West Seneca Town Board Meeting Minutes 06/09/2008
Supervisor Wallace C. Piotrowski called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. with 30 seconds of silent prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Town Attorney Edwin Hunter.
ROLL CALL: Present -
Absent - None
Supervisor Piotrowski 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 John J. Breen and Daniel J. Higgins Sr.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to suspend the regular order of business to address Item #20 on the agenda.
Motion by Councilman Graber, unanimous second, to terminate Michael Poleon as Police Officer effective June 9, 2008 and appoint Michael Poleon as Police Lieutenant at an annual salary of $74,845.76 effective June 10, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
On the question, Councilwoman Meegan stated that Michael Poleon was a lifelong resident of West Seneca, attended West Seneca Schools, earned a degree in criminal justice, and was awarded Erie County Officer of the Year by the Erie County Captains and Lieutenants. She further commented on Lt. Poleon’s great compassion for law enforcement and noted that his father was retired from the New York State Criminal Bureau of Investigation.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he worked with Lt. Poleon for 17 years while serving as Town Justice and he was an excellent police officer.
Chief Gehen congratulated Lt. Poleon and commented that it took a lot of hard work and dedication to be promoted in the Police Department.
10-A MINUTES TO BE APPROVED
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
1. Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, that proofs of publication and posting of legal notice: “OF A PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER A REQUEST FOR A REZONING & SPECIAL PERMIT FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 50 NORTH AVENUE & 2150 UNION ROAD, BEING PART OF LOT NO. 23 & 24, CHANGING ITS CLASSIFICATION FROM C-1(S), M-1, AND R-65 TO R-50(S), FOR SENIOR HOUSING IN THE FORM OF INDIVIDUAL AND/OR MULTIPLE FAMILY DWELLINGS” in the Town of West Seneca, be received and filed. (Zaxis Architectural P.C.)
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to open the public hearing.
Supervisor Piotrowski read the recommendation of the Planning Board: “At its May 8, 2008 meeting, the Planning Board recommended approval of the request for a rezoning and special permit for property located at 50 North Avenue and 2150 Union Road, being part of Lot Nos. 23 & 24, changing its classification from C-1(S), M-1, and R-65 to R-50(S), for a multi-family development, conditioned upon the requirements of a publicly dedicated highway for access not being part of the conditions applied to the rezoning and noting that all other requirements of the R-50 zoning will apply unless waived by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Planning Board further recommended that a Negative Declaration be issued with regard to SEQR for the above project.”
Douglas Hutter, an Architect with Zaxis Architectural, 4245 Union Road, Buffalo, stated their proposal to provide multi-family housing on a 10-acre parcel owned by United Church Home, noting that they also owned the property adjacent to the proposed site where there was apartment style senior living. The proposal was for 42 individual units that would continue to be owned by United Church Home and the road would be private. A ditch segregated the property and there was one access point on North Avenue that they would continue to use. Mr. Hutter stated that they had met with Union Fire Company and reviewed the project with them. All units would be handicapped accessible, one-story, and fit well with the surrounding neighborhood. Their plan was for two bedroom units, but depending on how the market is they may have either one or three bedroom units. Mr. Hutter stated that they had not yet decided on a rental price for the units.
Councilwoman Bove questioned if there would be access to the project from the United Church Home parking lot.
Mr. Hutter responded that United Church Home had a small community building and they wanted to use the parking lot there for additional parking for the proposed development if needed for an occasional event.
Supervisor Piotrowski noted that this was a for profit venture and the town would not be responsible for road maintenance since this would be a private road.
Councilman Graber questioned the wetlands on the property and the impact this project would have on the sewer line.
Mr. Hutter responded that a survey was done by Debbie Neighbors and Don Wilson of Wilson Environmental was currently looking into the wetlands. There was 3.06 acres of wetlands on the property and they had submitted this information to the Army Corps of Engineers for their determination if they are isolated and could be removed. If the wetlands are non-isolated, they will remain untouched. Mr. Hutter noted that the engineering plan would be reviewed by the Engineering Department and they would have to return to the Planning Board for site plan approval.
Councilwoman Bove commented that Mr. Hutter had done everything requested of him for this project and it was very professional.
No comments were received from the public.
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to issue a Negative Declaration with regard to SEQR for the proposed multi-family development at 50 North Avenue & 2150 Union Road based on the following: 1) the proposed senior residential housing development complies with the town’s comprehensive plan; 2) the wetlands have been clearly delineated and will be mitigated with approval from the Army Corps of Engineers; 3) the impact on Union Fire Company was addressed as referenced in Planning Board Minutes #2008-05; 4) the project is not located in a flood plain and is not expected to result in erosion or excessive storm water runoff; 5) the site is not known to be occupied by any endangered or threatened species or species of concern and is not a protected habitat or critical environmental area; 6) the project will not generate excessive noise levels or generate odors; 7) the project will not overburden community services or facilities or set a precedent for future projects.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve a rezoning and special permit for property located at 50 North Avenue & 2150 Union Road, being part of Lot Nos. 23 & 24, changing its classification from C-1(S), M-1, and R-65 to R-50(S), for a multi-family development, conditioned upon the requirements of a publicly dedicated highway for access not being part of the conditions applied to the rezoning and noting that all other requirements of the R-50 zoning will apply unless waived by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
2. Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, that proofs of publication and posting of legal notice: “OF A PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER A REQUEST FOR A REZONING FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 2979 CLINTON STREET, BEING PART OF LOT NO. 42, CHANGING ITS CLASSIFICATION FROM M-1 TO R-75A, FOR A RESIDENTIAL HOME” in the Town of West Seneca, be received and filed. (Kirk & Julia Ruhland)
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to open the public hearing.
Supervisor Piotrowski read the recommendation of the Planning Board: “At its May 8, 2008 meeting, the Planning Board recommended approval of the request for a rezoning for property located at 2979 Clinton Street, being part of Lot No. 42, changing its classification from M-1 to R-75A, for a residential home, noting that the parcel to be rezoned is 80’ frontage x 233’ depth measured from the center line of Clinton Street in the extreme northeast corner of the applicant’s property. The Planning Board further recommended that a Negative Declaration be issued with regard to SEQR for the above project.”
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Attorney Michael G. Cooper, 71 Main Street, Hamburg, represented Kirk & Julia Ruhland and stated their proposal to construct a single family home on an 80’ x 233’ lot at 2979 Clinton Street. Their entire parcel is 18.4 acres and this lot will be at the extreme northeast corner of the property. Mr. Cooper presented aerial views and noted that the residential use will be in conformity with the mixed use in this area.
No comments were received from the public.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to issue a Negative Declaration with regard to SEQR for the single family home project located at 2979 Clinton Street based on the following: 1) the use is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan; 2) only .535 acres will be impacted; 3) there are no significant impacts on sewers, water, traffic, or other environmental issues.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve a rezoning for property located at 2979 Clinton Street, being part of Lot No. 42, changing its classification from M-1 to R-75A, for a residential home, noting that the parcel to be rezoned is 80’ frontage x 233’ depth measured from the center line of Clinton Street in the extreme northeast corner of the applicant’s property.
*APPENDICES*3. Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, that proofs of publication and posting of legal notice: “OF A PUBLIC HEARING TO HEAR ALL INTERESTED PARTIES AND CITIZENS FOR OR AGAINST THE ADOPTION OF AMENDMENTS TO THE NOISE ORDINANCE” in the Town of West Seneca, be received and filed.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to open the public hearing.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro stated that since some time last year a committee comprised of himself, Councilwoman Meegan, Chief Gehen, and Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski have been reviewing amendments to the Noise Ordinance, Chapter 82. Asst. Code Enforcement Officer Robert Pinnavaia and the Engineering Department also reviewed the amendments for their comment. Mr. Notaro stated that a number of local ordinances from surrounding towns and out-of-state ordinances were researched and he did significant research on the use and operation of noise sound meters. The committee attempted to tighten up the existing Noise Ordinance and include items that would affect most of the residents of the town. There were some exceptions that were common to a number of ordinances that would create an undo hardship to residents, police and fire companies, and utilities if they were not included as an exception.
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Councilman Clarke referred to §82-7 Exceptions and suggested that Section C be removed. Section C read as follows: “The sound created by public utilities in carrying out the operation of their functions.” Councilman Clarke did not want to see the utility companies doing routine maintenance in the middle of the night and noted that an emergency situation would be covered in §82-7(E).
