Certificates of Occupancy Must Meet All Conditions

By Jann Wiswall

The Village of Ellicottville’s board met Monday, Nov. 10, and was peppered with questions from resident Jack Rogan on the status of water line repairs promised by the board in July.

At that July meeting, the board committed $40,000 to replace 2” mains with 8” mains in several areas of the Village and to make other repairs in order to solve Rogan’s and other residents’ problems with dirty, undrinkable water coming into their homes through the village’s aging, inadequate pipes.

According to Rogan, who also serves as village court justice, the problem is still persistent, as evidenced by the two filthy water filters he brought from his home to illustrate the issue. The filters had each been used for only two weeks.

Mayor Charlie Coolidge, Department of Public Works head Harold Morton and Village Engineer Mike Smith all assured Rogan that the village has “not been dragging its feet” on the problem. The mains have been replaced and just need to be tied in. They did acknowledge that the process has taken longer than anyone ever expected due to contractor unavailability and delays in getting county and state permits.

Morton said that the lines will be connected and the valve will be operable by Nov. 14 at the latest. The next step will be for the health department to approve the work, which should take another 7-10 days.

Coolidge promised that he would provide Rogan with another update on Nov. 14.

Department Reports

In regular board business, Morton reported that local roofing contractor Chris Woodarek had completed replacement of the aging roofs on two pavilions and a storage shed at the village park. Woodarek donated the labor and billed the village only for materials.

Coolidge noted that the village had publicly thanked Woodarek for his services in an ad placed in the local newspapers and that a formal thank you letter would be prepared.

Morton also reported that the roof on the DPW building has been replaced, sanders have been installed on the trucks and the department is ready for snow. He has been getting estimates for milling several streets in the village, and the wastewater treatment plant’s UV system, which was severely damaged by lightening, is nearly repaired.

Smith and Morton both noted they need to have input on any impact that construction of the Holiday Valley Road realignment might have on the village’s sewer and water lines. Smith will speak with Town Engineer Mark Alianello and work out a review plan well before construction begins in the spring.

Coolidge said that some 350-375 homeowners in the Town of Ellicottville will be receiving letters from the village again asking for access to their homes in order to install water meters. All have received numerous phone calls and correspondence in the past about the issue. Most are vacation homeowners. Coolidge said that if installation is not arranged, homeowners could be subject to tripled rates for service.

In the context of the zoning and building inspector’s reports, the board discussed some concerns about how Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os) are granted. In some cases, they noted, C of Os have been granted before the builder has met all conditions established during the planning board approval process.

The board discussed what options might be available to ensure that doesn’t occur going forward. One thought was to ask the planning board chair to co-sign all C of Os with the building inspector. Another was to ask the building inspector to report monthly on the status of conditions/C of O applications.

The board also was concerned about the builders’ roles in that process and if there is any legal or code-driven recourse available to the planning board. Smith said he will provide copies of building application documents to the board for review.

The board emphasized that it doesn’t want to have a role in the planning board’s work.

“We trust the planning board,” Coolidge said.

But the board felt it can help ensure that all documents are unambiguous and enforceable.

During his engineer’s report, Smith asked the board to approve the $4.9 million bond resolution for the new village wastewater treatment plant. The board adopted the resolution by unanimous vote.

Smith noted that design and engineering plans for the plant are on target for completion by the end of the year.

Old and New Business for the Board

The board approved an agreement between the village and the new owners of the 1887 Building to exchange some easements around the perimeter of the building. It also set a public hearing to allow the community to comment on the new Flood Protection Local Law at its next meeting.

Board member Bob Brogcinski reported that he had completed an audit of the village court and that all records are in excellent shape thanks to the hard work of court clerk Mary Schuster.

Under new business, Coolidge informed the board that the village trash collection firm, Modern Corporation, can make 65- and 95-gallon wheeled trashcans available to village residents at $47 and $51 respectively. The heavy-duty cans would help keep cats, skunks and other animals from strewing trash around the neighborhoods.

The board agreed to look at the options, noting that the village must go out to bid on trash collection firms next year and needs to be sure that all bidders are asked for the same service package.

The next meeting of the village board will be held on Monday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m. Please note: This is one-half hour later than the normal start time for village board meetings.