by Terry Duffy
Never underestimate the power of speaking out at a Town Board meeting.
So discovered Oak Avenue resident Nancy Donald when she went before the Town of Porter Board Monday to vent her thoughts regarding a continuing situation of limited beach access for town property owners in her neighborhood.
It turned out to be a newsmaker at an otherwise quiet meeting.
"My neighbors and I came here in 2008 because we had neighbors on the lakeshore who were encroaching property, putting fences out way beyond their property lines," said Donald. "That's a community park for all of us.
"The board (back then) suggested the town building inspector check it out," she continued. ... "The following month we came back ... he had been down there and he was going to issue letters to the property owners. Now it's six years later and nothing's been done."
Hearing this, Town Board members directed their attention to Town Building and Sanitation Inspector Roy Rogers and asked him what of it.
"Well, Roy?" asked Councilman Jeff Baker.
Rogers replied he was in fact the person who sent those letters out in 2008. "I did send them out; obviously nothing's been done," he said.
The resident related that according to deeds dating back to the 1920s, property owners in the lakeside community known as Fort Niagara Beach enjoy what is known as riparian rights with access to the lake and beach areas via town right-of-ways.
"The lake frontage is owned by the community. It's community property. Their (beachfront residents) properties end ... and they have extended these fences (into a town right-away out toward the lake)," said Donald.
Rogers agreed with the resident. "They're within the right-of-way of the town, no question about it," he said, telling the woman he thought the problem had been resolved. "I'll have to go back out there."
While you're out there, look into the parking, responded Donald. She advised the board of another continuing situation of non-access, due to beachfront residents parking their vehicles on the dead ends of lakeside streets in the neighborhood. "Our only access to that (town right-of-way) property is the dead end(s)," said the resident. "We have people park there all the time. We have the two homeowners on either side of the dead end who no longer have driveways. They feel that that dead end is their driveway.
"How they get away with that, we don't understand."
Board members inquired to Rogers on just who has jurisdiction to the immediate lakeshore areas. He replied it was under the state Department of Environmental Conservation for 25 feet up the from the water's edge up the embankment, then it's the town.
Dealing with the parking first, the board went on to approve installation of no parking signs on the dead ends of streets in the neighborhood.
"If we can make a board resolution to put no parking signs in there, we should," said Baker. (And speaking to Rogers) "Then we'll authorize you to go tell them to remove their fences off our property within 30 days or face a fine."
Soon after a motion was made by Supervisor Mert Wiepert to carry out the directives. Both passed unanimously. No parking signs were expected to be installed and Rogers indicated he'll be "spending some time over there" to advise the beachfront residents about the fences.
In other news from the session:
•The Town Recreation Committee reported that the Porter Summer Program will be operating from July 7 to Aug. 15 and registration will take place July 2-3 at Stevenson Elementary School in Ransomville
Interviews for staff (supervisors and program workers) will take place on June 2 and resumes are being accepted at Town Hall up to May 23. Visit www.townofporter.net or call Town Hall at 716-745-3730 for more information.
•Rogers reported his office has issued building permits (new builds renovations and updates) totaling $1.3 million in value thus far for the year and he remains active in dealing with a number of complaints and zoning code violations throughout the town.
•Town Highway Superintendent Scott Hillman reported his department now has an onsite storage container at the highway garage on Braley Road to accept electronic waste for recycling. Town residents and nonresidents alike are welcome to drop off electronic recyclables. For more information, visit www.townofporter.net or call Hillman at 716-791-3831.
Hillman reported that a spring cleanup of Porter on the Lake Park is complete and water service is again turned on and restrooms open. However the park's gates remain locked with no vehicular access due to continued wet grounds. Park workers are also assembling new picnic tables for the pavilion.
And, Hillman submitted highway equipment purchase requests totaling $9,070 plus an asbestos inspection service order for the highway garage roof totaling $2,275, which were all approved.
•Town Engineer Dave Brittain of Conestoga Rovers & Associates updated the board on the Harrison Lane private-to-public roadway project, which when approved would involve town acquisition and improvement work of affected lands on Harrison Lane with neighboring residents absorbing the cost.
Brittain indicated that once improvement costs are finalized, an information meeting would be scheduled, likely in June, followed by a public hearing sometime this summer. If all goes as planned, construction could be starting by this fall.
•Acting Town Assessor Sue Driscoll reported that the 2014 tentative roll has been finalized. Driscoll also informed that the Board of Assessment Review will hold grievance sessions for property owners on Tuesday, May 27, from 3 to 5 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall. Visit the town website or call 716-745-3730 for more information.