A Work Session of the Clarence Town Board was held on August 1, 2007 at Clarence Town Hall, One Town Place, Clarence, NY.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. Members of the Town Board present were Council members Scott Bylewski, Joseph Weiss, Bernard Kolber and Patrick Casilio. Other Town Officials present were Town Attorney Steven Bengart, Director of Community Development James Callahan, Town Engineer Joseph Latona, Planning Board members Patricia Powers and Gerald Drinkard and Director of Administration and Finance Pam Smith.
Town Engineer Joseph Latona – Sunset Park
Town Engineer Latona displayed pictures of drainage & flooding problems at the south entrance to Sunset Park near the ball diamonds. Town Engineer Latona is suggesting the installation of an ejection well. The price for the well is approximately $7,000., material costs approximately $3,000, this will be done under the Drainage District. The Parks Department will install the well and the Engineering Department will design and supervise the installation. The well will be approximately 180' deep and will be registered with the EPA. Town Engineer Latona keeps a log of all injection wells in the town. The Town Board was in agreement with the installation of the well. The County is taking care of the drainage problem closest to the intersection of Harris Hill and Wehrle Drive.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock
Supervisor Hallock distributed information regarding Eastern Hills Corridor; the town received another $250,000 from this round of appropriations. Town Attorney Bengart, Director of Community Development James Callahan and Town Engineer Joseph Latona met with representatives from Eastern Hills Mall and they are not in favor of a public road behind the mall. They were told that the road would be located 200 feet from the mall and the town would own and maintain the roadway. The mall representatives are concerned that they will not have any control of what takes place on the proposed roadway. The concern is that if the grant money is not used, the town will loose the funding. Town Attorney Bengart will try to contact Macy's again.
The Army Corp of Engineers has available funding to do a soil study. There would be a cost, matching funds. Town Engineer Latona stated that we would have to work that out along with the scope of work to be performed. Supervisor has not heard anything further from The Army Corp of Engineers.
Supervisor Hallock gave an update on the revised Transactional Forms. The Ethics Committee voted on May 17th to revise the form. Supervisor Hallock informed the Ethics Committee that because the revision was so minimal, the Board was not interested in amending the law at this time. Ethics Board chairman Steve Murtaugh is working on revising the rules and procedures of the Ethic's Committee which would not be part of the Local Law however, rules and procedures would have to be approved by the Town Board. At the June 27th, 2007 Work Session, there was a discussion relative to sending letters to all boards and committee members reminding them to recuse themselves however, the question came up as to who should receive the letter. The Ethic's Committee decided to rescind that motion and not send the letter. A letter will be sent out the first of the year reminding all committees and board members to recuse themselves should the situation arise.
Supervisor Hallock attended the annual Erie County Water Authority meeting, there was a discussion regarding generators. The water authority has arranged for the rental of five generator units to be put in place until permanent ones can be built to their specifications. By the end of August, the generators will be in place at Sturgeon Point, Van DeWater treatment plant, the Ball pumping station and the Windom facility.
Lardon Construction Corporation has been contracted by the Town of Amherst to remove 8,000 trees and 25,000 cubic yards of brush. Fred Cimato is requesting approval from the Town of Clarence to have the brush and trees stored at his topsoil business on County Road. The contractor will be in and out of this site everyday dropping it off and picking it up. It will take between 6 months and one year to finish the job. Supervisor Hallock informed Mr. Cimato that this will require a Change in Use or a Temporary Conditional Permit and that will take several weeks to schedule the public hearing. Mr. Cimato did not think the contractor could wait that long.
St. Mary's Church has scheduled an on site visit for August 31st at 4:00 PM for the Town Board members.
The Bicentennial Committee is sending out letters to all banner sponsors relative to the request by Charles Morgante Jr. Director of Operations at the NYS DOT indicating that all banners installed on Main Street and Transit Road are in violation of Federal and State laws due to the sponsor names that are included on the banners. Private names are considered advertising. All banners will be relocated from state highways to approved county and town roads.
Supervisor Hallock announced last week the date of the Bond sale. The date of issue is today (August 1, 2007). We received official statements, if anyone is interested in reviewing a copy it is available in the Supervisor's office.
