by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Wheatfield Town Board, already besieged by Quasar opponents, faced a new group in Town Hall on Monday as residents who live near the proposed Cobblestone Creek development came to voice their flooding concerns.
In the end, the board couldn't come up with a second for a motion on conforming to the State Environmental Quality Review Act, indicating that the subdivision would not adversely affect health or the environment. Without SEQRA approval, a public hearing on the matter could not be scheduled as planned.
Rosal Homes plans to build Cobblestone Creek off Errick Road, near Lemke Drive. There would be four single-family home lots on Errick and 39 cluster lots on a loop road inside the development.
Kristin Savard of Advanced Design Group spoke on behalf of Rosal Homes. She noted the project is considerably scaled back from when it was first proposed. A retention pond is included in plans to handle drainage from the project. The company has been working on plans for about five years, she said.
"Let's get the drainage system sorted out first before we put those homes in," urged resident Merv Davies.
Lemke Drive resident Carol Heimgartner brought pictures showing how even without the new development, the big rainstorm several weeks ago created a lake in her yard and water went as high as her neighbor's deck.
Sharon Downie, who lives across from Errick Road School, also brought pictures and reported the school driveway where buses pick up the children floods when there's heavy runoff from rain or melted snow.
"If this (Cobblestone Creek) passes, it will be worse than it already is," she predicted.
Resident Doug Siegmann said he wasn't against the development, but agreed something needs to be done about drainage. He urged the town to get drainage ditches cleaned out. "Start from the (Niagara Falls) Boulevard and work yourself backward, so the water has someplace to go," he said.
Councilman Randy Retzlaff suggested residents should also look at the numbers provided by the developer for the estimated increase in traffic in the area; while not large, residents should be aware of the impact, he said.
The board also heard from several of its regular anti-sludge residents who have successfully fought the application of Quasar Energy's equate product to town farm fields.
Julie Otto urged the board to put some kind of remediation requirement in place so taxpayers wouldn't have to foot the bill if there was ever a leak at the Liberty Drive plant.
In other matters:
•The board heard from Gary Strenkoski, local businessman and Wheatfield resident, speaking on behalf of the Niagara Military Affairs Council. Strenkoski, a NIMAC board member, also plans to visit the Town of Niagara Town Board in September to remind them how vital financial support and awareness of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is. He also urged area residents to join NIMAC, which lobbies on behalf of the base.
In Wheatfield alone, there are about 129 families who would be directly affected if air base jobs were lost, he said.
Not only are there reservists and civilian jobs at the base, but the base affects contractors and suppliers in both Niagara and Erie counties. He estimated the economic impact at $168 million a year.
"It's a heck of an impact," he said. "It's an economic powerhouse."
Richard Muscatello, also a NIMAC board member, noted that over the years NIMAC's reputation has earned respect at and "permeated" the Pentagon. He also noted that, "without Reserve and the Guard support for the municipal (Niagara Falls International) airport, chances are they wouldn't survive."
•The next Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Town Hall.