by Susan Mikula Campbell
With protests by residents near the proposed Cobblestone Creek development off Errick Road growing, the developer Rosal Homes has asked for a public information meeting.
The meeting, which the developer hopes will answer residents 'questions and concerns, has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, at the Wheatfield Community Center, located behind Town Hall. Kristin Savard of Advanced Design Group, project engineer, is expected to provide maps and explanations of the development proposal at the meeting.
The Town Board at its regular meeting on Monday again heard from many established Errick Road and Lemke Drive residents concerned about the development causing increased flooding in an area that already has a problem with water runoff after a storm or major snow melt. The residents want current water problems solved before approval of a development that they think would make the problem worse.
Many of the residents speaking to the board also presented photos to prove their point.
Debbie DiBartolomeo of Lemke Drive said the development's proposed retention pond was behind her house where there already are drainage problems.
Cobblestone Creek's entrance would be by Stieg Road on Errick Road, near Lemke Drive. Proposed are four single-family home lots on Errick and 39 cluster lots on a loop road inside the development.
One resident said the development was supposed to be for those ages 55 and up and not low income residences, but there was no guarantee that would happen. "I call these projects; I don't call them developments," she said.
Sharon Downie said many residents in her area already have to pay for FEMA floodplain insurance, which doesn't cover this type of flooding.
"They really have to do something about the water," she said. "Why would you put a development in a place marked poor drainage?"
On the flood insurance issue, Supervisor Bob Cliffe pointed out that before he took office the board had already fought floodplain insurance, and of about 900 properties on FEMA's list was able to remove about 750.
Councilman Larry Helwig remarked that FEMA is keeping flood insurance requirements locally to support paying for disasters elsewhere, such as hurricane relief.
"Our houses are never going to float down the Niagara River. I'm sorry," he said urging residents to do their homework to see if adding to the height of their properties could eliminate the floodplain designation.
•Resident Steve Magyar wanted to know when the state would complete work on widening Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield.
"What are we, the armpit of the state?" he asked. "They had enough money to do Erie County."
Cliffe explained that the work used to be on the state's list of priorities, but due to federal budget constraints, the state isn't getting the money needed to complete the work. About $16.5 million would be needed to finish work from Sy to Mavis roads.
He said he keeps in touch with state officials on this issue on a regular basis.
"The last time they spent money on our boulevard was when two people were killed," he said.
Helwig suggested maybe letters from residents would help.
•A contingent of residents lobbying for increased regulations on the Quasar anaerobic digestion facility on Liberty Drive, once again attended the board meeting to urge that penalties be put in place to pay for remediation should there be any accidental discharge at the plant. They also noted that Quasar did put its equate product on a Cambria field last week just before a heavy rain.
•The board authorized Cliffe to seek $15,000 per year over four years from the Niagara River Greenway Niagara County Ad Hoc funds to complete the Wheatfield River Road Trail that would connect with Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda and Griffon Park in Niagara Falls.
•The board set a public hearing for 7:15 p.m. Oct. 20 on rezoning a 2.9-acre lot at 2968 Niagara Falls Blvd., to make it all commercial. Currently, 1.7 acres in the front part of the lot is commercial and the rest is residential.
•The next regular Wheatfield Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at Town Hall.