By David Yarger
Monday, the Town of Wheatfield Town Board met for its first meeting of February. The board discussed a proposed major subdivision along town-owned property on Witmer Road.
The land is located behind the Town Hall campus where representatives have discussed placing a Town Center full of mixed use, commercial and residential properties along with possible shops. Despite the possibility, Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan said the town cannot support a Town Center at the moment and by possibly placing this 10-lot subdivision in place, it could bring the town extra revenue.
“It’s on Witmer Road, there’s 10 lots there. There’s already homes across from where we’re proposing, so it’s perfectly compatible with what’s going on. The town has all this acreage back here (behind Town Hall) and we had a focus group that was working on the Town Center, but we realize now – financially – the town isn’t in a position to either develop or promote the Town Center.
“We do realize we can do those 10 lots and still pick up some money for the town and still have access to this property back here, and that’s the key. So we’re not going to affect the Town Center, but whatever the town’s future plans may be – we still have access left, so we can come back here to our property,” MacSwan said.
Residents can be assured that digging has not begun, and Monday night was strictly to authorize a negative declaration, which means there are no adverse impacts on the environment, under the state environmental quality review for the subdivision’s preliminary plat.
The board also scheduled a public hearing regarding the subdivision’s preliminary plat at 7 p.m. March 18. MacSwan understood there could be some opposition to the proposal.
“We have a few people that weren’t happy with it, but it is what it is. Some of the people that worked on the Town Center idea didn’t like it, but the bottom line is … what else would you put there – even if you do have a Town Center there – other than homes,” MacSwan said.
MacSwan reminded residents that the Town Center idea has not been eliminated, but from the town’s standpoint it can’t afford it at this moment and there aren’t enough developers willing to invest.
“If anything, the housing would encourage future development for a Town Center,” MacSwan added.
The two items regarding the subdivision were some of five agenda items moved Monday night.
Additional information came about during board member remarks.
Councilman Randy Retzlaff motioned to place a constable in Town Hall for five hours a day to help improve security at the site. Retzlaff said the five hours is specifically for when the Town Court is open for business.
“Just a little extra security for the people working here,” Retzlaff said.
The item was approved and MacSwan agreed that securing the premises is first priority.
“We all remember the good ole days when Wheatfield was perfectly secure. I guess it’s a sign of the times … we’ve had some issues with people coming into Town Hall, and not just once in a while – it happens quite often. (Town) justices have approached the Town Board and … you can’t put a price on a life, and we have a good group of constables and I think it’s the way to go. I hate to say it, but it does show how things have changed in the little Town of Wheatfield. I agree with this and I think it’s something we have to do,” MacSwan said. He then thanked Retzlaff for the motion.
Councilman Larry Helwig presented several tidbits of information to residents during his closing remarks, including a solar farm proposal and a town alert system on its website.
First, regarding solar, Helwig said the board received an email, which was from Kevin Kohlstedt of Cypress Creek Renewables, discussing a solar panel farm where he called the “Witmer Road dump.”
“It’s all land-locked and you can hardly see it from Witmer Road. … This is very preliminary and it’s just so you’re not hearing about this in another month or two. … If you wanna say something, say it now. They’re approaching us and we’re not going out there fishing for them. … We don’t know where this is going to lead, but maybe this might not be a bad application in a place you can’t even see it from the roadway,” Helwig said.
Next, Helwig gave a step-by-step presentation on how to sign up for notifications from the town’s website.
Residents interested can visit www.wheatfield.ny.us and on the home screen go to the “How Do I” section at the top. In that tab, one subhead will list “Sign up for,” which residents should then click notifications.
Upon arrival to the notifications page, one must type in their email address to subscribe for alerts. Under each category, there is a envelope icon for email and telephone for text messages. Whichever one is clicked upon subscribing is how the alert will be sent.
Topics for alerts include project updates, Community and Youth Center updates, senior updates, recreation, town wide alerts, highway construction and repair, water and sewer updates, job postings in government and the community, as well as news flashes, calendar notifications and updates from the Comprehensive Plan Task Force and Town, Planning and Zoning boards.
The full list can be discovered at https://www.wheatfield.ny.us/list.aspx.
The next Town of Wheatfield Town Board meeting is at 7 p.m. Feb. 25.