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Town of Wheatfield: Residents push to make road safer

Fri, Oct 21st 2016 11:25 am

Petition in favor of Kruger Road sidewalk presented to town board

By Lauren Zaepfel

Tribune Editor

Krueger Road residents Deborah Fadel and Kelly Dueger said they gathered 662 signatures from both Kruger Road and surrounding area residents who were in favor of installing a sidewalk in the area at Monday night's board meeting.

The sidewalk would run from Niagara Falls Boulevard to Ward Road, including the area's residential routes. Teenager Ryan Fischer was killed in a hit and run accident in 2014 while walking along this stretch of road.

At the Oct. 3 Town Board meeting, the board voted in favor of pursuing a state grant to cover 80 percent of the cost of the sidewalk, which was estimated at $945,000. If the town receives the grant, the remaining 20 percent of the project's cost, $189,000, would still need to be covered.

To avoid making all town residents chip in for the cost, Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said only the approximately 674 homes that sit within the area would likely be taxed.

"We brought up about the taxes," Fadel said Monday night. "People are very, very supportive. They feel our street is very unsafe and something needs to be done."

Since the process of obtaining the grant funds from the state could take several months, Fadel and Dueger, Ryan's stepmother, requested other steps be taken to attempt to make the roadway safer.

The residents said they would like to see the town's radar sign/speed detector placed on the road, close to (or even directly on) their properties, as well as two additional 30-mile-per-hour speed signs.

After Ryan was killed, Fadel said two signs were put up on the road.

"But I would like two more signs put up," she said. "By the time they (drivers) hit Kelly and my house, they're doing 45, 50."

Fadel urged Cliffe to contact Thomas S. Messana, traffic engineer for Niagara County, to see if he could provide the town with further direction on how it could improve the safety of the road.

She also requested that a Niagara County Sheriff's Office patrolman park closer to the area of concern, and even offered up her own driveway.

Cliffe said if she could forward him an email with her request, he would forward it on to the NCSO.

During the meeting, town grant writer Bernie Rotella said he will submit the request for the DOT grant for Kruger Road.

In other news:

•The board approved minor changes to the tentative budget, making it the town's 2017 preliminary budget.

Budget Director Edward Mongold said changes decreased the tax levy by $1,528.

"The result was that the increase in the tax levy is $22,172, which represents a 0.63 percent increase. The tax cap limit is 0.68. So, we are below the tax cap," Mongold said.

For a typical house assessed at $125,000, the homeowner would be looking at a 25-cent decrease in a typical tax bill, which represents a 0.05 percent reduction, Mongold said.

"The reason why the typical homeowner is seeing a tax decrease, but there's an increase in the tax levy, is because of increased accessed valuations throughout the town through new developments," Mongold said.

A public budget hearing on the budget has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7.

•The board voted in favor of Cliffe signing paperwork for National Fuel in regard to the installation of the security fence at the Niagara Sanitation Landfill.

"We received an encroachment agreement from National Fuel, which they require of any and everybody who does anything within their pipeline right of way," said Town Engineer Timothy J. Zuber of Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers.

"We are only crossing two small segments of it with our fence, but they still require this paperwork to be filled out and signed."

Rotella said the paperwork is completed for the landfill. He expected to submit it Tuesday.

•The board held a public hearing Monday regarding a three-month extension of its existing moratorium on installing ground-mounted solar panels and solar farms in the town. However, the members determined it was not necessary and did not take action.

Town Attorney Matthew E. Brooks said the board passed the six-month moratorium in May and mailed it to the New York Secretary of State's Office to be filed immediately. If filed at that time for the office, the moratorium would expire this month.

However, the office did not file the moratorium request until Aug. 4. Therefore, it became effective on Aug. 4 and will now expire in February, giving the task force more time to review and further develop a law.

"It looks like we don't have to take any action," Cliffe said. "The (Energy Application) Focus Group has a final version in their hands of a solar law. It has not come to the board yet."

If the law is approved by both the focus group and the town's task force, it will then be presented to the board.

"We'll have two (Town Board) meetings in November, and at least one in December to take action and get that done before the first of the year," Cliffe said.

The moratorium was implemented because multiple parties have approached the town and have requested to install solar farm and ground-mounted solar panels (not including those on roofs), Cliffe said. With that, there were hardly any regulations within town code that applied to these types of structures.

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