Mr. Notaro stated that they might not be able to restrict the utility companies from performing their duties and he did not want to have a conflict in the Town Code. He did not believe the utility companies would be doing routine maintenance in the middle of the night.
Councilman Graber disagreed and stated that he works for NYSEG and they keep trying to push the work up to 24 hours a day. If someone loses their power during the night it is an emergency situation, but routine work at that hour could be a major inconvenience and be considered harassment of the citizens.
Supervisor Piotrowski referred to §82-4(A) and stated that the last sentence should read, “This subsection does not apply to commercial enterprises or industrial manufacturing plants in the regular conduct of their business on their own properties.”
Ruck Marino, 4713 Clinton Street, questioned if the amendments included enforcement and how this would be controlled. Also, would there be a budget to equip police vehicles with the proper equipment.
Mr. Notaro stated that they had been addressing this issue and the Police Department had one properly functioning certified meter and one certified operator. Within the next year they would be obtaining some additional units, but he understood they would not be in every police vehicle. There will be some police officers trained to operate the equipment to check violations. Mr. Notaro noted that there was language in the ordinance that allowed a police officer or code enforcement officer to make a judgment if certified personnel were not available to respond.
Chief Gehen stated that the decibel reader was just another tool and it did not prohibit a police officer from enforcing the Noise Ordinance based on their judgment of unreasonableness. The decibel reader would give a quantitative reading of noise coming from a location.
Mr. Marino commented on judging the level of noise by what was reasonable. He questioned how the Noise Ordinance would be enforced and if the decibel reader would record the event and the level of sound at 50 feet.
Chief Gehen responded that the decibel reader would record the amount of decibels coming from a location and thereby give a quantifiable reading as to the sound.
Mr. Marino questioned if the reading would be recorded on paper.
Mr. Notaro responded that it would depend on the amount of money the town was willing to spend on readers. The existing reader and those that he researched did not have a recording device, but the trained employee would read the machine and record the reading. Mr. Notaro thought it would be cost prohibitive to purchase recording machines similar to the newer breathalyzer machines.
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Chief Gehen stated that he had checked with the Towns of Lancaster, Orchard Park, Cheektowaga, and Amherst and received a lot of information pertaining to their Noise Ordinance and the use of decibel readers. Some had tried them, but most did not use them. The information Chief Gehen got was that the decibel reader was a nice tool to have for unusual and exceptional circumstances where they might want to get another measure rather than just the judgment of the responding officer. The Town of Cheektowaga demonstrated their decibel reader for Chief Gehen and stated that it puts the complainant’s mind at ease that the sound is not to the excessive range. However, it would also give a quantifiable measure if the sound was in the excessive range and a summons would then be issued.
Councilman Bove questioned if the transmission from the Public Safety Dispatcher to the police car on a complaint of noise could be a silent dispatch so it would not be heard on a scanner.
Chief Gehen stated that if they have reason to believe that someone can hear the dispatch, they had the ability to dispatch a car by an instant message through the records management system.
Mr. Marino questioned the minimum decibel level acceptable at 50 feet, noting that in New York City it was 45 decibels.
Mr. Notaro responded that a measurement would be taken from the complainant’s property line pointed in the direction of the source of the noise. An acceptable decibel level depended on the area. The lowest level was during the night at 55 decibels and during the day in an industrial or manufacturing zone it was 85 decibels. Mr. Notaro recited the schedule as indicated in the proposed ordinance.
Mr. Marino thought these levels were 10 decibels above the average and were unacceptable. He commented that any bar would be able to put music outside if these levels were used.
Mr. Notaro disagreed and stated that these levels were derived from his research of the current decibel reader and log sheet of the decibel level of various noises along with information from the Town Codes of Amherst, Cheektowaga and Lancaster. None of the other Town Codes logged a reading of less than 50 decibels in similar type situations. Mr. Notaro had also researched the decibel readers to understand their operation and the noise levels (i.e. 80 decibels was the sound inside a car at 50 mph; 70 decibels was a vacuum cleaner at 10 feet or conversation at 3 feet; 50 decibels was a private business office; 35 decibels was a soft whisper). Mr. Notaro did not believe the proposed decibels were out of range considering what could happen in the residential homes and businesses in town.
Mr. Marino questioned if Mr. Notaro had any qualifications in sound engineering to back up his study.
Mr. Notaro responded that he did not.
Mr. Marino asked that the town hire a sound engineer. He further questioned if the proposed amendments addressed a situation with a bar opening its windows to allow the music to blare outdoors.
Mr. Notaro stated that §82-4(A) addressed situations involving amplified sound.
Mr. Marino questioned the penalty for violating the Noise Ordinance.
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Mr. Notaro advised that the penalty was a fine of not more than $250 or imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both. This was the standard allowed by New York State law for violation charges.
Mr. Marino suggested that the acceptable level be lowered by 10 decibels for each category.
Michael Lowe, 98 Southgate Drive, questioned the definition of business as it related to this ordinance and what zoning classification would include a bar.
Mr. Notaro responded that this would be businesses located in C-1 or C-2 zoning districts.
Mr. Czuprynski stated that most bars were located in a C-2 district unless they were a non-conforming, pre-existing use.
Mr. Lowe thought the proposed amendments made the code more complicated.
Mr. Notaro stated that the residents asked for the amendments.
Chief Gehen commented on other towns’ use of decibel readers and stated that the Town of Lancaster did not use a decibel reader at all. About six years ago they looked into purchasing a decibel reader but they found problems with implementation, so they enforce based on reasonableness and distance. The Town of Orchard Park also did not use a decibel reader. They looked into them years ago and had an officer trained; however, implementation did not occur because of the problems with decibel readers. They base enforcement on reasonableness. The Town of Amherst purchased one decibel reader and it was used only once last year. They enforce on reasonableness and only use the decibel reader for unusual or exceptional instances. The Town of Cheektowaga enforces based on reasonableness, but they do have a couple of small and inexpensive decibel readers they use to take readings and educate business owners on whether or not they are in compliance with the town ordinance. Chief Gehen thought it was important that West Seneca’s Noise Ordinance maintain the reasonableness standard because it was not practical for the officers dispatched to take a decibel reader with them. The must be able to enforce on the unreasonableness standard based on their observations. The decibel reader just gives them a tool to use in very unusual circumstances.
Amy Carpenter, 406 Woodward Crescent, stated that although she agrees with the reasonableness standard, she questioned how a situation like Clinton Street could go on for three years without being corrected. Mrs. Carpenter questioned how this problem would be resolved.
Chief Gehen stated that any time they receive a complaint call, they dispatch officers to the location. If it is a location they have not been to on a regular basis, they will just give a warning and most often they comply. If they have to go back a second time or for repetitive complaints, it is subject to enforcement and they have written summonses in the past.
Bruce Andrews, 65 Seneca Creek Road, stated that he had called the police about a dozen times over the past two years about Gor-Den Automotive in the industrial park tuning race car engines. The police respond and they stop, but the next day they are right back at it. This also occurs on Saturdays and Sundays.
Chief Gehen stated that his officers had responded to Gor-Den Automotive and talked to them about running the engines. Usually this was during the day and they complied. Chief Gehen thought the decibel reader might be a good tool to give the business owner a quantifiable reading as to how loud the engines are.
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Mr. Marino questioned how many summons were issued in the last three years for violations to the Noise Ordinance.
Mr. Notaro stated that last Friday there were two Noise Ordinance violations dealt with by the Town Prosecutor.
Chief Gehen did not have an exact figure but stated that his department had issued several summons for violation of the Noise Ordinance over the last few years. If the officers were dispatched to the same location over and over, they would enforce the ordinance.
Mr. Marino did not believe that violations should be based on reasonableness and thought there should be heavier penalties. He noted that there has been a problem with the Nickel Creek Café on Clinton Street since 2005 and nothing had been done to resolve it.
Chief Gehen disagreed and stated that his officers had responded to all the complaints at this location to check noise levels and the parking situation. They had even driven by as part of their detail just to check on things. The proposed amendment to the Noise Ordinance with regard to the decibel reader was a result of Mr. Marino’s comments.
Mr. Marino questioned if any tickets were issued to Nickel Creek Café for violations to the Noise Ordinance since 2005.
Chief Gehen responded that he would have to check the records management system, but he did not believe that they had been issued any tickets.
Mr. Marino commented that the noise situation at Nickel Creek Café was a real problem and 75 decibels was too high. He was happy to see the Noise Ordinance updated, but thought that enforcement should not be based on reasonableness.
Chief Gehen disagreed and stated that there were problems with implementation with a decibel reader so they needed to keep the reasonableness standard.
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter suggested that if §82-7(C) is eliminated, §82-7(E) be amended to read “The sound created by emergency construction or repair work which is necessary for the protection of life or property or restoration of utility services.”
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Bove, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to adopt the proposed Noise Ordinance with the following changes:
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
On the question,
Motion by Councilwoman Meegan, seconded by Councilman Graber, to amend the motion and lower the decibel levels as follows:
Business & manufacturing
On the question, Chief Gehen questioned what the new decibel readings would equate to and suggested that there be more discussion before adopting them.
Mr. Notaro commented that lowering these numbers would create a huge problem for the Code Enforcement Office and the Police Department. For example, anyone doing a roofing job on a residential home at 7 AM would be in violation of the Noise Ordinance.
Supervisor Piotrowski questioned if Mr. Notaro had a listing of every piece of equipment and its decibel level.
Mr. Notaro did not have that information available, but would be able to provide it. He commented that the committee had reviewed the Noise Ordinance and made recommendations to the Town Board, and lowering these levels would be goring the usefulness of the committee and what needed to be done for the public good. The committee spent a significant amount of time and looked at everyone, the residential and business residents of the town. Mr. Notaro stated that laws were not made to address a limited situation.
Councilman Graber stated that there were a number of individuals from Clinton Street that had previously appeared before the Town Board complaining of noise pollution from Nickel Creek Café. There was no problem with the previous bar owner blasting music throughout the neighborhood, but the Clinton Street residents were now continually being subjected to noise pollution. The town tried to address the problem for the last three years with the existing ordinance but it hasn’t worked. Councilman Graber commented that some noise from certain businesses was normal and people did not call the police on them. However, he felt it was intentional when a business opened their windows and positioned their speakers to blast the music outdoors, and if they closed their windows and kept the music inside Mr. Marino would probably not have complained. He further noted that just because Mr. Marino was the only representative from the neighborhood at this meeting, it did not mean that others were not constantly impacted by the bar owners that pretty much did not care about their neighbors. Councilman Graber stated that the proposed amendments were a starting point, and if they determined that the levels needed to be adjusted, they could adjust them.
Mr. Notaro suggested that the Town Board adopt the levels that were proposed by the committee and they could then be adjusted if needed.
Chief Gehen suggested that they get the decibel reader that would be used and test it out in the field to understand what the actual readings were.
Mr. Czuprynski noted that decibel readings were taken at the property line, so the change to the proposed readings might be a little low.
10-B LEGAL NOTICES
Supervisor Piotrowski suggested that this issue be tabled so that Chief Gehen could provide the board members with a demonstration of the decibel reader.
Mr. Notaro responded that Mr. Czuprynski was certified to operate the decibel reader and he suggested that the Town Board table this discussion pending a demonstration of what the decibel levels referred to.
The motion was withdrawn.
Motion by Councilwoman Meegan, seconded by Councilman Graber, to table this item.
On the question, Councilwoman Bove wanted to ensure that the board members had as much data as possible to make an informed decision.
Mr. Notaro suggested that they meet at the Highway Garage some evening for a demonstration of the decibel reader.
Chief Gehen stated that he would set up a demonstration for the board members.
1. Supervisor Piotrowski re Appointment of Gail Hoppe to West Seneca Library Board
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint Gail Hoppe as Trustee to the West Seneca Library Board.
2. Supervisor Piotrowski re Termination of Michael Farrell as Public Safety Dispatcher
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate Michael Farrell as Public Safety Dispatcher effective June 10, 2008 pursuant to Section 73 of the Civil Service Law and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
On the question, Councilman Clarke stated that Mr. Farrell had not worked as Public Safety Dispatcher for well over two years. In March 2008, he submitted for retirement, but that was pulled and now there was a termination request. Councilman Clarke asked and was informed by the Comptroller’s office that Mr. Farrell’s health insurance was still being paid. He hoped that this was not selective treatment and that the next employee that is hurt gets treated the same way.
Councilman Graber stated that in the past an employee was terminated after one year of not working. Mr. Farrell’s case was discussed with Chief Gehen, the White Collar Union and Mr. Farrell himself and there was a lot of indication that he would be able to return to work, but it never worked out. Councilman Graber stated that Mr. Farrell was a highly skilled employee and they did not enjoy terminating him.
Councilman Clarke agreed but stated that he was questioned as to whether everyone would be treated in the same manner.
Councilman Graber stated that there was a rule that any employee that was absent for more than one year could be terminated by the Town Board. Each case they addressed in the past was different.
Councilman Clarke thought that this instance showed favoritism.
Councilman Graber disagreed and stated that Mr. Farrell did everything in his power to return to work. He was not just lounging around collecting a pay check. The White Collar Union was involved and provided him with additional sick time from the sick bank.
Councilman Clarke stated that the next person that is injured should be given the same consideration as Mr. Farrell was given.
Councilman Graber stated that every case was different and the Town Board had not acted on Mr. Farrell’s case out of respect for the White Collar Union and the Police Chief.
Councilman Clarke did not believe they should be picking and choosing and every employee should be treated fairly and the same. They should not be showing favoritism.
Councilman Graber stated that Mr. Farrell did not get hurt on the job and he hoped that he could be healthy once again.
Councilman Clarke agreed but stated he just wanted to make sure everyone was treated fairly and equally.
3. Supervisor Piotrowski re Sale of 20 School Street
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to enter into a discussion with regard to the sale of 20 School Street.
On the question, Councilwoman Bove stated that the town had purchased 20 School Street for $25450 with Erie County Community Development Block Grant funds, so no taxpayer funds were used for this purchase. AmeriCorps was eligible to apply for a $90,000 grant to refurbish the house and they were awarded the grant, but Councilwoman Bove found out this date that the grant had been canceled by Supervisor Piotrowski. Councilwoman Bove questioned each of the board members if they had been asked their opinion with regard to cancelling the grant and the other board members responded that they were not asked their opinion. She then questioned why Supervisor Piotrowski cancelled the grant which was free money that could be used to refurbish the house.
Supervisor Piotrowski questioned where Councilwoman Bove got this information.
Councilwoman Bove responded that she had contacted Mike Alspaugh from Erie County Environment & Planning and he referred her to Diane Cadle who informed her that the grant was cancelled by Supervisor Piotrowski. Councilwoman Bove told Ms. Cadle that she was not contacted and had no idea the grant was cancelled and Ms. Cadle informed her that Supervisor Piotrowski had asked that no one discuss it unless they talked to him. Councilwoman Bove asked Supervisor Piotrowski if he cancelled the grant.
Supervisor Piotrowski responded that he did not cancel the grant. He had met with Mr. Doering and Mr. Alspaugh who were questioning him about 20 School Street and the decrepit condition of the property. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he e-mailed each of the board members and he hoped that they had the opportunity to inspect 20 School Street. The town purchased the property last year and there was a tenant living in the house, so the residents of West Seneca were landlords for this property. The grant money was still available if the town wanted to use it to rehabilitate the property, but he questioned if the town should keep the property, remain in the landlord business, sell the property, or rehabilitate the property, and the item was placed on the agenda to discuss their options.
Councilwoman Bove questioned why Supervisor Piotrowski unilaterally contacted the county to cancel the grant.
Supervisor Piotrowski presented a memo from Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski advising that 20 School Street was in dire need of repair, almost to the point of it being necessary to demolish the house. He had received a complaint about the property last week and went there with Town Engineer George Montz, Mr. Czuprynski, and a representative from the Buildings & Grounds Department. Their recommendation was that 20 School Street was almost in a condition to be demolished, and the town was in the process of trying to remove the tenant from the property. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that the previous Town Board approved the purchase of 20 School Street and 16 School Street with the intended purpose of having out-of-town guests of the VISTA program stay there rather than a hotel. He did not believe the town should be landlords or in the hotel business, and he put the item regarding 20 School Street on the Town Board’s agenda to discuss what they should do with this property and eventually in the future the other property also. Supervisor Piotrowski commented that last year the voters sent a message that they did not want things in town to continue as they were, and the Town Board needed to analyze everything they did. The grant funds were there if they wanted to use them; the question was did they want to use the funds or not.
