By Jennie Acklin

Three public hearings were opened and closed during the Village of Ellicottville’s Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 14. No one from the public was in attendance.

The first hearing was to allow comment on Local Law No. 1 of the Year 2015, which amends Local Law No. 3 of 1982, which established rules requiring “owners and occupants of land to cut, trim or remove brush, grass, rubbish and weeds.”

The amended language, in summary, states that owners may be fined “not exceeding $250” if the brush, grass, rubbish and weeds and rank growth are found and removed by the Village. The fine will “constitute a lien and charge on the real property on which it is levied until paid…” The intent of the law is to manage overgrowth on properties that are vacant or poorly maintained.

The second hearing was to allow comment regarding Local Law No. 2 of 2015, which allows public servants of the Village of Ellicottville to issue appearance tickets for violations of the above law and other state statutes, local laws, ordinances or rules and regulations they must enforce. It authorizes the Village building inspector, the Department of Public Works Superintendent and “any other person or persons so authorized by the Board of Trustees” to issue tickets.

Both laws were approved by the Village Board and will take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State. The full language of both local laws may be reviewed by all residents at the Village Clerk’s office.

The third public hearing was held to allow comment on the revised Village Comprehensive Plan of 2004.

The revision had input from a committee including members of the Planning Board, the Village engineer, and others who recognized that:

“…the Village has experienced some moderate changes to the community including the character, economy and overall demographics. As the Village has seen significant residential and commercial development occur in the last decade, it has also seen a decline in the industrial businesses that were key pieces of the local economy. While the existing Comprehensive Plan did not need an extensive overhaul, there were certain sections that needed to be updated to reflect existing conditions and guide future decisions that protect the Village’s character and economic health.”

The board approved the revised comprehensive plan, which will go into effect immediately. It is available for public review at the village clerk’s office.

Privilege of the Floor

Jack Rogan, a resident of Madison Street in the Village, brought up with the board his ongoing struggle with dirty water in his home, as evidenced by a water sample and filter he showed to the board. The village has been trying to address the issue – which is not confined to the Rogan home – for more than two years.

As a next step, Village Mayor Charlie Coolidge asked the Department of Public Works to flush the village fire hydrants immediately and regularly, and to then take a water sample from Rogan’s home to the county health department for analysis.

On Monday, Sept. 21, all hydrants will be flushed. Please be advised that this may cause some temporary discoloration of the water coming from your taps.

Department Reports

Village Engineer Mike Smith reported that he has submitted a grant application to the state for $2.8 million to help offset the costs of the new wastewater treatment plant that is currently under construction. The $ 5.7 million in plant improvements were required under a state consent order.

Smith said that the pre-construction meeting on Sept. 10 with contractors and project managers was productive and scheduled work is under way. The first invoice from STC Construction, the project’s contractor, in the amount of $212,528.75 was approved for payment.

Smith also reported that Sprague Development, which is preparing lots for a single-family housing development on the west side of Fillmore Drive, asked for an ok to begin installing sidewalks along Fillmore. Smith is concerned that, because the Glendale Development is being developed on the east side of Fillmore, heavy equipment would damage any sidewalks installed this year. He recommended that the project be delayed until spring 2016.

Department of Public Works Chief Harold Morton reported that only one bid had been received in response to a request for contractors to replace the Village Park stadium’s roof. Chris Woodarek, who bid $18,000 for the project, was awarded the contract.

Morton also reported that Nick Pitillo, who is opening a new restaurant, Villagio, in the former location of The Barn Restaurant, asked the village about the possibility of removing some trees in front of the restaurant to provide more visibility for the restaurant from the street.

Coolidge said that the Village has tried to accommodate visibility requests by allowing sandwich boards to be placed on street corners to direct customers. “We’re not going to [cut the trees],” he said.

On the topic of sandwich boards, however, Coolidge said that he feels there are too many and that they can be both a tripping hazard and a challenge for workers during snow plowing season. He and the board agreed that the issue should be taken up in more detail in the context of amending Village Zoning Laws, a project that is under way.

Special Events Committee Chair Patra Lowes reported that the committee is looking for confirmation from the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce that a new requirement from the NYS Department of Transportation is in place for Fall Festival. The DOT now requires municipalities to carry a $5 million umbrella policy if state roads are to be closed.

Lowes said that all other plans for the Village’s role in Fall Festival are now in place. The board approved those plans on the condition that the DOT permit is approved and a copy is received by the committee.

The next meeting of the Village Board will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, a week later than usual due to the Columbus Day holiday.

NOTE TO RESIDENTS: A notice is being sent to all village residents informing them of a change to brush removal policy. Beginning in 2016, the village will pick up brush only twice: on May 9, 2016 and on June 13, 2016. Residents are responsible for the proper disposal of brush at all other times.