By David Yarger
On Monday night the Town of Wheatfield Town Board held its regular meeting at Town Hall. The meeting was rather brief, but accomplished a few things that could have future effects on the town.
The first motion approved by the board was the application for a $15,000 grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Program in relation to the Wheatfield Municipal Agricultural and Farmland Implementation Plan, a plan which Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe said, is one to protect farms in the area.
"When we did the Farm Protection Plan, one of the things in there had to do with PDRs, purchase of development rights, or other ways to protect farmers. Part of the process is to look at the land; you have an expert look at the land and determine whether it is prime land for purposing of having development rights, or for other purposes.
"We're also looking at rezoning. Is there something we can do on our zoning laws to help farmers and to protect certain properties? So, it would be a process of a consultant to go through and determine those questions. Those are the two biggest questions: Are they appropriate lands for PDRs? And, is there something we could or should be doing to protect the lands?" Cliffe said.
Back in October, Councilman Larry Helwig announced that the town's email system had been hacked. On Monday night, he explained the second agenda item listed, which issued the supervisor to execute a consulting services agreement with Lynx Technologies for computer and IT services for 24 months.
Helwig said, "What this is going to provide to the town and departments is a big time computer support, which we've been lacking. We had nighttime support... limited to one night a week, you couldn't fix everything. Some of the problems the departments were having were during the day where something was broke and they would have to wait till the following Wednesday night.
"Another thing that comes with this agreement is they're gonna provide at least one day, or a couple hours of training every year on the anti-phishing for emails ... they're gonna provide some basic training and explain what these bad guys all over the world are trying to do, and they're trying to make money."
Cliffe said the agreement was definitely a follow up to the incident that occurred in September.
"The simple answer is yes. The fact of the problem we had with our email was basically someone getting control of our email. It showed us that as much as we have done to try and protect our data, it showed there are people out there that can get through it. So, we need a professional service that'll give us another level of protection for both the computer system and just to work better," Cliffe said.
The board also approved an item that increased water bills for the town. The cost of water went up 15 cents at the Niagara County Water District. The increases for the town bring the water rate from $1.90 per 1,000 gallons of usage to $2.10 per 1,000 gallons. It also increased sewer rates from 95 cents per 1,000 gallons to $1 per 1,000 gallons. The said increases result in a minimum water/sewer bill being $21.70. The increase is being issued effectively Jan. 1, 2018.
Next, the board approved to assist Bergholz Fire Co. in tearing down an old house and garage that was used for training. The company indicated they would file all permits required and pay all disposal and labor fees.
The Town Board approved two items from the Recreation Department: one to sell the department's old lawn mower for bidding and then to use that money to purchase a new mower.
At the last Town Board meeting, the board and citizens heard from LI2 Holdings who were interested in rezoning the Forest Parkway development from M-1 zoning to a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The board couldn't take any action at the meeting because the development had not gone through a State Environment Quality Review (SEQR). On Monday night, the board approved the SEQR and authorized the supervisor to sign the Environmental Assessment Form to act as a negative declaration, which states there is no evidence the project will have an effect on the environment.
The development still has a long way to go, Cliffe said, and he reminded citizens that it's just the SEQR being approved, there are still many steps to go through.
"The board has not yet agreed. You have to rezone first, then it would have to go back to the Planning Board; Planning Board would work with the developer to make sure it meets our rules and make a recommendation on whether to proceed or not. So, it's still three major steps to happen. I believe it's going to be a long process. They're not gonna start digging next week," Cliffe said.
The last motion of the night was a late add-on from Wendel, the town engineers, authorizing the group to prepare a sketch, model, and color rendering of the latest veterans memorial design. The motion was approved unanimously.
Helwig led off board member items by donating to Building Inspector Mike Klock for the peanut butter and jelly drive that benefits local food pantries. Helwig, along with Councilman Gilbert Doucet donated peanut butter and jelly to the cause. The drive goes till Dec. 10, and just asks for jars of peanut butter, jelly or fluff that'll benefit local food pantries and benefit less-fortunate children and families. To find a drop-off location, visit the group page by typing in "Peanut Butter and Jelly" on Facebook, or call 510-6589, 799-4013 or 510-7108.
Cliffe took his time to remind people once again to renew their pistol permits. He added that, at 7 p.m. Dec. 11, County Clerk Joe Yastrzemski would be in town to answer questions or listen to concerns on the renewal process. The meeting will take place at the community center.
The next Town Board meeting is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 18, with a public hearing on the Jacobs Ladder Project prior, at 7:15 p.m.