The Elma Town Board on Wednesday approved the creation of a seven-member conservation advisory board.
Jo Ann Hameister, of the Western New York Land Conservancy, praised the board's move, which was recommended by the town Planning Board.
In a related action, the board voted to approve conservation easements as a tool to control growth.
Owners of land suitable for building will realize the following assessment reductions: If the easement is for 15 to 29 years, 50 percent; 30 to 49 years, 75 percent; 50 to 85 years, 85 percent; and perpetual, 90 percent.
Town Supervisor Michael P. Nolan praised the creation of the conservation board.
"It would have been nice if a conservation board had been formed 20 years ago, but it is still not too late," he said. "Using assessment reduction, the town will not spend any money. It is similar to the plan the Town of Orchard Park uses."
The town clerk is accepting applications for the panel.
After a public hearing, the Town Board approved a law that stops residents from applying for assessment reductions on patio homes or condominiums. The vote was 3-1, with Councilwoman Susan Glownia voting against. Councilman Bill Cirocco was absent.
Residents Donald and Nancy Battistoni said assessment reductions are warranted because owners of condominiums and patio homes are unlikely to receive town services or have children in schools, and they typically pay a monthly maintenance fee.
Other towns in Erie County, including Amherst, offer a 60 percent assessment reduction. Nancy Battistoni pointed to anticipated growth in the town, including 150 houses in Spring Brook Shores, a new development on Rice Road, and Pond Brook, a development on Bowen Road with 60 townhouses.
Nolan countered: "Where there is loss in one area of service, there is a strain in other areas. You still use the parks, public roads, senior citizens center and could use the schools. Plowing is done for you to get to your road. Where do you draw the line?"
In other business:
Guy Creighton asked the board to look into lowering the speed limit and creating a school zone in front of Elma Primary School on Rice Road. Creighton, who lives across the street from the school, said vehicles zoom by the school at 50 to 60 mph.
The board accepted lead agency status on the state environmental review for Stone Ridge Estates, a subdivision on Rice Road.
A public hearing will be held at 8 p.m. Oct. 5 on proposals for community development projects. Suggestions should be submitted to the town clerk.