By Kathleen Kellogg

The Town of Ellicottville Planning Board took no action in an Aspen Drive property line shift, then spent some time reviewing progress and discussed property owner easements in the Phase 1 design of a recreation trail between Great Valley and Ellicottville during Monday night’s meeting.

  The discussion involved arrangements for a half-mile section between the proposed trail head at Nannen Arboretum and another trail head at Route 219 North near Tim Horton’s.

According to Town Engineer Mark Alianello, who also serves on the Ellicottville-Great Valley (EVGV) Trail Committee, the path will be eight feet wide, with a two-foot shoulder or “runaway zone,” and the trail bed to be constructed of crushed limestone, the same material used in the Pat McGee Trail. Snowmobile traffic will not be allowed on the trail, where construction will be underway for the 2018 season.

Alianello said the Committee has been obtaining easements from property owners which allows grading and clearing, and will provide an easement to the Town of Ellicottville as a legal sponsor. The Trail will then be covered under the town’s insurance policy. The first phase extends northward from Ellicottville Central School to the foot of Holiday Valley Road, joining the trail system to the public sidewalk along Jefferson Street.

The path picks up again at Mechanic Street to the Ellicottville Library, American Legion and Nannen Arboretum, then course along near the base of a hill to skirt wetlands, rejoining Route 219 near Tim Horton’s.

Alianello said the Committee obtained a nationwide EPA permit for the wetland portion of the route, obtaining a wetland delineation to define the route that will affect one-tenth of an acre or less, or 349 square feet.  The trail construction includes an 18-foot retaining wall and the donation of bridge steel for a pedestrian bridge. The salvaged bridge is donated by the Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works, which will assist in the wetland mitigation work. Authorities also require avoidance of impacts to the threatened northern long-eared bat and the Committee has agreed to remove timber during winter or early spring before the species begins nesting.

Town Planner Gary Palumbo reviewed how the project has evolved, and past efforts by the Planning Board to stay informed on the progress of the project, including the Board’s initial 2012 vote in support and the master plan outlining the EVGV Trail.

  A past Town Board decision, as lead agent in a State Environmental Quality Review action, established that the project did not pose a negative impact to the environment. For that reason, Palumbo said, along with the fact that there is no change in land use or structures along the route that require alteration, mean the Planning Board is not required to conduct a site plan review. He noted the pedestrian bridge is also not subject to a permitting process governed by the Planning Board.

Officials provided information regarding owner concerns about the trail’s 30-foot wide design and property easements and setbacks. Palumbo said it appears the setbacks are 15 feet for the affected property lines and are measured from the property line, not the trail. He and Code Enforcement Officer Kelly Fredrickson pointed out any development restrictions along those boundaries will not change due to the trail.

The Planning Board members unanimously approved a motion authorizing Palumbo to write a letter explaining how setbacks are measured for private property owners along the trail easements. There was a general agreement in reaction to Board member Doc Dayton’s suggestion that the evolving trail plan should be updated and given more detail in the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

In other matters:

• At Aspen Drive, with the Board’s signal to rearrange property lines at adjoining, privately-owned parcels, the vote enables placement of a new garage near a shared lot line, with no impacts to neighbors.

• Palumbo will provide the Board with information on two topics: new regulations for disposal of construction and demolition waste and, at the request of former Board member John Zerfas, message boards relating to the town’s Sign Code.

• Veteran Board member Doc Dayton was selected to serve as Vice Chairman, filling the vacancy created by Zerfas’ exit.

• New Board members Bonnie Koschir and Caitlin Croft were welcomed to the panel.