by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Town Board remains one member short after four councilpersons were unable Monday to reach a consensus on who to appoint to one vacant seat.
The four-member Grand Island Town Board held interview sessions with candidates behind closed doors over the last month in an effort to fill the seat vacated in December when Richard Crawford resigned to become deputy town highway superintendent.
"The Town Board has worked long and hard on this matter, interviewing several candidates, engaging in much discussion. And we have not identified a candidate that will gain the support of the three Town Board members," Town Supervisor Mary Cooke said at Monday's regular board meeting.
Applications to fill the Town Board vacancy were submitted by Cory Bota, Peter Marston, Lisa Dollendorf, Paul Lamanna, James Sedita, Jeff Eberhard, Beverly Kinney, Dale Berger, Felecia Hanesworth, Jeff Sonnenberg, Tom Franz, Neil McGinty and John Butler. Of those applicants, Bota, Marston, Eberhard, Kinney, Berger, Franz and McGinty were interviewed by the four council members. Franz, Marston and Kinney were in attendance at Monday's meeting.
Councilman Gary Roesch said the four board members had worked hard on the matter, "And we just could not reach a consensus."
"And I think the consensus is we've got too many good people," he said, adding that all four remaining board members had agreed "to pick up the slack" in the meantime.
The last time the board sought applicants to fill a vacant seat was following the November 2011 election when then-council member Mary Cooke defeated incumbent supervisor Peter McMahon and the board filled her council seat with Chris Aronica. Councilman Ray Billica said the application process then "For me, last time was considerably easier. I thought one person had rose to the top of that, as you can tell by him sitting next to me. This time, I am really torn between applicants and I was not ready to chose one over the other because I don't think that there's a difference."
Billica echoed Roesch and said he would put his hand up to say he was willing to do more council work.
Crawford's term was due to end Dec. 31, 2015. The seat is up for election this November for a four-year term. Cooke said the endorsement and petition process for the seat would begin around June.
Cooke said, "We clearly have more work to do, and I don't know if we'll ever be able to before the process of endorsements and of an election this fall."
Council members were mum on who they supported for the appointment. The minutes of executive sessions when the council interviews were conducted in the back conference room of Town Hall do not include the names of who the council were interviewing. The Island Dispatch and isledegrande.com filed Freedom of Information Law requests to find out who was under consideration for the vacant seat.
Board to hold hearing on R-2 moratorium
The board voted to set a public hearing for Monday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. to consider a local law establishing a moratorium on approvals in an R-2 District for a period of four months.
The decision comes in the midst of the approval process for the Lighthouse Pointe development at the corner of East River and Whitehaven roads that is zoned R-2 and includes what critics call "apartment-like townhouses."
At the Town Board workshop meeting No. 5 on Jan. 10, the board voted 4-0 to introduce local law No. 3 of 2015 creating a moratorium on R-2 developments. Establishing a local law requires a public hearing.
Cooke said of the moratorium, "In the mind of the Town Board it's going to give us a chance to make sure that the R-2 zoning is appropriate, because that's one of the criticisms that we're getting right now, that if the plan that Lighthouse Pointe submitted is legal under R-2, then maybe we ought to be looking at what R-2 allows. Maybe that's no longer appropriate."
The law would establish a nine-member committee appointed by the Town Board that would be composed of two members of the Planning Board; one member each from the Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Advisory Board and Economic Development Advisory Board; and four at-large residents of Grand Island.
The moratorium law said the committee "shall not consider nor make any recommendations concerning 1) the legality of long-term (more than 30 days) rental of any property in any zone; 2) the role of Homeowner's Associations, or 3) compliance with the subdivision requirements of the New York Attorney General."
Roesch said the moratorium is "a real good, let's say, compromise that we bring outside people in to talk about the impacts of the R-2 zone and what it has to adjoining zones."
In other developments from Monday's meeting:
•The board held public hearings prior to conducting regular business. No members of the public spoke at any of the hearings.
The board voted 4-0 to approve a sewer system capital improvement project. The cost of the project increased from $917,500 to $957,000 "due to higher than expected bids being received for the project," the resolution stated. According to the resolution, the project will include inspection of various sewer mains in the town using closed circuit television and light cleaning of sewers, smoke testing of sewers, heavy cleaning of sewers using a vacuum truck and dewatering siphon; dyed water testing of homes where downspout discharges are not readily visible, and manhole rehabilitation. The board also amended the original bond for work on the overflow retention facility following a public hearing.
•The board held a public hearing to consider a local law intro No. 18 of 2014 to amend the zoning code to change the definition of a day care center or nursery school day care center, and making such facilities a permitted use in certain zoning classifications. According to a memo from the Planning Board to the Town Board, Roesch, Town Board liaison to the Planning Board, said, "This was brought to the attention of the Town Board when a property was changing from a church to a day care center."
"Home occupations were discussed and at what point they become a day care center," the memo said.
The Planning Board recommended approval of local law No. 18, leaving it up to the Town Board whether to include the words "other than day care centers operated solely as home occupations."
The board adopted it as local law No. 3 of 2015 by a 4-0 vote.
•Another local law was adopted as local law No. 4 of 2015, providing for an alternate member of the Architectural Review Board. The board established an alternate position member for purposes of substituting for a member in the event such member is unable to participate because of a conflict of interest or inability to attend a meeting of the ARB.
•The board passed local law No. 2 of 2015 providing for a procedure to adjust property boundaries where there is a subdivision of land.
The law would "establish a simplified procedure to adjust property boundary lines where no new lot is created and certain other conditions are met." Cooke said the procedure would involve staff and not a town board.
•The board approved a storage building for applicant Rodney Reisdorf. In a memo from the Planning Board to the Town Board dated Jan. 13, the Planning Board recommended approval of a site plan by Reisdorf, of 2401 Bedell Road, for an auto storage building. The proposed building, 3,200 square feet in size, would provide cold storage for customers' cars. It will have a concrete floor, no heat and no electricity, and no auto repair work would be done inside. The property does not abut residential zoning.
•At the Town Board workshop meeting on Jan. 9 at 3 p.m., the board voted 4-0 to approve a two-year lease agreement with Island Pet Lodge of Alvin Road for the boarding, kenneling and impoundment of stray dogs for the town at $200 per month and $20 per day.