West Seneca Town Board Minutes 06/13/2005
Supervisor Paul T. Clark called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. with 30 seconds of silent prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ROLL CALL: Present -
Absent - None
Supervisor Clark read the Fire Prevention Code instructing the public where to exit in case of a fire or an emergency.
The meeting was dedicated to the memory of Charles H. “Chuck” Pohlman Sr., Angela R. Panepento, William J. Gray, Jacqueline Cunningham, Antoinette Ellinger “Toni” Hayes, Lucille Sullivan, John E. Sullivan, Raymond Rappold, Daniel E. Harrigan, Daniel J. Masiello, and Peter W. Spilsbury Sr.
9-A MINUTES TO BE APPROVED
9-B HELD OVER PUBLIC HEARING1. Re: “A PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER A REQUEST FOR A SPECIAL PERMIT FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 1055 UNION ROAD, BEING PART OF LOT NOS. 119 & 120, CHANGING ITS CLASSIFICATION FROM C-2(S) TO C-2(S), FOR A CAR WASH” in the Town of West Seneca. (David Lutz)
Town Attorney Tim Greenan stated that the board members did not vote on this item at the last Town Board meeting, and the petitioner contacted the Building & Plumbing Department and the Town Attorney’s office last week asking that the item be held over again until the next meeting. The petitioner stated that his architect needed additional time to complete certain plans. Mr. Greenan further noted that residents of Southwood Drive who were opposed to the proposed car wash had submitted a petition. The petition was on file with the Town Clerk’s office and would be reviewed by the Assessor’s office to determine if there were sufficient signatures to require a super majority (four votes) from the Town Board for approval. This information would be available to the Town Board by the next meeting.
Amy Carpenter, 406 Woodward Crescent, questioned if the zoning was C-2 or C-1.
Mr. Greenan advised that the request was for a change from C-2(S) to C-2(S). Removal of the gas tanks took place in August 2004, but that was less than one year ago.
Councilman Bove questioned why the property did not revert back to C-1 like most of the other property in that area of Union Road.
Mr. Greenan advised that the property would revert back to C-1 in the event that the use under the special permit was discontinued for a period of one year. He understood that the facility closed more than one year ago, but the actual removal of the gas tanks did not take place until August 2004. Case law that he found inferred that removal of the gas tanks from the premises constituted discontinuance of the special use of the property.
Councilman Osmanski questioned if the property would revert back to C-1 in August 2005 if the Town Board denied this special permit application.
9-B HELD OVER PUBLIC HEARING
Mr. Greenan responded that the answer to this was not crystal clear and it was a question mixed of fact and law.
Councilman Osmanski directed Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski to contact the petitioner to ensure that he would be prepared for the July meeting.
PUBLIC INFORMATION HEARING – GASLIGHT CONVERSION PROJECT
Town Attorney Tim Greenan stated that the Town Board had discussed holding a public hearing at this meeting to consider the conversion of gaslights to electric lights. However, based upon statutory review, the Town Board could take action without a public hearing, so a public hearing was not scheduled or published. Councilman Graber did not want to take any action without first discussing the board’s options. Mr. Greenan advised that the board members could act on the gaslight districts at this meeting, they could formerly schedule an official public hearing and publish it in the newspaper, or they could informally place the matter on the Town Board Agenda.
Councilman Graber commented that the citizens were involved in every step of this project and the last step was to send in approval cards if they wanted to convert their gaslights to electric lights. There were 12 gaslight districts and 10 of the 12 had already exceeded the 51 percent majority approval required to convert gaslights to electric. The Town Board would have to decide whether to go with Siemens Building Technologies or do the project themselves with the use of various contractors. Over the last month, the Engineering Department had been working with Siemens Building Technologies and their initial design called for 302 electric lights to replace the 399 gaslights throughout the 12 districts. The town’s design that they used for all new subdivisions called for 229 electric lights and that would be the design that they would proceed with. As a result, the overall cost of the project was reduced by well over $300,000 and they were looking for other ways to save. Councilman Graber stated that the next step would be to notify all of the residents, those who approved of the conversion and those who did not. The next choice would be if 50-watt or 70-watt hps bulbs would be used. The average cost per gaslight was $284 per year. The cost of a 50-watt hps was $50 and the cost of a 70-watt hps was $52. The difference between the gaslights and electric lights would pay the capital costs required to install the new electric lights. Councilman Graber noted that the two districts that did not exceed the 51 percent minimum requirement would be left open until completion of the construction project in case anyone changed their mind after seeing the electric lights. The town would not take any action to convince the people in those two districts to reconsider.
