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Litter or freedom of speech?

by jmaloni
Thu, Aug 25th 2011 09:00 pm

by Susan Mikula Campbell

With elections for Wheatfield supervisor and two councilmen coming up in November, unsigned political fliers are once again making an appearance.

At Monday's Town Board meeting, Patti Weiss, vice chairwoman of the Wheatfield Republican Committee, displayed the most recent flier, which warned parents to keep children indoors at night because of the danger of Eastern Equine Encephalitis from mosquitoes and noted that current Supervisor Bob Cliffe had cut mosquito spraying from the town budget.

Weiss said she found fliers blowing around in the street in the Stieg Road/Errick Road area and asked that some kind of ordinance or permit requirement be put in place to regulate this type of unsigned communication.

The flier only displays the initials WCP. "What is this, the Wheatfield Crackpot Party?" Weiss asked. "It's dishonest."

Town Attorney Robert O'Toole said any regulation probably would not hold up in court due to First Amendment free speech guarantees.

Cliffe said the fliers' statement about keeping children inside was misleading.

"Only the Niagara County Health Department has the authority to make this kind of statement," he said, noting that he has checked with local health officials who monitor mosquito control and there is no cause for concern here.

In other matters:

•Another resident hot topic cropped up with an agenda item on a request for rezoning of land on Shawnee Road for a development called Captain's Way.

A public hearing was scheduled for 7:15 p.m. prior to the board's next meeting on Sept. 12.

The property in question is owned by the Church at Shawnee Landing, which abandoned its plans to build a church and possibly more low-income apartments at the site. The property is in the process of being sold to a developer who plans to build 14 single-family homes and wants to include two commercial lots on Shawnee.

•Cliffe reported that residents are asking for a Department of Transportation safety study on Shawnee Road.

A Shawnee Road resident at the meeting said residents are concerned about speeding drivers on the road, noting that while walking, there have been incidences when she's "had to jump onto the lawn to get away from the cars" and that when she tries to leave her driveway to go to work at 6 a.m., sometimes she has to wait for 40 cars.

•Councilman Gil Doucet reported that the St. Johnsburg Volunteer Fire Co. has been chosen to host the Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association convention in 2014. The event, which opens with a large parade, will be a boost to the local economy, Doucet said.

He also noted that Wendy Walker of St. Johnsburg has been elected the first female president of WNYVFA, a post previously held by her father, Bob Walker, the town's retired water/sewer director.

•The board heard a presentation on Aidan Estates, a new subdivision planned by developer Anthony Barone on Nash Road. The board granted preliminary plat approval. The development would include 14 homes on 12.5 acres and will not adversely affect wetlands or drainage to the surrounding community, board members were told.

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