By David Yarger
Monday night, at the Wheatfield Town Board’s regular session for August, the council held a public hearing to rezone property at 2872 Lockport Road.
Currently, the property on the corner of Lockport and Ward roads is zoned R-1 residential. The applicants requested that be changed to R-C restricted commercial.
Most comments regarding the hearing came from residents near the property. Many questions involved nuisances that could possibly occur from the rezoning, such as traffic, sounds, smells and safety to name a few.
Tim Zuber, of Wendel Engineering, the town’s firm, said the property is approximately 0.88 acres of land. He added the rezoning is in accordance with the town’s master plan.
Restricted commercial zoned lots, Zuber and Supervisor Don MacSwan said, are more for small business offices, such as a dentist, doctor, lawyer and so on.
MacSwan said, “I had some calls today that were concerned about commercial activity going in there related to like a Tim Hortons and things like that. In a restricted commercial zoning, it’s more suited as a professional office – dentists, insurance offices, things like that. It isn’t a whole commercial zone, it’s restricted commercial. It could be a mixed use. It could be residents and also an office.”
“There’s only about a 100 by 100 foot area that can be built on that lot. So that will limit the size of what could potentially go in there,” Zuber added.
Any proposal for the newly-zoned lot would still be required to undergo site plan review to properly analyze what changes would be needed to make.
One resident asked how easy it would be for the property to once again rezone to commercial, and MacSwan replied “very difficult.”
MacSwan also addressed traffic concerns and said, “If you have a doctor’s office or a dentist’s office, I can’t believe the impact (would be significant). And, again, the Planning Board can ask for a traffic study depending on the use. It’s all part of the site plan review process. But I can’t believe that doctor’s office or dentist’s office or attorney’s office would have a huge impact on the traffic we have there now.”
Another resident poised the idea of creating restrictions for the property, such as no left turns on to Ward Road.
“That’s a good thought,” MacSwan said. “If it does go to the Planning Board … (they) have the ability to make it a right turn only. There’s all kinds of things they can place on the applicant to keep that traffic moving.”
The board later approved the zoning change.
In other news:
•During Zuber’s Planning Board report, he gave a brief update regarding the Summit Park Mall.
The proposal that’s been on the table for a few years includes the construction of two 96,000 square-foot metal sports buildings, which will adjoin to Big Thunder Brewing around the old Save-A-Lot and Toy’s R Us complex.
Zuber said the applicant is hoping to have all required material submitted by the end of August. The project has been back and forth with the Planning Board for approximately three years.
•The board scheduled a public hearing regarding the potential rezoning of 2182 Lockport Road to M-2 industrial-2. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9.
•Funding for the new Pellicano’s expansion received a boost. The board approved a $266,000 grant agreement, which will allow the Wheatfield Local Development Corp. to administer it. The agreement will help promote economic development in the town.
“They needed more room,” Councilman Larry Helwig said. “They’re going to be bringing more jobs and they applied for some grants, which we approved tonight. It’ll be a nice addition to the (Niagara Falls) boulevard and to Wheatfield businesses to have a nice brand-new Pellicano’s with a bigger footprint and more stuff to buy in the store.”
•Councilman Curt Doktor reminded attendees that the Wheatfield Family Picnic will occur Sunday, Aug. 18, at Fairmount Park.
The picnic begins at 10:45 a.m. and has a plethora of activities for families of all ages, as well as food and beverages for those hungry and thirsty.
The will be a variety of activities for the young and not so young, ranging from a concert by the Bergholz German Band and bingo, to pony rides and a rock-climbing wall. SkyHunters Birds of Prey will again have their popular collection of live raptors including a rare eagle, one of very few in captivity. The Niagara Alliance Church will sponsor the Kids Fest, with activities of all kinds suitable for kids of all ages. Other popular events include a K-9 demonstration by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, a magician, a petting zoo, free bingo with gift cards as prizes to name a few.
For more information, visit the picnic’s page on Facebook.
•MacSwan thanked the Wheatfield Garden Club for their efforts and upkeep of the Town Hall campus and around the municipality.
“They have done one heck of a job on some really hot days,” he said. “I see them out there watering plants, taking care of the flowers and they don’t get enough credit for what they do.”
•The supervisor finished the meeting with news from the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District. MacSwan said the town is looking to put a bid on the old administration building in Bergholz for the town’s use, since the district no longer has any use for it.
Right now, it’s up in the air, but MacSwan said he’s had conversations with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office regarding a possible substation at the complex. Other suggestions included a meeting place for groups like the Cub Scouts, an area for first responders like the constables.
“The building is in great shape and Niagara-Wheatfield is ready to pass it on since they have no use for it,” MacSwan said.
He added that buying the building would be much cheaper than constructing a new one.
Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann asked if the building had been checked for asbestos. MacSwan replied there was asbestos years ago, but the property has since been renovated.
•The next Wheatfield Town Board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9.