West Seneca Town Board Meeting Minutes 11/02/2009
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.
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.
18-A MINUTES TO BE APPROVED
18-B HELD OVER PUBLIC HEARINGS
1. Re: “A PUBLIC HEARING TO HEAR ALL INTERESTED PARTIES AND CITIZENS FOR OR AGAINST THE ADOPTION OF LOCAL LAW NO. 4 OF THE YEAR 2009 AMENDING CHAPTER 13 OF THE WEST SENECA TOWN CODE ENTITLED ‘CODE OF ETHICS’” in the Town of West Seneca.
Town Attorney Shawn Martin advised that this public hearing was being rescheduled for the December 7, 2009 Town Board meeting.
18-C LEGAL NOTICES
1. 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 LOCAL LAW #5 OF THE YEAR 2009 AMENDING CHAPTER 115 OF THE WEST SENECA TOWN CODE, VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW, TO BAN TEXTING WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE” in the Town of West Seneca.
Town Attorney Shawn Martin stated that the Erie County Legislature passed an anti-texting bill that affords law enforcement the ability to cite motorists for violations. He suggested that the town rely on the county prohibition as opposed to enacting a separate and distinct local law for enforcement and fines. Mr. Martin noted that the county law does everything that the local law would allow. Also, there is an expense involved in enacting a local law so the town will not have to incur that.
Chief Gehen stated that his officers will be enforcing the county law.
18-D TABLED ITEMS
1. Supervisor Piotrowski re Assessor’s Office
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Supervisor Piotrowski, to receive and file this item.
On the question, Councilwoman Bove stated that Town of Hamburg Assessor Robert Hutchinson sent his audit proposal and Town of Lancaster Assessor Dave Marrano welcomed an assessor’s team to look at the Town of West Seneca Assessor’s Office and give their ideas and recommendations. Councilwoman Bove suggested that she and another board member work with the team consisting of John Zukowski, a NYS Licensed General Appraiser, David Unmack, a NYS Professional Assessor & NYS Licensed General Appraiser, and Mr. Hutchinson, a NYS Professional Assessor and NYS Licensed Residential Appraiser.
Supervisor Piotrowski volunteered to work with the assessor’s team.
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Councilman Graber, to amend the motion and designate two board members, Councilwoman Bove and Supervisor Piotrowski, to meet with the assessor’s team concerning the audit of the West Seneca Assessor’s Office.
1. Supervisor Piotrowski re CDBG agreement/status & salary change for Nancy Dollard
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the Supervisor to sign the 2009 agreement between the County of Erie and the Town of West Seneca regarding housing activities pertaining to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and further, change the status of Nancy K. Dollard from Community Development Loan Officer part-time permanent to Community Development Loan Officer regular part-time and change her salary to $18 per hour effective October 29, 2009 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel, noting that Mrs. Dollard’s salary is completely reimbursed by the County of Erie.
On the question, Councilwoman Meegan noted that Mrs. Dollard has been working for the town since 2003 and her job involves working with revolving loans from HUD. There is a waiting list for these types of loans and as money becomes available more people can apply for the rehabilitation program loans, first time homebuyer loans, and housing accessibility program. Councilwoman Meegan stated that more information was available in the Supervisor’s office and the Town Clerk’s office.
2. Supervisor Piotrowski re Termination of William E. Geary, Jr. and status change for David Marino to laborer, permanent
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate William E. Geary, Jr. as laborer in the Buildings & Grounds Department effective June 24, 2009, noting that Mr. Geary’s one year leave of absence has expired, and further change the status of David M. Marino from Laborer full-time temporary to Laborer full-time permanent effective June 24, 2009 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
3. Councilwoman Bove re Transfer of funds for solar energy project
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the transfer of appropriations in the town’s 2009 General Fund budget according to the attached resolution for the solar energy project.
On the question, Councilwoman Meegan questioned if the grant money was exclusively for solar panels or if the town could use some of the funds for replacement of windows at Town Hall and the historical building.
Councilwoman Bove advised that the grant money was exclusively for the solar panels and is paid directly to the contractor. However, there are enough savings that they could look at other things.
Councilman Graber noted that the town had received some formula money related to the stimulus program, and they intended to replace the air conditioning units and heaters at a cost of $181,000. They were making environmental improvements to Town Hall, but there were many other things that had to be done.
Supervisor Piotrowski questioned if the contractor for the solar panels had been paid by NYSERDA and if the money appropriated at this meeting would be paid to the contractor after installation is complete on all three town buildings.
Councilwoman Bove was not aware if NYSERDA had paid the contractor and did not know the town’s payment schedule in the agreement.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that he did not want to release all the funds until Town Engineer George Montz or Highway Supt. Matthew English were satisfied that the work is completed on all three buildings.
Town Attorney Shawn Martin stated that he would provide the board members with a copy of the contract and the language therein.
4. Town Attorney re Renaming of Briarwood Park to Children’s Memorial Park
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to hold this item until the end of communications.
