Some waterfront condominium owners are upset over an expansion at Erie Basin Marina, contending that City Hall never notified them of plans to add 120 boat slips.
The new docks might cause safety problems, parking congestion, noise and pollution, a few residents of Gull Landing told Common Council members Tuesday. Their condos are located across from the marina.
A member of Gull Landing's governing board said he was stunned when he recently learned that the Council approved the new docks in a March meeting. The Army Corps of Engineers later issued a permit, and state officials filed an environmental assessment.
But Al Klenk, a board member of the Gull Landing Association, said some property owners who have each invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in waterfront homes were not notified. "This whole thing has been a runaway cowboy without any controls," Klenk told the Legislation Committee. "Somebody goofed up big time by not notifying (Gull Landing's) legal entity."
Barbara Howe, another Gull Landing resident, urged the city to delay further work until questions can be addressed. Some docks have already been added, but the boat slips closest to Gull Landing are not scheduled to be done until spring. Howe is Erie County Surrogate's Court judge, but she emphasized that she was commenting strictly as a concerned resident.
Council members said they were surprised to learn that Gull Landing's board was not aware of the city's decision to let Brand-On Services, the marina operator, install the new docks. They pointed to a letter filed this month by public works officials.
"We asked the Office of Strategic Planning to assist us in advising residents of the various condominiums across from the Marina that the new docks would be installed," wrote Public Works Commissioner Joseph N. Giambra. "We were advised that the plans were sent to them, and that no objections were received."
Neither public works officials nor city planners were available to attend Tuesday's meeting, lawmakers said. Eva M. Hassett, chief of staff to Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, told a reporter she was told that "all appropriate approvals" were obtained and that there were discussions with members of a consortium that represents waterfront homeowners.
Klenk insisted that Gull Landing's governing board was never approached. Legislation Committee Chairman Richard A. Fontana of the Lovejoy District said he thinks the marina expansion must be reviewed.
"Someone dropped the ball," he said.
Officials acknowledge there might be some sticky legal questions about whether the city can halt a project that was authorized eight months ago. Brand-On is paying for the installation of 120 new slips. In exchange, the city is waiving its right to any portion of the rental fees for the first three years. The city would get 5 percent of gross revenue in the fourth through 10th years, then 10 percent in future years.