By Joshua Maloni
Trustees in the Village of Lewiston on Tuesday voted in favor of an expansion to Hibbard's Original Frozen Custard. However, they tabled a request to allow the almost 80-year-old business to add a concrete pad in the right-of-way.
The Hibbard family seeks to enlarge the serving windows and create a new waiting area. The latter, proposed to be a concrete pad, would include a railing and plantings. The total effect would be more efficient service and more organized waiting lines at the popular, warm-weather destination.
With Village Board approval, the Hibbard family will move the custard stand's front wall out toward Portage Road.
There was some discussion as to whether the building expansion should be presented to the Niagara County Planning Board, as the business is within 500 feet of a state roadway, Center Street. Ultimately, trustees said the motion could be voted on without that next step, as the project is within the Hibbard family's property line.
Trustee Dan Gibson abstained from the vote, as he is married to Jamie Hibbard.
Village Board members were hesitant to grant the right-of-way request because Department of Public Works Superintendent Terry Brolinski said there is a rickety, clay tile sewer line under the existing asphalt, and possibly a gas line, too.
Architect James Fittante, speaking on behalf of the Hibbard family, said the concrete pad and plantings wouldn't be any deeper than the asphalt and, as such, wouldn't affect a sewer line or gas line.
"It's really, more or less, just dressing up the area," Fittante said. "It's not like we're digging foundations. It's no deeper than the asphalt sitting on the existing stone bed. It's really just a little bit of an improvement."
Fittante conceded the Hibbard family understands the DPW would tear up the concrete, if necessary, to fix any sewer line problems.
"They (the family) would be responsible to replace that back, whatever gets torn out," he said.
The elevated concrete pad would slope down. As such, municipal counselor Joseph Leone said the Village Board should ask the Hibbard family for liability protection.
"If something is going to be built on village right-of-way, I'd want a separate indemnification and hold-harmless agreement, not just by the corporation, but personally guaranteed by the individuals who are the shareholders of the corporation," he said. "I think that the village would have a significant interest in having an insurance policy of a significant amount of money.
"It's not as though we're talking about something that doesn't have a lot of foot traffic and a lot of people."
Leone said he would work up an agreement.
Mayor Terry Collesano said, "I like the plan. I also stand in line out there for a long time, so I can see where you could speed things up. However, we're acting as trustees for village residents and property that's owned by village residents. ... I want to make sure that we are covered."
Board members instructed Brolinski to further investigate the gas line and learn whether or not it's in the area requested to be renovated.
Tree Removal Fine Increases
The Village Board voted unanimously to approve a stiffer penalty for those arbitrarily removing trees on village property.
Leone said, "I tried to prepare the local law in such a way that it puts the presumption on the homeowner that, if a tree in the right-of-way is taken down, that it's done with their knowledge. Essentially being willful. That potentially puts the homeowner in jeopardy not only of a fine with the village, but also puts them in possible violation of state law."
The amendment to Village of Lewiston local law Section 17-7 (trees in the right of way) reads, "Any person, as that term is defined in Section 1.3 Definitions and Rules of Construction of the Village of Lewiston, New York, Code of Ordinances, who removes a tree located in the village right-of-way without permission of the Village Board of Trustees, shall be presumed to have done so willfully and shall have committed an offense punishable by a fine of at least $1,500 or three times the value of such tree, or both. Section 1-9 of the Village of Lewiston, New York Code of Ordinances penalties not exclusive in full force and effect and is applicable to this local law."
Leone said, "It's something the village is concerned about. We had an issue before that we're still trying to pursue. It's something that (the board) is very serious about. So, if somebody wants to take a tree down, they can't just do it on their own if it's in the right-of-way."
Following the meeting, Collesano said any resident looking to alter a tree on village right-of-way, "Should be checking with the village first - with the village clerk's office or with the superintendent of public works as to what requirements are, as far as removing trees or planting trees."
No comments were offered at a public hearing scheduled at the start of the board meeting.