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Lewiston Town Board: Second public hearing on solar farm planned; NIMAC looking toward future

Sat, Sep 28th 2019 07:00 am

Town Board to review budget

By Michael DePietro

Two weeks after the Lewiston Town Board held a public hearing regarding a proposed utility-grade solar energy system planned for 4352 Williams Road, a second hearing was announced at this week’s session.

Town Supervisor Steve Broderick made the announcement shortly after local resident Evelyn Lauer voiced her disapproval toward the plan, and the perceived lack of communication with Williams Road residents.

While Lauer aimed her displeasure specifically at Borrego Solar, the company developing the project, Broderick said the lack of communication was an oversight on the town’s part.

“It wasn’t Borrego, it was the Town of Lewiston that screwed up,” he said. “It’s not a part of our code, but it is a policy – anytime we have a public hearing we notify anyone within 500 feet of the property. That was not done. So what we’re going to do is tonight we’re going to reschedule a public hearing for the next board meeting and we’re going to make sure we notify anyone within 500 feet of the property.

“That was the town’s mistake, we found that out after the last meeting.”

The public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, during the Town Board work session.

NIMAC Presentation

Joel D’Aloise, recording secretary for Niagara Military Affairs Council, gave a brief presentation spotlighting the volunteer-based organization’s past, present and future, while underscoring the important role local municipalities play in helping the organization flourish.

According to the organization’s website, NIMAC, “serves as a liaison to promote communication between the base, the community, other local military units, the Department of Defense, business, and government.”

During its lifetime, NIMAC helped stave off Base Realignment And Closure proceedings in 1995 and 2005. Since then, the group has helped advocate for long-term “enduring missions” for the regiments located at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Examples of this include the 107th Airwing’s state-of-the-art remotely piloted aircraft mission, as well as the 914’s transition from its former C-130 cargo mission to the current KC-135 air refueling missions.

According to NIMAC, the two programs have generated over $250 million in “continuous federal investments.” Additionally, D’Aloise described the positive economic impact the Niagara Falls Air Recruiting Station has on the Niagara Falls International Airport, as well as the surrounding community.

“Our business community depends on over $233 million of an annual economic impact of NFARS, between base expenses, what is spent, and the payroll that is generated. We are one of Western New York’s – and probably, definitely Niagara County’s – largest employer,” he said.

D’Aloise went on to emphasize the importance of continued support from local municipalities as the group looks to advocate for further investments and plans to grow the units at NFARS.

“We need additional support. (We’re) just starting our most recent hundred-thousand-dollar grant and not sure how much, or if we’ll be able to receive it again next year,” D’Aloise said. “This organization needs our community’s attention. We can’t afford to stop the momentum we’ve achieved at this point.”

Looking toward the future, D’Aloise said the 914th is currently looking to add four more air-refueling tankers to its current fleet of eight.

Meanwhile, the 107th is aiming much higher.

“The biggest growth area in the military today, what the 107th is doing, is the space missions, because space is the future of the U.S. Air Force,” D’Aloise said.

Other News

•The preliminary 2020 Town of Lewiston budget will be presented to the Town Board at 4 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 2, in Town Hall. In a phone call Wednesday, Broderick said it’s still too early to tell what, if any, big changes might occur from 2019 to 2020.

“We don’t know yet, but my goal obviously is to not have any tax increases whatsoever. Until we do all the math and look at everyone’s proposals we don’t know. … But I think everybody’s intention is to keep that (potential increase) at zero. Whether we can do that or not, we’ll find out.”

A budget work session will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at Town Hall. (Note: This time was incorrectly reported in last week’s issue and has been corrected).

•Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte thanked the board for its support in developing a new app to better connect residents with local law enforcement. The app, Lewiston NY Police, is available for free on iPhone and Android devices.

The app allows residents to instantly contact the LPD in the event of an emergency, submit tips, view programs and services, and browse the most-wanted list.

“I think it’s a very good thing. We’ve had very good positive feedback on it so far, so hopefully that will continue,” Previte said. “It’s a good conduit to let (residents) know what’s happening. We will have notifications and different things that’ll let you know what’s happening in case we get a weather emergency or some kind of road closure. We’re going to make it available for the other departments as well.”

The next Town Board work session will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.

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