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Town Board Minutes 9/23/2003


        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; and Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways.  

        A public hearing was held to consider the application of U. S. Fiberglass, 1301 Hillside Avenue, for a special use permit to allow the reuse of an existing 36,000 square foot building at Hillside Commerce Park.  
        Councilman Chapman briefly outlined the history of this property and the proposed use of the building.
        William Sweet, the developer, stated that since the loss of Nova Bus, he has been seeking new tenants to take over the space.  Tire Conversion Technologies and U. S. Fiberglass will fill the vacant space left by Nova Bus.  Each of these tenants will take about 36,000 square feet.  L & L Manufacturing has been added to the new section of the park that is currently under construction.  This will be a 67,000 SF building.  They are looking at 150 jobs immediately which replaces the number of jobs that Nova Bus had while they were there.  All three employers anticipate that they will be hiring more people in the coming years.
He has met with the fire chief and various Town department heads relative to meeting the requirements of the Town.  They have no problems with any of the conditions as discussed by the Conservation Advisory Committee and Planning Board.  They must get approval from the EPA because of potential emissions from the resins and fiberglass.  Screeners and scrubbers are part of the exhaust system that filters these out. A spill-prevention program will be developed.  They use very small quantities of materials and have controlled dispensing out of drums. One quart of acetone is used per swimming pool to clean the guns and spray resins, gel coat, and coloring.  If there is a spill it will be contained.  There will be no storage of inventory, raw materials, or finished product outside for long periods.  Two pools were inadvertently placed on the property before it was then discovered that they needed to go through the tenancy process.    
        They have 40,000 SF still available out of the 190,000 SF.  And are in discussion with a couple of prospects that may be interested in occupying this space.  They will have more lots that will front the road that is being constructed that will offer access to L & L.  The gates are currently locked at 5 p.m.  When the road is completed they won’t have the ability to lock the road off and must secure the facility another way.  
        When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.

        The minutes of the Town Board meeting of September 9, 2003 was approved as presented.

        Earl Slanker, 847 Hereford Way, discussed an on-going water run-off problem effecting most residents on the west side of Hereford Way.  He first spoke on this on September 15, 2000 when an adjacent Northumberland property owner started work on an in-ground swimming pool installation.  While the proper permit was issued, monitoring of the instillation was lacking.  The pool contractor dug into an underground water source sometimes called a spring.  It was diverted by the construction onto adjoining Hereford Way creating unusual wet conditions even in dry July and August.  The real problem occurs when surface water doesn’t soak in to already saturated ground.  It runs down the hill to neighboring lots one after another.   
The Town’s Zoning Enforcement Officer became involved in the pool problem during the spring of 2000.  No significant action occurred until the summer 2002 when the Town brought the case to trial.  Most of the evidence presented dealt with surface water runoff and this could not have changed the amount of water being experienced by downhill lot owners.  The impact of underground water flow patterns was never brought out in testimony which is the only logical explanation for the vastly increased water found in several rear lots of Hereford Way starting in the Spring 2002
Judge Zonderman rendered a decision of “not guilty”.  The judge wrote “there is a problem… and downhill neighbors need help.  The question is whether it is the fault of the defendant (and her legal obligation to solve this problem) or whether it is the moral if not legal obligation of the Town to help lower neighbors.”  The judge went on to say “it appears that the Town has some type of drainage easement and recently did some work in the immediate area on the west side of lower Northumberland Drive where it borders with the backyard at Downing Street.  This area had a similar problem and the defendant is not the cause of it.”
If the problem did not exist before the 1999 pool installation and it showed up in the spring of 2000, the Town clearly has a responsibility to install drainage that will correct this.  He submitted a petition to the Board requesting corrective action by the Town and asked for their help.

Joseph Mastal, 859 Hereford Way, shares the same problem as Mr. Slanker.  He stated that at the time the Town repeatedly failed to conduct its professional duties  to appoint a replacement for the ailing Code Inspector, Charles Goodstock.  The Town also failed  to discharge its duties to oversee Mr. Goldstock’s files and make contact with the affected parties in a timely manner.  The Town again failed to make timely action on code violations documented by Mr. Goldstock in permitting a homeowner with code violations to install an in-ground pool that diverts aboveground water via drainage trench unconnected to anything thereby forcing water directly and indirectly onto my property.  When given notice by affected neighbors, the Town failed to respond again.  Finally, the Town conducted a hearing that was too late, omitted the records that Mr. Goldstock had accumulated to confirm and support the code violation he issued to the offending neighbor with the result that the violation could not be sustained and was dismissed.  

        During these proceedings the Town attorney stated to the affected homeowners that the Town incurred an obligation to those homeowners on Hereford Way to assist them in their remediation of their water woes.  However, no such assistance has been forthcoming.  In July 2003 a group of the affected homeowners was invited to meet with Luke Smith and Richard Pollock to discuss the water problem and several solutions previously suggested at which time all prior verbal Town commitments were disavowed.  Residents identified an existing Drainage District 2 and the Town has failed to respond with information about this district and failed to mention it in prior court hearings.  
He has water problems at the upper and lower end of his property.  An estimate for the construction of a swale along the entire downward line of his property connecting to a detention pond or collection drain and running a 10” line to the existing storm drain on Hereford Way will cost of $2,475.  At the other end where this initiates, water diverts in a diagonal direction towards his house.  There is additional pressure under the house sending moisture up through the concrete floors far greater than a dehumidifier can handle.  He is getting mold and mildew that is a continuing problem.  The lower level of the property is becoming a marsh in spring and early summer causing fence posts to loosen and fall, mosquitoes, and a general inability to use or enjoy the backyard.  The ground water has forced its way under the driveway deforming and cracking the surface and forcing its way through a fissure it created at the bottom of the driveway as it slopes toward Hereford Way.  
There is a history of other assisting homeowners where the Town has played a part in water problems.  He presents this problem with the Town Board to likewise assist the Hereford Way residents in like matter.

Malcolm Abrams, 855 Hereford Way,  is also affected by the water problem.  He feels that building permits are issued so that the taxes on the property can be altered to properly reflect the value of the property  whether enhanced or degraded.  Also, so the Town can determine if the proposal and implementation of a proposal is consistent with Town policies for purposes of protecting its citizens with Town objectives.  Toward this end, the Town, by issuing a building permit, bears the responsibility to see that what is proposed and what is being done is in the interest of its citizens.  His contention is that in this incidence the Town has been lax and has not fulfilled its responsibility in issuing a building permit.
Because of a lack of response from the Supervisor and Town Engineer, he asked the full Town Board to assume its responsibility to help residents alleviate this problem. Other than replacing many fence posts, his fireplace hearth has been sinking and over the last three years has sunk 2”.  It will continue to sink as long as the water remains in this area.

Supervisor Smith confirmed that he and Mr. Pollock met with residents several times.  The court did not determine that the Town was responsible legally or financially to fix this problem.  They met with residents to provide some options that could possibly lead to solutions.  There was a concern that the Town cannot work on private property and this has been discussed.  An answer was given which was not appreciated by the residents and he understands this.  He doesn’t have the ability to assign Town workers to work on private property and this is what the court ruling left them with.  He has no problem looking at their comments again and discussing it with the Town Board.  If there were a contrary opinion certainly he would be more than happy to do what he can to alleviate the problem.  He needs some authority to work on private property and he has not been shown this to date.  The Town Attorney will look at the court records and what residents have provided tonight.  If there is something they can do they will do it.  
The Town has done work on drainage easements where it has been clear that the Town has a right and obligation.  Other drainage easements have been worked on recently in  and the Town will continue to do that.

        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of three ayes, with Councilman Holt and Councilwoman O’Donnell absent.
        Resolution 2003-199 takes action to accept a utility easement from Target Corporation, Benderson Development, Buffalo-Parkton, Buffalo-Greenbriar Associates, and Mohawk Associates’ Holding at Mohawk Commons, Balltown Road.

        Resolution 2003-200 appoints Scott F. Yerbury and Zchary Chinski to the position of part-time recycling attendants for assignment on an as-needed basis at a rate of compensation of $9.614 without benefits.

        Resolution 2003-201 offers a Town Retirement Incentive Program for unrepresented employees commencing September 23 to terminate October 23, 2003.

        Resolution 2003-202 reappoints Dorothy Merza, 12 Warwick Way, to membership on the Board of Assessment Review for a term of office to expire September 30, 2008.

        Resolution 2003-203 authorizes the purchase of a sander for the Highway Department from Tarrant Mfg. Co. at a cost not to exceed $3,700.

        At this time, the Supervisor, with unanimous approval of the Town Board, voted to enter Executive Session to discuss the employment history of a particular individual.
        There being no further business to come before the Town Board, the Supervisor adjourned the meeeting.

                                                Helen Kopke, Town Clerk 

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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