West Seneca Town Board Meeting Minutes 11/17/2008
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.
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.
19-A MINUTES TO BE APPROVED
19-B LEGAL NOTICES
1. Proofs of publication and posting of legal notice: “OF THE ADOPTED LOCAL LAW NO. 2 OF THE YEAR 2008 ENTITLED, ‘NOISE ORDINANCE’” in the Town of West Seneca, received and filed.
19-C TABLED ITEMS
1. Ice Rink Remediation & Rehabilitation Project
Remained on the table.
2. Adoption of 2009 Benefit Basis Budget
Remained on the table.
3. Adoption of 2009 General & Highway Fund Budget
Remained on the table.
1. Supervisor Piotrowski re Aviation Consultants of WNY, Inc.
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Supervisor Piotrowski, to table this item.
2. Councilwoman Bove re Agreement with fitness trainer for senior fitness center
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to enter into an agreement with Therese Kuebler for her services as fitness trainer for the Senior Fitness Center and authorize the Supervisor to sign the agreement.
On the question, Councilwoman Bove stated that Therese Kuebler had 22 years of experience working with senior citizens and was very caring and compassionate. She inspired seniors to improve their health through active aging and gave them an opportunity to better their quality of life. Councilwoman Bove noted that the senior citizens were very grateful for the fitness center and happy that Therese Kuebler was in charge of it.
3. Highway Supt. re Appointment of E. Lus & M. Wolcott as part-time laborers in Bldgs. & Grounds
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint the following part-time laborers in the Buildings & Grounds Department at a rate of $7.15 per hour effective November 17, 2008:
and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
4. Highway Supt. re Purchases requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $3794.35 to Erb Co. Inc. for a boiler at the ice rink and $1756.30 to Sysco Food Services for ice melt.
5. Chief Gehen re Attendance of Officer Burkley at training seminar
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize Officer Jill Burkley to attend the “Mean Girls” relational aggression training seminar in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, December 3, 2008 at a cost not to exceed $450.
6. Chief Gehen re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $4187.80 to Goodyear Auto Service for tires.
7. Chief Gehen re Status change for part-time 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 Rick Galli, Chris Koehler, and Diane Nowicki to part-time seasonal effective November 1 – 30, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
8. Chief Gehen re Appointment of William Szewc as part-time Public Safety Dispatcher
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate William Szewc as part-time laborer in the Sanitation Department and appoint William Szewc as part-time Public Safety Dispatcher at a rate of $10.95 per hour effective November 18, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
9. Town Clerk re Kentucky Fried Chicken rezoning & special permit request
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, represented Treadwell Enterprises, owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Union Road, and stated that they have been at this location for decades and also own over 50 franchises across the country. The Union Road location no longer met the standards of Kentucky Fried Chicken, so they were in the process of purchasing two additional adjacent properties and were proposing to demolish the existing buildings and construct a new restaurant.
Councilwoman Bove questioned if the entire property to be utilized for the project was commercial or residential.
Mr. Lorigo understood that the property was all zoned C-1, but he was just recently retained by the petitioner and had only received the plans this date.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski stated that there was some question as to whether the property was zoned residential or commercial.
Mr. Lorigo stated that this was an interpretation issue and the typical interpretation used to be that the zoning on a commercial thoroughfare went back 300 feet. There was also a period of time when the interpretation was that the zoning extended to the rear lot line, but then the zoning would zig zag with the lot lines. Mr. Lorigo thought it was better to use a set distance such as 300 feet, and that would be discussed at the Planning Board meeting.
Mr. Czuprynski noted that the lot line and zoning on the maps fluctuated along Union Road because the NYS Department of Transportation took so much area for the widening of Union Road.
Councilman Graber stated that it was assumed that houses were zoned residential, but that was not always so. He questioned how a house becomes commercial if the deed and assessment map show it is zoned R-65.
Mr. Czuprynski responded that the assessment maps and zoning maps were two completely different things and sometimes there was overlapping zoning on narrow pieces of property along certain streets. Because of the taking of property for the widening of Union Road the lot might only be 120 feet deep now where it was originally 250 feet deep. Mr. Czuprynski stated that there were three ways of determining the zoning. He referred to another parcel of land in this area that went to the Zoning Board of Appeals and a determination was made on the depth of the zoning, but he would have to research what that was.
Mr. Lorigo stated that he previously represented the Dunkin Donuts property. They used the house at the rear of the property and it was considered commercial zoning.
Councilman Graber questioned if Mr. Czuprynski’s opinion was that the parcel Kentucky Fried Chicken was proposing to develop was already zoned commercial.
19-D COMMUNICATIONS9. (continued)
Mr. Czuprynski responded that he was not making any determination until he had an opportunity to speak with the Town Attorneys.
Councilman Graber questioned if there were any time constraints involved if they were to table this item until the next meeting.
Mr. Lorigo responded that there were always time constraints and whatever the existing zoning was, they were looking for a C-2(S) for a sit down restaurant.
Councilman Graber stated that the only reason this was being brought up was because there were some residents who would be impacted by the project. If this was going from one commercial development to another, the special permit would give the Town Board the ability to extract certain conditions on the project. However, if the property was zoned residential, the residents’ arguments would be different.
Mr. Lorigo noted that this was far from any kind of approval by the Town Board and when this procedure took place in Orchard Park it was an automatic referral to the Planning Board. They take the position that it is the Planning Board’s recommendation and the public hearing that is crucial to making any real legal determination as to whether a zoning should be changed. Mr. Lorigo commented that this statute was only to give the Town Board an overall screening and familiarize them with what was going on at the Planning Board and would eventually be coming before the Town Board. He further stated that Kentucky Fried Chicken had been at this location for decades and would not be able to maintain itself in West Seneca unless this could be accomplished.
Councilwoman Meegan stated that all the residents in attendance at this meeting that had concerns about the proposed project should make sure that they attend the Planning Board to voice their concerns. She noted that one family was already impacted by Dunkin Donuts in their back yard and now would be faced with this project in the front of their home where their children sleep. The noise and lights were very serious concerns for a young family. Councilwoman Meegan also noted that the residents of Ebenezer Drive invested a lot of money in their homes over the last five to six years and turned the neighborhood around and its integrity should not be compromised by this project.
Mr. Lorigo understood this and stated that they would be respectful of that and hopefully try to find a median.
Motion by Supervisor Piotrowski, seconded by Councilman Graber, to forward the request for a rezoning and special permit for Kentucky Fried Chicken located at 1175 Union Road to the West Seneca Planning Board for their review and recommendation.
10. Town Clerk re Young Development LLC special permit request
Attorney Ralph Lorigo, 101 Slade Avenue, represented Young Development and stated that last week he appeared before the West Seneca Planning Board for a similar project on Transit Road and Schultz Road. There was a great deal of opposition at the first meeting for that project, but the plan was totally reworked and at the last meeting the Planning Board unanimously recommended the rezoning. The proposed project was also a senior housing project and would be constructed on the corner of Southwestern Blvd. and Crofton Drive.
19-D COMMUNICATIONS10. (continued)
Councilman Graber questioned if there would be any abatement.
Mr. Lorigo responded that there would be no abatement with this project. The rents would be standard and there were no tax incentives or credits involved.
Councilwoman Bove understood that the project was originally proposed as 51 units but the number was reduced, and she questioned if there was still a problem with the number of units and the density.
Mr. Lorigo stated that there would constantly be a problem with density with regard to the Town Code. The Planning Board considered the size of the units which was 670 square feet and was substantially different from a typical apartment that had 900 to 1200 square feet. A variance would be requested at the end of the process to reduce the density.
Councilwoman Bove was concerned about screening and noted that Carla Lane was located behind the proposed project and the residents still had issues with Buffalo RV.
Mr. Lorigo stated that he represented Young Development for all the projects along Southwestern Blvd. and thought that for the most part the residents of Carla Lane were satisfied. He noted that Buffalo RV spent an extra $140,000 on screening to try to satisfy the neighbors concerns. Mr. Lorigo further commented that Southwestern Blvd. was the most commercial thoroughfare in West Seneca.
Councilwoman Bove stated that there were some questions on the follow up for behind Buffalo RV and she understood Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski was checking into this.
Mr. Czuprynski responded that the nomenclature through the process was that a berm was supposed to be installed, but it was not really a berm, it was the height of the land between the two properties. The land along Southwestern Blvd. was 7 to 10 feet higher in one area and then decreased going to the west. Some of the trees that were planted died and Mr. Czuprynski informed the property owner this week that they would have to be replaced. They had also promised to park the lower trailers along the north property line and he told them to comply with that.
Councilwoman Bove commented that Southwestern Blvd. was a very busy commercial thoroughfare and commercial development was not unusual, but they also had to be mindful of the screening for these projects. If the proposed project was referred to the Planning Board, she wanted the condition of screening to be of importance.
Mr. Lorigo stated that the proposed development would be residential and Mr. Young owned a landscaping company so every project he developed was substantially landscaped. If there were some issues with dead trees at the Buffalo RV project, it would just take some time to resolve the problem because they had an agreement and there was a substantial buffer.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to forward the request for a special permit for the proposed senior housing project at 1320 Southwestern Blvd. at the corner of Crofton Drive to the West Seneca Planning Board for their review and recommendation.
11. Tax Receiver re Status change for seasonal part-time clerks to part-time
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to change the status of the following part-time seasonal clerks to part-time effective November 17, 2008:
and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
OPPOSITION TO KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN PROJECT
Lisa Graves, Ebenezer Drive, referred to the proposed Kentucky Fried Chicken project and stated that she would be directly impacted when she walks out her front door and sees a parking lot. Mrs. Graves stated that she did not buy her house with the understanding that the house directly across the street was commercial property. She understood that Union Road was in close proximity, but her house and the house across the street were residential. Mrs. Graves suggested that Kentucky Fried Chicken purchase the two houses on Union Road and develop their restaurant in that direction instead of down a residential street. She was concerned about the safety of her children and the traffic that was already a problem becoming worse. Mrs. Graves commented on the Dunkin Donuts project and stated that lighting was not supposed to be a problem because they would be planting trees and the neighbors would not be able to hear noise from the drive-thru, but they could hear the drive-thru in the early morning and headlights still shined in their yard. She was concerned about the proposed project negatively impacting her property value and suggested that they rebuild on the current site or go down Union Road.
Brian Graves, Ebenezer Drive, stated that all the paperwork he had indicated the property was zoned R-65. He referred to Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski’s earlier comment that the commercial properties lost land when Union Road was widened and stated that the residents should not have to suffer because of that. He understood that the franchise owners had other plans in place if this proposal was not approved. Mr. Graves commented that Kentucky Fried Chicken had been a dump for the last seven years that he lived on Ebenezer Drive and they were only now trying to spruce it up because they were coming to the town for a rezoning. He noted that Dunkin Donuts was a problem for him all summer because of the lights and noise, but even when he complained to Mr. Czuprynski and letters were sent nothing was done. It wasn’t until Mr. Graves sent an extreme letter to the CEO of Dunkin Donuts that something was done. Trees had not been planted and other things were not done even though Mr. Lorigo had stated at the meeting that they would be taken care of. Mr. Graves commented that Ebenezer Drive was a beautiful neighborhood and the residents had invested a lot in improvements to their homes. He did not want to see the values of their homes decreased by this project.
Councilman Graber stated that certain parts of town were zoned a certain way and then the courts ruled that they were commercial to a certain depth. He questioned when this was done.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
OPPOSITION TO KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN PROJECT (continued)
Mr. Czuprynski stated that the medical center on Union Road was taken to court to determine the depth of the zoning and they might have to go by that determination. He further stated that the residents’ deeds did not show R-65. They might have something from the Assessor’s office that showed R-65, but sometimes land was zoned a certain way and the use was something else. Mr. Czuprynski stated that he would be discussing this issue with the Town Attorney’s office.
Mr. Graves stated that three weeks ago he had asked the secretary in the Code Enforcement Office the zoning for 52 and 53 Ebenezer Drive and she told him they were both zoned R-65.
Mr. Czuprynski responded that the secretary was not the Zoning Officer. There was a discrepancy here and the property lines were irregular. He would have to discuss this with the Town Attorneys and make a determination.
Dixie Blando, Amana Place, stated that she lives in this neighborhood and grew up there and saw a lot of changes in the area. When a Subway restaurant was proposed for the gas station on Seneca Street, she opposed it, circulated a petition, and the Subway ended up locating in Southgate Plaza where it should be located. Mrs. Blando had previously approached the town for speed limit signs, but speeding was still a problem and the traffic only increased with the addition of Dunkin Donuts. She was concerned about even more traffic in the residential neighborhood if the Kentucky Fried Chicken project was approved. Mrs. Blando commented that the residents had been fixing up their homes in the past few years and the project would have a negative effect on their property values.
