Special meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Clarence was held on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 at the Clarence Town Hall, One Town Place, Clarence, New York.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. Councilman Bernard Kolber led in the pledge to the flag.
Members of the Town Board present were Councilmembers Ian McPherson, Scott Bylewski, Bernard Kolber and Supervisor Hallock. Councilman Joseph Weiss was absent. Other Town officials present were Director of Community Development James Callahan and Town Attorney Steven Bengart.
Supervisor Hallock filed the Town of Clarence Benefit Basis Budget for 2005 with the Town Clerk.
A Public Hearing was held to consider a Local Law “Imposing an Additional Temporary Six-Month Moratorium on Land Use Approval of any New Residential Subdivisions in the Town of Clarence”.
Town Attorney Steven Bengart said this is basically an additional six months being proposed to the moratorium already in effect. The moratorium is allowed under the statutory powers of the Town Board to regulate and control land use to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents. The purpose of this law is to allow the Town an additional six-month period to work on zoning regulations, adequate public facilities legislation, subdivision law and such other laws necessary to bring things up to speed.
Supervisor Hallock said this is a Public Hearing. If you wish to speak, please come forward and identify yourself and give your address. It is a Public Hearing to consider an additional six-month moratorium. It is not about developments or the Master Plan. It is not a debate, but an opportunity to voice opinions and have those opinions recorded in the Town Board minutes.
Councilman Bylewski said the Planning Department has been working on a number of items while we have been under the moratorium. He asked James Callahan to give an update of those action items.
James Callahan said the Planning Board has forwarded a recommendation to proceed with adoption of the draft zoning law and map as prepared.
The Municipal Review Committee has completed the environmental review on the comprehensive zoning law map update and forwarded a recommendation for a negative declaration on same.
The Town Board has placed the comprehensive zoning law and map on the September 22, 2004 agenda to initiate the adoption procedures.
A draft comprehensive subdivision law has been prepared by the Planning Department and is scheduled to initiate the review by the Planning Board on September 29 th.
The consultants Frelich, Leightner and Carlisle along with Planning Works LLC continue with development of an adequate public facilities law per their contract. They should have a document for review sometime in the fall.
They are initiating an update to the landscape law. The parks and recreation master plan is being initiated by Wendel Duchscherer.
Speaking to the subject:
Matthew Balling, 8327 Hirshwood Drive serves on the Municipal Review Committee that handles recommendations on matters of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). He feels the Town really needs another six months to solidify the adoption of the new zoning law and subdivision law. They have been working on revising the Type I list for SEQR actions and also on bylaws. Without the moratorium, they would not have been able to get them on the agenda. We need to be reminded about the long-term impacts that land use development has on our community. He would like to see the best decisions being made.
Supervisor Hallock read a letter from Councilman Weiss expressing his regret for being unable to attend the meeting this evening. He scheduled a trip more than a year ago to coincide with not missing any regularly scheduled board meetings. He has confidence that his fellow board members will vote in accordance with the wishes of our citizens and for the good of the Town of Clarence.
James Blum, 5509 Martha’s Vineyard said in order to accomplish the visions and goals of the Town’s comprehensive master plan, we need the zoning law, subdivision law, adequate public facilities law and the landscape law updated. We want to have new subdivisions in line with the concepts of the master plan.
Supervisor Hallock read a letter received today from Joseph W. McIvor, Jr., Executive Vice President of the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association, a non-profit trade group that primarily represents a membership with businesses active in residential construction and development. He expresses industry concerns regarding a proposed extension of the moratorium.
The comments and concerns by the industries they represent are contained in a statement submitted last year at the public hearing, which failed to influence the outcome. They are attached as Addendum #1 for review of the facts and statistics. Supervisor Hallock said it was not last year, but the April 2004 meeting.
They feel that over seven years have passed prior to the conclusion of adopting a new plan and rezoning properties appropriately should have been completed by now. All stakeholders within the community deserve better and the Town Board must accept responsibility to complete the job to make everyone aware of the blueprint for future growth and development.
It is their understanding that the burden of work remaining is minimal and an extension of six months may be more than needed.
Supervisor Hallock said the 3-page addendum that Mr. McIvor referred to will be made a part of these minutes.
Annette Fachko, Interim Executive Vice President of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors commended the Town on work that has been done over the last few months to speed up the process, but go on record asking that the moratorium not be continued.
Supervisor Hallock read a letter received on Sept. 13, 2004 from a resident of Rosewood Lane congratulating the Town Board for having the foresight and intestinal fortitude to impose a moratorium. The “time out” will allow Clarence to better prepare and update its building policies and codes for the anticipated continuing growth. He hopes the Town Board will also give serious consideration to the financial impact created by anticipated sustained growth and look at fiscal policies that will minimize future tax increases to Clarence residents. He encourages the Town Board to give serious consideration to the immediate imposition of an adequate impact fee for new building permits in order to provide a pool of funds to help meet the future capital growth needs of Clarence.
Supervisor Hallock received an e-mail from a resident of Miles Road expressing support for a continued moratorium in regard to new subdivisions in the Town of Clarence. She believes it is in the best interest of all residents to slow down the development of our Town. We need to spend more time planning for traffic flow, school overcrowding and the overall flavor of the Town.
Supervisor Hallock stated that these are the only communications that she received.
Councilman Bylewski reported on what has been going on while we have been under the moratorium. The argument continues to go on regarding property rights and community rights. It is his feeling that it is necessary to continue the moratorium for us to continue working on the zoning, subdivision and adequate public facilities laws.
The building industry claims that the Town of Clarence will be hurt by the moratorium concerning the number of single-family residential homes being built. The Town of Amherst as of August 20 th issued 104 single-family building permits in subdivisions and 22 outside of subdivisions for a total of 126. The Town of Clarence issued, as of August 31 st, 85 single-family building permits in subdivisions and 45 outside of subdivisions for a total of 130. Building still does go on in the Town.
James Hartz of the Planning Department forwarded the following information: There are approximately 270 lots to be built on in existing subdivisions. There are another 462 lots that have received conceptual approval and are waiting for development plan approval.
Councilman Bylewski said Grand Island is also working on updating their zoning law. They enacted a master plan a decade ago and over the last three years updated their zoning law. However, in Clarence, we updated our master plan three years ago and have been working strenuously to make sure our laws are updated to reflect the master plan.
Councilman Bylewski said the building industry has also said that jobs would be impacted. He has seen openings in the Buffalo Job Finder, specifically in the June 29, 2004 issue, listing openings in various building companies doing business in the Town. The building industry continues to go on in the Town of Clarence.
Councilman Bylewski said while under the moratorium, we have been progressing at a fabulous rate. We have had ten updates at the Town Board level regarding the zoning, subdivision and adequate public facilities laws. At the Planning Board level, they have had the zoning law on their agenda at the last eight meetings. They have been working very hard to make sure it is done correctly and in accordance with the master plan. The moratorium has given our Planning Department additional time necessary to complete the work.
Supervisor Hallock read from the Empire State Report on Law and Public Policy Focus. Absent a statute in New York, the courts have long upheld the validity of locally enacted moratoriums as a sensible and practical way to ensure decisions on land usage can be effective. The municipality must demonstrate that a planning process is ongoing. She believes Councilman Bylewski covered that well tonight. We have never stopped working on the processes that we want to put in place and will certainly continue if this law goes forward.
With no one else speaking to the subject, motion was made by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to close the public hearing. On the question, Supervisor Hallock stated that her comments made during the public hearing would apply “on the question”. Councilman Kolber said we are finally looking at what our capacity is in the Town and what growth we can handle. We are not stopping growth or development, but in order to keep the character of our Town the way we want it to be, we need to continue this timeout to get the zoning, subdivision and adequate public facilities laws in place. Town Attorney Steven Bengart said this is on the question to close the public hearing. Upon roll call – Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Councilman Bylewski thanked everyone for attending tonight. It is only a fraction of the amount of people who turned out the last time, but it is good to see people who are interested no matter what side of the issue you are on.
Motion by Councilman Bylewski, seconded by Councilman Kolber to adopt the following resolution:
Whereas, the Clarence Town Board has adopted Master Plan 2015, a comprehensive plan to guide land use decision making into the future, and
Whereas, it is imperative that local land use controls be updated to adequately address the continued pressure for growth to ensure that the community develops in a manner consistent with Master Plan 2015, and
Whereas, the Town of Clarence is working to develop a comprehensive Zoning Law and Map update, an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, a comprehensive Subdivision Law update and a Parks and Recreation Master Plan, all in support of the identified goals in Master Plan 2015, and
Whereas, it is essential that the necessary time be committed to ensure that the proposed updates are completed in a satisfactory manner and it will be necessary to extend the existing Moratorium for an additional 6 month period to complete the identified land use controls,
Now therefore, be it
Resolved, that the Town Board of the Town of Clarence adopts Local Law No. 7 of the year 2004 titled “Imposing An Additional Temporary Six-Month Moratorium on Land Use Approvals Of Any New Residential Subdivisions In the Town of Clarence.” This Local Law shall take effect immediately upon filing in the Office of the Secretary of State.
On the question, Councilman Kolber said his previous comments should be included for this record. Supervisor Hallock said her previous comments should be included as part of this record. Councilman Bylewski said his previous comments should also be included as part of this record.
Upon roll call – Ayes: Councilmembers Kolber, Bylewski and Supervisor Hallock; Noes: Councilman McPherson. Absent: Councilman Joseph Weiss. Motion carried.
There being no further business, Supervisor Hallock adjourned the meeting at 7:23 P.M.
Nancy C. Metzger