by Joshua Maloni
Following an executive session Monday, the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees appointed a new zoning officer. Town of Lewiston resident Edward DeVantier was selected to replace Harry Wright, who was not reappointed this summer.
Mayor Terry Collesano said DeVantier's appointment was unanimous.
"We felt that Ed has the experience to walk into that position, seeing that he was code enforcer for the Town of Lewiston," Collesano said. "He was on the Zoning Board in the town. ... He knows how planning board/zoning boards work, which is a plus."
DeVantier served as a member and chairman of the Town of Lewiston Zoning Board in the late 1990s. He is a state-certified code enforcement official with 35 years experience in construction and maintenance management.
"Maintenance, construction, facilities management - in general, the upkeep of facility, whether it's a business or a town or a village, has always been what I excel at; what I like to do," DeVantier said. "And since retiring, I got some qualifications, certifications, and was interested in looking around the local community here (to) see if there was some kind of opportunity."
When the open zoning officer position was posted, "I felt that was a good fit for me, judging (from) my background and my interest in the community," DeVantier said.
Trustees met with four candidates. "We looked at experience, and we felt (DeVantier) was a perfect fit," Collesano said.
DeVantier said he is "very aware" of the construction and parking issues in the village.
"There's not going to be much of a learning curve," he said.
The Village Board did not always see eye-to-eye with Wright, who zealously enforced the codebook - sometimes to the displeasure of village business owners.
Collesano said he expects DeVantier to, "Just do his job."
"Basically, he knows what the job entails, and we would expect him to use common sense at times, when needed," Collesano said. "He's a level-headed gentleman, and I'm sure he can do the job well."
DeVantier said, "I would approach any situation - whether it's a violation or anything else - with a discussion with the business or the homeowner, and help to interpret ... what the village code says, and what the intent is."
He said he would look to find alternatives to help each individual comply with the code "and still get what they would like out of their use of their property or business."
"We're just a small village, and there's really no sense in escalating any small issue into a big issue," DeVantier said. "We're people. We know each other. We're neighbors. Start with discussions."
DeVantier has worked with the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston and the Peach Festival. He also served as a member of the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education and as chairman of the Town of Lewiston Republican Committee.
"Pretty much my whole life has been around our community here, and working to make it better," DeVantier said. "Fixing things that need fixing. This is just a continuation of that."
Speaking of Maintenance
Trustees are working on a five-year plan to maintain and/or upgrade Center Street. Each board member was asked to evaluate village pavers, fences, stonewalls, benches, light poles, trash receptacles and signs, and report back in January.
The condition of Lewiston's main street was "something that was brought up by the Chamber of Commerce and others this past summer," Collesano said. "I said we would address it this winter."
"I guess what we want to do is come up with a schedule as to what our priority is going to be - what's the most important thing to tackle first," he added.
The Village Board will look to see what projects or fixes the Department of Public Works can handle, and look to hire outside contractors for additional services.
"I say safety first," Trustee Nick Conde said. "Safety/liability things first, then the lighting: the lenses and the lights."
"I'm looking at the pavers - the sidewalks - for people tripping and liability purposes. I would put that up near the very top," Collesano said. "Lights would be second, I would think. Then we can look at signage. We can look at fencing and so forth."