Patty Keller, Ebenezer Drive, stated that her house is located next to the property where Kentucky Fried Chicken plans to expand and had she known this would be proposed would probably not have purchased her home. Mrs. Keller stated that she was trying to find a website where she could look up the zoning of properties in town, but was unable to find anything. She commended the town’s website, but suggested that a zoning map be added to it. Mrs. Keller stated that as far as she knew all the properties past Union Road were zoned residential. She and her husband met with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Thursday and they informed her that the town told them the property was zoned C-1 and the zoning crossed their property at an angle. Mrs. Keller was concerned about her property value decreasing and lighting and noise being a problem. She was also not happy that the residents had not been notified that the Town Board would be addressing this issue at this meeting.
Supervisor Piotrowski responded that the residents would be notified of the Planning Board meeting. The item on the Town Board agenda was simply a referral to the Planning Board.
SALARY OF DOG CONTROL OFFICERS QUESTIONED
Tim Murek, Leacliff Lane, expressed concern about the money being spent on salaries for the two dog control officers. He thought the town should join with Orchard Park for dog control services and asked for the board members thoughts on this issue.
Councilwoman Bove stated that the Dog Control Department would be changed and they were very close to finalizing those changes and approving a budget for 2009.
Mr. Murek stated that he was at Eileen’s Bakery on Center Road recently and saw the Dog Control vehicle parked there. He waited in the parking lot to see how long it would be parked there and after 72 minutes could not wait any longer. Mr. Murek left but the Dog Control vehicle was still parked there. He suggested that the Town Board take a serious look at eliminating these two positions and questioned if the individuals would be absorbed in the Highway Department at the same salary they were currently making. Mr. Murek’s information indicated they were making $115,000 and were earning $20,000 in overtime. He also
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
SALARY OF DOG CONTROL OFFICERS QUESTIONED (continued)
questioned why there were two Dog Control officers working the same hours instead of one for the daytime hours and one for the evening hours and thought the town could be spending money more wisely.
Councilwoman Bove stated that the Dog Control Department would be changed and the two individuals would be incorporated into the Highway Department. She did not have the exact figures on their salary, but the situation would be different and there would be accountability.
Councilman Graber stated that the individuals will be paid a salary for the job they are assigned to in the Highway Department. Most of the $115,000 was overtime and it would no longer be coming directly to them as animal control officers. Councilman Graber noted that because the town licensed dogs they were obligated by NYS Law to have animal control, but it was also very clear in the union contract that they could not sub-contract work out.
RESIDENT SUGGESTS WAYS TO CUT SPENDING
Karen Lucachick, Greenmeadow Drive, understood that revenues from mortgage and sales tax were expected to be less next year because of the economy. She suggested that the Town Board look for additional ways to cut spending and referred to other towns that were looking into not accepting pay increases or health care benefits for board members. Suggestions were also made for sharing services with the county and other towns and she specifically referred to snow plows that will not plow a road they are driving on if it belongs to someone else to take care of. Mrs. Lucachick thought the town also had to look into renegotiating union contracts because the residents could no longer afford the high taxes.
SOCCER PARK ISSUES
Paula Minklei, Orchard Park Road, stated that she read with interest the letter in this week’s W.S. Bee from the President of the Soccer Association and she was compelled to respond. When Councilman Graber stated, “It was a complete and utter failure,” it was her understanding that he was not referring to the soccer park, but the ability of the Soccer Association to meet its agreement. The Soccer Association booked and accepted payments for outside rentals until the town took over and those rentals included some who abused the park and nearby residents with improper behavior and language, damaging the grounds, and acting as terrible role models for the West Seneca youth, until the Town Board recognized the need for government oversight. Even when taking in extra money for outside rentals and other activities, the Soccer Association was unable to meet agreement obligations. Mrs. Minklei stated that perhaps the inability to get volunteers from the Soccer Association to help out at the costly but little used snack stand that was equipped to the standards of a commercial restaurant was one of the unforeseen factors. She thought the lesson here was the same that was being experienced worldwide. Individuals, governments, businesses and institutions that fail to plan and act responsibly contribute to hardships for themselves and others. They can help to avoid future failure, which translates to disaster, by acting carefully and responsibly as individuals. Although Mr. Pawlak of the Soccer Association stated in his letter, “If you want to teach our young people something, try this – Show me a man that has never failed and I will show you a man that has never succeeded,” Mrs. Minklei stated, “Show me a man or woman who has acted responsibly. If he or she has failed, they will have learned from that failure and not hidden behind excuses.” That is the example that could be used to teach the youth and then expect the same from them. The January 11, 2007 West Seneca Bee quoted Mr. Pawlak as saying, “We’re in a good position to pay back what’s in arrears. The intent of this Board (the Association Board of Directors) is to get that money paid back.” He also said the Soccer Association had a good size surplus because it hadn’t had the burden of maintaining the soccer park in 2006. The Soccer Association obligation on December 31, 2006 was $230,239 and Mrs. Minklei questioned if that was paid.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
SOCCER PARK ISSUES (continued)
The board members advised that the obligation was not paid.
Mrs. Minklei thought that the town should continue to bill the Soccer Association, especially since Mr. Pawlak seemed to believe that they were going to be able to pay it.
Councilman Graber stated that after reading the West Seneca Bee, he contacted Mr. Pawlak and explained to him what had occurred at the last Town Board meeting and his comment concerning “a complete and utter failure.” He stated that it was not just the Soccer Association he was referring to, it was the existing Town Board as well at the time they entered into the lease arrangement that did not meet any of the expectations of the board members or Soccer Association. Councilman Graber told him that they were trying to learn from past mistakes and improve things and Mr. Pawlak said that it was his goal and the goal of the Soccer Association to someday pay off the debt.
Councilwoman Bove noted that when the Town Board took over the soccer park and maintenance of it, they also made sure that certain tournaments would not be held weekend after weekend. There was more activity than was wanted and it was impacting the neighbors seven days a week. The Town Board took away the Soccer Association’s ability to have tournaments and the snack bar as well, because they didn’t think it was being handled professionally and did not want anything to occur that should not. There was also no soccer on Sundays and fall play was taken away. All of this eliminated the Soccer Association’s ability to raise money and do other things they were thinking of doing, but they thought it was more important to make sure the soccer park was accountable to the Town Board and the residents.
Mrs. Minklei stated that she was aware of what the Town Board did and it made sense and she appreciated it. However, there was a period of time when the Soccer Association was overseeing the soccer park and renting it to others and they were still unable to pay the debt.
Frank Russo, Parkside Drive, commented that the agreement with the Soccer Association was a scam from the beginning and the President and Vice President of the Soccer Association stated right from the start that they had no intention of living up to their financial obligation. He further stated that for six years the Soccer Association rented the soccer park to a number of organizations and took in a lot of money, but still could not pay the bill. They also could not get anyone to volunteer at the concession stand and had to pay their officers and family members to work at it. Mr. Russo did not believe the Soccer Association should be defended.
Councilwoman Bove stated that she was not defending the Soccer Association for the first years they had a lease, but once the town took it over and they weren’t paying their bills anyway, why would they allow them to continue on doing the same thing. Therefore, the Town Board made changes and they were in the best interest of the residents.
Councilman Graber noted that even when the town had the opportunity to charge groups for rental of the facility, the value of the rent was not worth it.
LEGAL FEES FOR YOUTH DIRECTOR LAWSUITS
Frank Russo, Parkside Drive, referred to lawsuits against Youth Director Mark Lazzara as a town employee and questioned who paid the legal fees to defend him and who would pay if someone won a judgment against him.
Supervisor Piotrowski responded that the town paid legal fees to defend Mr. Lazzara and the town would also pay if someone wins a judgment against him.
PRESENTATION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY BOARD MEMBERS AND DEPARTMENT HEADS
2009 HISTORICAL CALENDAR FOR SALE
Town Clerk Patricia DePasquale announced that the 2009 Town of West Seneca historical calendar was ready and available in the Town Clerk’s office at a cost of $5.
PARKING BAN IN EFFECT
Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan reminded everyone that the overnight parking ban was in effect as of November 15th.
SPECIAL MEETING SCHEDULED TO APPROVE 2009 BUDGETS
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Supervisor Piotrowski, to hold a special Town Board meeting in the Court Room on Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 5:00 P.M. for the purpose of approving the 2009 Special Districts, General Fund, and Highway Fund Budgets.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC