Lewiston officially on record opposing asphalt plant
By Terry Duffy
As spring moves ahead and COVID-19 continues, the Town of Lewiston is now considering changes as to how it handles a yearly increase in peddlers and solicitors.
Supervisor Steve Broderick indicated as much as he revealed concerns by Clerk Donna Garfinkel over the town’s current peddling/solicitation law and the impact from outside visitors to residents’ doorsteps.
“The clerk’s office has been contacted by several individual companies seeking to solicit in the town in coming months,” Garfinkel wrote in a letter to the board. “With current restrictions and guidelines in place regarding the pandemic, and the gathering of people for the safety of our residents, I’m asking for guidance on moving forward for issuing permits.”
Garfinkel said town code Chapter 250 does not adequately address the matter.
Broderick said Garfinkel had already reached out to other town clerks in the area. “There was a variety of how they were handling it. Some weren’t allowing them, some were; some said they haven’t been contacted, so they made no changes.”
He noted the town did not make changes to the law last year, as Lewiston had not been contacted by any residents.
“I have a couple thoughts: I thought about suspending it to July 1,” Broderick said. “I don’t think people will appreciate people coming to their doors … while we’re still in the middle of a COVID situation.”
Councilman Bill Geiben said he “agreed completely.
“Many of the people who come knocking on my door are young people, and it’s very likely they have not been vaccinated.”
He said the July 1 timeframe “works perfectly.”
Broderick said the measure would only affect those going door-to-door.
“I know she’s had some grass care companies” calling, he said.
Councilman John Jacoby said he’d like to see solicitation end all together, if possible.
“I get the young people who come and they’re selling god knows what. I think they’re actually brought in ... there’s real high pressure. I wouldn’t mind seeing it end all together,” he said.
Broderick explained the town currently has an opt-out list of residents not to be contacted.
He presented the plan to suspend the town’s current law to July 1. In board discussion, questions were raised as to whom the change would impact, with suggestions that religious and political interests be exempted.
Town Attorney Al Bax said laws are already on the books, “But it’s loosely followed when it comes to people who are soliciting. I imagine officers aren’t even aware of the violations.”
Similar laws do exist in other communities, including the Village of Lewiston.
Bax noted non-for-profits are not impacted; so religious and political interests would be able to continue. As to food trucks, he said they could be included in the Lewiston plan, with special fees established.
“This law as it’s written is not set up to handle the modern-day food trucks,” he said.
Bax added the consideration of a new law “makes sense given the pandemic and peoples’ aversion to really wanting people at their door.”
He recommended the town pursue suspending Chapter 250 until July 1. That measure went on the pass unanimously. It applies to soliciting and peddling activities in the town, including those related to solar installations at residences. Again, religious and political interests are not affected.
In other news:
•On a motion from Councilman Rob Morreale, co-sponsored by Jacoby, the town officially went on record in opposition to a proposed Witmer Road asphalt facility that has been under consideration by the Town of Niagara.
Jacoby was credited by Morreale and the Town Board in spearheading the measure. He said the purpose was to “express the Town of Lewiston’s opposition to construction of a proposed asphalt plant in the Town of Niagara, in close proximity with the border of the Town of Lewiston, and in support of the opposition expressed by Niagara University, neighboring residents and other stakeholders in the area.”
He noted the Lewiston Town Board “has an obligation to preserve and defend against issues pertaining to the quality of life of all its residents,” and the municipality “had not been previously consulted to provide any input or comment with respect to that asphalt plant.”
Jacoby said the Town Board “believes that the construction of such an asphalt plant would have a negative impact on the quality of life for the residents of the Town of Lewiston, the Niagara University community and other stakeholders in the area.”
He said that as a result of this measure, “the Town of Lewiston hereby formally opposes the construction of the proposed asphalt plant at the currently proposed location.”
Upon learning of the Town of Niagara’s plans, Geiben said Lewiston “has been making telephone calls, checking our facts, determining what our rights and obligations were, and how we’re handling it.” He gave credit to council members Morreale and Jacoby, plus Broderick and Bax, in pursuing the matter.
“We made the right resolution; we should go forward with it,” Geiben said.
Following unanimous board approval, it was learned the town would be further reiterating its opposition to the Town of Niagara, which is expected to review that matter at its Town Board session on Wednesday, April 21.
•Lewiston Police Department Chief Frank Previte announced the hiring of two new part-time officers to fill openings: Emily Richael and Colin King, both currently in the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy.
Previte also announced the resignation of part-time officer Adriano Medici, who will be moving on the Niagara Falls Police Department. He said LPD would see the return of Eric Corson, who will be part-time.
•Highway Superintendent Dave Trane requested and was approved to begin posting seasonal openings for part-time positions in the town’s Parks Department.
*Recreation Director Mike Dashineau said signups for the summer youth baseball/softball programs are filled for 2021: “We’re pretty much double (for sign-ups), especially in the T-ball division. ... In the younger divisions, we are far outpacing registration for any previous year.”
Dashineau also reported the Lewiston Dog Park was rated No. 2 in the area.
“The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee was happy with that because the dog park was a tough sell when we sold it 10 years ago. We are pretty pleased with that,” he said.