Frank Boncore, 250 Heather Hill Drive, questioned if the residents in his district that were opposed to the conversion would be solicited with another letter. He stated that some of his neighbors had been receiving phone calls asking them to support the conversion project.
Councilman Graber stated that a final letter would be sent to the residents of each district showing the results of the survey and the number for and against the conversion. He further stated that phone calls were not made by anyone in town government. Just as Mr. Boncore had tried to convince his neighbors to keep the gaslights, other individuals in his neighborhood tried to convince their neighbors to convert the gaslights.
Mr. Boncore did not believe there should be another vote for his district.
Councilman Graber responded that there would not be another vote in Mr. Boncore’s district, but if they exceed the 51 percent approval requirement before the construction project ends that district would be included in the overall project.
PUBLIC INFORMATION HEARING – GASLIGHT CONVERSION PROJECT
Mr. Boncore questioned if the project was bid out.
Mr. Greenan advised that there were two ways to do the project. The town could do the project themselves and skip the energy savings program, in which case it would be bid out. The town could also enter into an agreement with an ESCO (Energy Service Company) that would guarantee the savings. The ESCO would then be the contractor and be fully responsible for all the costs and the savings. Under the ESCO, the town would get money from the state and an interest rate of 2 percent.
Mr. Boncore questioned how much money was involved.
Councilman Graber responded that New York State passed a law with regard to performance contracts and use of an ESCO. The ESCO did the bidding and obtained the lowest cost. Four contractors bid on the project and the cost went from $1,500,000 to $460,000. Councilman Graber stated that the contractor they were anticipating using had done street lighting in the town in the past. The town had a relationship with them and they did outstanding work at the lowest possible cost.
Mr. Boncore commented that there was more than one contractor that did outstanding work.
Mr. Greenan noted that the contractor must guarantee the savings on the conversion.
Councilman Graber stated that Siemens had a relationship with NYSERTA and their mission was to remove people from the electric grid and move onto other forms of energy. This was the first project in the history of New York State where they were subsidizing the town. They would be paying points and buying down the cost of the loan to 2 percent. The program was created specifically for the Town of West Seneca.
Thomas Henderson, 59 Treehaven Road, questioned the reduction in the number of lights from 399 to 229 and how they could reduce this while still maintaining the lighting. He also questioned the height of the electric lights, noting that there were a lot of trees along his street.
Councilman Graber responded that this was the standard used throughout all new subdivisions. When they evaluated Siemens design, they found it was a little more liberal and provided more light than necessary. Councilman Graber advised that the height of the electric lights was 12 foot; the gaslights were 8 foot.
Shirley Glodowski, 52 Country Lane, was in favor of the gaslight conversion project and questioned the other district that was opposed to the project.
Councilman Graber advised that residents of Rolling Woods Subdivision were opposed to the conversion project. He commented that everyone was entitled to his or her opinion and everyone was given the opportunity to express their opinion on this issue. Councilman Graber understood that there were residents in each lighting district that were not happy with the conversion project, but there were many complaints about the gaslights and a clear majority of residents wanted something to be done. The town did a feasibility study and presented the details and facts to the residents. The original cost was $1,200,000 and this included removal of the gaslights, installation of the electric lights, paying off the debt, engineering costs, inspection, etc. The cost was now down to around $800,000. Councilman Graber stated that the costs were included in the letter to the residents and no one ever complained that the town was not being upfront and honest.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to close the informational public hearing concerning conversion of gaslights to electric lights.
1. Supervisor Clark re Reappointment of Donald Mendola to W.S. Planning Board
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to reappoint Donald Mendola to the West Seneca Planning Board for a seven-year term effective June 5, 2005 through June 4, 2012 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
On the question, Councilman Osmanski noted that Mr. Mendola had many years of service in many aspects from fire service to town service. He did an excellent job on the Planning Board and Councilman Osmanski was privileged to reappoint him.
2. Supervisor Clark re Queen of Heaven Church Road Race & Fun Walk
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Bove, to grant permission to the Queen of Heaven Race Committee to hold their 5K Road Race and Fun Walk on Thursday, July 7, 2005 with the walk beginning at 6:30 P.M. and the race following at 7:00 P.M.
3. Supervisor Clark re St. John Vianney 5th Annual 5K Run
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to grant permission for St. John Vianney to hold their 5th annual 5K Run on Thursday, July 21, 2005 at 6:30 P.M.
4. Councilman Graber re Pension Plan Reform
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to adopt the attached resolution concerning pension plan reform.
On the question, Councilman Bove suggested eliminating that portion of the resolution stating that all new municipal workers would continue to contribute to their pensions for their entire career. This would be decided on by the state legislature.
Motion by Councilman Bove to amend the resolution and just request pension plan relief and another tier.
The amended motion failed due to lack of a second.
Councilman Graber stated that in October 2000, New York State decided that employees with ten or more years of service no longer had to contribute 3 percent of their salary to the pension plan. At the time, the stock market was booming and financial analysts thought that with the rate of growth they would not need any new money in the system. After 9-11-2001 the stock market plunged, but they could not take back the benefit that was given to the employees. Councilman Graber stated that the attached resolution asked for creation of a Tier 5 where future employees would be required to pay 3 percent of their salary toward their pension for their entire career. The resolution was not asking to change anything for employees already in the system. Councilman Graber noted that the Town Board was able to make changes for the future in this way by working with the Unions and not going after existing employees. Over time they received concessions with regard to medical benefits for new employees without impacting existing employees. He commented that the total pension cost for the Town of West Seneca was $232,000 in 2001 and that jumped to $1,815,000 in 2005. They were obligated by law to fund this and it had a huge impact on town taxes. The contribution level of employees was crucial in helping to lower costs to the taxpayers.
4. Councilman Graber re Pension Plan Reform (continued)
Councilman Osmanski stated that the Town Board would not be involved in the state legislature’s decision, but they were begging them to do something because the towns could not afford to go forward the way things were.
5. Town Engineer re Bid date for Seneca Creek Road Watermain Replacement Project
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to set a bid date of July 13, 2005 at 10:00 A.M. for receipt of bids on the Seneca Creek Road Watermain Replacement Project, Job No. S-0202.
6. Town Engineer re Bid date for Leydecker Road Reconstruction Project
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to set a bid date of July 11, 2005 at 10:00 A.M. for receipt of bids on the Leydecker Road Reconstruction Project, Job No. L-0404.
7. Town Engineer re Appointment of Peter Renkas & Kyle Lepsch as part-time seasonal laborers
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to appoint Peter J. Renkas and Kyle R. Lepsch as part-time seasonal laborers in the Sewer Service Department effective June 14, 2005 at a rate of $6.75 per hour and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
8. Town Engineer re Purchases requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Bove, to authorize payment of $3800 to Hanes Supply, Inc. for wire rope for sewer lines and $1780 to Waste Stream Technology for quarterly sampling.
9. Highway Supt. re Bid award for wood reduction grinder
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to award the bid for a Bandit wood reduction grinder for the compost site to Baschmann Services, Inc., 1101 Maple Road, Elma, NY 14059 at their bid price of $249,750.
On the question, Supervisor Clark noted that two bids were received for this equipment and the second bid for a Morbark machine was lower at $169,900. He questioned if both pieces of equipment met the original specifications.
9. Highway Supt. re Bid award for wood reduction grinder (continued)
Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan advised that he had researched both machines extensively because of the difference in price. The Town of Geddes and the Town of Orchard Park both had a Morbark machine, but they only used it for brush, which was not the same material as Mr. Finnegan’s department would be using it for. Mr. Finnegan also spoke with Bob Struck of Struck Topsoil regarding the Bandit machine he used. He viewed demonstrations on both machines and the Morbark would not grind the heavy material. Mr. Finnegan chose the Bandit machine in an attempt to avoid the cost of having a contractor come in twice a year to process the heavier material.
Supervisor Clark questioned if there were any programs available for recycling to recoup some of the cost of this equipment.
Mr. Finnegan responded that funds were still available for recycling. He would apply for grant reimbursement after the purchase was made.
10. Highway Supt. re Title change for Thomas Schappert to Highway MEO
Motion by Councilman Osmanski, seconded by Councilman Hicks, to terminate Thomas Schappert as Highway Laborer and appoint Mr. Schappert as Highway MEO, Group 2, Step 5, at a rate of $20.84 per hour effective June 13, 2005 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
11. Highway Supt. re Appointment of summer help in Highway Department