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Town of Lewiston: Frustrations abound at work session

by jmaloni
Fri, Oct 11th 2013 03:30 pm

by Terry Duffy

Monday's Lewiston Town Board session was one of frustrations and town reactions.

•Frustrations by local environmentalists over the town's lack of funding for an environmental attorney and reaction by the Town Board to create an Environmental Protection Fund.

•Frustration by Supervisor Steve Reiter over the lack of New York Power Authority assistance to first responders in the town, and Town Board reaction calling for state legislation calling for greater NYPA funding.

That, plus brief discussions on town codes and special use permits, summarized what was roughly an hour-long but active work session at Town Hall.

It opened to a full house as members of the local citizens group Residents for Responsible Government appeared, questioning why Lewiston had opted to pull its funding assistance of county environmental attorney Gary Abraham over past years and continues to do so, despite pending applications by CWM Chemical Services before the state Department of Environmental Conservation to expand its nearby Porter hazardous waste landfill.

No comments were actually made to the board by the group at the work session, but written remarks were presented and their presence was a factor. Sensing this, the board opted to respond. On direction by Reiter, Town Councilman Ernie Palmer presented a motion calling for the town to create an Environmental Protection Fund. Under the measure Lewiston would contribute $50,000 toward the effort and call on other Niagara County municipalities to assist with funding. "I see a need for a partnership here," said Palmer.

Reiter questioned why Lewiston should have to fund Abraham's services on its own. "Other county municipalities along with state officials have not come through. There's other communities that see CWM trucks, too," he said.

Soon after, the board voted unanimously to establish the Environmental Protection Fund for Abraham's services with $50,000 to come from the town's legal contingency fund and requests to other municipalities to follow.

On a related note RRG reported this week it intended to appear Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the next Niagara County Legislature meeting in Lockport, where there will be a resolution calling for a formal agreement to be drafted between the Town of Lewiston and the county to provide funding for legal services to the community in its fight against CWM's expansion.

Later in the session frustrations were again heard, this time by Reiter and board members, over the earlier termination of NYPA assistance funding to Lewiston's first-responders, namely Upper Mountain Fire Co. and Lewiston Police, both of which respond to incidents at NYPA's Lewiston operations. Saying that "an attempt to make a wrong to a right" needs to be done, Palmer presented a two-page resolution calling on the State Legislature to pass legislation and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law a requirement for NYPA to contribute funding to police and fire services in the town. The measure also passed unanimously and was expected to be submitted to the state.

Other news of note from the session:

•Board members heard that work on the town code was still under review by attorney Mark Davis, who reported he was expected to discuss it further with the Planning Board and town fire officials before the end of this month. Among the issues expected to be examined will be the future of mining operations, which have come under greater scrutiny by the town.

•Palmer reported the Planning Board approved a negative declaration for a proposed development eyed for 5882 Ward Road. Soon after, the board approved scheduling a Nov. 4 public hearing at 5:45 p.m. to discuss it further.

•Board members also reported that further updates on the State Environmental Quality Review for the proposed Joseph Davis State Park boat launch would be heard on Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. in a presentation by Bob Lannon of CRA Associates.

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