Residents staying on top of Bri Estates subject
By David Yarger
On Tuesday night, the Town of Niagara Town Board had a fairly quick meeting, but ultimately accomplished a bit to help improve the town.
The meeting started with a public hearing based on Local Law No. 1-2018 - Penalty for the failure to install and test a backflow preventer. The hearing garnered no resident opinions, and a motion was approved later on.
After opening ceremonies, Supervisor Lee Wallace opened the floor to hear opinions, concerns and questions from town citizens.
A citizen residing on Colonial Drive began the open floor with several questions for Wallace and the board. She asked about the status of the possible Bri Estates and if anything had become official. She also mentioned a recent house fire in the Town of Wheatfield that backed up traffic, saying the same could happen with the possible Bri Estates development. She also talked about the recent Niagara Falls water and sewer issues and asked if 119 additional homes could be handled by the NF water and sewer departments.
Wallace responded to the Bri Estates questions saying, "We're still in the same position we were in three months ago. ... It's been tabled numerous times by the Planning Board and it's still at that stage, so we really don't have anything else to add, with regards to that."
Wallace said the Town Board wouldn't allow the possible development to just enter and exit from Colonial, due to traffic concerns. Wallace also affirmed that if the development were to be built, the sewer system would go to the county and not Niagara Falls.
A citizen from Isherwood Drive expressed his concerns of town workers. The resident believed that the town should cut certain jobs to save money because he saw numerous inactivity, such as, "One guy with a leaf blower and another guy walking alongside him to keep him company."
The board and several department heads chimed in that certain numbers of workers are needed for jobs, due to safety concerns (someone to drive the truck, certain number of worked necessary for a job, etc.).
Wallace did make it a point to get the best out of town workers, saying if the resident saw any workers "parked under a shade tree," to take a picture.
Another citizen from Colonial Drive asked about the status on the Bri Estates topic, which Wallace replied, "It's still in the preliminary planning stages and it goes to the Planning Board first, and then the Planning Board will determine what it is they need to do to help make recommendations to the Town Board. Every step of the way there will be open mic and public approval, and you'll be able to get up there to the microphone and state your issues and concerns.
"Other than that, it has to be left up to those who were elected to do the job for the good of the residents, and the residents are gonna have to eventually trust that we're gonna do the right thing; we're gonna try and do the right thing.
"We have a due diligence to do what's right for the residents, but at the same time we have to follow the law. We can't just turn down a proposal without really following the procedural steps."
Wallace added that the developer owns the property and, if it follows each step and does everything according to what needs to be done, it's difficult for the town to disapprove such a thing.
The resident then asked when town citizens would be able to observe the complete proposal and how much time they'd get to look at it.
Bob Lannon, vice president of GHD, the engineering firm for the town, said he believes people will be able to see the process around the time of February's Planning Board meeting.
Similar to the last few months of discussion on the topic, the board wrapped up public input by affirming that nothing has been approved relating to the proposal.
In other news, the Town Board reappointed Sophie A. Fortunate to the part-time clerk position, effective Feb. 5.
Next, the Town Board approved to pre-pay deposits for bands contracted to perform in the 2018 series of Music Mania Monday's.
Also, the board hired Fisher Associates to design and bid services for $100,000 to complete the pathway on Fourth Avenue. The pathway has been a topic of discussion recently, as it safely allows citizens to walk along Fourth Avenue to local businesses.
The board also approved the supervisor to sign the brownfields grant application in the amount of $325,000 for the remediation, environmental cleanup and demolition of property at 4445 Military Road.
Wallace said, "It's the little strip mall at the corner of Grauer and Military road. We're going to take it from the county, clean it up and knock all buildings down and put them back up for sale. So, that eyesore is gone."
The board then approved to post and hire a part-time employee in the Department of Inspections.
The Town Board followed that with two items regarding 26 acres of land along Porter Road. First, to approve a state environmental quality review negative declaration with respect to the purchase of four parcels consisting of approximately 26 acres owned by Joseph C. Weber.
Secondly, the board approved the purchase and sale agreement of that land. Wallace said, "This is the property that sits behind Roberts Drive that is the culprit, and also the solution, to the flooding problem back there. So, gaining control and access of the property; working with Buffalo Riverkeepers, we think we have a solution moving forward that will alleviate a lot of the flooding issues and concerns over in that area."
Wallace noted the land will turn into a conservation and preservation type environment for natural habitats, so it's a win-win for the town and wildlife in the area.
The board approved to purchase road salt from American Rock Salt per state contract not to exceed the budgeted amount of $68,500.
Wallace ended the meeting to announce the next work session is on Feb. 14, and if another is necessary, it's slated for Feb. 15.
The next Town of Niagara Town Board regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20.