Councilwoman Bove stated that Supervisor Piotrowski had one vote on the Town Board and he was not the ruler of the town. She commented that every board member needed to know what was going on in town and they were not informed of what Supervisor Piotrowski had done.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he sent Councilwoman Bove and the other board members an e-mail last week advising them of the decrepit condition of the property at 20 School Street. The previous Town Board, which included two of the current board members, bought this property and sat by while a 65-year old man lived in the infested condition of the house. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he put the grant money on hold and notified all the board members of what he considered an emergency situation. Town Attorney Edwin Hunter was working on the necessary paperwork to move the man into a more secure facility or homestead.
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Councilman Clarke, to reinstate the grant and rehabilitate the property at 20 School Street.
On the question, Councilwoman Bove stated that this was absolutely free money that did not require any match by the town. There were a number of properties in West Seneca that were blighted and not rehabilitated. AmeriCorps would be able to use the $90,000 to rehabilitate 20 School Street and she thought they should be given the chance.
Supervisor Piotrowski questioned why they had not already rehabilitated the property since it was purchased in March 2007.
Councilman Graber stated that 20 School Street was in disrepair, but it was up for foreclosure through the state auction last year and AmeriCorps was able to secure $25,000 to purchase it. They had been developing a plan since August 2007 to refurbish the property and they were able to secure a $90,000 grant for that purpose. Councilman Graber commented on the blight in the City of Buffalo and how it spreads, and this was a great opportunity to rehabilitate a blighted building. He noted that the Metz’ house at 16 School Street was refurbished by AmeriCorps and it looked a lot better than it used to. Councilman Graber thought that they should refurbish 20 School Street, but he also agreed with Supervisor Piotrowski that the town should not be in the landlord business and they should deed the property over to AmeriCorps.
Councilman Clarke suggested that Mr. Hunter research the question of deeding this property over to AmeriCorps.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to amend the motion and table this item so Town Attorney Edwin Hunter can look into the process of deeding the property to AmeriCorps.
On the question, Councilman Graber commented that it was imperative that the board members contact the county and let them know that the town wants the grant money to refurbish 20 School Street. He was willing to vote in favor of refurbishing 20 School Street, but they also needed to know if they could deed the property over to AmeriCorps.
Councilwoman Bove agreed that the property should be deeded over to AmeriCorps.
Mr. Hunter questioned if AmeriCorps was willing to accept the property and Councilman Graber confirmed that they were.
Councilwoman Meegan questioned why the town was in the landlord business in the first place and why the property was not deeded over to AmeriCorps last year. She further questioned why the town was paying the insurance on the buildings on School Street and why the town was paying other bills for AmeriCorps such as their mail and car insurance. Councilwoman Meegan noted that AmeriCorps was a federal agency, but West Seneca was the only municipality in Erie County that contributed to them, yet all of Erie County, including the City of Buffalo, benefited from them.
Councilman Graber stated that the blight still existed and AmeriCorps was instructed by the previous administration to rehabilitate the property. Youth Director Mark Lazzara bought the buildings as he was instructed to by the previous administration, but the new administration had a different attitude toward this. Councilman Graber noted that for every dollar the town spent they got $18 back from the federal government.
Councilwoman Meegan responded that the town also gave the AmeriCorps $1 million interest free.
Councilman Graber commented on the benefits of AmeriCorps and a number of charitable things they did. Refurbishing properties was another example where they took low income, inner city youth and trained them in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical so they could go out and get a job.
Councilwoman Meegan respected that and thought it was admirable but noted that it was done only on the backs of the taxpayers of West Seneca.
On the tabling motion,
On the motion to reinstate the grant,
Councilwoman Meegan questioned if there was a letter of declination on the grant and Supervisor Piotrowski responded that there was not.
Councilman Graber stated that the county wanted to know the Town Board’s opinion on the grant and voting on it now would indicate what the majority wanted.
Councilwoman Meegan noted that there was no documentation to support that the Town Board had declined the grant.
Councilwoman Bove stated that right now the grant was on hold and it was put on hold by Supervisor Piotrowski.
Councilwoman Meegan commented that the grant had been on hold since last year while the gentleman continued to live in decrepit conditions.
4. Supervisor Piotrowski re Payment to Planning Consultant Wendel Duchscherer
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $46,769.40 to Wendel Duchscherer for services provided in 2007 as Planning Consultant.
On the question, Supervisor Piotrowski noted that the town contracted with Wendel Duchscherer in 2006 and they had not been paid for their services to the town. There was no line item for this expense, so Supervisor Piotrowski directed Comptroller Robert Bielecki to determine from which fund to pay this item.
5. Supervisor Piotrowski re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $1900 to West Seneca Printing, Inc. for printing of town maps for inclusion in the 2008-2009 West Seneca Lions Club Who’s Who.
6. Councilwoman Meegan re Installation of door access control system in Police Department
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Bove, to authorize payment of $2500 to Eastern States Sentinel Alarm Services, Inc. for installation of a door access control system in the Police Department.
7. Councilwoman Meegan re ADP conversion upgrade
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Bove, to approve conversion of the EZ Labor Manager with ADP with a one time set up fee of $2000 and authorize the Supervisor to sign the monthly service contract.
8. Councilwoman Bove re Open Meetings Law
p> Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Councilman Clarke, to adopt the attached resolution concerning compliance with the New York State Open Meetings Law for open and transparent government.
On the question, Councilman Graber referred to Item #7 in the resolution which stated, “The Supervisor routinely calls two board members to meet with him before and after scheduled meetings,” and stated that this was an outright fabrication. He stated that Supervisor Piotrowski had never called to ask to meet with him before a meeting or after a meeting. Councilman Graber stated that he has gone to Supervisor Piotrowski’ s office to say hello and that was perfectly legal. He further noted that Councilwoman Meegan never stayed after Town Board meetings. She was in Supervisor Piotrowski’s office before the meetings because she had a desk there. Councilman Graber stated that there was no concentrated effort by Supervisor Piotrowski to meet with two board members and he suggested that this be struck from the resolution.
Councilwoman Bove stated that she has had complaints from a number of residents.
Councilman Graber responded that there was no proof of this and legally this statement could be considered libel. The resolution was a written document and it was false.
Councilman Clarke disagreed and stated that he himself had seen Councilman Graber and Councilwoman Meegan coming out of Supervisor Piotrowski’s office. He suggested that Councilwoman Meegan not have a desk in Supervisor Piotrowski’s office if it was creating a conflict with three board members being in there at the same time.
Councilman Graber did not believe there was a conflict and stated that Supervisor Piotrowski did not call him and Councilwoman Meegan into his office and they were not having a meeting. He noted that as part of the previous administration they used to go into the Town Attorney’s office, and this was legal as long as it wasn’t a meeting. Councilman Graber stated that he could be criticized for things he actually did or did not do, but he had never been called by Supervisor Piotrowski to meet with him before or after a Town Board meeting.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that there were three new board members learning the nuances of the Open Meetings Law. He commented that the public wondered why the board members did not appear to get along with each other, but he noted that Councilwoman Bove could have e-mailed him or called with suggested changes in meeting notifications or procedures. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he will always comply with the laws of New York State and he thought that the proposed resolution was political grandstanding. As part of the previous Town Board, Councilwoman Bove regularly met with the board members before each meeting to discuss issues outside of the public domain. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that work sessions/executive sessions were called only after all five board members agreed on the date and time. Each of the memos sent to the board members listed additional people that received the memo, which were the Front Page, Helen Jones of the Buffalo News, Breann Howell of the West Seneca Bee, and whatever department heads needed to be present at the meeting. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that his secretary faxed the notices to the three newspapers and also posted them on the bulletin board outside his office and on the town’s website. The work sessions/executive sessions were as follows: 1) January 28th – Open work session for the Buffalo Riverkeepers presentation; 2) February 11th – Open work session for
Wendel Duchscherer’s presentation; 3) February 27th – Executive work session during which personnel matters were presented by Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan and positions in the Youth Bureau, Recreation Department, Burchfield Center and AmeriCorps were also discussed; 4) March 4th – Executive work session on personnel matters at Youth Bureau and Recreation Department; 5) March 12th - Executive work session on personnel matters at Youth Bureau and Recreation Department; 6) March 26th - Executive work session on personnel matters at Youth Bureau and Recreation Department; 7) March 31st – Open work session for Chief Gehen’s presentation on the proposed building addition; 8) April 7th – Executive work session for interviews for Senior Citizens Director position and personnel matters at Youth Bureau and Recreation Department; 9) April 14th – Open work session for presentation on West Seneca Soccer Complex and an Executive work session on personnel issues in the Police Department; 10) May 5th – Open work session for Burchfield presentation before the Town Board meeting and an open work session for Kevin Gaughan’s presentation following the Town Board meeting; 11) June 9th – Executive work session on personnel matters in the Police Department. Supervisor Piotrowski noted that Councilwoman Bove helped schedule all the meetings and sat through each in its entirety without protest until the soccer park issue arose on April 6th. He suggested that there be less political grandstanding and more work on the issues like the budget, excessive taxes and other problems related to the town. Supervisor Piotrowski thought that the residents spoke loud and clear in November when they elected him along with Councilwoman Meegan and Councilman Clarke. The town could not continue to be run in the same manner and expenses had to be cut. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that all the board members and department heads were aware that according to the auditor, on January 1, 2009 the town’s labor costs will go up $443,000. The projected health insurance increase was $400,000. He further noted that the last Town Board left a budget that underestimated expenses and overestimated income. Supervisor Piotrowski commented that the Town Board better get serious about reduction in costs or the voters will be turning over two more incumbents next year. After reviewing the budget, he believes savings can be implemented in each department and they were moving in that direction with the departmental reviews. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that the Town Board must be aggressive in determining the essential services needed to provide the residents and provide those services cost efficiently.
Councilman Clarke stated that Councilwoman Bove called to the attention of the board members that they were violating the Open Meetings Law. One of the residents had also commented on this at previous Town Board meetings and he congratulated her for doing so. Councilman Clarke commented that this was not political grandstanding; it was giving the voters what they wanted – no politics and open government.
Councilwoman Bove stated that she had informed Supervisor Piotrowski of the Open Meetings Law when he attempted to call a meeting for the soccer park and wanted the entire Town Board present. She suggested that it be an open meeting and the public be notified, but they weren’t. Councilwoman Bove put a copy of the Open Meetings Law on Supervisor Piotrowski’s desk and informed him that she could not participate because it was an illegal meeting. At one of the Executive Work Sessions she announced that she was uncomfortable by some of the questions being asked because they were not supposed to be asked or discussed, and at one of those meetings the Department of Motor Vehicles was discussed and the board members were asked their opinion. Each of the board members gave their opinion, but it never occurred to her that it would not be brought to the floor at a Town Board meeting. Councilwoman Bove stated that it was taken care of behind closed doors and that was not going to happen in this town. She also noted that a meeting was supposed to be called for the Burchfield Board with all the board members and another with the Youth Board, but Councilwoman Bove said that it couldn’t happen because it would be a violation of the Open Meetings Law. A couple of weeks ago Councilwoman Bove received a voice mail that there was going to be an emergency meeting concerning the Ice Rink within a couple of hours. At that time, she contacted the Association of Towns and spoke with an attorney in Albany who
informed her that the meeting would be illegal and it could not happen. Councilwoman Bove stated that she was not grandstanding. She further referred to a question from a resident at the previous Town Board meeting concerning the review of town departments and whether the general public would be made aware of any policy changes resulting from the reviews. Supervisor Piotrowski had responded that the general public would be made aware of any changes or policies at a Town Board meeting and that would be on the agenda. Councilwoman Bove stated that all departmental changes had to be voted on at an open public meeting, but that hasn’t happened. She commented that residents and taxpayers had a right to know what was going on and she also had a right to know what was going on. Councilwoman Bove stated that this was open government, transparency, and the law.
9. Councilwoman Bove re Staffing at neighborhood parks
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Councilman Clarke, to employ part-time employees in the Recreation Department to staff all neighborhood parks for the benefit and protection of our children.
On the question, Councilwoman Bove stated that at an Executive Work Session, Supervisor Piotrowski suggested having only six playgrounds staffed for the summer. Knowing that there would probably be three votes on that issue, Councilwoman Bove objected and suggested that they at least cover as much of the town as possible so children in all areas of town would have a staff member for at least part of the day for protection. It was then negotiated that four other parks might be included, but only at half time. At that point, most of the Town Board members felt that at least they had gotten as much as they could, but when Councilwoman Bove recognized that the Department of Motor Vehicles issue had not been brought to the floor, she knew that the parks issue would never be brought to the floor and there would be neighborhood parks with no staff member present for the summer, even part-time, in neighborhoods where children could walk to the park and have someone there to protect them from being bullied and from unwanted strangers. As a parent, grandmother and former teacher, Councilwoman Bove stated that those things happen and she defied anyone to tell her they didn’t. She had personal experience of children coming to her and telling her what goes on at some parks. Councilwoman Bove stated that she could not sit with that agreement or understanding at a meeting that should have been open, parents could have talked about the issue, and children could have had something to say. There were neighborhood parks like Knox Avenue, Dorrance Avenue, Northwood Avenue, Dirkson Avenue, Briarhill Drive, and Indian Church Road that would not have any staff member present, and parents needed to know that their children could participate at their local park even for part of the day and feel that they were safe. Councilwoman Bove stated that some members of the Town Board thought that this was babysitting, but she strongly disagreed. The town was not a babysitter, but they were there to protect the children. Councilwoman Bove asked that the above mentioned neighborhood parks be staffed by at least one or two part-time employees, even for a half day, so the children could go and enjoy the parks and parents would not have to worry.
Councilwoman Meegan referred to the conversations the board members had regarding the personnel issue at the parks and stated that their concern as an employer was that the parks they were not going to staff were parks that did not have rest room facilities. Many of the employees were females and they were expected to be at the park 9 AM until 3 PM. If they needed to use a rest room, they had to get in their car or on their bike and go home during
work hours. If anything were to happen to them during that time, the town would be responsible. Councilwoman Meegan stated that the town could not provide rest room facilities at the older parks. Councilman Clarke had supplied a portable restroom at the park on Harlem Road, but Councilwoman Meegan presented a picture showing that it had been tipped over and was lying in a ditch. She further stated that Recreation Director Robert Walsh had advised that there was no one at the parks after 1 PM. The employees would sit and do nothing for three hours because there were no kids at the parks. It was too hot in the afternoon and the kids were home playing video games or swimming in their pools. Councilwoman Meegan stated that all the board members were furnished with information on the participation at the parks in 2007. For example, for the eight weeks during the summer of 2007 there were only 43 visits by boys and 138 visits by girls to the park on Dirkson Avenue. Councilwoman Meegan stated that they were trying to make the most efficient parks and keep the employees safe so the town would not be exposed to a liability. This had nothing to do with taking away from the children and Councilwoman Meegan stated that she was all for the children, noting that she was a past president of the PTA, involved in the hockey association, and had been on many committees involving children.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to amend the motion and staff the following parks full-time: Bellwood/Harlem Road, Burchfield, Centennial Park, Firemen’s Park, the Soccer Complex, and Sunshine Park; and the following parks part-time Monday – Thursday 9 AM to 1 PM and Friday 10 AM to 1 PM: Clinton Elementary, Fisher Road, Westgate Blvd. and Winchester Elementary.
On the question, Supervisor Piotrowski stated that this staffing was based on Mr. Walsh’s recommendations. Last year there were 16 parks staffed full-time and the previous year there were 18.
Councilwoman Bove stated that the parks that were not being staffed were located in areas where the children needed these services the most. She was opposed to not paying a few part-time employees for eight weeks to staff the parks for the summer.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that staffing for those parks would take 25 part-time hires. Last year there were 91 employees and he commented that the town had to look to reduce costs. Parents took their children to soccer, baseball, hockey, football, and EduKids, and they could also drive them to a park that was staffed a little farther down the street. The Harlem Road Park would be staffed, so he saw no need to staff the Dirkson Avenue park across the street or the Briarhill Drive park a few streets over and with Winchester Elementary open they did not need Knox Avenue or Indian Church Road staffed. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that they had to consolidate, but they were still providing a service to the residents. He commented that he has been at the parks over the years with his own children and nieces and nephews. They were not full of kids all the time and they were also not a babysitting service. Supervisor Piotrowski further stated that as the year goes by if they find they need to have additional parks open, they could always do so, but he did not believe that would happen.
Councilman Clarke stated that rest room facilities were needed at the parks that had ball diamonds, not just for the children but also for the adults. He further stated that he originally agreed with Supervisor Piotrowski with regard to cutting costs until his nephew was hired to work in the parks and others that worked in previous years were not hired back.
Councilwoman Bove agreed that the board members had to cut costs, but she thought there were plenty of ways they could do that without it being on the backs of the children in town.
10. Town Engineer re Hydrant addition on Transit Road
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve an additional annual hydrant fee of $146.28 for Erie County Water Authority for adding one hydrant and valve assembly at 2724 Transit Road in West Seneca Water District #1, noting that this hydrant is required in conjunction with the Frank Sergi development to conform to current Erie County Health Department hydrant spacing requirements and the developer will install the hydrant and valve assembly at no cost to the town.
11. Highway Supt. re Title change for Leo Kogler to Heavy Motor Equipment Operator
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate Leo Kogler as Highway Laborer and appoint Leo Kogler as Highway Heavy Motor Equipment Operator at a rate of $23.54 per hour, Group 5, Step 5, effective May 19, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
12. Highway Supt. re Title change for Ronald Stacey to Motor Equipment Operator
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate Ronald Stacey as Highway Laborer and appoint Ronald Stacey as Highway Motor Equipment Operator at a rate of $22.72 per hour, Group 2, Step 5, effective May 19, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
13. Highway Supt. re Termination of summer help in Highway Department
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate James Kane, Matt Oleski, and Adam Spilsbury as part-time laborers in the Highway Department effective June 9, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
14. Highway Supt. re Appointment of summer help in Highway Department
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint the following as part-time laborers in the Highway Department effective June 9 – September 5, 2008 at a rate of $7.15 per hour:
and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
15. Highway Supt. re Termination of Gene Hart as part-time laborer in Sanitation
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate Gene Hart as part-time laborer in the Sanitation Department effective June 9, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
16. Highway Supt. re Appointment of M. Januszkiewicz & K. Folger as part-time laborers in Sanitation
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint Mark Januszkiewicz and Kyle Folger as part-time seasonal laborers in the Sanitation Department at a rate of $7.15 per hour effective June 9, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
17. Highway Supt. re Termination of summer help in Bldgs. & Grounds Department
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate David Carr and Kevin Loga as part-time laborers in the Buildings & Grounds Department effective June 9, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
18. Highway Supt. re Purchases requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of the following vouchers for the Highway Department:
Lakeside Sod Supply Co., Inc. (ball diamond
19. Chief Gehen re Attendance at NYS Chief’s of Police training conference
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize Chief Gehen to attend the 2008 New York State Chief’s of Police training conference at Fort William Henry Hotel Conference Center, Lake George, New York, July 27 – 30, 2008 at a total cost not to exceed $1066.
20. Chief Gehen re Title change for Michael Poleon to Police Lt.
See Page one of minutes.
21. Chief Gehen re Status change for Public Safety Dispatchers to part-time seasonal
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to change the status of part-time Public Safety Dispatchers Edward Jarka, James Kavanaugh, and David Koehler to part-time seasonal effective June 1 – 30, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
22. Chief Gehen re Resignation of Donald Eckl as part-time Crossing Guard
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to accept the resignation of Donald Eckl and terminate him as part-time Crossing Guard effective May 19, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
23. Chief Gehen re Appointment of Nicole Maw as part-time Crossing Guard
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint Nicole Marie Maw as part-time Crossing Guard at a rate of $7.15 per hour effective June 10, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
24. Comptroller re Budget amendment for Meals on Wheels program
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve a budget amendment for the year 2008 adding budget line item #1.7620.0436 in the amount of $11,000 for the Meals on Wheels program.
25. Recreation Director re Appointment of part-time seasonal employees for summer programs
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint the individuals on the attached list as part-time seasonal employees in the Recreation Department effective June 9 – September 30, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
26. Town Clerk re Senior Housing Project on Seneca Street
Rhonda Frederick, Chief Operating Officer for People Inc., presented a proposal for a senior housing complex on Seneca Street near the West Seneca Senior Citizens Center. She stated that People Inc. was the largest human services agency in WNY and they provided services to individuals with disabilities and senior citizens. They currently had 15 affordable housing complexes in WNY for senior citizens age 62, all HUD sponsored, and she referred to the Burchfield Commons complex on Union Road that opened in 2006. Ms. Frederick commented on the incredible need for affordable senior
Housing in WNY, and especially in this area of WNY. Burchfield Commons had 49 one- bedroom units, and their waiting list was at 82. The turnover on the apartments was only three or four per year. Ms. Frederick stated that the current proposal was for a 50-unit apartment complex with 49 one-bedroom units available for rent. They were applying for a HUD 202 grant that would be due this summer and they would know by October or November if they receive the funding. It was recommended by the town’s planning consultant and Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski that the property be rezoned from R-75 to R-50. Ms. Frederick stated that this was a large parcel and they thought the project would be a natural fit for the neighborhood with the senior citizens center next door. A site plan and elevations were presented along with information on People Inc., a picture of Burchfield Commons, and a picture of their most recent project in Hamburg. Ms. Frederick noted that the 3-story Hamburg project was very similar to what they were proposing for this site on Seneca Street. The area to be rezoned, 5.5 acres, was indicated on the plan and 61 parking spaces were provided. The building would be brick on the first floor and mixed with brick on the other elevations.
Ken Franasiak, CEO & President of Calamar, stated that they had been in WNY for 18 years and were headquartered in Wheatfield, employing 160 people. At one point they were the largest owner and operator of medical facilities in WNY, having owned the West Seneca Medical Park until it was sold in a portfolio deal about one year ago. Their proposed 2-story senior housing project would be located on the rear portion of the site where the People Inc. project would be located. He presented a picture of a similar project they were just completing in the Town of Wheatfield, although it was a much larger project than the current proposal for 76 units. Mr. Franasiak stated that this was a low impact project and in demand since many people did not qualify for the low income requirements of the People Inc. project.
Architect Phil Silvestri stated that the proposed 2-story building will have 40 one bedroom and 36 two bedroom units. They would be requesting a rezoning from R-75 to R-50 and had already met with the town’s planning consultant and Fire Inspector John Gullo. Mr. Gullo was happy with the fire safety issues and only added a couple of fire hydrants to the plan. There would be access for fire trucks on three sides with a turn around at each side. The plan indicated garages, a storm water detention pond at the rear, and heavy landscaping along the entire property line that abutted the adjacent residential area. Parking was accessible to all the units throughout the 2-story building.
Councilman Graber questioned why Part 2 of the environmental assessment form was not completed.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro advised that Part 2 would be addressed by the Town Board when they make their determination on the rezoning and are ready to issue a negative declaration.
Councilwoman Bove stated that this parcel was divided and this was the first time she received any information on the People Inc. project. The proposal presented was for a 3-story building and there was nothing in that residential area that was that high. Councilwoman Bove was not in favor of referring the People Inc. project to the Planning Board and thought they should have additional information.
Mr. Franasiak stated that the town’s planning consultant suggested that People Inc. submit their proposal at this meeting, but the rezoning applications were submitted separately.
Councilman Graber suggested superimposing the proposed buildings on the site to demonstrate how the buildings would look to the surrounding neighborhood.
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter stated that the Town Board had to look at the type of project and decide if it was something they wanted to proceed. If they decided they did not want this type of building or business in the town, the project would be stopped right there and time and money would not be wasted. He did not see any problem with tabling the item for further information.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to refer the Calamar senior housing project on Seneca Street to the West Seneca Zoning Board and Planning Board for their review and recommendation.
On the question, Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he was concerned about the density requirements for the project.
Councilwoman Bove did not believe the projects should be separated because they were on the same parcel of land. She suggested that they be entertained together.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski stated that density was an issue and the projects should be considered together because of that.
Ms. Fredericks stated that they were two separate taxing parcels.
Mr. Czuprynski commented that the parcels would each need a designated amount of frontage and he questioned how they had been split.
Ms. Fredericks understood that this had been taken into consideration with the sale of the property.
Supervisor Piotrowski questioned if the sale of the property was on contingency.
Ms. Fredericks stated that the sale had not closed and it was contingent on all the approvals needed from the town.
