By Jann Wiswall

The Town of Ellicottville’s Planning Board approved a minor amendment to the site plan at the Tim Hortons restaurant at its meeting on Jan. 27.

The amendment came with conditions:

First, the owners must abide by the plan originally approved by the planning board in 2012 regarding shrubbery and screening plantings.

Second, while the original plan called for installation of permanent planters to discourage customers from walking across the exit lanes and along the main roadway, the board approved an alternate proposal from the owner to install a 42” aluminum fence for this purpose. The owner felt this was a better solution for pedestrian safety, though also acknowledged that the original plan for cement planters had proved to be too expensive.

Third, a minimum of five decorative planters must be placed along the inside of the fence during fair-weather months.

Fourth, all of the above must be completed by June 1, 2014.

The amendment language was put to a vote. Five board members voted in favor of the amendment. Doc Dayton and Mike Guercio voted against.

During the lengthy discussion leading up to the vote, board members expressed frustration that both the town Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board had been forced to consider changes to previously approved site plans because the owners went ahead and made changes without coming back to either board for revisions.

Dayton felt the board was within its rights to enforce adherence to the original plans, whether they were cost effective or not.

He said, “Our concern is not affordability. It’s what’s best for the community.”

Board member Sheri Barrera felt that, in the case of the fencing, the owner had proposed a better solution to the problem than was approved in the original plan.

“We need to consider whether this plan is as good as or better than the original. I think the fence is safer,” she said.

Owner Ray Miranda acknowledged that he had made mistakes and apologized profusely, saying that he owns several other Tim Hortons restaurants but has never developed one himself. He said he did not realize he should have come back to the boards with revised plans, but that there was no malice or attempt to skirt the rules on his part.

In addition to the landscape plan amendments, the board discussed lighting issues with the Five Star Bank ATM that is on the Tim Hortons property. The bank installed signage on all four sides of the ATM that has internal lighting. Internal sign lighting is not permitted under town zoning law, but federal law has certain requirements for ATM lighting. Town Engineer Mark Alianello said he had spoken with Five Star Bank representatives who will be presenting alternatives to internally lit signage that also meets federal requirements. The planning board authorized Alianello to make the decision on this issue.

Southtowns Scenic Byway

At the request of Town Supervisor John Burrell, Town Planner Carol Horowitz explained that there is a proposal by a non-profit organization to extend the existing Southtowns Scenic Byway in Erie County into Cattaraugus County.

A scenic byway is intended to promote tourism and economic development through the “thoughtful stewardship of natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational resources of the byway region.” It requires the endorsement of all municipalities located along the route, which would have to adhere to all state byway regulations and would then require the NYS Legislature’s and governor’s approval.

One of those regulations is a restriction on new billboards. For some municipalities, this could require changes to existing signage ordinances. However, as Horowitz pointed out, Ellicottville already has sign ordinances restricting billboards, so no changes would be needed.

In order for the Town Board to move forward, it needs the planning board to recommend participation in the plan. A motion to do so carried.

The next meeting of the Ellicottville Town Planning Board is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.