by Larry Austin
A Ward Park resident told the Grand Island Town Board that she expected to retire to the duplex she owned for the last 14 years, but a neighboring property changed her mind.
Patricia Kostenbauder told the board at its monthly meeting in Town Hall Monday that she expected to spend her retirement at her home at 80 Ward Park. "However, we had a change of plans because of the transient vacation come next door," she said.
"Because of the problems with this house, because they continue this illegal transient vacation house, which is a business in a residential area, we've decided to sell our duplex," Kostenbauder said.
Ironically, when Kostenbauder put her duplex on the market, the owner of the transient home next door was the first and highest bidder, paying cash, she said.
"So, we are sorry to leave the duplex with two places next door to each other running a business illegally," Kostenbauder said.
In November, the town sent cease-and-desist letters to 13 property owners in residentially zoned neighborhoods for allegedly running transient, or tourist, home businesses, renting their property by the day to various individuals. Neighbors complain that the tenants of the tourist homes are loud and create parking, traffic, and quality-of-life problems. Kostenbauder said the issues persist. "After living on the Island for 65 years, I thought we could depend on the town to enforce the laws regarding running a business in a residential area," she told the board.
Councilman Richard Crawford told Kostenbauder that the Town Board feels equally as frustrated as she does. He added that a day doesn't go by without a board member fielding a phone call asking about the transient or tourist home business.
"On the Top 10 list, it's No. 1," Crawford said of the issue.
Councilman Gary Roesch asked the town attorney if the town can enforce the law now during ongoing litigation in the matter. Godfrey said they can, and that the town is not precluded from moving forward.
"You are not stayed from enforcing the law," Godfrey said.
In other decisions from the meeting:
After a public hearing during which no one from the public spoke, the board approved local law intro No. 11 of 2014 to amend chapter 407 of town code, regarding setbacks for parking at bed-and-breakfast facilities. The board approved the law as local law No. 12 of 2014.
The board left open a public hearing regarding a proposed local law that would rezone 1881 Bedell Road from R1-D to M2.
"We want the Planning Board to be able to weigh in, and this matter is not yet ready for a vote by the Town Board because we need to have a site plan, phase 1 review, and completion of the lease," Supervisor Mary Cooke said. She called it "the beginning of the discussion" for the public regarding the change in zoning in contemplation of using the site as a location for a town parks and recreation maintenance building.
Cooke praised a local businessman for lending a helping hand to federal and state government partners. W. Edward Johnson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote to the Town Board to "acknowledge gracious support of River Oaks Marina" for help in the first of three "logistically complicated missions to monitor pollution and assess baseline conditions in the East Channel of the Niagara River and its tributaries."
Work began in June, Johnson said. At that time, Johnson said Jim Maloney of River Oaks Marina provided docking space for several boats, water, electric, parking and a working area for preparing equipment and receiving samples, at no cost. "This generous contribution allowed us to complete our mission in less time, with greater efficiency, and reduced cost," Johnson wrote.
Cooke pointed out the actions of Maloney to "acknowledge his graciousness on something that he didn't have to do." She called it "a good example of how Grand Island business steps up and helps solve problems."