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Few changes expected in flood plain map, board is told

Big changes in flood plain designations are expected in some areas of Niagara County, but Lewiston will remain relatively the same, Town Board members were told Monday.

Town Engineer David Britton said about a dozen or slightly more homeowners will be affected by the new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps, which designate whether properties are located in a flood zone and will determine if a homeowner needs to purchase flood insurance.

Britton said right now all the maps are preliminary and property owners have the right to grieve the designation.

"We've seen some significant changes," Britton said of the maps, which were done over the past three years. "All of a sudden, you could be in a flood plain or a vacant property could have some tax relief. The town needs to have some answers. I went through the map, and there is minimal impact in the Town of Lewiston."

Britton said all of the Watts Drive area was removed from the flood plain area.

Councilman Michael Johnson said that board members need to "let people know" if the maps put their properties on a flood plain, since that can be important in buying or selling.

Britton said the federal government does not make people aware of changes.

In another matter, the board put a local law on grass cutting on hold until Nov. 10.

The board was ready to pass the law, which fines property owners $100 and adds additional fees to have the grass cut, but delayed the vote after adding a provision that also would put an immediate lien on neglected properties.

Deputy Town Attorney David Boniello said the lien "gets someone's attention if they are trying to sell a property."

The board also put a hold on Niagara University's request that the town conclude that plans to expand the Dwyer Area parking lot would have no detrimental environmental impact.

Because of possible environmental issues, board members indicated that they believed the the expansion should be reviewed by the environmental commission before coming to the Town Board.

In another matter, Supervisor Fred Newlin said he will present his proposed budget for next year Monday.

After the board meeting, Newlin said that although the town would continue to impose no tax of its own, special districts are another matter. The town, he said, also faces "enormous" debt service.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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