Supervisor Hallock has two items to discuss in Executive Session.
Councilman Scott Bylewski
Councilman Bylewski received information on the reflective vests for use by the public safety volunteers on the bike path. The vest will cost approximately $17 each. There will be a one time set up charge of $45. Supervisor Hallock received a gift last year of $8,000 which will be used to cover the costs of the vests. The volunteers will observe and report, they will not be making arrests. It was also suggested that the volunteers be made aware of simple first aid techniques.
Councilman Bylewski has two items to discuss in Executive Session regarding matters leading to the appointment of an individual.
Councilman Bylewski suggested putting out a press release regarding the Bonds and BANS. Supervisor Hallock will contact Mike Neumeister to schedule a final Capital Improvement meeting.
The Clarence Concert Association has been approached about having a September 11th flag displayed by the band shell. Concert Association member Ray Skaine spoke with John Burns and John suggested he contact the Town Board. Councilman Bylewski will get additional information and forward it to the Board.
Councilman Joseph Weiss
Councilman Weiss has two items to discuss in Executive Session regarding the employment history of a corporation and one Attorney-Client item.
Jason Engle was supposed to be helping the town relative to the deer abatement program however to date, nothing has been done. Councilman Weiss will address this with the Conservation Advisory Committee tomorrow night.
Clarence Little League Football President Bob Blackmore has concerns regarding the snow fence at Sunset Park near Wehrle Drive. They would like to put up a gate and have football control it just for games days. Councilman Weiss will speak to Parks Crew Chief John Burns regarding this.
There was a discussion regarding Louie's Car Clinic at 9385 Main Street relative to his request to display vehicles for sale. Councilman Weiss was of the opinion that the applicant could display a number of vehicles as long as he didn't display the cars with banners or stickers. He has room for eight vehicles, he could have eight cars parked and no one would know which ones were for sale and which ones were being worked on. Councilman Kolber stated that he would be changing the intent of the property basically from being a repair facility with an ancillary use for a couple of used car sales to the appearance of a used car lot which makes it difficult to deny the next person down the road that wants to open a used car lot. Councilman Casilio stated that the applicant needs a minimal amount of parking spaces to hold on to his license and he felt that approval should be given for at least three parking spaces. Director of Community Development James Callahan stated that the Planning Board recommended three parking spaces, two in the front and one in the rear of the building so the applicant can maintain his license. Councilman Bylewski stated that to help with enforcement, the display area should be striped so we know how many cars are on display and it neatens up the appearance of the lot. There are some instances where there is no striping and the proprietor will cram in as many cars as they can. Director of Community Development James Callahan stated that the applicant should get approval for three lots because that is what he needs to maintain his license.
Councilman Bernard Kolber
Councilman Kolber spoke to Deputy Highway Superintendent Greg Giblin regarding removal of the fill left behind from a job done by Erie County Water Authority at Salt and Greiner Road. The highway department is way behind from the effects of the October storm and this would not be a priority for them at this time. The pile of fill is approximately 550 cubic yards which would require approximately 19 hours of dump truck time. Councilman Kolber is suggesting the hiring of a private contractor to remove the fill and relocate it to Memorial Park. If the highway department could provide one days use of the wheel loader, it would simplify the process and reduce the cost, requiring only one town employee. In addition, the Middle School has a large pile of topsoil from the preparation work for their new parking lot. Councilman Kolber would like to see if it is available to re-grade and top-dress the site at Memorial Park. Councilman Kolber will pursue this further with Highway Superintendent Ted Donner.
Councilman Patrick Casilio
The Clarence Center Community Association is requesting more lighting from the four corners going north, south, east and west. Since Councilman Casilio is utility liaison and has had the experience of working with the Harris Hill Association to obtain lighting designs and costs Supervisor Hallock asked him to do the same for the Clarence Center area. An income survey is being mailed out to those residents within a ¼ mile radius from the four-corners for Community Development Block Grant money. If we get a good response from the survey we would know before the October application if we qualify for Community Block Grant money. Supervisor Hallock has approached the IDA however; they are requesting a proposal from the Clarence Center Community Association as to the cost.
Highway Superintendent Donner has finalized the purchase of the speed trailer. Mr. Donner will decide on a maintenance contract when he takes delivery of the trailer.
Councilman Casilio is almost set with the RFI for the cameras. He is waiting for a response from the vendor of the microwave system that runs in the town now who can also handle the transmission of the cameras. The information should be available for the August 8th Work Session. Councilman Casilio mentioned that one of the functions of the public safety volunteers could be to monitor the camera system from their personal computer once they have the access code. Councilman Casilio further mentioned that he has been approached regarding telephones and call boxes for the bike path. The Town of Amherst has them on their bike path however the calls are dispatched to Amherst PD – our calls would go to Orchard Park. Town Engineer Latona stated that it is cost prohibitive and there is a liability factor involved.
Councilman Casilio has talked to Town Engineer Joseph Latona regarding the water tank on Goodrich Road. Mr. Latona suggested putting money in the budget for next year. The bids could come in at $0 or $10,000. They are hoping the tank can be incinerated for scrap and therefore get rid of any environmental problems vs. someone taking it down and reusing it someplace. There had been talk about converting the water tank for equipment storage or for a salt building. Councilman Bylewski asked if there was a need for the water tank for anything else. Town Engineer Latona stated that it could be used for equipment storage by cutting an overhead door in it. Councilman Casilio stated that it may cost a lot of money just to put in fire exits, insulation and ventilation. Town Engineer Latona suggested the Capital Improvement Committee review this further.
Councilman Casilio has been researching with the Town Attorney and the Erie County Sheriff's Department the possibility of renaming the town security vehicle to Public Safety.
Councilman Casilio has two items to discuss in Executive Session under § 105(1) A matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed and the discipline of an individual.
Councilman Kolber stated he was driving behind Eastern Hills Mall trying to find the best location for the public road. Last fall West Herr Saturn was issued a permit to temporarily store vehicles behind the mall through February of this year. They have since added cars and have other dealership cars with banners and for-sale signs. Assistant Director of Community Development James Hartz is going to contact mall management to find out the status. The permit expired in February so West Herr should be contacted to either renew their permit or remove the vehicles.
Town Attorney Steven Bengart
Town Attorney Bengart and Town Assessor David Folger met with a representative from Phillips Lytle to discuss various tax litigation and how they can get them settled and keep them within range without spending the entire tax litigation budget. They had another meeting today with Ron Bennett to discuss the cases they have with him, they include a mixture of both residential and commercial property. Today the Assessor received approximately 20 lawsuits challenging their assessment.
Town Attorney Bengart has one item to discuss in Executive Session under pending litigation regarding Shadow Wood's Subdivision. The Planning Board Executive Committee will be meeting next week to discuss a plan the developer has put forward that will help settle the law suit.
On May 9, 2007, the Town Board approved a Temporary Conditional Permit to Janice Jabcuga to operate a dog boarding facility at 6989 Transit Road. Town Attorney Bengart received a call from the attorney representing Ms. Jabcuga indicating that his client can not get financing with a temporary permit. Director of Community Development James Callahan stated that we handled the situation the best way we could.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Casilio to enter into Executive Session pursuant to § 105(1) F of the Open Meetings Law to discuss the appointment of an individual, the history of a corporation, matters leading to the discipline of a particular person, § 105(1) A matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed. Pending litigation regarding the Shadow Woods development and the Rubino development. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to adjourn the Executive Session at 10:40 A.M. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried. No action taken.
The Work Session resumed at 10:40 A.M.
County of Erie Department of Environment and Planning
Coordinator of sewer projects Joe Fiegl, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Mike Quinn and Deputy Commissioner Thomas Whetham were present to discuss the extension of Erie County Sewer District #5 to include the town districts.
Thomas Whetham stated that they are moving forward with the process of district extension of EC SD#5 to include Clarence SD #2, #6, #7 and #9. The reason they are moving forward before they have something formal from the Town of Clarence is that procedurally they want to get done what they need to do so that when the Town Board makes their decision one way or the other, the County can decide whether they want to formally extend the district or not.
A Map, Plan and Report has been prepared (it is also known as the Sewer Agency Report) that discusses the ramifications of extending SD #5 to include the town areas. A copy of the Map, Plan and Report was forwarded to Town Engineer Latona. It is a procedural item that they need to go through in accordance with County Law, Article 5A to either establish or extend the sewer district. It spells out the action and discusses the financial implications of doing it. It was submitted to the County Legislature, they receive and file it and make it available for the public. They have also advertised for a public hearing that has been scheduled for August 29th, 2007 at 1:30 P.M. in the legislative chambers at old county hall. The Sewer Agency Report is reviewed at the public hearing and the public can ask any questions that they may have. It is an opportunity for the public to state whether they are for or against the project so that the County Legislature can make the decision on whether or not to extend EC SD #5. The County Legislature has recessed, despite the fact that the public hearing is being held August 29th; they would not take any formal action until September 13th. At that time, they would either move or not move a resolution.
Even though the legislature has recessed, the County Legislative representatives (Michael Ranzenhofer) will attend the public hearing. The Clarence Town Board is also welcome to attend the public hearing. A public hearing notice will be advertised in the Buffalo News and the Clarence Bee. If the resolution is approved on September 13th, it is then subject to a 45 day permissive referendum period – the permissive referendum period would conclude at the end of October.
If this is something the Town Board would like to move forward with, Tom Whetham would then request that the Board formally pass a resolution indicating that the Board will authorize the Supervisor to execute an agreement to either transfer or lease the town's assets to the County. Once the County formally has that resolution, the legislature will be in a position where they can approve the resolution to extend the district. The County would need a resolution from the Town before September 13th.
Councilman Bylewski stated that one of the concerns that the Town Board has had is the Harris Hill area and he would like to see that if the County is to take over Clarence sewer districts that the Harris Hill area will be included because of the identified problems. Councilman Bylewski would like some type of confirmation indicating that this will take place. Councilman Bylewski does not want to see Erie County taking over Clarence sewer districts and then having the Town left to deal with the Harris Hill area when the county is managing all the sewer districts.
Tom Whetham provided a copy of a lease agreement the County is negotiating with the Town of Hamburg. He asked that Town Attorney Bengart review and offer any comments he would like to see in the agreement that the County is in the process of doing for the Town of Clarence. The Town of Hamburg has a similar matter as the Town of Clarence.
Councilman Casilio asked about the length of the lease agreement. Tom Whetham stated that a town can not enter into an agreement beyond 40 years. The County can not officially enter into a contract beyond 5 years. The Town of Hamburg's lease is for 5 years with seven re-openers (renewals – the option to renew or not renew) to get to forty years. The Town could end the lease after five years. The only downside to that (which is spelled out in the agreement) is that if the County spends capital money on SD #2, #6, #7 & #9 and then the town decides they want it back, the town has to take over the bond debt. Councilman Casilio is worried about having to take over the bond debt for the City of Buffalo and the residents of Clarence paying billions of dollars for repair to the cities sewer system. The lease agreement avoids the issue of a mandatory referendum. The Map, Plan and Report were approved by Sewer District #5 Board of Managers, it was sent to the Legislature received and filed.
Town Engineer Latona referenced the Map, Plan and Report where it states that the unsewered area will be charged a nominal fee in SD #9. When that district was formed, the residents were told that unless they benefited they would not be charged. Further, the Clarence Town Board has gone on record stating that unless the people are benefiting, they will not be charged and if the fee is collected, where does that money go. Tom Whetham stated that the money would go to SD #5. The definition of "benefit" in the County district is the people within a county sewer district have the opportunity to tie into a sanitary sewer (if they are in a county district they have the potential to receive sewer service from the County however, if they are not in a County district they will not get a sewer from the County) the other benefit is to the environment within that particular area, it benefits water quality if they are in a district and they are paying toward the cost to maintain good environment and water quality. That is the definition of "benefit" it is not the individual benefit that one sees, it is the benefit to the area. The residents are not charged a flat fee and they are not charged footage. They would only be charged on assessed value. If you have sewer in front of your property, you will be charged footage.
