages and anyone interested in the project is invited to the committee's next meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Community Center, he said.
•Councilman Larry Helwig said some town residents, especially senior citizens, are once again getting letters indicating that they need insurance for water line leaks or repairs on their property. Water/Sewer Superintendent Rich Donner confirmed that he's only seen two or three instances in his career where such insurance might have been useful.
•The town's annual Halloween party begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Youth Center gym with games, crafts and costume contests in four different age groups.
•The next regular Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21. Prior to the meeting a budget workshop will be held beginning at 7 p.m.