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Town of Niagara supervisor announces plans to demolish vacant plaza

Fri, Feb 28th 2020 07:00 am

By Benjamin Joe

Tribune Editor

It was a night for bulldozing the eyesores, and rewarding the clean and sightly at the Town of Niagara Town Board meeting. Plans to take down existing vacant and unsafe structures were announced.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Supervisor Lee Wallace was met with some applause on his proclamation that, “The little plaza is coming down!”

“It took four-and-half years,” Wallace said. “But it’s coming down. So, it’s a good thing and everyone, the weather is getting a little better – be safe out there.”

Wallace was referring to an abandoned plaza on the corner of Grauer and Military Roads, which he had spoken of in a sit-down with NFP and documented on his own Facebook account.

“The planning for the demolition of the mini plaza has been on-going for more than three years. The town is the current owner of that site, and we were awarded a $350,000 brownfields grant to mediate and demolish the site quite some time ago. Unfortunately, as I have stated many times in the past, the wheels of government turn very slowly and the demolition of the site was delayed multiple times by the DEC who required additional testing as well as sampling before they would sign off on the demolition. As many have noticed, there has been a significant increase in activity at the site recently and I am happy to report that the demolition should begin very shortly barring no new setbacks,” he wrote.

During the meeting, the board voted unanimously to authorize the town engineer to prepare bid specifications and solicit bids to demolish another unsightly, and unsafe structure, this time at 2919 Birch Ave.

“For those of you that live in that area, you’ve noticed that the cars are gone,” Wallace said, referring to the abandoned vehicles that had been stored at two addresses on Birch Avenue. In a previous meeting, the board asked the owner to move the vehicles. “We hauled the cars out, so now we can proceed with the demolition of this structure.”

Demolitions were not the only thing on the agenda this night. Three resolutions were made to approve requests of Fittante Architecture, so the firm can help its client, Andrew Schlaak of Schlaak Enterprises, expand on Porter Road.

“He requested the Town Board to use the adjacent lots to make a thru-lot,” said Chuck Haseley, town building inspector. “What it’s going to do is allow him to bring bigger trucks in without turning around on Porter Road. That’s about the size of it.”

To do this, the board had to rezone two lots to commercial. Haseley said there were similar changes in zoning done on Porter, so the community around that area has been rezoned, as well.

In a letter to the Town of Niagara Planning Board, which met Jan. 7, James Fittante of Fittante Architecture wrote, “After the lots are re-zoned and combined, the new owner would like to construct a 24-foot-wide gated drive lane. This drive lane would connect Porter Road to Fourth Avenue. The new drive lane will have limited traffic, less than 12 large vehicles per month.”

Schlaak Enterprises has been in the town for 50 years and does maintenance services in terms of landscaping and snowplowing, Haseley said.

“They’re located in the town, but they lost a portion of their rental land, so they needed a new home, and they decided to stay in the town,” he explained. “In order for them to stay, the Town Board helped them along and move (to this location).”

The Town Board also voted unanimously to allow Wallace to draft a letter to the Niagara Greenway Commission on behalf of the Town Board, supporting the Town of Niagara Farmland Conservancy’s application for a grant from the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee.

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