Tom Whetham stated that if there is property that is considered within the developed area (according to the Regional Framework for Growth) it is documented. There is a map that shows the developing area and the undeveloped area. If there is property within the "developed" area, infrastructure will be provided. Councilman Weiss stated that he did not get that impression when meeting with Mr. Eszak. For the most part, those areas are within sewer districts there are exceptions and one of those sections is Harris Hill. Harris Hill is within the developed area of the framework but it is not in a sewer district. If there is a pollution problem, the County will address the pollution problem either in a developed area or a developing area. The other caveat is that in the developing area if there are industrial or commercial components to it and it will create jobs, the County is in favor of providing service to that. The industrial/commercial corridor that has been discussed in the Town of Clarence, a big component of that is in the developing area not in the developed area but the County is in favor of it because it is job creation.
Councilman Bylewski stated that he has seen the map for Regional Framework for Growth, but he was interested in seeing a more detailed map with just the Town of Clarence so the Board can get a better handle on where some of the developing/ developed boundaries are. Mr. Whetham stated that he will provide that map however he will use the boundaries that were established as part of that study. Councilman Bylewski further stated that the Planning Department is developing our own sewer priorities in the town and have that as an overlay with our districts.
Where ever possible, the County is trying to encourage the development within areas that already have infrastructure but the exceptions are going to be in the developed areas where there are pollution problems or where there is job creation. In developing areas where there is a job creation component to it, it will be considered for a reasonable project however if it was for a residential development, it would not be considered. Town Attorney Bengart stated that the Framework for Regional Growth does not take that same approach. Tom Whetham stated that there is home rule, if a town wants to proceed with a project in the developing area, in theory the county can not stand in the way of them doing it, but the County does not have to provide sewers to the project.
Tom Whetham stated that the County's framework right now is aligned with the Town Board for the most part, the Town Board is not looking for mass residential development in the Town of Clarence, we are interested in having industrial/commercial growth and that falls in line with what the County is trying to accomplish and if there is environmental pollution, the town wants to address that as well.
The County is not going to come in and say they want to put industrial/commercial type development in the Town of Clarence; it is up to the Town to approve industrial/commercial development in Clarence. Supervisor Hallock stated that we need sewers to do that. Mr. Whetham stated that if it is an industrial/commercial development and it will create jobs, the Town would get sewers.
Supervisor Hallock stated that she attended the IDA Leadership Council meeting last week and they talked about the framework. They discussed how one town might be targeted for some type of development or industry.
Supervisor Hallock stated that before any public hearing, she would like our legal counsel to review the lease agreement that the County has with the Town of Hamburg. The rates are a significant factor. If the Board was to do any type of resolution, they would want to include the Harris Hill area. Tom Whetham suggested making that part of the lease agreement.
Tom Whetham stated that one of the things the County asked the Town Board from the beginning was whether or not you wanted Harris Hill included in the extension and the answer was "no". Town Engineer Latona stated that was correct however, we wanted it to be the first choice and it has to be addressed.
Councilman Bylewski stated that Clarence has always said that we would like Harris Hill included in the extension. To move ahead because of the length of time it would take to try and draw the boundaries for Harris Hill and the possible expenses involved overall, we could not get a good handle on it given the County's window.
Town Engineer Latona stated that one of the concerns with including the Harris Hill area was that those residents were going to get charged for nothing. He has the same concerns with SD #9 residents getting charged without a sewer.
Tom Whetham stated that if the Town of Clarence agrees that they want to extend SD #5 to include existing town districts, the pressure is off the town from a regulatory stand point. The DEC will look to the County for a solution. Councilman Weiss stated that one of the Town's problems is the capacity issue with the Town of Amherst. Town Engineer Latona stated that for the record, the negotiations relative to the formula have been suspended by Amherst. Mr. Whetham stated that if the County were to take over Clarence sewer districts, the County presently has a contract in place with the Town of Amherst. The County then would become responsible for negotiations with the Town of Amherst.
Joe Fiegl and Mike Quinn were able to gather the data necessary to look at the existing town districts and to determine what the rate impact would be if we were to extend SD #5. Clarence SD#2 – the typical rate payer currently pays approximately $298.30 per year. That is broken down by the unit charge and debt charge. The proposed Erie County charges under District #5 operation their charge would decrease to $285.74. SD #2 represents approximately 1100 units which is the largest district. (This data was compiled utilizing 2006 tax rolls). Those residents with a higher assessment would pay a higher assessed value charge and those with a lower assessment value would pay a lower assessed value charge.
Supervisor Hallock stated that SD#2 has paid up almost all its debt and the residents are looking forward to not paying any debt in another year or two. If the extension takes place, SD#2 would be assuming everybody else debt. Mr. Whetham stated that was correct but the net result is a $12.56 decrease including Clarence SD#9 existing debt, the debt that is going to be incurred and all debt that that is existing right now – not any new debt. If there is now debt, you will have to pay for it on district by district bases. If the town incurred new debt in SD#2, the 1,100 units have to pay for that debt.
Erie County SD#5 rate payers of which there are approximately 3,615 units would see a $10.09 decrease resulting from an extension.
The County would create an extension that overlaps the town districts. In theory, the town districts do not go away – they exist on paper. This is how they can spread the cost among SD #5 because they would be extending SD#5 and consolidating. Because Clarence SD#9 has substantially more debt, they will be required to pay a higher footage charge. They are still going to realize a $60. savings if this extension were to happen. Those residents in SD#9 that do not have sewers would pay an assessed value charge of $85.73 for a typical property that is assessed at $100,000. (No sewer no footage charges).
The County has looked at Property Class 210 (single-family home) within EC SD#5 and the Town of Clarence sewer districts, under this scenario, approximately 60% of the people will save and benefit immediately and approximately 40% will see an increase.
Councilman Weiss asked if the County would be taking over Spaulding Lake treatment plant. Mr. Whetham stated that it is not in a district and is another issue. The long term goal is to get the parallel line in place, eliminate the treatment plants and get the flows into Amherst. Town Engineer Latona questioned whether these capital programs were subject to a permissive referendum. Mr. Whetham stated that they have to go through the Sewer Agency Report process, they have to go through the County Legislature who will then pass a bond resolution and it is also subject to Control Board approval. The bond resolution is not subject to permissive referendum. When the County introduces a Sewer Agency Report that has to do with a borrowing, they have to hold a public hearing. A notice must be mailed to each of the rate payers telling them that they are going to be impacted and how they are going to be impacted and they are invited to the public hearing. If they have objections to it, they show up at the public hearing, the legislatures are present. If there is an over whelming objection to it, the legislature in theory would not pass the bond resolution. The public hearing is held down town usually in the early afternoon.
The County will host a public information meeting at town hall to let the public know that a merger is being considered and what the rate ramifications will be.
Tom Whetham stated that there is a timing issue. Once the approving resolution is done, the district is extended. Mr. Whetham can ask the Legislature to hold and not approve the resolution on September 13, 2007 – he can ask them to push it back. His only time frame issue is that he has to get them on the tax rolls and he has a 45 day permissive referendum. Once he knows the district is going to be extended, he makes sure the sewer component gets on to the tax rolls.
Councilman Bylewski stated that he has concerns with the Harris Hill area regarding the taxation of people in that area if it was to become a district without receiving an immediate benefit. We were looking at a time frame of between 5 – 10 years before they could tie into sewers.
A map was displayed that shows the median household income and the sewer rate people pay within the various areas across Western New York.
In order to move forward, Tom Whetham suggested scheduling a public information meeting in early September. This will give the County one month to get the word out to rate payers. They will give the presentation and discuss what the benefits are and what the disadvantages would be. The disadvantages would be that the vacant properties within a district would pay a benefit assessment charge.
Tom Whetham will contact the Clarence Bee to print an article about a proposed merger. Supervisor Hallock will check availability of the auditorium to schedule a public informational meeting, possibly after Labor Day. Town Attorney Bengart stated that it is unrealistic to think this merger could take place this year.
There being no further businesses, the Work Session adjourned at 11:20 A.M.
Darcy A. Snyder