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Wheatfield seeks home rule legislation

Fri, Feb 13th 2015 07:00 am

by Autumn Evans

The Town of Wheatfield will reach out to local politicians in the interest of enacting a home rule law to ban the use of biosolids, the Town Board decided Monday night.

The decision came after resident Julie Otto notified the board that Erie County Assemblyman Dave DiPietro is in the process of introducing home rule legislation at the state level for the towns of Wales and Marilla.

Otto said she contacted Assemblyman John Ceretto's office and was told he would be willing to do the same for the towns in his district, including Wheatfield, if he received a formal request from town governments.

"Having laws at both the local level and the state level will provide a greater protection for the citizens from the potentially harmful effects of spreading biosolids and sewage sludge," she said.

Town Supervisor Bob Cliffe expressed his support, saying, "I did get a little bit of wind of that, and I think it's a great idea. I can't speak for everybody else, I can only speak for myself, but any help that we can get at the state level can be a big help to us. It seems like we're fighting the world here."

The rest of the board evidently agreed, as they voted unanimously to approve a motion to have Cliffe reach out to Ceretto and possibly state Sen. Rob Ortt for support.

Town Attorney Bob O'Toole added, "If this ever did get passed and enacted into law, I think it would render Quasar's lawsuit moot, because they're attacking basically on the grounds the town didn't have authority."

In other Town Board news:

•Resident Monica Daigler questioned the board about the possibility of revoking Quasar's Payment in Lieu of Taxes from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

"They've polluted our air, they have DEC violations, can we get that PILOT back so we can at least get them back on the tax rolls?" she asked.

O'Toole advised the town had no authority in the matter, and only the IDA could issue or revoke PILOTs. He said the town could ask the IDA, but no more than that.

•Walter Garrow of Applus RTD assisted the Greenspace Committee in a presentation to the board suggesting a Greenspace Master Plan to "preserve the image of the community that has been valued by the residents and entices new residents."

The new plan, which was created using the town's master plan and a study by University at Buffalo students, would be used as guidelines for the board to approve or deny any construction or developments in town.

"It allows them to say, 'This development might not be wise,' " Garrow said. "A developer puts (a development) on the table and it may sound wonderful, but the town could look at this and say, 'We already have plans for this area.' "

Among the suggestions were plans to ensure all new developments in the town include adequate greenspace, the implementation of a comprehensive streams survey and the extension of trails and recreation areas.

•In light of recent weather, Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann reminded residents it is illegal to plow or shovel snow into the street. He also warned that constables were actively ticketing cars parked illegally in the street during the early morning hours. Lastly, he asked parents and neighbors to keep children from playing in the snow near the streets, because it puts them in danger when snowplows are on the road.

"The first thing we do is take a circle around and make sure that there ain't kids there, but there were snow forts in a couple of cul-de-sacs," Siegmann said. "My guys are tired; I don't want anybody making a mistake."

He also said that due to the constant snowfall, his department has logged 968 hours overtime, compared to 732 last year.

•Councilman Larry Helwig announced the layout for town's website redesign has been chosen. It is expected to go live in April. The new site will be modeled after another site designed by CivicPlus for the Town of Newport, Virginia (nngov.com).

•Recreation Director Mike Ranalli announced the department will hold a NERF gun war at the Youth Center Friday, March 13.

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