Councilwoman Bove commented that they were talking about 126 units being added to a neighborhood and she did not believe it would be an inconvenience for them to come back. Councilwoman Bove thought the projects should be considered together.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to table the People Inc. senior housing project proposed for Seneca Street.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
DISCLOSURE OF IDENTITY ON COMPLAINT CALLS TO ANIMAL CONTROL
Everett Campbell, 133 Pacecrest Court, stated that over the last three months he had made three anonymous calls to the animal control office to complain about a neighbor who left his dog outside barking for a long period of time. The neighbor continued to leave the dog outside barking and after his last complaint call on April 30th, Mr. Campbell received a call from the neighbor. He was surprised to find that animal control had given the neighbor his telephone number and thought that his complaint calls were private. Animal control told Mr. Everett that they gave the neighbor his number with the hope that they could work out the problem. They also told him they had no policy with regard to anonymous complaint calls. Mr. Everett had contacted Supervisor Piotrowski and Councilwoman Meegan and voiced his concern about how this situation was handled and suggested that some type of policy be implemented.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he had discussed this problem with the animal control officers and their informal policy now was to not disclose this type of information until the Town Board adopted a formal policy for them to follow.
REQUEST FOR POWER POINT IN COURT ROOM
Karen Lucachick, 61 Greenmeadow Drive, commented that the audience at the Town Board meeting was not able to see the presentation given on the United Church Home project and she suggested that power point be added to the Court Room so that everyone would be able to see what was being presented. The board members also needed to speak closer to their microphones and remind the public to do so too.
SEQR AND NEGATIVE DECLARATIONS
Karen Lucachick, 61 Greenmeadow Drive, referred to her request at the previous Town Board meeting concerning negative declarations issued for the SEQR on projects and statements as to why a negative declaration was issued. Mrs. Lucachick stated that the first time she had heard any supporting statement was for negative declarations issued on the projects approved at this meeting.
Councilman Graber stated that he had researched Mrs. Lucachick’s question and on two of the projects at the December 2007 Town Board meeting, the credit union and the day care center, negative declarations were issued. However, after checking the NYS website he realized that the negative declarations were missing some information and the Town Board had not been doing them properly. One project from last fall, Young Development on Angle Road, had no negative declaration issued, and Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro caught that a couple of months ago. The project was now going to the Planning Board for site plan approval and Mr. Notaro stated that the Planning Board could take care of the negative declaration at that time. Councilman Graber noted that the credit union had abandoned the site on Union Road and were now looking at the property on Union Road and Race Street. The credit union planned to have their project coincide with the Gardenville historic concept and it would require a negative declaration. The negative declaration will occur at the Planning Board during site plan review, because no rezoning was required. The day care center was already located on Seneca street and had not changed. Councilman Graber commented that they needed serious fundamental changes on how they did business in West Seneca and they were moving forward in the right direction. All the board members, including the Planning and Zoning Boards, needed to be updated along with the Building Department. They would be working with the Town Attorneys and planning consultant, Wendel Duchscherer, who had the skills required to educate the board members.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
OPEN MEETINGS LAW AND WORK SESSIONS
Karen Lucachick, 61 Greenmeadow Drive, thanked Councilwoman Bove for her concern on the Open Meetings Law, but questioned how the board could vote against the resolution that was presented.
Councilman Graber noted that the vote was not against the Open Meetings Law, it was against the resolution because they disagreed with parts of it.
Mrs. Lucachick asked Supervisor Piotrowski his interpretation of a work session.
As an example, Supervisor Piotrowski referred to Chief Gehen’s presentation at a previous work session.
Mrs. Lucachick disagreed with his interpretation and suggested that Supervisor Piotrowski attend work sessions of the West Seneca School Board or other towns to see their procedure. The public attends the work session but are not able to speak, and the board members sit and discuss all the issues coming up and decisions to be made in the town. Executive sessions on personnel matters are the only meetings the public was prohibited from attending.
LIABILITY AT TOWN PARKS AND RECREATION ATTENDANT POSITIONS
Karen Lucachick, 61 Greenmeadow Drive, questioned who would be responsible for the parks if there was no one there watching, how they would be closed, and how people would know that the town was not liable for anything.
Supervisor Piotrowski responded that the parks were open from dawn to dusk and could be used by anyone, adult or child. The town was not closing any parks, but they were not staffing certain parks with part-time employees or providing activities.
Mrs. Lucachick questioned how this would affect the town’s liability.
Supervisor Piotrowski responded that there was insurance coverage on all the parks no matter what time of year it was.
Mrs. Lucachick stated that she heard comments in the audience at this meeting that the playground employees did not do a very good job. She stated that she was once a playground attendant and at that time she was watched and checked on, told what to do, and had to take classes on how to entertain children. Most of the attendants at that time were teachers or going to be teachers and she questioned if the Town Board looked at those things when they hired people.
Councilman Graber stated that there had been some problems with the recreation attendants at some locations and they wanted to create a policy that clearly defined their responsibilities to themselves, the town, and the children.
PORTABLE RESTROOM AT DIRKSON AVENUE PARK
John Canorro, 175 Klas Avenue, presented a bag full of softballs he collected in his back yard from the Dirkson Avenue ball diamond and stated that he has learned to live with the ball diamond and the playground, but he was not happy when Councilman Clarke had an outhouse put 50 feet from his side door. With a little coaxing the outhouse was moved and now was gone, and he hoped it was not going to return. Mr. Canorro noted that there were restroom facilities across the street at the Harlem Road Park. Councilman Clarke had told Mr. Canorro that a kid almost got hit by a car, but he questioned if it was a ball player or a neighborhood kid.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
PORTABLE RESTROOM AT DIRKSON AVENUE PARK (continued)
Councilman Clarke thought this was an ignorant question and questioned what difference it made if he was a ball player or a neighborhood kid.
Mr. Canorro thought that if it was a ball player the parent should have walked the kid across the street and if it was a neighborhood kid he should have gone home to use the bathroom. He was not happy with an outhouse being put 50 feet from his side door. Mr. Canorro questioned if the outhouse was going to be put back at the park and commented that the parents should be looking after their kids.
Councilman Clarke stated that if it was gone he was going to see that it was put back for the safety of the children, and he questioned if the outhouse was removed.
Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan advised that the outhouse was pushed over into the ditch.
Councilman Clarke thought this had happened because in trying to please the Canorro’s he had the outhouse put so far away it could not be spotted. Councilman Clarke stated that he asked Mr. Canorro where the outhouse could be put that he would be satisfied with its placement, but Mr. Canorro did not want to see it anywhere.
Councilwoman Meegan questioned who authorized placement of the outhouse.
Councilman Graber thought that it should have been authorized by the Town Board.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, that no outhouse be placed in town parks without prior approval by the Town Board.
Councilman Clarke questioned the town’s liability if someone were to get hit by a car crossing the street at this location now that the town had prior notification.
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter did not believe that the town was responsible for individuals crossing Harlem Road and individuals that were injured in the parks through some deficiency on the park property were covered by the town’s insurance. When an individual was hit by a vehicle crossing any road it was a matter of negligence between the person that was hit and the driver of the vehicle. The town’s liability did not extend beyond the borders of the park and it did not extend to the protection of children or adults using the parks that were going home or anywhere else. The town could only protect people where it had a duty to protect them.
Councilman Clarke stated that the town put the park on Dirkson Avenue and put the rest room on the opposite side of the street. There is a curve on that area of Harlem Road and vehicles were driving at excessive speed. Councilman Clarke also commented that Mr. Canorro’s daughter even stated in an e-mail to him that this was a dangerous highway.
Councilwoman Meegan noted that there is a park on the side where the rest rooms are located and there are three ball diamonds and a huge playground there.
Mr. Hunter advised that the fact that the rest room is at one park and not the other does not impose liability on the town for somebody crossing Harlem Road.
Councilman Graber suggested that they post some signage at the park and have the police department step up enforcement of the speed limit in that area of Harlem Road.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
CLOSING OF TOWN PARKS AND REDUCED STAFFING
Carol Cullinan, 34 Eastwood Drive, heard about the cuts in the summer programs and stated that her family uses these programs. They used Centennial Pool, did arts & crafts, and played baseball and soccer at the parks. Ms. Cullinan understood that there was fiscal responsibility, but she did not think that the money saved in reducing the staff and closing the parks would be worth it. She thought that when parents became informed of this there would be an uproar. Ms. Cullinan also noted that they were cutting the staff of high school and college students that relied on these positions. The unemployment rate was the highest it has been in the last five years and the kids were part-time, earning minimum wage, and receiving no benefits. Ms. Cullinan asked that the Town Board reconsider, open a couple more parks, and increase some staffing at the parks. Her daughter worked at one of the parks last year and she commented that some of the mothers go there with their children, but there were plenty of children that were unsupervised. Ms. Cullinan stated that the children needed a role model and someone to keep them active.
Jean Boltz, 129 Suburban Court, expressed concern over the closing of some of the town parks and questioned what the children in those areas would do. She was a recreation attendant in an area off Seneca Street and most of the parents of those children both worked so the children would not have any supervision during the day. Mrs. Boltz stated that she was a Buffalo teacher and was concerned that without some supervision there would be problems like the City of Buffalo had with gangs, mischief in the playgrounds, and drug and alcohol abuse. The recreation attendants served as role models for the kids and hopefully could steer them in the right direction. Mrs. Boltz noted that these positions earned minimum wage and she questioned if there wasn’t grant funding for the positions. She also did not believe it was fair for the working parents because these children did not have the opportunity to go to Marineland or Fantasy Island and there was a maximum of 15 children that were allowed to go from each of the parks. Mrs. Boltz questioned if enrollment at the other parks would be increased to accommodate these children.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that there was no grant funding for this purpose. Recreation Director Robert Walsh would monitor the situation at the parks and they would make adjustments as necessary. The board members would also be going to the parks to see what the involvement was. They had to start somewhere and this was what they decided on.
Mrs. Boltz questioned how it was decided which parks would be staffed full-time, part-time, and what hours they would be open, and whether the parents were aware of this.
Councilwoman Meegan responded that Mr. Walsh had all this information based on feedback from the staff last year. The recreation attendants kept notes as to how many visits there were and how many times per week, and after 1 P.M. the parks were deserted. Councilwoman Meegan further stated that a notice was sent to each of the schools and three weeks ago each student received the notice. She had spoken with Mr. Walsh this morning and he still had not received any feedback from any of the parents.
Mrs. Boltz stated that her children attend a private school and she questioned why the notice was not sent to town residents.
Councilwoman Meegan responded that she would check with Mr. Walsh, but the notice was sent to all the West Seneca schools, kindergarten thru 12.
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter stated that the information supplied by Mr. Walsh referred to total visits to the parks, not individuals, so that could be the same child visiting the park on multiple occasions.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
POSTING TOWN POSITIONS ON WEBSITE
Amy Carpenter, 406 Woodward Crescent, stated that at the January 14th meeting and May 19th meeting, Supervisor Piotrowski stated that any positions available with the town would be posted on the town’s website. She had been looking at the website but had not yet seen any, and she questioned if any positions had been posted.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that the town’s website was run out of the Town Clerk’s office. Town Clerk Patricia DePasquale was directed to post these positions and he assumed one of her employees was posting them.
TOWN BOARD WORK SESSIONS
Amy Carpenter, 406 Woodward Crescent, stated that Supervisor Piotrowski had informed her on January 14th that he was following the Open Meetings Law, but she did not believe that was the case. There were a lot of meetings before and after Town Board meetings that he was calling open meetings, but they were more informational and she had never seen discussions take place among the board members. She noted that part of the Open Meetings Law was so the public could see how issues were decided. Mrs. Carpenter referred to the closing of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and stated that she did not see that discussed by the board members.
Supervisor Piotrowski referred to this meeting’s agenda and stated that none of the items were discussed by the board members prior to this meeting. The issues were discussed at the Town Board meeting. Closing the DMV involved a lease which was outside the Open Meetings Law and there was also a potential litigation issue.
Mrs. Carpenter thought there were times when the public needed to know a little more, especially when there was an active public that attended meetings and informed the Town Board of laws they were breaking. Mrs. Carpenter understood that Supervisor Piotrowski was recently elected to his position, but she and others had been coming to meetings for six years and had not missed a meeting. They were trying to educate the board members and had even invited them to meetings that were sponsored by members of the town to educate the board members and town members so they could all live happily in the community. They hoped for the best looking community, safest community, maybe not the highest taxed community, and they hoped to all work together.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that the residents had three minutes to speak at the board meetings, but they could come to his office and speak to him as long as they wanted. He asked that Mrs. Carpenter do that, give him her ideas and suggestions, and he would greatly appreciate that and pass them on to the other board members. Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he was also available on weekends if Mrs. Carpenter was unable to meet with him during the week.
REVIEW OF EXPENDITURES AT YOUTH BUREAU
Mike Lowe, 98 Southgate Drive, commented on fiscal responsibility, making cuts, and the Town Board’s review of the Youth Bureau and Executive Director Mark Lazzara. Mr. Lowe stated that he was familiar with some of the expenditures of the Youth Bureau, things that were mailed out with town funds, and accounts that were set up by the previous administration for the Burchfield Center that no one there knew about except Mr. Lazzara. He thought this was criminal and the Town Board should do something about it.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
SALE OF PROPERTY BEHIND GILLOGLY CHEVROLET
Bruce Andrews, 65 Seneca Creek Road, stated that this past winter he found some surveyor stakes in his back yard and was informed by Gillogly Chevrolet that they had sold some of their property to West Seneca for a fire hall. Mr. Andrews stated that none of the residents of Seneca Creek Road were notified that a new fire hall would be built in their back yards.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that the Town of West Seneca did not purchase this property. The property lies within West Seneca Fire District No. 2, so Mr. Andrews would have to ask the fire commissioners at their next meeting.
WIDENING OF INTERSECTION OF UNION ROAD AND SENECA CREEK ROAD
Bruce Andrews, 65 Seneca Creek Road, stated that a couple of years ago he had asked the Town Board about widening the intersection of Seneca Creek Road at Union Road. Former Supervisor Paul Clark had told him that he contacted Erie County, but when Mr. Andrews called the county they told him that no one had contacted them.
Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan stated that the intersection would be controlled by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Mr. Andrews would have to contact them with his request.
Councilman Graber thought that a letter from West Seneca Fire District No. 2 to the NYSDOT with comments on the safety issue might help, and he suggested that Mr. Andrews ask the fire district to send a letter.
TESTING OF DECIBEL READER
Ruck Marino, 4713 Clinton Street, referred to the decibel levels discussed in the Noise Ordinance and stated that there were charts available that could be used as a reference. Mr. Marino questioned if the Town Board would publish a date that the decibel meter would be tested.
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro stated that the public hearing was over, but the Town Board wanted to hear the different decibel levels. The matter would then go back on the agenda for approval, but it would not be a public hearing.
Councilman Graber noted that the test of the decibel meter was open to the public if they wanted to attend.
Chief Gehen stated that he would schedule a date for the test and have it posted on the town’s website.
Christine Putnam, 45 Laurelton Drive, did not believe the Town Board should hold the public hearing, close the public hearing, and then reduce the noise levels. She dealt with silencing issues in her job and commented that the board should not reduce the decibel levels when they did not actually know what they sounded like, and they should not be reduced without the public being able to comment.
PRESENTATION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY BOARD MEMBERS AND DEPARTMENT HEADS
PORTABLE RESTROOMS FOR COMMUNITY EVENTS
Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro noted that Community Days and the Kiwanis Arts & Crafts Festival were approaching and Town Board approval was required to place the portable restrooms on town property.
PRESENTATION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY BOARD MEMBERS AND DEPARTMENT HEADS
PORTABLE RESTROOMS FOR COMMUNITY EVENTS (continued)
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to approve placement of portable restrooms on Town Hall property for the Community Days celebration and the Kiwanis Arts & Crafts Festival.
APPOINTMENT OF P. SCHREIBER & C. CASSAVINO AS PART-TIME VAN DRIVERS
Motion by Councilwoman Meegan, seconded by Councilman Graber, to appoint Peter Schreiber and Carmen Cassavino as part-time Van Drivers at the Senior Citizens Center at a rate of $7.15 per hour effective June 9 – December 9, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
On the question, Councilman Clarke questioned if these were additional positions or replacements.
Councilwoman Meegan stated that the part-time Van Drivers could only work 19 hours each week and the current employees were exceeding that. These additional positions would enable them to stay under the 19 hour limit.
RELOCATION OF DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES
Councilman Graber referred to the relocation of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and stated that although it might not have been discussed publicly by the board members, it was not intentional. Everyone knew of Supervisor Piotrowski and Councilwoman Meegan’s feelings because it was a campaign issue when they ran for office last year. Councilman Graber stated that he was never in favor of the DMV locating at the Kiwanis Center because of the exposure to the children and the parking issue. He thought all the board members felt the same and wanted the DMV to relocate as quickly as possible.
APPOINTMENT OF MARC POLLINGER AS PART-TIME LABORER
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint Marc Pollinger as part-time laborer in the Buildings & Grounds Department for summer help at a rate of $7.15 per hour effective June 9 – September 5, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to adjourn the meeting at 10:50 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC