by Susan Mikula Campbell
Town of Niagara's new Deputy Supervisor Sylvia Virtuoso had a baptism by fire at her first regular Town Board meeting Tuesday evening as two groups of residents showed up with angry complaints.
Virtuoso, also the town clerk, was just appointed deputy supervisor on May 14 (see story on Page 3). She remained determinedly polite as accusations were fired at her by residents from Belden Center and residents whose homes adjoin the proposed Military Place development at 2103 Military Road.
Ultimately, the board passed the final site plan for Military Place contingent on the approval of the Zoning Board and the town engineer.
Paul Chiodo of Effie Drive led the charge against Military Place, planned for the old John's Flaming Hearth/Perkins property. He complained he wasn't adequately notified of Benderson's meeting with residents last month. He also said that 20 years ago the then town supervisor told him and his neighbors the parcel of Benderson property that adjoins his property was landlocked and would not be developed. In the 1990s, after Benderson purchased the parcel and was planning a Military Circle plaza project, they were told tree lines and buffer zones would be maintained.
"Every time this project comes back, it gets worse," he said.
The area behind Mamie Volpe's home on Ziblut Court is owned by Benderson, but will be left wild as part of a wetland declared by the Army Corps of Engineers. She said trees behind her property were cleared and the small replacement trees to be planted as part of the wetland will take 15 to 20 years to grow until they become a decent wind block.
"I don't think it's for nature at all; it's just a water hole," she said.
Ken Micon of Ziblut Court said the Military Place project is not near as big as the Fashion Outlets of Niagara expansion, but "for my yard, this is a big project."
Attorney for Benderson Development James Boglioli displayed site plan maps that showed the buffer zones and fencing that were part of the 2009 rezoning of three acres in the back portion of the property have not only been maintained, but expanded and improved (see May 1 Tribune for story and current site plan map).
"We've done our best to address the concerns of all the neighbors all the way around," he said.
John Parfinski of Louisiana Avenue was among Belden Center residents angry about road conditions while the area waits for sewer improvements. His street connects to Portland Avenue and the potholes are so bad that one of the area's teenagers went out and filled them with dirt.
He challenged Virtuoso and board members to "take a ride to where the Town of Niagara started. ... You tell me if you would drive your car down these roads every day."
Virtuoso assured the residents that "This board is 100 percent behind Belden Center."
Among the resolutions Tuesday was one to direct the town engineer to develop a map plan and report for the Belden Center sewer district repairs. The board also plans to make a third attempt to win a state Office of Homes and Community Renewal grant to help pay for the Belden Center sewage and drainage work. A public hearing on that grant will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at Town Hall. Money for the project also has been set aside from the host community agreement with Fashion Outlets.