West Seneca Planning Board Meeting Minutes 06/11/2009
Chairman Robert Niederpruem called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. followed by the Pledge to the Flag.
ROLL CALL: Present -
Wendy Salvati, Planning Consultant
Shawn Martin, Deputy Town Attorney
Absent - William P. Czuprynski, Code Enforcement Officer
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 Ciancio, seconded by Nigro, to approve the proofs of publication and posting of legal notice.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to approve Minutes #2009-05 of May 14, 2009.
OLD BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, presented a revised plan and stated that they had made changes as recommended by the Planning Board. The green space was increased in the front and the building was moved back as far as possible, so they would be seeking a variance. There will be an 8’ fence from the front of the house on Ebenezer Drive to the back of the drive-thru and the rest of the fence will be 6’ high. A variance will be applied for on the height of the fence. The entrance was widened to 30 feet and the trees were removed so there will be no line of sight issues with the neighbor to the north. There was plenty of room for a truck to access the dumpster. The exit onto Ebenezer Drive was curved so that people will be discouraged from making a left. Mr. Lorigo noted that an application was made to the Zoning Board of Appeals for five variances.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that he had discussed the plan with Town Engineer George Montz. Mr. Montz corresponded with the Regional Engineer for the NYSDOT about the configuration of the driveway on Ebenezer Drive. Both of them recommended against the configuration shown on the plan. If the Planning Board approves the site plan with the driveway as is and the NYSDOT changes it, there is some question as to whether the petitioner would have to return to the Planning Board.
Lowell Dewey of C & S Engineers stated that he had asked a Traffic Engineer with NYSDOT about this and was told that this was not their jurisdiction, but they preferred that the exit be normal or moved farther away from Union Road. Mr. Montz had requested that the curbing be taken off the edge because the snowplows will hit it, so the curbing was moved back.
Mr. Lorigo stated that he would not be comfortable changing the exit in any way since this was a compromise with the neighbors.
Mr. Rathmann questioned if there would be bollards around the drive-thru lane.
Mr. Dewey responded that there was supposed to be one bollard. They took a light out and forgot to put one low-lit bollard at the one corner.
Mr. Nigro questioned if windows would be added to the front of the building.
Mr. Dewey presented a sketch showing the windows and entrance on Union Road along with the artwork that was required by the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. He noted that they did their best to make it look like a house.
Chairman Niederpruem referred to the blank wall on the cooler and asked if something could be put there so it did not look blank.
Mr. Dewey stated that this was a four foot green area and they could plant a tree there to cover the refrigerator.
No comments were received from the public.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Ciancio, to issue a negative declaration with regard to SEQR for the project located at 1175 Union Road.
Motion By Greenan, seconded by Mendola, to grant site plan approval for the project located at 1175 Union Road conditioned upon the following: 1) bollard lights be added to the site plan; 2) all variances be obtained from the Zoning Board of Appeals; and 3) a substantial (2˝” caliper) tree be planted adjacent to the most northerly front face of the building that is blank.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that this project was before the Planning Board at their last meeting and they gave the petitioner several items they required answers on.
Rhonda Frederick, Chief Operating Officer at People Inc., stated that they had addressed all of the Planning Board’s questions and the development team was present at the meeting to review each of them. A neighborhood meeting was scheduled for May 22nd, but none of the neighbors attended it.
Tracy Harringer, General Counselor at People Inc., stated that the proposed project was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and referred to the findings in the plan relative to the aging population in West Seneca and the increased demand for affordable housing for seniors. The project was also consistent with the regional need. He did not see where the proposed project was a contradiction to the Comprehensive Plan and stated that it talks about a tourist district in that area of town, but it is only referenced in one of the vision maps and those maps were not future land use maps, nor did they have any direct correlation to zoning in the town. Mr. Harringer thought this project was a very unique opportunity for that area of town since the current zoning allowed for a number of operations that could have far
greater impacts on the neighbors. He noted that the plan was revised and the building was moved back. They were willing to deed restrict the first 100 feet of the property along the entire frontage on Clinton Street, so there will be a driveway but no buildings on it. Mr. Harringer commented that this was a good looking project, will benefit the Gardenville area, and will create a buffer to any future uses that go in to the north and even the east. This was a $5 million dollar federal investment in the community and will provide further unique housing opportunities for the elderly in the community. Mr. Harringer noted that this project was not considered spot zoning because it was for the community and not one person’s individual gain.
Mr. Ciancio agreed that the Comprehensive Plan indicated a need for senior housing, but stated that numerous senior housing projects had been developed since the Comprehensive Plan was revised so that need had been met.
Mr. Harringer stated that the wait list for this project was 80 people, so there was still a need for this type of housing.
Mr. Mendola stated that there had been five or six other senior housing complexes built in the Gardenville area over the last two years, so this was not a benefit to that area. He thought the senior population had grown in West Seneca because of the senior complexes moving into town.
Mr. Harringer responded that the grant for this project comes from HUD and they did an area review and found that senior housing was needed. He noted that the other senior complexes may be different types of housing like market rate or different subsidies.
Planning Consultant Wendy Salvati stated that there are more seniors in the community because the population is aging, not because of the senior complexes being built. The population is aging in every community in WNY.
Mr. Rathmann stated that the majority of senior complexes in West Seneca are at the north end of town. Other areas of town do not have them, other than Seneca Pointe on Orchard Park Road. He referred to a number of other senior facilities in this area of town and stated that Union Fire Company was over taxed because of them.
Mr. Harringer stated that the projects mentioned by Mr. Rathmann were three or four different types. They were trying to create options for the elderly and some could not afford full market value patio homes or apartments or did not need assisted living. The proposed project will provide an option in a very low density way that will not have a big impact on the neighbors or the community.
Mr. Mendola commented on the impact these complexes have on the fire departments and stated that they bring no help to them. Union Fire Company was in dire straits and has had to call in other fire companies for assistance. Their only recourse will eventually be to start charging and getting professional firefighters. This will raise the fire tax for people living in that fire district.
Mr. Harringer responded that this is a suburban community outside of a major urban area and development was not unheard of. That argument could be used to stop any development, but there was no moratorium in the town to stop development. Mr. Harringer stated that People Inc. was tax exempt but they did pay certain special district taxes. He noted that they did not have a lot of emergency calls and in 2008 there were only 16 calls to their other facility in West Seneca. Mr. Harringer stated that mutual aid response was not uncommon in other municipalities and this was an issue that should be dealt with town wide.
Mr. Mendola stated that mutual aid was standard procedure on fire calls, but not on EMS calls and that was taxing Union Fire Company.
Mrs. Salvati questioned how the proposed facility was different from the other existing facilities and how it filled a different niche.
Ms. Frederick responded that the proposed project was considered affordable senior housing and there were income guidelines for the project. A single person would have to have an income under $22,000 annually. Most of the tenants tend to be widows living on social security and small pensions. The rent is subsidized and individuals pay no more than 30 percent of their adjusted annual income which is very affordable. This project was for individuals that were either living in other types of tax credit projects or market rate housing and needed assistance with their housing costs. Ms. Frederick stated that the United Church Home project and Burchfield Commons were both HUD 202 projects and similar to the proposed project.
Mr. Mendola questioned if a registered nurse will be on duty 24/7.
Ms. Frederick responded that there will be no nurse on duty. This was independent living and independent one bedroom apartments. There is a manager and maintenance person and one rent free apartment for an individual that lives there 24/7 and deals with lockouts, maintenance issues, etc. and would be first to respond if there is an issue. That person is not a nurse or medical personnel, and they cannot apply first aid.
Mr. Rathmann questioned how much parking would be needed.
Ms. Frederick stated that at Burchfield Commons there are currently 37 vehicles and that is a 50-unit complex.
Mr. Rathmann noted that there are no sidewalks on Clinton Street for the residents to walk as there are on Union Road.
Ms. Frederick stated that many of their facilities are located on streets where there are no sidewalks. People Inc. provides a van to take individuals shopping and to social activities and they also use the Going Places van.
Patricia Bittar of Wm. Schutt & Associates stated that since the last meeting she had been in contact with Town Engineer George Montz and the Erie County Sewer District and both had checked records for complaints on sewer surcharging. There was nothing on file at the county level and they stated that there was capacity in there sewer system for the project. The town had one complaint at 2290 Clinton Street and that was investigated and a rear drainage ditch that was overgrown was cleaned out. Neither the town nor the county was aware of any type of surcharging or drainage issues in this particular area of Clinton Street. Ms. Bittar stated that it was their intention to put a storm water retention pond on-site and to oversize the pond so it will hold back more water than required by regulations. This would further decrease the amount of runoff that exits the site over time. Since the original submittal, they had Earth Dimensions walk the site for soils, wetlands, and endangered species, and nothing was reported. With regard to truck traffic, Ms. Bittar stated that French Road was a town road in this area and there were no restrictions for truck traffic on it other than a 5-ton weight restriction, but that did not restrict trucks from making deliveries, so they could use French Road. Ms. Bittar further stated that they had moved the entire development back and to the east to try to preserve the 100’ frontage along Clinton Street. None of the building or circular pavement road will be located in the 100’ area and only the driveway access as it currently exists will be located there. They will then focus on buffering in the 100’ area with plantings, grading, etc.
Chairman Niederpruem stated that he walked the site and it appeared to him that the surface water came from French Road to Clinton Street. The drainage plan submitted will take care of the water on site, but he questioned what will be done with the water that is naturally coming from Majeski Nursery.
Ms. Bittar stated that any water coming naturally onto the site has to be circulated into the retention pond, but they will look at the existing discharge rate from the site and cannot discharge anything more than that. If they can oversize the detention facility with the land available, they can reduce what normally exits the site.
Jocelyn Bos, Housing Director at People Inc. stated that she had sent Mr. Majeski an e-mail asking him what he planned to do with the property and what would happen to the current parking on the site that is currently under purchase agreement. Mr. Majeski stated that the rest of his property was for sale, they were planning to close the nursery after July 4th, and if it is not sold it may be leased for Christmas and/or spring as it is now. Truck deliveries will be minimal. After the current lease expires, there will be no articles left on the site and if the property is again leased the remaining parking on the parcel to the northeast will be adequate.
Mr. Ciancio understood that the entire parcel would be going into foreclosure shortly and he questioned if People Inc. had a purchase offer on the property.
Ms. Bos stated that they had a purchase offer on the property and were not informed of any foreclosure.
Eugene Jerge, French Road, stated that there was no truck traffic on his street and he thought trucks should be required to access the property near Vinny’s rather than traveling the length of French Road. He referred to the water problem in the neighborhood and stated that a detention pond will add to the geese problem. Mr. Jerge further commented that the Canisius project was tax exempt and the proposed project will be another tax exempt parcel.
Chairman Niederpruem referred to the plan submitted and indicated that there was only one driveway on Clinton Street and no access to the site from French Road.
Sandy Krawczyk, 2827 Clinton Street, stated that just because there was not a formal written complaint to the town did not mean there was not a water problem. She referred to the various entrances to the property and the designated truck entrance and stated that the person who was leasing the nursery now did not have their trucks access the property from the truck entrance.
Evelyn Hicks, 276 Seneca Creek Road, stated that the town’s zoning code had not been amended to comply with the Comprehensive Plan. She referred to Section 5-2 under the Recommendations and Implementation and stated that the Zoning Board and Planning Board had a history of trying to comply with the Plan within the confines of the current Zoning Ordinance wherever possible. The Plan specifically stated, “rezone much of the undeveloped M-1 district along Clinton Street, west of Inter Drive,” which specifically refers to the proposed parcel, “to a new district that encourages low density land uses such as agricultural related, commercial, smaller scale retail, outdoor recreation, and agri-tourism. Allowed uses should be compatible with the open less intensely developed character of the area. High density residential development or large scale commercial retail should not be allowed in this area.” Mrs.
Hicks still thought this was spot zoning and thought it would be better if People Inc. purchased the rest of the Majeski property, tore down the nursery, and built their facility along French Road. She commented that it was easier for a developer to start by digging a hole. No one liked to redevelop areas and she thought that was why there was so much blight in town. Mrs. Hicks was not opposed to People Inc. building another facility, but she was not thrilled about it being located within Fire District #2 since they were already overburdened. She thought the 100 foot setback on Clinton Street was good, but preferred to see the project built on French Road since it will generate very little traffic. Mrs. Hicks commented that there were still a number of single person residences in town and not all elderly people were moving to these facilities unless they were forced to, so there were additional people coming into the town as a result of this type of housing. She referred to the driveway that was designated for truck traffic and thought the town should enforce that usage, but the residents of the facility would probably not be happy with that.
Mark Lukowski, 2725 Clinton Street, stated that he moved to this area three years ago because of the historic and rural nature of Gardenville. He referred to the property for sale on Clinton Street and opposed the rezoning because he thought it would then continue down the road. Mr. Lukowski suggested that federal grant funds be used to purchase some of the property that was for sale and it be used for a nature preserve and a bike trail along Buffalo Creek from Union Road to Harlem Road near Mineral Springs Road and the boat launch.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Ciancio, to recommend denial of the request for a rezoning & special permit for property located at 117 French Road, being part of Lot Nos. 13, 32 & 33, changing its classification from C-2 & R-100A to R-50(S), for a 47-unit senior apartment facility, based on the project not conforming to the Master Plan.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Greenan, to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC