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Safety concern delays development plans

by jmaloni
Thu, Jan 6th 2011 10:20 am

by Susan Mikula Campbell

Concern over safety at the intersection of Hoover and Lockport roads led the Wheatfield Town Board on Monday to delay preliminary plat map approval for the Whistling Straits subdivision.

The previous developer for the subdivision had agreed to contribute towards a traffic signal at the intersection, but the new developer's plan was to drop that requirement since the county is due to redo Lockport Road and a turning lane is planned at Hoover. County traffic officials have indicated a signal will not be needed.

"That intersection is a killer," objected Councilman Art Gerbec, a volunteer firefighter and board liaison to the town's Fire Advisory Committee.

Councilman Gil Doucet suggested the developer of the 41-lot single-family home subdivision be required to put funds in a reserve account in case it is determined at a later date that a signal is needed.

Gerbec said that he was willing to see how the turning lane works, but added, "I still want to have the option (for a signal). I'm telling you it's not safe."

In other matters:

•The board changed the volume for a minimum water bill to 7,000 gallons per quarter, reduced by 1,000 per quarter, and set rates of 95 cents per thousand for sewer and $1.70 for water. Town Attorney Robert O'Toole said the change in the minimum will help lower-volume users, especially senior citizens.

•The board decided to amend the town's personnel manual to provide preference, but not requirement, for hiring or promotion to town residents. Supervisor Bob Cliffe said town officials are aware some employees are no longer residents and "it would be a shame to lose them."

He added that some positions might be difficult to fill with the best-qualified person if residency is required. He cited the hiring of Ed Mongold as budget director this year.

•The board delayed voting on a three-year SPCA contract until a closer look is taken at whether the SPCA should do both dog control and animal control for the town.

Danny Maerten, a dog control officer last year, said those dealing with animals in the town were not provided needed equipment or rabies vaccination as promised. Of 55 dog control calls last year, 43 were for barking dogs and the remainder for picking up loose dogs and returning them to their owners.

The town no longer plans to have an animal control officer to remove nuisance animals such as skunks.

•The board authorized layoffs for an account clerk and a groundsperson as planned in the 2011 budget. Both have the least amount of seniority in the town workforce. The account clerk is the woman involved with former supervisor Tim Demler.

At the reorganization meeting prior to the regular meeting Monday, yearly appointments were made. Appointments remained the same as in 2010, including the appointment of Councilman Ken Retzlaff as deputy supervisor. Retzlaff, who is recovering from a knee operation, was excused from both the reorganization and the regular meeting.

The Niagara-Wheatfield Tribune was designated as one of the two official newspapers for the town.

Regular meetings of the Town Board will continue to be held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise specified. The next meeting of the Town Board will be Jan. 24. There will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. on amending the town code relating to site plan review, a public hearing at 7:15 p.m. on amending the town code dealing with zoning requirements in A-R (agricultural) districts, and then the regular meeting. Among items expected on the agenda is the town's new cell phone policy.

Cliffe's new purchasing policy requires his own approval plus that of a liaison for town purchases of more than $1,000. Appointed as liaisons to various town departments were the following councilmen:  Gerbec and Larry Helwig - Highway Department; Gerbec and Retzlaff  - Water/Sewer Department; Gerbec and Doucet - Building Department; Doucet - Constable Department; Doucet and Helwig - Recreation Department; Helwig - Assessor Department; Helwig - budget director; Doucet - town clerk, Town Hall, Safety Committee; Gerbec - Drainage Committee; Retzlaff and Gerbec - Comprehensive Planning Committee; Retzlaff - town attorney/Human Resources; Gerbec - Veteran's Committee.

In addition, Cliffe was appointed liaison to the Economic Development Committee and O'Toole to the Justice Court.

Gerbec was appointed as Town Board representative to the Fire Advisory Board, with members of the fire companies as follows: Adams - Daniel Guiher, James Mihalko; Bergholz - Keith Potter, Jeffrey Stenzil; Frontier - Bruce Mack, Richard Silvaroli; St. Johnsburg - Richard Donner, James Kish; Shawnee - Marc Kasprzak, Frederick Lawrence.

The salaries of the elected town officials were fixed as established in the town budget for 2011 as follows: Cliffe, supervisor, $36,592.40; Kathleen Harrington, town clerk, $59,184; John Mattio and Erin DeLabio, town justices,  $22,565.63; Retzlaff, deputy supervisor/councilman, $16,238.08; councilmen Gerbec, Helwig, Doucet, $12,843.96; Arthur Kroening, highway superintendent, $61,654. All but the justices declined 3 percent raises for 2011.

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