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COURT BLOCKS AMENDMENT TO WESTFIELD ZONING ORDINANCE

An amendment to the town zoning ordinance adopted by the Town Board in October that opponents said was designed to pave the way for the proposed Containerboard plant has been overturned by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph J. Ricotta.

The amendment added a section the ordinance to give the town Planning Board authority to issue special-use permits for industries that want to locate in the 188 acres in the town zoned for industry. The Westfield ordinance was modeled after a similar one in the Town of Sheridan.

Twenty-five residents filed suit to overturn the amendment because, they said, the a required environmental review had not been done and the county Planning Board had not made a recommendation on the Containerboard project before the amendment was adopted by the Town Board in October.

The petitioners said the amendment was to accommodate the proposed Containerboard plant.

"The action of the Town Board to obtain a new industry in the community which would employ approximately 200 people is commendable and they should be applauded for their efforts," Ricotta said in his ruling.

"They must also consider other taxpayers that may disagree; therefore, every effort should be made to follow the letter of the law."

He returned the matter to the Town Board for further proceedings.

Gail Black, one of the petitioners, said the group was "delighted" with the judge's decision.

"Chautauqua County can spend thousands of dollars on attorneys, financial and tax advisers oning ordinance
and engineers to help the project avoid environmental and financial obligations, but the County Legislature could spend a quarter to call the judge to confirm the ruling. Consequently, the Legislature passed a resolution for a sewer and water district in Westfield with no legal industrial park to put it in. The foundation must be built before the house is started," she said.

John Beckman, the attorney for the Town Board, said Thursday that the board must explore its options. Among others, the board can appeal the decision or revise the amendment.

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