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The Town of Aurora is searching for a landscape architect in its effort to develop more than 200 acres of newly acquired land into a town park and cemetery, Town Board members said Monday.

The town, which earlier this month completed the purchase of land off of Hubbard Road from Kenneth Major for $255,000, plans to formulate a request for proposal to solicit bids from prospective architects before moving forward with developing the land over a five- to 10-year period, Supervisor William J. Green said.

"These are just the very first stages in a multiyear development proposal," Green said.

Major, a Florida resident formerly of the Town of Holland, donated more than 30 of the acres to the town, a tract that will be dedicated in his and his wife's memory, board members said. A portion of the land will remain in its natural state.

The town proposes adding a town park and cemetery on parts of the remainder of the land, which also includes a portion of the east branch of Cazenovia Creek.

"It's going to give us an opportunity to develop what is going to be a great, great area for the town for years to come," Green said.

"The first public hearing will be before the year is out to generate public input as to what suggestions they might have for the future development of the property," he said.

In other matters, the board hiked its fees for tap-ins to all town water districts to $700 from $200. Green said the $200 figure has been in effect for a considerable period and has become so dated that the town has not been covering its expenses. The addition of several water lines in recent years, an increase in housing starts and more residents individually requesting water tap-ins necessitated the move, board members said.

Green also said the figure is more closely aligned to that which residents pay outside of the town's districts and under the Erie County Water Authority. The authority charges $1,000 for tap-ins.

The board also approved a preapplication plan to submit a $5.31 million grant application for a water district in the southern end of the town. The town will join with the Town of Holland in making the application.

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