by Susan Mikula Campbell
Quasar bounced back in the news this week at the Wheatfield Town Board meeting with an announcement that company officials will speak at a public information meeting Feb. 24.
The company wants to discuss with the board a site plan modification for an accessory storage tank for equate at the Quasar facility on Liberty Drive.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m., prior to the regular Town Board meeting at Town Hall.
"It's an information meeting. It's nothing more than that," Town Supervisor Bob Cliffe emphasized. "The folks from Quasar will come and give us their ideas and talk about their design."
Quasar apparently is considering a 5 million gallon, above-ground tank to be built on the north side of its Liberty Drive processing facility to store equate until it can be distributed elsewhere.
Board members were concerned about the size of the tank, whether an open lagoon might also be part of the plan and the possibility of leakage into the nearby creek.
Councilman Gil Doucet questioned why Quasar would "have to have a permit to spread equate on a farm field, but not if it spills out of a tank."
Cliffe said Quasar also has made initial inquiries about an open lagoon at the Niagara County Sewer District plant on Liberty Drive.
Quasar, an Ohio-based company, which is expanding into other states, has built an anaerobic digester for its waste-to-energy plant on Liberty Drive that creates methane gas. Equate is the sludge left over after the organic waste (everything from restaurant grease to waste water treatment sludge) digests for about 28 days. Equate is a nutrient-rich soil conditioner that can be used by farmers in place of chemical fertilizers.
The problem is that proposals for storage lagoons in or near farm properties in the county are being snubbed by some residents. Objections continue in the Town of Lewiston, and Porter is expected to discuss the matter in February.
In other matters:
•In a public hearing on an amendment to the town code on Planned Unit Development density, Town Attorney Bob O'Toole explained a PUD would match the density limit of the land before it became a PUD, but with design excellence (including amenities for residents such as walking paths), a developer could earn up to 30 percent higher density.
Richard Muscatello, Planning Board chairman, said his group believes it is a violation of the town's master plan to take a low-density area and make it high density. However, when a developer is using an area previously zoned AR (generally agricultural), the Planning Board recommends the PUD be computed at R-1 density (residential, single family).
No vote was taken. Before any approvals on rezoning are given, the matter will ultimately come to the Town Board for a vote, Cliffe said.
•Meanwhile, the board did approve a public hearing for 7:15 p.m. Feb. 10, prior to the regular board meeting, on the rezoning of approximately 24.2 acres of land on Niagara Falls Boulevard from M-1 (light industrial) to a PUD for the Meadows at Wheatfield. No action is expected that night on the matter. The project is proposed for 24.2 acres at the old corn maze area and would contain 230 dwelling units.
•Councilman Art Gerbec said that, at 7 p.m. prior to the Feb. 10 board meeting, his veterans committee will report on plans for the veterans memorial.
•The board authorized town engineers Wendel Duchscherer to proceed with the investigation and conceptual design of potential enhancements to the Willow Lake drainage system at an estimated cost of $15,000. Residents of the area have been plagued with flooding problems.
The board also decided to award a contract to Insight Pipe Contracting LP for storm sewer video inspection work to be performed on pipes in the Wheatfield Southern Drainage System from Willow Lake to the North Tonawanda culvert pipe inlets.
•Water/Sewer Supervisor Rich Donner reported that, in 2013, the town collected 66,122 pounds of electronic waste. Collection has been a little slower this month, he said, "but that means as soon as the weather breaks, we'll be overloaded again."
•Fire Advisory Board Chairman Mark Kasprzak reported that in 2013, the five fire companies serving the town responded to 2,749 incidents, a 7 percent increase from the previous year and a 68 percent increase from 10 years ago.
•Highway Superintendent Art Kroening said the town still has a "pretty good supply" of road salt, but added that "we can't have too many more storms," because the state-approved supplier's freighters can't get through the ice on the lake.
•Councilman Larry Helwig reported that he contacted Assemblyman John Ceretto for help when several residents called with concerns about the growing threat of ice damage along their riverfront shorelines. Helwig said Ceretto contacted the New York Power Authority, which brought its icebreaker far enough up the river to alleviate the threat.
•The board appointed Michael Polak, an environmental physicist for the Army Corps of Engineers, to the town's Planning Board for a term expiring in December 2018.