West Seneca Comprehensive Plan - Draft
Public Hearing 01/09/2006

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES   Public Hearing re: Draft
1250 Union Road Comprehensive Plan
West Seneca, NY 14224 January 9, 2006

Councilman Christopher Osmanski, Town Board Liaison to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, called the meeting to order and introduced the following Town Board members in attendance: Supervisor Paul Clark, Councilman Craig Hicks, Councilman Vincent Graber, Jr., and Councilman Christina Wleklinski Bove. Councilman Osmanski also recognized the following Steering Committee members: Steering Committee Chairman Jim Lawson, Planning Board Chairman Joseph Ciancio, Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro, Environmental Commission member Joyce Mallette, Business Community representative John Kennedy, School Board Trustee Nancy Lesakowski, West Seneca Historical Society member Dolores Mendolia, West Seneca Development Corporation Executive Director David Lawrence, Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski, Town Engineer George Engineer, and County representative Michael Krasner. The consultant for the project was Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers and Drew Reilly, a Planner and Engineer with that firm, would be presiding over this meeting.

Mr. Reilly stated that the Comprehensive Plan was a local law that towns began doing 40 to 50 years ago when the federal government gave the power of zoning to local communities. Over the years, the Town of West Seneca had gotten fairly built out and the Comprehensive Plan now involved making change in the community so it would continue to be a vibrant community. Mr. Reilly outlined the sections of the Draft Comprehensive Plan and invited the public to comment.

Bill Heusinger, 375 Bullis Road, stated that he was very upset with the land use map in the Comprehensive Plan that indicated a parcel of land on Seneca Street in the east end of town being commercial property through to Bullis Road. The property on Bullis Road was currently zoned R-75 and the residents wanted to keep it that way. They had recently attended a Planning Board meeting in December 2005 to oppose a proposal to rezone the property for an apartment complex. The Planning Board recommended denial, but now the Draft Comprehensive Plan was showing the property as commercial.

Russ Anderson, 280 Bullis Road, stated that Bullis Road was a quarter mile long residential street and the map showed the two parcels as commercial. Years ago the corner lots on Bullis Road were rezoned to commercial and they had become junkyards.

Mr. Reilly responded that the existing land use map had nothing to do with zoning; it was land use from the assessment codes. There were no rezonings proposed for that area of town in the Comprehensive Plan.

Town Attorney Timothy Greenan advised that each tax bill was coded with the use of the land, and the former tavern on Seneca Street had a commercial use, so the entire parcel was coded commercial. However, the zoning for the parcels on Bullis Road was R-75. Mr. Greenan further stated that the applicant that proposed the apartment complex for that parcel had contacted his office and was withdrawing his application. If the Comprehensive Plan was adopted and a rezoning was then proposed for that parcel, the Plan would not support a rezoning.

Michael Pasternak, Flohr Avenue, suggested that the Harlem Road/Seneca Street area be revitalized. He commented on the traffic in the area, the bottleneck at the intersection, and cited the safety reasons as well as cosmetic reasons for his suggestion. Mr. Pasternak also referred to the drainage problem in the area.

Mr. Reilly responded that the Harlem Road/Seneca Street area was included in the Comprehensive Plan as a revitalization area and suggested that Mr. Pasternak submit some specific objectives for the area.

Richard Rutkowski, 83 Lakeside Drive, submitted comments on the Draft Comprehensive Plan as follows: 1) The goal concerning the transportation system should incorporate additional traffic calming measures (especially along Clinton Street between Harlem Road and Union Road) and should pursue the addition of bike lanes where feasible; 2) An idea to protect important environmental features and open space should include acquisition of the agricultural area along Clinton Street from Inter Drive west to French Road, perhaps in

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES Public Hearing re: Draft
1250 Union Road Comprehensive Plan
West Seneca, NY 14224 January 9, 2006
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conjunction with the Western New York Land Conservancy; 3) Change Section H entitled “Encourage Economic Development Opportunities” to be a section that encourages a climate that is conducive to restoration and maintenance of existing town assets; 4) The Opportunities and Strengths portion of Section H should be amended with the deletion of the portion that refers to “large recreational/tourism facilities” and include that the town retain a large, rural area that could accommodate agrarian businesses; 5) Inclusion of Clinton Street for streetscape improvements and traffic calming measures in the Priority One – First Year Actions portion of Section V; 6) Remove from Section V – Projects and Activities – Priority 2 or Second Steps – the portion concerning implementation of connective features and signage to accommodate the possibility of a large recreation complex west of Gardenville; 7) Allow for updates to the Comprehensive Plan more frequently than every three years; 8) In Appendix B – Proposed Zoning Amendments – Specify in the Proposed Recreational-Tourism District that the size of any structure must be congruent with the scale and intent of nearby businesses and homes. Mr. Rutkowski noted that he agreed with the landscaping requirements provided for within the Proposed Recreational-Tourism District.

Charles Zerneutsch, 543 Union Road, stated that he agreed with most of the Draft Comprehensive Plan and made the following comments: 1) Agreed with the need for a firewall between economic development and the Town Board and did not believe it was in the best interest of the Town Board to be concentrating on economic development. Suggested removing this entire section of the plan and renaming it “Restoration” or “Rehabilitation.” 2) Agreed that traffic needed to be calmed along Union Road and suggested seeking political and economic funding from New York State Department of Transportation to force them to put an exit ramp for Route 400 in the industrial park, reducing the speed on Union Road between Orchard Park Road and Southgate Plaza in the residential area to 35 mph, and having a bus that shuttled around West Seneca so the current NFTA buses would not meander about town as much. 3) Marginal neighborhoods, particularly near the city line, identified as threatened in the Comprehensive Plan presented the biggest opportunity to the town if the cost of transportation and energy continued to increase as they could become very valuable if the proper incentives were in place. The politicians needed to stop focusing on new construction and instead look at rehabilitating the marginal neighborhoods.

Linda Toy, 97 Burch Avenue, commented on the zoning for commercial plazas and referred to the abandoned Ames Plaza at the Seneca Street city line. The vacant plaza had become a truck terminal and she understood there was nothing in the Zoning Ordinance to stop this. Mrs. Toy suggested incorporating something in the Comprehensive Plan to prevent this from happening.

Julie O’Neil congratulated the Town Board on investing in the Comprehensive Plan and thought that comprehensive planning was the single most important thing the town could do for having an effective zoning code. She commented that the major impact on the environment today was development and land use and while a number of environmental features were cataloged there was very little in the Plan that talked about how development impacted on the environment (ie. water quality, air quality, etc.). There was also very little discussion on how activities in West Seneca influenced other communities. Ms. O’Neil referred to the Buffalo River and stated that the entire town was part of its watershed. The water quality flowing into the City of Buffalo was quite bad, so before the city took a single action they already had serious problems. Because of this pollution, the Buffalo River was one of the worst contaminated places in the Great Lakes system. Ms. O’Neil further stated that the Comprehensive Plan had very little data about how and how soon the town would come into compliance with the Clean Water Act. With regard to storm water compliance, current regulations only impacted new construction, and although the town was mostly developed, the Comprehensive Plan did not talk about reducing the impact of existing development on water quality. Ms. O’Neil also noted that there was no data in the Plan concerning environmental hazards (ie. oil storage tanks, underground storage tanks, inactive hazardous waste sites, chemical bulk storage, etc.). There was nothing in the Plan that talked about air quality generated by truck traffic on the major

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES Public Hearing re: Draft
1250 Union Road Comprehensive Plan
West Seneca, NY 14224 January 9, 2006
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highway coming through the town and how it impacted public health. The open space and habitat plan was referenced but did not make it onto the maps and a lot of the recommendations were not fully incorporated into the Plan. The overlay for the creek was not included in terms of zoning changes and there was one readily available. They would just have to look at the City of Buffalo zoning code and adopt the same provision as they did for the Buffalo River.

Clark Fulkerson, 29 Maplewood Avenue, referred to Appendix B of the Plan and suggested the following changes: 1) Gardenville Heritage Overlay – Citizens requested a charrette to allow for community input; 2) Section 120-62, Article IX – Give the stream corridor overlay and rural development guidelines a higher priority and begin to provide for open space protection in the current Master Plan; 3) Miscellaneous Code Issues for Consideration – Setbacks: Establish minimum setbacks when granting permits for used car dealerships; establish a maximum number of cars per square foot for dealership space; and establish minimum setbacks for the parking of said cars. The intent of this was to make used car lots safe and as attractive as possible; Sign & Billboard Ordinances: New definitions and requirements should address the size of signs on buildings with the size based on a percentage of the overall wall size. The Zoning Code should be updated to protect residents from intrusive billboards. Use of billboards should be limited to commercial or industrial space and the size and lighting of any such sign should be specified in any specific plan; 4) Section 120-17 – Retain and designate R100-A zoning for agricultural uses.

Elizabeth Berry, 205 Tampa Drive, suggested that West Seneca government focus on the safety and welfare of its citizens as a #1 priority, with economic development or tourism secondary and always measured against the #1 priority. She commented that basic services should come first and tax increases should not be spent on tourism schemes, economic development or sports facilities. Mrs. Berry expressed the following concerns and comments: 1) no heavy industry; 2) get rid of Funk pesticide company on Orchard Park Road and amend the Zoning Ordinance to prevent toxic chemicals such as this from locating in such an area or near any waterways; 3) make West Seneca more environmental by: a) keeping agricultural land intact; b) keeping all parks and playgrounds and adding more if more developments are added; c) making the town more livable/walkable with all developments having sidewalks, being pedestrian and bicycle friendly and having a mix of homes and necessary services like grocery stores and common land/parks; d) enforce re-treeing ordinance and encourage businesses to beautify and create shade with trees, including in parking lots; 4) maintain and restore historic sections (ie. the Ebenezer house on School Street & Union Road); 5) since the Southgate Plaza/Town Hall strip of Union Road seems to be West Seneca’s idea of its Main Street/town center, Union Road should be lined with trees and business should be encouraged to maintain and grow along it; 6) zoning – concentrate on agricultural, residential, business, and some residential and service businesses mixed, and areas already zoned for business should be filled with viable businesses before more are built elsewhere; 7) streets – do something about all the parking on the streets; 8) use Southgate Plaza as a business model as it keeps itself viable by making sure it is full and holding events; 9) keep and enhance West Seneca’s pluses – the waterways, history, parks/playgrounds, library, agriculture, open land, first ring suburb status; 10) don’t overdevelop with overpriced cul-de-sac developments that the taxpayers pay to deliver utility infrastructure to; 11) Seneca Mall site should be more stores and restaurants so West Seneca residents would not have to go to other towns; 12) do not merge the public library with the school libraries.

Karen Lucachick, 61 Greenmeadow Drive, referred to the proposed Rite Aid on the northwest corner of Union Road and Seneca Street and suggested that the new Master Plan be used to assist the developer. She thought that this location could become a catalyst and showcase for the revitalization of the town’s center. It would be a perfect time to break away from basic franchise architecture and build with the Ebenezer style in mind. She hoped that placement of the building would be compatible with the vision of a walkable community. Ms. Lucachick suggested that the building be set forward rather than back so that people could get to it easily. This was a very busy intersection, so parking and ingress/egress would have to be well planned. Ms. Lucachick suggested phasing out

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES Public Hearing re: Draft
1250 Union Road Comprehensive Plan
West Seneca, NY 14224 January 9, 2006
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freestanding signs and instead having face building signs assisted by four inch address numbers as specified in the Town Code for houses. With regard to the streetscape on Union Road, Ms. Lucachick thought they should think really big and suggested enlisting the New York State Department of Transportation’s help and a local landscape architect to determine what the town could have and what it actually wanted.

Amy Carpenter, 406 Woodward Crescent, suggested that the town make developing and enhancing the form and function of its gateway areas a high priority. Every time someone entered the town it was an opportunity to influence their perception of who West Seneca was and what it had to offer. Ms. Carpenter also stressed the importance of having signage that recognized the historical significance of many of the facilities in town, things that had taken place in town, and the waterways in town.

Lisa Czekaj, 18 Joann Drive, wanted to see more activities in town for her three teenage boys. When they wanted to go to the show, she had to drive them out of West Seneca. Mrs. Czekaj commented on the heavy traffic on the streets and suggested that West Seneca be made more kid friendly with more walkable areas and more activities for children.

Jeanine Gavin-Pokrandt, 1600 Orchard Park Road, stated that in reviewing the Draft Comprehensive Plan it appeared that the section of Orchard Park Road where she lived was being changed to a secondary local commercial corridor. In the past, whenever someone had proposed a zoning change for this area the citizens that lived there opposed it. This was a gateway to the town and there were some commercial areas, but it was not like Orchard Park Road in Orchard Park.

Paula Minklei, 896 Orchard Park Road, stated that she lived on Orchard Park Road for over 40 years and that entire time dealt with raw sewage backing up into her basement during a heavy rain or snow melt with no apparent lessening of the problem over the years. Mrs. Minklei understood that the town frequently overflowed raw sewage into the waterways during heavy groundwater days and for many years they had been relining the problem sewer lines to correct storm water infiltration. Since the relining alone did not seem to be abating the problem, Mrs. Minklei suggested that the Master Plan include a moratorium on any development within the town where overflow occurred until the sewers were up to dealing with current overloads. Mrs. Minklei further commented that with energy costs increasing, the cost of homebuilding continually going up, and the trend toward smaller households, potential homebuyers and renters might want to opt for homes that were smaller and less expensive to heat, cool and maintain. If potential building locations for duplex units were limited as proposed for zoning changes, it could have the effect of encouraging a homebuyer that needed the extra unit for income or to house a family member nearby, to go to another town where there was a preferable location. Mrs. Minklei thought that the new duplexes were quite attractive and while they allowed a slight increase in population density, she did not believe they would have a negative effect on single-family residential neighborhoods. She suggested allowing duplex units in any single-family residential district by special use permit as long as they met other district requirements. Another factor in the size of homes built in town required that no area in a home whose floor was below finished grade could be counted in determining minimum livable floor area. Many of the existing attractive raised ranches could not be built where they are today under existing zoning laws. Mrs. Minklei suggested that the town be more open to allowing more opportunity for alternatives that would be more energy conserving and more affordable.

Virginia Grandoni, 870 Orchard Park Road, wanted to see the section of Seneca Street between Orchard Park Road and the Southgate Plaza become more walkable. The speed limit was 35 mph, but traffic went much faster than that and there were no sidewalks. There were a number of side streets along Seneca Street and she thought there would be pedestrian traffic to Southgate Plaza and the center of town if this area were more walkable. Mrs. Grandoni referred to a proposal in the Draft Comprehensive Plan to rezone the M-1 area along Slade Avenue, Ridge Road, Orchard Park Road, and Langner Road to C-

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES Public Hearing re: Draft
1250 Union Road Comprehensive Plan
West Seneca, NY 14224 January 9, 2006
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1 or C-2 and was concerned that the residential section of Orchard Park Road be protected and remain residential. Mrs. Grandoni also wanted to see Orchard Park Road made safer and possibly more walkable.

Frank Boncore, 250 Heather Hill Drive, commented on the need for a new police facility in town and noted that a mailer was sent out to almost all residents with only one negative response. Mr. Boncore suggested that this be addressed in more depth in the Master Plan.

Louis Giordano, 171 Allendale Road, commented on the deplorable conditions in the West Seneca Police Department and the need for a new facility. He felt that a tragedy was waiting to happen and suggested that the Comprehensive Plan include a remedy for this situation.

Kathleen Trimper, 600 Union Road, was happy with Union Road the way it was and did not believe that any more tax dollars should be spent on it. She suggested instead that sidewalks be added to Reserve Road, East & West Road, Center Road, Orchard Park Road, and Allendale Road so the children could walk safely. Mrs. Trimper also suggested that something be done with the Seneca Mall site and suggested that the flooding in the Fisher Road area be addressed.

Joe Ciancio, 133 Elmsford Drive, stated that Orchard Park Road was a major north/south thoroughfare that had become very overloaded. Traffic studies showed that vehicles traveled Langner Road and cut across Fisher Road to Orchard Park Road, so they were cutting through West Seneca to get to Orchard Park. Most of the traffic on Orchard Park Road was generated by development in Orchard Park, not from West Seneca. New York State widened the shoulders on Orchard Park Road, and this created a hazard because children walked on the shoulder, but it was also being used as part of the highway because it was wide enough to support a vehicle. Mr. Ciancio suggested that something be done to address this problem.

Roberta Vallone, 39 Donald Drive, commented that updating the Comprehensive Plan was a great effort by the town and the comments made at this meeting demonstrated how important it was. Mrs. Vallone further referred to the SEQR process and questioned the procedure used to review projects.

Mr. Greenan responded that site plan review was included as part of the Draft Comprehensive Plan so any new construction that occurred in town would have to come into the town for discretionary approval. Under SEQR, the town would then have to notify all other involved agencies for their review and comment.

Dave Cellino, 810 Orchard Park Road, was concerned that the area of Orchard Park Road from Ridge Road south be kept residential. He suggested adding sidewalks and a center turning lane and commented on the sewer problem in the area. Mr. Cellino further referred to earlier comments regarding signage for businesses and did not want to make the sign requirements so restrictive that they discouraged businesses from locating in West Seneca.

Brian Doster, 3361 Clinton Street, suggested extending the historic district of Gardenville at least to the Cayuga Creek crossover. He felt the mansions, old family farms and vacant land were of significant historic value to the town.

Don Grasso, 64 Lexington Green, commented on the major recreational facility on Clinton Street that was referred to in the Comprehensive Plan and thought that this was contrary to protecting the creeks and corridors of the town. The Plan called for creating a new zoning district on Clinton Street for agricultural and related businesses for recreation and tourism and he questioned what “related businesses” were. Mr. Grasso thought that this was too vague and would create problems in the future. He noted that the Plan consistently mentioned outdoor recreation for Clinton Street and even included the possibility of Canisius building a sports facility on Clinton Street. Mr. Grasso objected to the

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES Public Hearing re: Draft
1250 Union Road Comprehensive Plan
West Seneca, NY 14224 January 9, 2006
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fact that Mr. Reilly was working for Canisius, working on their proposed sports facility, and writing laws for the Town of West Seneca that would enhance their project. He thought this was a huge conflict of interest and suggested bringing in an outside consultant that was not directly involved. Mr. Grasso further referred to the proposal to form a committee that would review zoning amendments and noted that it only mentioned people from government. He thought that it was important to include the general public who would be most affected by the changes.

Mr. Reilly stated that written comments would be accepted until the end of the month and should be submitted to Town Clerk Patricia DePasquale.

Councilman Osmanski thanked the public for their comments and suggestions and asked that they continue to stay involved in the process.