Citizens staying on top of possible housing development
By David Yarger
At the monthly Town of Niagara Town Board meeting Tuesday, citizens of the town came prepared to speak their mind on the looming Bri Estates development proposed by Double C Realty, which would place over 100 homes behind residents of Colonial Drive and Miller Road.
Town citizens have voiced their opinion on the proposal the last few meetings, but board members insist that the ball hasn't rolled too far on the project.
Mary Ann Casamento started the public input, calling out the board to present more information on the development.
"I think you should be either pro, con or not say 'I didn't get any information, so I can't talk about it,' because you certainly know about it and I think it's unfair. It's like holding all these people on Colonial (Drive), Miller Road and Grauer (Road) hostage. Holding people hostage is not what our town is all about," Casamento said.
Casamento said the town's rural setting is a big reason why citizens move out to the Town of Niagara and the residents don't want a city development in that setting. She added other issues, such as traffic could get "worse than it already is," and how the project could devalue homes in the area.
Supervisor Lee Wallace responded, saying, "It would be very difficult for us as individuals or as a board to make a broad statement about something we have not seen really. We really have not; I said the same thing before. They came to us once with a broad plan that never went any further than that, and the first time my personal self saw anything else was when I came to that open forum that they had.
"If it was me and I was the developer, I would hire someone todo a rendering, so people could see what it looked like. I agree with most of what you say but to ask us to make a decision on something we really don't know about,"...
Councilman Marc Carpenter responded to later input on the proposal, saying "Believe me, when we get to that point we're gonna raise those questions very hard and we're gonna be very stern... We want something that's going to enhance our area and not take away."
Councilman Charles Teixeira agreed with Casamento's feelings, but explained the board's side of the issue.
"I can understand you guys feel like you're being held hostage, but so are we, because we haven't seen anymore to make any decisions on it. Believe me, whenever we see anything, we'll be more than happy to let you guys see it and also know... I feel bad that we can't tell you anything. Our opinion of what we've seen doesn't mean anything, because they haven't come to us with a real proposal yet," Teixeira said.
Town Attorney Michael Risman said the plan is moving very slow and not even at step one.
"Right now, we're not even at the preliminary site plan process, because the site plan they submitted to the Planning Board, as I understand it, was critiqued or criticized by the town engineer and building inspector. So, to my understanding, there's not even a preliminary site plan and they had a meeting here with the public to explain what they're generally thinking," Risman said.
Wallace made an analogy, on a scale of 1-10 if they're gonna start digging tomorrow, it would be at about three, and he said, "Even that is pushing it."
Susanne Rizzo finished the public input, saying the citizens of the town want to stay focused on the subject, because they don't want to see this fall out of their grasp.
"We want to stay on top of this. We don't want it to get to stage nine and then all of a sudden, 'Well sorry, there's nothing we can do about it now.' We want to get in there right now and make sure if anything is done, it's done right," she said.
Rizzo added, it's not that she doesn't trust the board; it's more of a trust issue with Double C Realty. Rizzo said, when somebody spoke about where children can play around the development, somebody from the company whispered they didn't care. Rizzo voiced concerns about the environmental and traffic studies done that were said to be proper, but turned out to be invalid.
At the end of the meeting, Wallace and the board each took time to thank the citizens for staying on top of the proposal.
Teixeira said, "I want to thank everyone for coming out and being involved in the community. We do care about this town and the neighborhoods."
Councilman Richard Sirianni told the town to stay involved during the long process.
The next Town of Niagara Town Board meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21. The Town Board will also meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Calvin K. Richards Community Center conference room to discuss the 2018 budget for the Town of Niagara.