By Benjamin Joe
The Town of Wheatfield Town Board meeting opened Monday with a presentation by builder Fred Mallone and Barton & Loguidice engineer Matt Zarbo, on a development Mallone has invested himself to build in Wheatfield.
Mallone was proposing to rezone a portion of property currently zoned as residential and agriculturally residential into a planned unit development of more than 70 homes. Right away, he faced obstacles.
Councilman Randy Retzlaff was not happy about the flow of traffic from the proposed development onto Walck Drive at two separate entrances.
Retzlaff said, “I’ll fast forward to six months or a year, if we pursue this. They’re going to be right here saying, ‘I bought this property,’ or, ‘I’ve lived here for 20 years,’ and now you’re putting 600 vehicles a day down our street. What do we tell them?”
“I’ve brought this before the board and we had a public hearing, four or five years ago,” Mallone said. “And we didn’t get much feedback.”
“Oh, we will,” Retzlaff said.
“But the issue is, this is a pre-existing subdivision and we’re extending it,” Mallone said. “The town has always planned on that.”
“Get a DOT permit and put a signal there, and get the traffic onto a state highway,” Retzlaff said, pointing to the corner of Ward and Niagara roads.
“This can come out here,” Mallone said, also referring to the location Retzlaff indicated. “There’s plenty of room for a road here.”
Town Supervisor Don MacSwan agreed with Retzlaff, and went on to suggest for Mallone a more palatable proposal for this development.
“Why not extend the R-2 (residential zone) over, which is existing for all the homes over there?” said MacSwan, indicating the larger side of the property. “And change this zoning, the part that’s A-R (agricultural residential zone) and build as an R-2 zone.”
“If we were going to do R-2 zone, we’d probably like to apply for an R-2 cluster,” Zarbo said.
“That’s another thing,” MacSwan said. “The bottom line is, if this was re-zoned as R-2, and I mean, all the homes that are there are zoned as R-2, so you’re not doing any more that anybody else that is already there. (This) is not a public hearing, but the fact is, this is A-R. To extend the R-2 to over here, I think that would be the way to go.”
“If we can fit the lots, and we can fit them cost feasibly, then we will do that,” said Zarbo after some discussion. “But with the 40% green space requirement (in a cluster development), that’s probably going to force me to come back with the same scenario. We could make a nicer layout if there was some leniency on that 40% open space. I would still stick to the 52 lots, bigger lots, but that uses up a lot of the land.”
“We’re trying to give you guidance tonight,” MacSwan said. “So, you don’t put a lot of money into engineering for something that may not happen. I think we all agree we need two entrances, correct? I think we all agree to change the zoning to R-2 which would make them have to comply with the R-2 district that is there now, lot size wise. And I think that’s as far as we can go with it.”
Mallone said later, “I think we’ll be able to do the 40%. We’re going to build all ranch-style homes with a homeowner association. We would like to create green space.”
“Supervisor Don MacSwan is definitely pro-build in the town and he’s one of the best supervisors because he knows the future of this town and he’s very helpful,” he continued. “We’ll see what happens and run it by them again as an R-2. The Planning Board has been very interested in concept and design and making sure it’s designed well and an asset to the community.”
More Winter Tips
While Highway Superintendent Paul Seigmann has publicized road rules and restrictions during the winter months, such as overnight parking, and even the policy on leaf pickup, there was one thing he overlooked, but no longer.
“Plowing. If you plow your own driveway, or you have a service plowing, they’re supposed to plow that snow onto your property,” Seigmann said. “Not across the street, not onto your neighbor’s property. We have issues every year where people plow the snow into the ditch across our street because nobody lives there.
“The problem is, when you get this freezing and thawing, you end up with a dam in the ditch. We don’t always catch this right away. That’s when we get rain like this and it’s backing up.”
“If you have a plow service doing it, let them know, because they won’t get the ticket,” Seigmann continued. “You’re the homeowner, you’ll get the ticket for it, and I believe it’s a $500 or $1,000 fine for plowing across the street.”
Water and Sewer head Rich Donner approached the Town Board with a proposal for better billing and work order software.
“I think we can agree it’s time to change things over,” Donner said. “We’re going with a system that’s a little more compatible with what Kathy (Harrington-McDonell, town clerk) uses and the rest of her collection software. Also, it’s going to enable the town residents to view their account online, also to pay their account online, and it should work out better for everybody.”
The board authorized the switch from Springbooks/Accela to Edmunds GovTech. The price tag for the change is $25,390 to begin with yearly fees of almost $8,500. Donner admitted it was a slight increase from the older billing software, but said it’s worth it.
“We’ve had a lot of requests for it,” he said. “The old system doesn’t quite go for it much, but this new system allows us to go into the way millennials like to pay their bills.”
“Baseball and softball registrations is ongoing,” Recreation Director Mike Ranalli said. “Second thing, next Saturday, Feb. 8 will be our fifth annual Winterfest, noon to 2 p.m. at the Youth Center. We got some outdoor activities planned. We’ll have to cancel those if the weather stays mild like right now, but we have some activities lined up. We have some animal guy coming in. He brings in snakes and is very popular. We’ll have some arts and crafts. Other than that, not too much going on.”