By Lauren Zaepfel
Big design changes have been made to plans for the proposed sports facility at the Summit Mall.
At Monday night's Wheatfield Town Board meeting, Tim Zuber of town engineering firm Wendel said a new sketch plan was presented to the Town of Wheatfield's Planning Board earlier this month for the Niagara International Sports and Entertainment facility. The new plan no longer includes two inflatable domes to house sporting activities as developer Zoran Cocov (with Summit Outlet LP) originally planned. Instead of domes, the plans call for two permanent metal buildings.
Zuber explained the metal structures will have the same dimensions as the previously proposed domes, covering 96,000 square feet. However, instead of having a curved ceiling, the metal structures will come to a peak at 75 feet high, with side walls reaching up to 45 feet.
Also, "the structures will be at a revised configuration from that previously approved, with one structure directly connected to the mall and the second connected to the first by a covered walkway," Zuber said.
He explained, "Now, instead of being an arch, they're going to have straight walls. This will allow for "a little bit more clearance inside," Zuber added.
Zuber explained two of the other benefits to having metal structures versus the inflatable domes include noise and light reduction.
Some residents living nearby the mall have expressed concerns regarding light and noise disruptions, especially at night.
With opaque, metal structures, the "glow effect" (caused when light illuminates the inside of the domes at night) will no longer be an issue, Zuber explained.
Also, "They won't need all the HVAC equipment, which originally would be needed to keep these domes inflated," he said. "Noise concerns will be greatly reduced. So, it's probably a good idea."
The applicant was advised of several steps he will have to redo in order to receive approval for the new plan. Some of these include a fire advisory board review, utility and drainage design approval and review under State Environmental Quality Review. The developer will have to go through all the steps necessary for Planning Board review again, including another public hearing.
In addition, the new layout will disturb federally regulated wetlands. Therefore, the project will also need to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"They basically started back at square one," Zuber said.
However, he said the process "will probably go a bit faster, because everybody's familiar with it now and they're going through the same steps all over."
The Town Board members did not offer significant comment on the changes during the meeting.
•Town Board members agreed to accept a $75,000 grant provided by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to install a fence around the former Niagara Sanitation Landfill. Several chemical companies have dumped chemicals at the landfill in the past.
New York State Sen. Robert G. Ortt helped secure the grant last year after the DEC reclassified the landfill from Class 3 to Class 2, raising the public health and environment threat level.
"This is the grant which we've been expecting," Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said. "We finally got the paperwork on it. We'll send it in (and) probably won't get it back for another six months, but at least we know it's in process."
The fence is expected to be completed this year.
•The Town Board officially decided not to accept a $756,000 grant from the New York State Department of Transportation for the installation of a sidewalk on Krueger Road.
After hearing from several residents last month who were either for or against the sidewalk, all board members, excluding Cliffe, decided not to accept the grant.
Cliffe stated he is in favor of the sidewalk.
•Town Board members agreed to purchase a parcel of land that includes a one-way stone road (known as Haul Road) and an adjacent ditch for $39,900.
The road serves as an emergency exit for residents of Wilrose Court when flooding occurs. Residents have voiced concerns, stating they are unable to drive through water when flooding occurs after heavy rainfalls.
"When the area floods, it gives the residents of Wilrose Court a way out," Cliffe explained.
By purchasing the land, "We never lose control of that ditch or Haul Road," he said.
The town will be responsible to maintain the parcel.