By Caitlin Croft

The regular meeting of the Ellicottville Village Planning Board had two pre-applications on the agenda, one inquiring about a potential single-family home (SFH) and its driveway and the other regarding a commercial space being converted to residential.

The owners of 17 and 19 McKinley Drive were present to discuss options on building an SFH that would need to use a village lot to access the parcel. Both the access and building parcel are already owned by the applicant.

The access lot at the end of McKinley Drive is currently approved to build one structure with two townhouses in a designated building envelope. The owners would like to not build in the already approved envelope and instead build higher up on the hillside as to have more privacy. Where they are considering is actually in the town as the village line runs through the McKinley Townhomes.

At the beginning of the road, the property in the town has enough frontage but the owners do not want to build a private drive up behind the current Townhomes as the grade is difficult to work with and from an aesthetic standpoint would cause more disturbance than necessary. The reason for not building on their village lot is outside of the already approved building envelope is reserved land per the initial subdivision plan.

The village planner would like to look into as why that part of the subdivision was set aside as reserves. This will take some digging into past records to find the initial development plan. The board asked if it were possible to build lower on the village parcel and between the village Planner, engineer and the applicants’ engineer they are going to look into this option.

There was a concern with the grade of the slope there and what building further up would do to land disturbance. It was stated this was their major concern in the 1990s when this division was initially proposed and built. They were and are concerned with runoff, drainage and disturbing land at such a steep grade. The Village Planner advised they would look further into it before a final application is submitted.

One of the first level units at 8 Washington St. is asking if a change in use from office to residential is possible. Historically first-floor residential is not allowed in the VC1 district. The reasoning for this is to preserve the storefront space not to keep out first-floor residential. There is one exception in the main village corridor and that is the Arlington Arms Building located next to Monroe Street Brick and Brew.

There are some unique qualities about this particular unit that it fronts on an alley and does not have traditional storefront windows. The windows also cannot be changed to larger storefront windows as it is in the historic district. One concern the board has is they do not want to set a precedent for changing retail storefront space into residential space. The village planner is going to work with the applicant on their change in use application.

Next, there was discussion regarding the mini committee on processes and procedures of

Special Use Permits. The village planner advised he will be writing up a generic flow chart/checklist of the procedure for obtaining a Special Use Permit. This committee was formed based on feedback from the public regarding the current procedure on obtaining Special Use Permits and Change in Use Permits.

The board stated that if applications are completed and there is open communication coupled with proper use of a pre-application meeting the process for approval is roughly four weeks, which is faster than many other municipalities. The planner also advised that the work session could become an official meeting and that way there would be two potential chances for public hearings in a month. The board is concerned with the additional costs of this and would like to see a cost-benefit analysis completed.

The next meeting of the village planning board will be Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the village hall.