West Seneca Planning Board Meeting Minutes 07/19/2006
Chairman Joseph Ciancio called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. followed by the Pledge to the Flag.
ROLL CALL: Present -
Robert Niederpruem Jr.
Edwin P. Hunter
Paul Notaro, Deputy Town Attorney
William P. Czuprynski, Code Enforcement Officer
Absent - None
Chairman Ciancio read the Fire Prevention Code instructing the public where to exit in case of a fire or other emergency.
APPROVAL OF PROOFS OF PUBLICATION
Motion by Rathmann, seconded by Niederpruem, to approve the proofs of publication and posting of legal notice.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Nigro, seconded by Mendola, to approve Minutes #2006-05 of June 21, 2006.
OLD BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Niederpruem, to open the public hearing.
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, represented the petitioner, Kainos Partners, LLC and stated their request to rezone 28 Garden Avenue from R-65 to C-2. The vacant house on the property will be removed and the lot will be used for parking and stacking as an accessory use to a Dunkin Donuts to be located at 1145 Union Road. Hot Dog Heaven was currently operating at 1145 Union Road, but the property was under lease to Kainos Partners for Dunkin Donuts. Mr. Lorigo presented an aerial survey of the property and some engineering information. He noted that 1145 Union Road was properly zoned for a restaurant and the physical structure was rebuilt four years ago. Most commercial property is at least 300 feet deep, but the lot size for 1145 Union Road is only 135’ wide x 155’ deep. George Ladas owns the property at 1145 Union Road and the property at 28 Garden Avenue to the rear of the Union Road property. By adding 28 Garden Avenue, the depth will be 215’ and this will aid in stacking and parking vehicles and help to eliminate a similar problem to that of Tim Horton’s on Union Road. Mr. Lorigo referred to the survey and site plan and stated that there will be stacking for 12 to 17 vehicles. This property would be for accessory use to the Union Road property and Kainos Partners, LLC signed a lease contingent upon approval of this rezoning. If approval is granted, the transition should take place within 30 days. Mr. Lorigo stated that all the blacktop will be redone and there was a joint agreement to use the parking area at the Nail Place, which was also owned by George Ladas. The only exterior changes to the property would be signage and that will conform to the Town Code.
Mr. Mendola questioned if any fencing was proposed for the east side of the property where the house will be torn down.
Mr. Lorigo responded that a new six-foot wood fence will be constructed along the property line.
Mr. Mendola expressed concern that lighting in the new parking area will disturb the neighboring residents.
Mr. Lorigo responded that the lighting was very directional and could be shielded.
Mr. Niederpruem was concerned about headlights from vehicles entering the property shining directly into the back yard of the neighbor to the north. Due to the elevation of the property, he did not believe a six-foot fence would shield the lights. Mr. Niederpruem suggested a berm and fence to prevent headlights from shining in the neighbor’s yard.
Mr. Mendola questioned locating the dumpster where customers will see it just prior to getting served at the drive-thru window.
Mr. Lorigo stated that the dumpster is enclosed and will have a fence around it. He noted that it was in their best interest to make the site appealing and they would do so.
Mr. Rathmann questioned the number of parking spaces provided. He anticipated a lot of traffic conflicts within the site with motorists trying to determine which way to turn and how to exit.
Mr. Lorigo responded that they were not changing anything at 1145 Union Road. They were adding parking to what was already accepted and existing and were also adding stacking space to alleviate a potential problem on Union Road. Mr. Lorigo noted that Dunkin Donuts could locate at 1145 Union Road without any approvals from the town. Use of the property at 28 Garden Avenue for stacking and parking will be a benefit to the town and the business.
Brian Graves, 53 Ebenezer Drive, referred to the north side of the property that abuts Lee Nails and stated that because of the elevation garbage collects in that area. He suggested that an eight-foot fence be constructed along the property line up to the cement building owned by National Fuel.
Mr. Lorigo stated that there would be no problem adding an eight-foot fence as a stipulation.
Lisa Graves, 53 Ebenezer Drive, commented on the poor condition of the existing fence and expressed some concern about the increase in traffic that Dunkin Donuts will bring to the neighborhood.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski stated that fences must be maintained and he would look at the condition of the existing fence. He further noted that an eight-foot fence was not allowed under the current Zoning Ordinance without a variance. Mr. Niederpruem thought that a berm with a six-foot fence would be better than an eight-foot fence.
Mr. Graves stated that there was a light on the original plans that faced his back yard. He was concerned that no lights on the property be facing his home.
Chairman Ciancio stated that all lighting would have to be directed away from the neighboring houses.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Niederpruem, seconded by Mendola, to recommend approval of the request for a rezoning for property located at 28 Garden Avenue, being part of Lot No. 90, changing its classification from R-65 to C-2, to remove existing house for stacking and parking purposes for a proposed Dunkin Donuts, with the stipulation that a minimum four-foot earth berm be constructed along the north property line of 28 Garden Avenue with a six-foot fence along the entire 70-foot length.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Nigro, to open the public hearing.
Chairman Ciancio stated that along with the application the Planning Board had received a short environmental assessment form, a deed description, a survey, a site plan, and a tax map.
Chairman Ciancio noted that the Planning Board had received a letter from the County Division of Planning stating that the town should consider requiring a more extensive buffer zone with landscaping to minimize any negative impacts to the adjacent residential area.
Mr. Lorigo stated that there was 20 feet at the rear of the property that could be used for a berm with trees and he questioned if that would be sufficient.
Mr. Mendola referred to Mr. Lorigo’s earlier comment that the residents of Carla Lane already had drainage problems and stated that their homes were fairly new and a drainage plan would have been presented to the town at the time they were built. If there was existing drainage problems on Carla Lane, the residents should be contacting the town to have this resolved. Mr. Mendola expressed concern about the lighting and the distance between lights. He further questioned if there would be gasoline tanks on the property and if there was a waterline design for the project.
Mr. Lorigo responded that there would be no gasoline tanks on site. He further stated that the waterline was an engineering issue and did not have anything to do with the zoning of the property. After the rezoning is approved, Town Engineer George Montz had to review the plans for the project and give his approval.
Mr. Rathmann stated that because the site was ten acres, the State Environmental Review considers this a Type I action, which requires a Long Environmental Assessment Form and potentially an Environmental Impact Statement. He also did not believe that a buffer and berm would fit in the limited space at the rear of the property and thought that the last bay of parking would need to be removed. Mr. Rathmann stated that the petitioner would need to show the Planning Board the visual affect this project will have on the residents of Carla Lane.
Mr. Mendola commented that a berm must be a maintainable slope and the town had specifications on slopes. He questioned how high the berm would have to be to screen the parking lot.
Mr. Hunter stated that the berm would have to be a small mountain to screen the parking lot by itself. The vegetation would be the actual screening, so the berm should be wider to allow for trees to be planted on it. Mr. Hunter further thought that because the Carla Lane residences were lower than this property, it contributed to their existing drainage problem, but the paving and retention pond that would be part of this project would stop the flow of water to the north and improve the drainage problems.
Mr. Lorigo agreed that a wider berm and staggering of trees would be a better solution to the screening problem.
Mr. Hunter agreed that the propane tanks were a legitimate concern and should be moved to a better location.
Thomas McGowan, 129 Carla Lane, stated that Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski informed him that the petitioner could have up to 30,000 gallons of low-pressure propane on site. He was concerned about the possibility of the propane leaking and running down the berm into the Carla Lane residents’ back yards. Mr. McGowan noted that the property on Southwestern Blvd. was shown as C-1 on the town’s Master Plan since 1963. He did not believe that C-2 fit in and questioned if the Planning Board would stick with the Master Plan on this issue. Mr. McGowan referred to the survey for the property and the short environmental assessment form submitted and stated that a long form environmental assessment would be required for this project. He expressed concern about the Carla Lane residents’ property values decreasing if the project is developed and commented on the potential drainage problem from water runoff, snow removal, mosquito problems from standing water, and the danger of a 12’ to 16’ deep retention pond with no fence. Mr. McGowan stated that the proposed building is 15,000 square feet and 21 feet high, so it will be about 29 feet above his back yard. He did not believe that any berm would screen the building or the RV’s. Mr. McGowan stated that a hydrologist at the Department of Environmental Conservation gave him the following formula concerning rainfall - One-inch of rain per hour, per acre produces 27,153 gallons of water. Therefore, this ten-acre site will produce over 270,000 gallons of water if one-inch of rain fell per hour. He hoped the Planning Board would consider this information.
Mike Kluck, 77 Larkwood Road, stated that he is a Commissioner with W. S. Fire District #3 where the project will be located. The fire district was not for or against the project, but had major concerns with only one fire hydrant being located at the entrance. Based on the size of the building, the fire load, and the size of the lines, they did not believe that one hydrant was sufficient. More than one company will be responding to a fire at this location and the other hydrants on Southwestern Blvd. are located at some distance from the project. Mr. Kluck also commented that one entrance to the site could be a problem and suggested that an additional entrance/exit be added to the project.
Chairman Ciancio questioned if this type of building required a sprinkler system.
Mr. Czuprynski could not answer this question because he had not seen any building plans.
William Wipfler, 121 Carla Lane, stated that the residents received bits of information about the project and that information has changed since it was first presented. There were 111 homes on Carla Lane and 107 of the residents were opposed to the rezoning. The residents were very concerned about the environmental impact of the project and hoped there would be serious consideration given that. He also asked that the residents be kept informed on this issue.
Joe Mosher, 95 Carla Lane, questioned what other business would be able to locate in the C-2 zoning if the rezoning were approved and the RV Center did not survive.
Mr. Greenan responded that if the C-2(S) were approved only the proposed building could be built at this location with conditions as specified. The special permit would also limit the property to this particular use.
Mr. Mosher asked that a substantial buffer zone be required if the rezoning is approved.
Sharon Ehlers, 3 Carla Lane, stated that she chose to live on Carla Lane because she wanted a family environment that was fairly safe. Her house was directly behind Wilson Farms and that was not overly obtrusive to their lives, but they did have some problem with kids in the neighborhood. Mrs. Ehlers was concerned that the RV parking lot would become a hangout for kids because they could hide behind the RV’s. She further commented on the existing drainage problem in the neighborhood and stated that the town had been out to fix some things, but there still was a problem. The light on Sahlem’s Roofing was also on 24/7 and she felt sorry for the residents of Carla Lane that had to look at it. Mrs. Ehlers stated that she was opposed to a rezoning to C-2(S) and would be much happier with a smaller plaza or business park at this location.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro responded that Mr. Bueme was the owner of the property, but the question of assessments was not relative to the zoning change application before the Planning Board.
Mr. McGowan referred to Mr. Mosher’s earlier question concerning what would happen to the zoning if the RV business were to close and questioned if the C-2 zoning would remain.
Chairman Ciancio responded that the C-2 zoning would remain even if the special permit were dropped.
Mr. McGowan was concerned about the other uses allowed in a C-2 zoning that would be undesirable to the neighborhood.
Mr. Lorigo responded to some of the neighbors’ concerns and stated that the propane tanks could be moved to a different location on the property. The fire department raised some engineering concerns and he had no problem complying with their requests. Mr. Lorigo stated that the Planning Board had to decide between the proposed use and the C-1 uses. He noted that the proposed use was actually a C-1 use because it was not automotive; they would not have any automotive aspect to the property, except selling RV’s. Mr. Lorigo thought the RV Center with only five to ten customers per day was a better use for the property than other C-1 uses. The petitioner has been in business for 22 years, has had a location in Elma for the last three years, and the property was well maintained. They were willing to work with the Planning Board and residents for a buffer area that was acceptable.
Mr. Rathmann stated that he did not particularly care for berms because they looked like burial grounds, but he would be in favor of a wider berm with staggered evergreens, deciduous trees, ornamental trees, and large shrubs so it would look like a garden area. Mr. Rathmann further referred to the elevation of the detention basin and calculated that in a heavy rain there could be nine feet of water standing before it would start to discharge from the basin.
Mr. Lorigo responded that the detention basin was an engineering concern and changes would be made as directed by the Engineering Department.
Mr. Greenan stated that if a piece of land was raised six feet over the current grade and the slope going up and down were each on a 1 to 3 basis, the mound could be built within a space of 48 feet. He was not proposing that there be a berm the length of the property, but was tempted to propose that the property be brought to six feet higher in the rear of each existing lot.
Mr. Lorigo stated that he thought there was already a difference of three to four feet, so with a stipulation of a six-foot minimum height, 50 feet would not be necessary to accomplish that. The east end of the property was already high enough and would not require a berm.
Mr. Greenan questioned if the petitioner would be eliminating at least five feet of frontage from the application in order to bring the parcel within the range that does not require a long form environmental impact statement.
Mr. Lorigo responded that they would be reducing the parcel to be rezoned by five feet.
Shawn Hanley, 3266 Seneca Street, stated that he owned six duplexes as rental properties on Carla Lane and they were located immediately behind the proposed project. He thought the concerns brought up at the meeting were genuine and wanted to see them addressed, but noted that he was in favor of the project because he welcomed a new business person in town and was happy that they were attempting to develop this piece of commercial property.
Mr. McGowan stated that although Mr. Hanley owns the property, he does not live on Carla Lane and he hoped that the Planning Board would consider this. Mr. McGowan also thought that Mr. Lorigo was being contradictory with his statement that the east end of the property would not even require a berm. The ground level behind Mr. McGowan’s house is eight feet above his back yard and the proposed building is 21 feet high. This means the building will be 29 feet above his house and he thought a berm should be required.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to close the public hearing.
On the question, Mr. Mendola was not in favor of this project and did not believe it was good for the area.
Mr. Niederpruem stated that he was not in favor of designing and making modifications without seeing it in print. He thought the proposed rezoning of the property was better than what the alternative could be, because the controls the Planning Board and Town Board can put on it could be a benefit to the surrounding neighborhood. Mr. Niederpruem was not in favor of approving the rezoning at this time and wanted to see the modifications on a plan.
Chairman Ciancio agreed with Mr. Niederpruem and suggested that they make recommendations, table the item, and have the petitioner return with the proper plans.
Mr. Nigro noted that none of the surrounding neighbors were in favor of the rezoning for this project and he supported the neighbors.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro advised that the New York State Supreme Court has been very clear that determinations by Planning Boards, Zoning Boards, and Town Boards that are based solely on a neighborhood concern or controversy were overturnable in an Article 78 hearing. He suggested that if the Planning Board chose to deny this application, they delineate all the reasons why so they had a stand if it should be challenged at a future date.
Motion by Niederpruem, seconded by Rathmann, to table the above request to allow the engineer, architect, and developer to make modifications to the plan based on comments made at this meeting, and in particular, address items such as: 1) specific height of the building, lighting, and motor homes; 2) increasing the width of the berm and where it will be located; 3) concerns of the fire district; 4) detailed landscape buffer plan; 5) long environmental assessment form.
NEW BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Niederpruem, to open the public hearing.
Chairman Ciancio stated that along with the application the Planning Board had received a short environmental assessment form, a deed description, a site plan, a survey, and a tax map.
Mr. Greenan stated that the maps that were distributed showed the entire school property; however, the schools (Potter Road Elementary and BOCES) will not be affected by this rezoning. The area involved was a baseball diamond at the rear of the property, and alternate provisions for the baseball diamond were underway.
Chairman Ciancio asked for more detail on the proposed hotel and office/retail building.
Mr. Paladino stated that the hotel and office building were just conceptual. There was a good possibility for a hotel, but they had to do a market study to determine that. The market study cost money and they were willing to do that, but only if the rezoning were approved. The rezoning was the first step, and if that were approved they would return to the Planning Board with a proposal for what they actually wanted to do.
Mr. Mendola questioned how the Planning Board could rezone the property without knowing what would be locating there.
Mr. Rathmann noted that unfortunately the Town of West Seneca did not have site plan review, so once the property was rezoned to C-1 the petitioner would not have to return to the Planning Board.
Mr. Paladino suggested that site plan review be made a condition of the rezoning.
Mr. Hunter commented that this was an orphan parcel of residential property that had no potential for residential development.
Chairman Ciancio questioned if the Planning Board could rezone the property with a stipulation that the petitioner return to a future meeting when the final plan was developed.
Mr. Notaro responded that he did not know whether the Town’s Code legally allowed them to do that. He would research the answer to that question.
Mr. Greenan stated that the last time a rezoning of this nature was granted was in 1993 with the Shops of West Seneca at the Seneca Mall site. At that time, both sides of Slade Avenue were rezoned to C-1, when the only plans submitted were for a SONY theater on the south side of the street. If the Planning Board were to grant the C-1 zoning, it would have the traditional C-1 limitations with regard to special use permits.
Tom Cox, 66 Slade Avenue, stated that his street was residential at one time and then was rezoned to commercial. There were no specific plans for it at the time and none of the neighbors were consulted. Mr. Cox questioned where the entrance to the proposed development will be located.
Chairman Ciancio responded that the entrance to the proposed development will be at 162 Slade Avenue.
Mr. Cox noted that Mr. Paladino already bought the property at 162 Slade Avenue.
Mr. Notaro stated that the address was only for tax map purposes with Erie County. As soon as the property became an individual parcel, it would be renumbered on the tax map as a Slade Avenue address.
Mr. Decibus referred to the map submitted and stated that there were a number of items missing from it. He commented on the lack of green space if this proposal were developed and was concerned about what type of business would locate next to the elementary school.
Cheryl Lindstrom, 666 Potters Road, understood that the commercial property was on Slade Avenue, but stated that it affected the entire area. They had children that played on the property and a school on the same lot. Ms. Lindstrom was concerned about the property values of the Potters Road homes and did not believe that the residents could sell their homes because no one would want to look at a hotel and office building.
Brian Smith, 98 Slade Avenue, stated that he has been cutting the grass on this property for 40 years and he considered it to be his since he has been maintaining it. He questioned if he had any rights in this matter.
Mr. Notaro stated that this was a legal question and Mr. Smith should seek the advice of his attorney.
Felix Jackowski, 96 Slade Avenue, thought it was odd that with all the commercial property on Slade Avenue, the petitioner would want to put a hotel in the back yards of the homes on property that was zoned residential.
Kenneth Klaybor, 110 Slade Avenue, commented that he has also mowed the lawn on this property since 1977 and thought he had some right of ownership to the property.
Mr. Notaro responded that the Planning Board could not give legal advice.
Roger Harris, 400 East & West Road, stated that for 15 years the neighborhood has put up with the Seneca Mall site and Seneca Square is mostly vacant along with Arby’s and Tops. He commented that the Planning Board had an obligation to protect green space. Mr. Harris noted that it did not matter if the property on Slade Avenue was zoned commercial; the houses were homes to the residents and they were not interested in selling. Mr. Harris stated that the school district has a $93 million budget and they did not need an additional $500,000. He further commented that the developer will have to put up one-quarter mile of fencing if he were to develop this property.
Mr. Notaro noted that a fence was not required when commercial property abutted commercial property.
Mr. Harris commented that the Planning Board had an obligation to protect the residents’ property.
Norm Brem, 82 Marlow Road, Commissioner for West Seneca Fire District #5, did not believe that one entrance was sufficient for the development. He referred to the Hampton Inn on Slade Avenue and stated that the fire trucks were not able to pull onto the property for fire calls at that location; they had to park on Slade Avenue.
Craig Gangloff, 24 Marlow Road, Asst. Chief for Seneca Hose Fire Company, expressed his concern about fire suppression, water flow, ingress/egress and thought this was a bad location for any type of commercial development.
Henrietta Lubkowski, 144 Slade Avenue, and Michele Summers, 140 Slade Avenue, stated that the proposed development will be located directly behind their homes and there was an existing drainage problem in their back yards. Mrs. Lubkowski stated that she had contacted someone in Mr. Paladino’s office in April of this year and they still had not gotten back to her. She stated that Pyramid also gave the residents empty promises and thought it would be irresponsible of the Planning Board to approve this rezoning without knowing what will be built on the property. Mrs. Summers stated that her children use the baseball diamond on this property and the school system simply told them they would be relocating it somewhere else in town. She was concerned about drainage issues, lights from vehicles in the parking lots shining in their yards, ingress/egress to the property, and garbage from the development.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Niederpruem, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Hunter, to recommend approval of the request for a rezoning for property located at 675 Potters Road, being part of Lot No. 291, changing its classification from R-65 to C-1.
On the question, Mr. Mendola understood that Mr. Greenan’s motion was just approving the rezoning without a specific plan for what will locate there and whatever they decided to build would have to be approved by the Planning Board.
Mr. Hunter stated that rezoning this property will conform an orphan parcel to the rest of the area.
Chairman Ciancio stated that although he thought the property should be zoned C-1, he did not think they should approve a rezoning without knowing what will be built.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Nigro, to adjourn the meeting at 10:50 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC