West Seneca Planning Board Meeting Minutes 01/08/2009
Chairman Robert Niederpruem called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. followed by the Pledge to the Flag.
ROLL CALL: Present -
William P. Czuprynski, Code Enforcement Officer
Paul Notaro, Deputy Town Attorney
Wendy Salvati, Planning Consultant
Absent - None
Chairman Robert Niederpruem 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 Greenan, seconded by Ciancio, to approve the proofs of publication and posting of legal notice.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Rathmann, seconded by Greenan, to approve Minutes #2008-12 of December 11, 2008.
OLD BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Chairman Niederpruem stated that this item was tabled from the previous Planning Board meeting and the board members had given direction to the petitioner on items they were concerned with. Since that time, another plan was submitted but it was unacceptable based on the configuration. Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski had also determined that the line for the commercial zoning ran parallel to Union Road along the rear yards of the properties on Union Road.
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, represented the petitioner and asked that the Planning Board table this item, noting that he had reserved the Court Room for January 22nd at 7:00 P.M. to present different modified versions of the plan to the neighbors for their input. He would be notifying the residents by mail of that meeting and hoped to return to the February Planning Board meeting with a plan that was acceptable to the neighbors.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Ciancio, to table the above request until the February meeting.
On the question, Planning Consultant Wendy Salvati stated that this will give the petitioner sufficient time to submit the plan to the Planning Board for their review prior to the February meeting.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that this item was before the Planning Board in December 2008 and they gave the petitioner specific direction with items regarding density, storm water, access road to Crofton Drive, buffers, tree surveys, access around the building, and many other items.
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, represented the petitioner and stated that a modified plan was submitted to the Planning Board at the end of December and a number of items requested by the board members were addressed. The buildings were reconfigured and moved 14 feet east and closer to Southwestern Blvd. to create a larger buffer and a blacktop road for emergency vehicle access was added to the north of the building. The detention pond was moved to the southeast corner of the site, and receivers were added along the north border to handle the water problem. A fire hydrant was also installed as requested by the volunteer fire department.
Landscaped screening was increased on the north property line along Carla Lane and the entrance on Crofton Drive was moved south so it was not in line with the house across the street. The number of parking spaces was reduced to 99. Mr. Lorigo noted that the site was 3.427 acres and the project met all the town requirements with the exception of density.
Mr. Nigro thought the petitioner was going to reduce the number of units by four to lower the density.
Mr. Lorigo responded that the building was reconfigured but there were still 51 units. He noted that the proposed project was a residential use and Southwestern Blvd. was commercially zoned.
Mr. Nigro stated that the building was still two stories and an increase of 88 percent on density. He thought this was a considerable density for the area and questioned if the petitioner had considered using one story buildings instead.
Mr. Lorigo stated that in order to make this project work at regular rental rates, they had to have 51 units. This was a commercial corridor and fast food restaurants could locate on this site without any rezoning. Mr. Lorigo thought the proposed project was a better fit for the Carla Lane residents than a commercial use and the density was close to 60 percent of the required density. He referred to other senior complexes that were approved at well below the percentage on density and commented that the density set up in the Town Code was a mistake because it did not take into account the size of the units. These proposed units were only 680 sf and typical apartments were 900 to 1000 sf. He thought it would be better to use the percentage of green area and the percentage of utilization of land to calculate density. Mr. Lorigo further noted that this proposed project had the same density as the recently approved project on Schultz Road and Transit Road.
Mr. Ciancio stated that they had approved other senior complex projects that exceeded the density requirement, but each one had its own characteristics. He thought this project was being squeezed onto a corner lot.
Mr. Lorigo stated that there was 149,000 sf of land for this project and the buildings only comprised a very small percentage of that. He further referred to the Town of Cheektowaga and stated that their density requirement was 43 units per acre for one bedroom units and 29 units per acre for two bedroom units.
The petitioner, Bryan Young, referred to the back buffer on the project and stated that he was leaving all the big, mature trees, and everything else was being replaced with new trees. Drainage receivers were also added so the water will not go back into the Carla Lane residents’ yards.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that he walked the site to the back of the RV dealer and he was disappointed with that project.
Mr. Lorigo responded that the RV project was approved with a number of conditions and it was an enforcement issue if they were not met. He understood that the Code Enforcement Office had contacted the property owner about the violations and he would be correcting them as soon as weather permitted.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that as in the case of the RV dealer, the homes will be below the proposed two-story apartment complex.
Mr. Lorigo responded that any C-1 use that comes before the Planning Board is not regulated to a one-story building and there is no density issue on commercial property. He further stated that senior apartments with fair market rents were needed in West Seneca.
Mr. Mendola stated that there was no guarantee that West Seneca residents would live in the apartment complex.
Mr. Nigro questioned the occupancy rate for senior citizen apartment complexes.
Mr. Young responded that the occupancy rate was 100 percent for senior complexes. He referred to the rear buffer and stated that he would be happy to plant 16’ to 18’ trees to help screen the project. He had added some white pines to the plan, but would also add some large maples to make it more attractive to the surrounding neighbors.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the property dropped off considerably into the back yards of the houses on Carla Lane. The plan submitted showed existing contours but did not show how they proposed to change the contours to keep all the water on site.
Dan Blamowski of F.R.A. Engineering stated that the Engineering Department will ensure that all the water from the property line to the south stays on the property. They will not allow any runoff to go to the neighbors.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the Planning Board did not like to get into the engineering issues, but they needed to know conceptually how they planned to do it.
Mr. Blamowski responded that the green space between the building and the Carla Lane residential properties will be cut to provide drainage into some inlets. From the existing fence at the property line, the flow will come back towards the property, be collected in some storm drains, and then be piped to the front detention pond. Any grading issues along the rear property will be brought towards the building in a swale and eventually into the storm drains and piped towards Southwestern Blvd.
Mr. Young stated that when you walk the site at the rear of the property you can see where it was graded to prevent the water from going onto the residential yards. All the water from this project will be brought back to it and should completely rectify the water problem that exists.
Mr. Mendola commented on the location of the fire hydrant and stated that they had talked about the driveway going all the way around the back corner so there would only be about 40’ of the building that would not be covered by a ladder truck. Also, the driveway for fire apparatus should be 20’ wide and weight bearing to facilitate the heaviest piece of equipment.
Mr. Young stated that he had no problem extending the driveway or putting the hydrant wherever the Planning Board specified.
Mr. Mendola noted that the fire chief had also suggested an emergency generator to provide lights and power for the elevator when the electricity is out.
Mr. Sherman questioned how the utilities would be brought into the building.
Mr. Young responded that the utilities would be brought in underground.
Mr. Rathmann questioned if a wetlands delineation had been performed to detect potential hydric soils. He further commented that they had previously discussed not having an entrance on Southwestern Blvd. and relocating the dumpsters.
Mr. Young stated that there were no wetlands on the site and he would provide the Planning Board with information on this. He also agreed to remove the entrance on Southwestern Blvd. and move the location of the dumpster.
Mr. Nigro thought the entrance on Crofton Drive should be eliminated and the dumpster moved to that location. He was concerned that if the entrance is on Crofton Drive instead of Southwestern Blvd., people from the complex will use Carla Lane instead of Southwestern Blvd. to get to Angle Road.
Mr. Lorigo noted that there were 51 units in the complex and they were senior citizens, so the traffic volume and pattern would not be the same.
Mr. Rathmann referred to the fire access road and noted that NYS Fire Code states that it must be 20’ wide and if it exceeds 150’ in length there must be a turn around. The turning radius must be approved and recommended by the Code Enforcement Officer.
Mr. Young thought the suggestion for an emergency generator made sense, but noted that it was a large expense to light the facility and operate the elevator. He thought the generator could eliminate the use of the ladder truck and questioned if they could discuss a compromise between installing the fire lane and the generator. Mr. Young thought a 20’ wide driveway would be very unattractive to the building and would take away a lot of green space.
Mr. Mendola did not believe they could compromise on the driveway because it was a fire code issue.
Chairman Ciancio noted that the setback for the parking in front of the building on Southwestern Blvd. showed five feet and it should be ten feet.
Planning Consultant Wendy Salvati stated that the dumpster was treated as an accessory structure and could not be located in the 40’ front yard setback area.
Mr. Lorigo thought the location of the dumpster was appropriate for the site and stated that they would apply for a variance on that issue.
Mrs. Salvati stated that if the dumpster is left in the front setback it had to be screened by some type of vegetation.
Mr. Rathmann referred to grade elevations and floor elevations and suggested photographic imaging showing the building on the site as seen from Carla Lane and Crofton Drive.
Tom McGowan, Carla Lane, stated that this property was very wet and the water runs toward Buffalo RV. The snow at Buffalo RV was supposed to be plowed toward the detention pond, but it was being plowed along the drainage ditch and with the last thaw and rain, the back yard of one of the townhouses on Carla Lane was flooded and the water was running into the street. Mr. McGowan further questioned if all the land between Crofton Drive and Buffalo RV would be used and he hoped they would keep all the mature trees at the rear of the property.
Joan Rokitka, Crofton Drive, was opposed to placement of a driveway on Crofton Drive and commented on the existing traffic on her street. She suggested just one driveway on Southwestern Blvd. like the other apartment complexes.
A Carla Lane resident commented on traffic on Crofton Drive and Carla Lane and the importance of screening the project.
Joe Deck represented the seller of the property, Schichtel Family Trust, and stated that the property has been for sale for about a year. There were a number of offers made and the Schichtel’s had been somewhat sensitive to the neighborhood and tried to pick a project that would have the best chance of succeeding. He noted that there was other interest in the property that was not a residential use and would be less desirable to the surrounding residents. Mr. Deck thought that Mr. Young had a better ability to take care of the drainage problems than anyone else that would buy the property, and this was the best project that had come forward for the site.
Mr. Lorigo referred to Mr. Young’s other projects in the area and noted that they were all well maintained and well landscaped. Mr. Young was willing to modify the project as requested and the water problem would be taken care of and addressed by the Engineering Department. Mr. Lorigo commented that the driveway on Crofton Drive was a better situation and since this was a senior citizen complex the traffic impact would be minimal. He further commented on the alternative commercial uses that could be developed on this property without having to go before the Planning Board or Town Board for approval and the proposed project was a much better fit. Mr. Lorigo stated that the apartment complex will be 130 feet away from the closest back yard on Carla Lane and there were a number of residential houses that were much closer to each other than that. Mr. Young had no problem with the suggestion for a generator and would be seeking a variance for the dumpster location and front yard setback.
Mr. Greenan noted that the question of the fire lane around the building was not something that could be varied by the town, and something would have to be moved significantly to put a 20’ lane around the building. He suggested that this application be tabled until they determine whether or not this was possible.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to table the above request until the petitioner can demonstrate that it is possible to install a 20’ fire lane around the building.
On the question, Chairman Niederpruem referred to items discussed at this meeting concerning possible wetland soils on the site, elevations, the driveway, screening around the dumpster, and location of the fire hydrant, and he asked that these be addressed by the petitioner when he returns to the next meeting.
NEW BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Frank Wailand of F.J. Wailand Associates Inc. represented the petitioner Adam Hageman and stated his proposal to utilize an existing 7500 sf metal building located at 506 Bullis Road, a .82 acre site, for operation of his towing business, Empire Towing & Recovery. He currently had seven tow trucks and the employees drop off their personal vehicles in the morning and take the tow trucks to do business.
Mr. Mendola questioned if there was any storage of vehicles on the property.
Mr. Hageman responded that most of his business was picking up disabled vehicles and towing them to a dealership or garage of the patron’s choice. His business was on the Orchard Park towing list and he rented a facility in that town. At the most, there would be five vehicles towed to that site, possibly requested by an insurance company, to take the vehicle from an accident site and store it temporarily until they decide what collision shop it will go to, but it was very rare that this would happen. The police department may also request that a vehicle involved in an accident be towed to the towing facility, but his facility was not on West Seneca’s towing list. Most of Mr. Hageman’s customers were either dealerships or collision shops.
Mr. Mendola questioned if Mr. Hageman was asking for permission to operate the towing facility, but not store any vehicles on site.
Mr. Hageman responded that he did need the ability to store vehicles at the facility. The building is 7500 sf, so there is a lot of indoor storage available. The tow trucks will also be stored and maintained there. Mr. Hageman noted that the facility is not like a repossession facility where 50 to 60 cars are repossessed each month.
Mr. Mendola questioned where Mr. Hageman was currently storing the tow trucks and if they would be stored outside at the new facility.
Mr. Hageman stated that he was currently operating the business from his home on Michael Road in Orchard Park. The operation is quiet with very little traffic and he had not had any problem with the neighbors complaining. His entire fleet would fit inside the building, but he didn’t want to be confined to that and wanted to eventually fence in the area so he could park the trucks there overnight without having anything stolen.
Mr. Mendola commented that fencing and lighting would be necessary for outside storage.
Mr. Hageman did not want to have to install the fencing and lighting right away and stated that he could operate for now with everything stored inside. If the business grows and he has money for fencing and lighting in the future, he would then like to be able to store the trucks outside.
Mr. Mendola stated that the parking lot would have to be hard surfaced to store the vehicles outside.
Mr. Greenan questioned if there would be any repairs done on site.
Mr. Hageman stated that he does repair his own vehicles, but does not do any repair of outside vehicles.
Mr. Sherman questioned if the towing service is 24 hours a day, and if so, do the employees take a tow truck home with them when they are on call.
Mr. Hageman responded that his service is 24 hours a day and an employee will take a truck home when they are on call.
Mr. Ciancio questioned how many employees there were and if there was sufficient parking for their personal vehicles.
Mr. Hageman stated that he has six employees and there was plenty of parking on site. He usually only has two trucks at the facility overnight while the rest are with the employees on call. Mr. Hageman commented on the hard surface requirement for the parking area and stated that this would be a big expense for him at this time. He asked that if the Planning Board was thinking about this as a requirement, they consider allowing just a small area to be paved.
Mr. Rathmann questioned how much of the area was already hard surfaced.
Mr. Wailand responded that the plan submitted indicated the areas that had a combination of millings and blacktop. He questioned if there could be some time allowance for hard surfacing an area due to financial constraints. Mr. Hageman had a young starting business and this was an opportunity to get an existing building that suited his needs and was located on a dead end street. Mr. Wailand thought the proposal was a good use for the property.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro stated that in the past there had been requests to the Zoning Board of Appeals for an exemption on the hard surface paving for a certain period of time. Exemptions had been granted, but he could not say if it would be in this case.Chairman Niederpruem stated that they would have to give Mr. Hageman direction on the size of the paved area and number of parking spaces required.
Mr. Ciancio noted that this could be addressed when the applicant returned for site plan approval.
Mr. Wailand questioned if site plan approval was required when the building was pre-existing and there were no changes proposed.
Planning Consultant Wendy Salvati stated that waivers were allowed in certain instances, and in this case there were not a lot of changes being made to the existing site. She did not see any reason to make the applicant go through site plan approval in this case and a waiver should be considered.
Mr. Rathmann questioned if Mr. Hageman was leasing the property with the option to purchase.
Mr. Hageman responded that he was purchasing the property contingent upon approval of the special permit.
Steve White, 501 Bullis Road, stated that the road is very narrow and the neighborhood is a mix of commercial and residential. One of the businesses on the street had a hazardous material spill recently, and the residents were concerned about the types of business that locate in their neighborhood. One of their biggest concerns was traffic. The previous business only had three vehicles and this business now had seven vehicles with the possibility of growing even more. There was also a good possibility of activity late at night with this type of facility. He stated that there was no blacktop in the parking area and no screening of the site. Mr. White further expressed concern about the residential property values being negatively affected.
Mr. Mendola noted that all of the property around this site was zoned for manufacturing.
Mr. Ciancio commented that Mr. Hageman would be limited by the special permit for operation of a towing facility, so there will be no repairs done at this facility.
Mr. Hageman stated that the only work done at this location would be maintenance of his own vehicles.
Mr. White questioned if restrictions could be put on the traffic flow and noted that there was a service road near Beauty Pools.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that the service road was not a public right-of-way. The only restrictions that could be placed would be on the site itself, such as improvements in the hard pavement and ensuring that surface water does not affect the surrounding properties. Chairman Niederpruem commented that any improvement Mr. Hageman made to the property would make the eyesore better for Mr. White and the neighbors.
Mr. White stated that he was hoping for some type of screening requirement.
Chairman Niederpruem did not see how the property could be screened considering the position of the driveway.
Mr. White asked for some assurance that there would not be vehicles dropped off during the early morning hours.
Mr. Hageman estimated that on a weekly basis his business only received three or four calls after 11 P.M., and not all of them would come back to the towing facility.
Mr. White asked that if a vehicle is being dropped off during the night, the tow truck go to the extreme back of the property.
Mr. Hageman stated that he wanted to be a good neighbor and would not have a problem doing that to accommodate the neighbors.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to recommend approval of the request for a special permit for property located at 506 Bullis Road, being part of Lot No. 362, changing its classification from M-1 to M-1(S), for operation of a towing facility, conditioned upon the following: 1) no exterior storage of damaged vehicles; 2) no repair of damaged vehicles; 3) parking area shall be paved in accordance with the town ordinance for automotive use.
Andy Gow of Nussbaumer & Clarke Engineers & Surveyors stated that this project was developed several years ago by another developer and sat idle for many years. David Capretto of Forbes-Capretto Homes had an option to purchase the property and asked Mr. Gow to look for a layout that would be a more efficient use of the land. The density was reduced slightly and the infrastructure was reduced substantially. The amount of roadway was reduced by approximately 2500 feet and the buffer area between neighboring parcels was increased. The new layout also allowed them to stay away from the wetland areas on the parcel.
Mr. Rathmann noted that the wetland areas were delineated in 2000 and he questioned if this had been redone.
Mr. Gow stated that the wetlands had been delineated within the last five years, so they were still under a permit for disturbance, but they would probably be able to reduce the amount of disturbance. They had been working with Wilson Environmental and he did not recall the exact date of the wetlands delineation. Mr. Gow understood that it would have to be redone if it was more than five years ago.
Mr. Greenan noted that the plan presented did not have dimensions on it and he questioned if they will comply with the ordinance.
Mr. Gow responded that every lot was compliant with the R-75 zoning.
Mr. Ciancio noted that the property was located in the Lackawanna Sewer District and they would have some input on the project.
Mr. Gow understood this and noted that the storm water regulations had changed since the original approval and they had to comply with those regulations. Changing the layout and design of the project allowed for additional space for these changes.
Chairman Niederpruem commented that the road configuration had changed considerably. He questioned if the former road configuration was a map cover that was filed.
Mr. Gow responded that it was prepared by another engineer and then brought to Nussbaumer & Clarke after most of the engineering work was done. They were asked to enhance the engineering design and bring it through the final approval process, but the map cover was never filed.
Chairman Niederpruem questioned if Mr. Gow had any discussion with the City of Lackawanna about sewer capacity.
Mr. Gow stated that he would be contacting the City of Lackawanna and the sewer districts to make sure there is sewer capacity.
Mr. Ciancio commented that the proposed plan was a much less complicated layout than the previous plan.
Mr. Gow agreed and stated that the new plan had two points of egress instead of three and much less roadway.
Chairman Niederpruem thought there might be some hydrant flow pressure issues. He also noted that the Erie County GIS showed the entire site as potential wetlands.
Mr. Gow stated that there was a current valid permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. It was done within the last five years and he would provide the Planning Board with information on this issue.
Mr. Rathmann questioned if the green space buffer was intended to become a conservation easement owned by the developer and maintained.
Mr. Gow responded that the green space and lots themselves will be part of a Homeowner’s Association that will also maintain the detention pond. The road will be built to town standards and dedicated.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC