By Jann Wiswall

At its Nov. 20 meeting, the Town of Ellicottville’s board approved its 2014 budget, which is 6.6 percent lower than the 2013 budget.

In his report to the board, Town Supervisor John Burrell also reported that:

The town has leased space in the Town Center building to two artists, Sean Huntington and Patricia Eckstrom, who will use it as studio space.

A formal lease agreement was prepared by Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty for the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service’s space in the Town Center building at the organization’s request.

The town is getting bids for new computers and a copier for its staff.

The dedication of the Jefferson Street Cemetery’s new plaque indicating its placement on the National Register of Historic Places was well attended and very meaningful to the 40 or more people in attendance.

Village Mayor Charlie Coolidge and Burrell have been working on redistributing costs for the use of the Village and Town Hall. For many years, each municipality has evenly split the costs for the shared space. Coolidge and Burrell looked at how much square footage is currently used by each and determined that the village now uses only about a third of the space. As a result, the town board will propose that the village will be responsible for 33 percent of the costs. The proposal will be presented to the village board for consideration and, if approved, an agreement will be prepared.

Following Burrell’s report, Town of Ellicottville Chief of Police Don Auge said that his office is looking to replace its computers this year, as well as its vehicles’ mobile laptops.

Town Engineer Mark Alianello briefed the board on the status of the East Tank Project. All easement agreements with impacted property owners have been signed, new surveys are complete and soil borings are due to be completed soon. The project will go out for bid in February, in time to begin construction in the spring. Alianello also reported that a few issues have come up regarding the new Tim Hortons restaurant on Route 219. One issue is the fact that tractor-trailers are parking in both directions along Route 219 near the restaurant instead of pulling into the parking areas. Some trucks are blocking sight lines for vehicles pulling out of the restaurant exits, especially those turning left into the northbound lanes.

The State Department of Transportation (DOT) told Alianello that the town may request “No Parking” or “No Standing” signs if it thinks there is a problem. After discussion, the board asked Alianello to follow up with the DOT to request “No Parking” signage in a few key areas to ensure safety for all vehicles.

Another issue Alianello brought up was regarding exterior lighting. The owner used LED lights instead of lights specified in the plan approved by the Ellicottville Town Planning Board. Although the plan was not followed, Alianello said that the LED lights look fine and that there was nothing “malicious” in the owner’s decision to use them.

Councilmember John Northrup suggested that the town’s zoning rules related to lighting may be out of date given the many new lighting options now on the market. Alianello thought that may be the case and suggested that the planning board should review the situation.

“In any case,” Alianello said, “either the town needs to amend the zoning law or the owner should apply for a variance.” Northrup said he thought both might be appropriate.

Harry Weissman, the Town of Ellicottville’s property assessor, reported that he has been fully certified and is taking additional courses to get him up to speed on all aspects of his new position. He has moved his office to the Department of Public Works building on Mill Street and is getting many phone calls, particularly from residents who need information about the STAR exemptions. He plans to put an ad in the local papers explaining how STAR works and who should apply.

Town Clerk Robyn George asked the board to approve a resolution to allow her to add delinquent water bill charges to annual tax bills. The board agreed. In addition, she asked the board to renew a contract for a lockbox used for tax payments, which the board approved.

George also said she had attended a training seminar on the new hunting and fishing license structure being introduced by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. Licenses will no longer be bundled, but the system is being simplified, prices for licenses are being lowered and fishing licenses will be good for one year from the date of purchase.

Finally, Councilmember Ken Hinman and Alianello reported that there has been good progress on the proposed Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail. The trail planner is nearing completion of the master plan. Verbal agreements have been obtained from all property owners along the proposed route between the Nannen Arboretum and Tim Horton’s allowing rights of way. The trail committee recently applied for a small grant to support efforts to raise awareness about the project as they wait for news on the application for a much larger grant through the DOT, which has made a second site visit as it considers the proposal. And a raffle is under way to raise funds for the trail. Two raffle winners will win bikes contributed by the Ellicottville Bike Shop/Bike and Bean. Hinman said ticket sales are going well and will continue through the Christmas Stroll.

The next meeting of the Ellicottville Town Board will be held on Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Village and Town Hall.