5. Town Attorney re Bid date for insurance consultant
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to set a bid date of November 23, 2009 for receipt of bids on an insurance consultant to advise the Town of West Seneca on insurance needs and/or requirements for liability, commercial, and any other type of insurance.
6. Town Attorney re NFTA Park & Ride agreement
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the Supervisor or Town Attorney to execute the Park & Ride agreement with the Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System, Inc.
7. Town Engineer re Barnsdale Avenue Reconstruction Project, final change order & acceptance
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve final change order #1 for Visone Construction, Inc., 79 Sheldon Avenue, Depew, NY 14043 for a net deduct of $42,767.33 and accept the Barnsdale Avenue Reconstruction Project, Job No. B-0804, at a final contract amount of $1,675,107.67.
8. Highway Supt. re Appointment of part-time laborers for Ice Rink
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint Rick Lynch; Raymond Ball; and Dennis Rich as part-time laborers at the Ice Rink at a rate of $7.25 per hour effective November 4, 2009 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
9. Highway Supt. re Status change for part-time laborers to seasonal
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to change the status of James Berst and Mitchell Smith from part-time permanent laborers in the Buildings & Grounds Department to part-time seasonal laborers effective April 13 – September 13, 2009 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
10. Highway Supt. re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $1760.44 to R S Lang Enterprises for repair of a water leak at Town Hall.
11. Chief Gehen re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $2039.45 to Biel’s Information Technology Systems for microfilming.
12. Chief Gehen re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $2426 to Goodyear Auto Service for tires.
13. Recreation Supervisor re Status change for Barbara Brooks to part-time seasonal
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to change the status of Barbara Brooks from part-time to part-time seasonal effective November 2, 2009 through March 31, 2010 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
14. Town Engineer re Public hearing on East & West Road Watermain Replacement Project
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to schedule a public hearing for November 16, 2009 at 7:30 P.M. to address the East & West Road Watermain Replacement Project (Mill Road to Angle Road), Job No. E-0908.
4. Town Attorney re Renaming of Briarwood Park to Children’s Memorial Park
Motion by Councilman Graber, unanimous second, to adopt the attached resolution renaming Briarwood Park to Children’s Memorial Park.
On the question, Town Attorney Shawn Martin stated that he met with families that suffered tragedies regarding their children to discuss renaming Briarwood Park to Children’s Memorial Park. Together they drafted a resolution and he asked Kenneth Hansen, father of Amanda Hansen, to read the resolution.
Mr. Hansen recited the resolution and thanked Mr. Martin and the Town Board members for their action on this matter.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
COMPLAINTS ON OPERATIONS AT BLACKTOP PLANT ON UNION ROAD
Gerry Yax, 229 Warren Avenue, presented a petition signed by 80 residents of Warren Avenue, Fremont Avenue, Almont Avenue, and Summit Avenue demanding that the blacktop plant activities located at 1655 Union Road be halted immediately. The residents did not believe operation of the facility complied with the town’s Zoning Ordinance for M-1 and M-2 zoning districts. Mrs. Yax stated that operation of a bituminous processing plant required a special permit authorized by the Town Board after Planning Board referral and a public hearing.
Supervisor Piotrowski referred this issue to Town Attorney Shawn Martin and Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski for their investigation and review.
Brownie Michalczak, Warren Avenue, stated that he has lived in his home for 52 years and nothing like this has ever happened before. He hoped this issue would be resolved quickly and noted that Mr. Czuprynski was supposed to look into the operation after he reported it at a previous Town Board meeting.
Mr. Czuprynski stated that he previously informed Mr. Michalczak that he had visited the site. The plant had a contract with the NYS Department of Transportation and could only make blacktop between 6:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. They were not crushing stone but they were bringing in millings from the job on the NYS Thruway and dumping them on site.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
COMPLAINTS ON OPERATIONS AT BLACKTOP PLANT ON UNION ROAD (cont’d)
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that Mr. Czuprynski enforces the Town Code, but if the property is zoned properly and there is no violation there is nothing he can do.
Mr. Czuprynski stated that the property is zoned M-1 and a special permit was granted by a previous Town Board for the facility to operate on the west side of Union Road, but after litigation a court order was granted to allow the facility to operate on the east side of Union Road.
Councilman Graber requested that Mr. Czuprynski and Mr. Martin work together and report to the Town Board what happened when the original special permit was granted and how this went through the litigation process.
Mike Shareno, 239 Almont Avenue, stated that none of the neighbors knew anything about this facility and there was no way that it complied with the town’s Noise Ordinance. He did not believe that Mr. Czuprynski was fully aware of everything going on at the facility. Mr. Shareno stated that he stopped at the Code Enforcement Office but no permits could be found because they were being microfilmed at the time. He was concerned that this operation will continue through the winter and into next summer and he asked the Town Board to insist that the facility comply with the ordinances and do so as soon as possible.
Mr. Martin stated that he was not involved in the original litigation, but he will investigate this and have a report within two weeks.
Councilman Graber directed Mr. Czuprynski to use the decibel meter to determine if the plant operations comply with the Noise Ordinance.
Chief Gehen stated that he will also have the patrol officers make periodic checks during the evening hours and give that information to Mr. Czuprynski.
AMERICORPS/BURCHFIELD CENTER ISSUES
Paula Minklei, Orchard Park Road, referred to the relocation of AmeriCorps and hoped that everyone had learned that all town funded activities need to benefit the town and its residents as opposed to benefiting other communities and occasional individuals. She urged the Town Board, with input from the residents, to thoroughly evaluate departments, programs and policies to determine what works well for the community and what needs to be changed. Mrs. Minklei urged the Town Board to reconsider its eagerness to give the historically significant Metz house site to WNY AmeriCorps without first seeking input from the public and the Planning Board. She had not yet received answers to previous questions concerning the legality of transferring the property without a public hearing or understanding the purpose for which it was purchased. Mrs. Minklei wanted to hear ideas from the community about its potential use and know its intended use when it was purchased. She thought a policy regarding town properties should provide clear guidelines to simplify the Town Board’s role as a landlord, if being a landlord is distasteful to board members. Mrs. Minklei further urged the board members to carefully evaluate the potential of the Burchfield Center before making a decision to move any town offices there. She hoped they would weigh the pros and cons of sharing the building along with a variety of potential alternatives as they seek to find space for all town government needs. Mrs. Minklei thought a public hearing could be beneficial and might bring forth good suggestions that had not been considered. She further commented that support for the art and environment enthusiasts in the community should be as important as support for the seniors, youth, sports, and recreation. Mrs. Minklei hoped that assistance would be provided to the Burchfield Center when needed. She commented that before budgeting or agreeing to provide funds for a program under any department it is the duty of the Town Board to determine the viability of the program and its value to the residents. If the Burchfield board can show its goal for the coming year with a viable plan of activities for the
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
AMERICORPS/BURCHFIELD CENTER ISSUES (continued)
community and a reasonable timetable toward becoming self-sufficient, Mrs. Minklei urged the Town Board to do what it can to help. The Burchfield Center was hindered in the past with interference from another agency’s vehicles often blocking the building, another agency’s trash scattered about the classroom area, and young adults wandering in noisily during art and nature classes. Mrs. Minklei commented that it would be a terrific asset to the town to have ongoing programs in an open and welcoming center.
PROPERTY MAINTENANCE AT FORMER SENECA MALL SITE
Thomas Kelly, Centerview Drive, commented on the condition of the former Seneca Mall site and questioned who owned the property and what could be done about making them clean it up.
Supervisor Piotrowski responded that the owner is the Pyramid Group who also owns the Galleria Mall and they are not cooperative, but the Code Enforcement Office ensures that they comply with the Town Code regarding maintenance and grass cutting.
Mr. Kelly questioned if Pyramid would be charged if the town were to do the work for them.
Supervisor Piotrowski stated that if the town does any work in town it is put on the property owner’s tax bill, but Pyramid hires their own contractor.
REQUEST FOR “NO TEXTING” LAW
Kelly Klein, Organ Crescent, thanked the Town Board for renaming Briarwood Park to Children’s Memorial Park, but questioned why the “No Texting” law was not passed.
Town Attorney Shawn Martin stated that the County of Erie passed a law that allows for primary enforcement by the local police, and if NYS passes a law it will render all town ordinances null and void.
Mrs. Klein stated that she was under the impression if the town’s law was stricter it would govern.
Mr. Martin stated that town law cannot be contrary to state law, but the county law appeared to be very similar to the proposed town ordinance. The county law prohibits texting or using a hand held device while operating a motor vehicle.
Mrs. Klein stated that she was hoping the town would pass something separate with a real strict fine such as $250 or more. She noted that Amherst passed a law with a $200 fine and Cheektowaga passed a law with a $250 fine. Mrs. Klein asked that West Seneca do the same.
Mr. Martin stated that a proposed local law was written and the Town Board could adopt it and amend the amount of the fine if they chose to do so.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, unanimous second, to adjourn this matter until a public hearing on November 16, 2009 at 7:30 P.M. based upon the draft local law prepared by Town Attorney Shawn Martin and subject to change.
On the question, Mr. Martin stated that he will increase the amount of the fine to $300.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
REQUEST FOR “NO TEXTING” LAW (continued)
Chief Gehen stated that more than the actual fine, the Town Board’s action sends a message to the public that they are serious about this type of conduct and texting while driving is dangerous and costs lives.
PRESENTATION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY BOARD MEMBERS AND DEPARTMENT HEADS
Councilwoman Meegan reminded everyone that tomorrow is Election Day and encouraged the public to get out and vote. She further noted that there are four propositions on the ballot and one of them concerned abolishing the office of Receiver of Taxes and Assessments in West Seneca and transferring those duties to the Town Clerk.
Councilman Graber commented on the significant savings that will be realized if the Receiver of Taxes and Town Clerk’s office are consolidated and noted that many other towns have already combined those offices.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Supervisor Piotrowski, to recess to Executive Session at 8:15 P.M to discuss an ongoing legal matter with Town Attorney Shawn Martin.
The Town Board returned from Executive Session at 8:20 P.M.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to adjourn the meeting at 8:25 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC