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Ban on commercial building is OK'd

There is a commercial building ban for the next year in Elma. Again.

The Town Board unanimously approved the moratorium Wednesday, after every resident who spoke said they favored it. The new law supersedes an earlier moratorium the board approved in February.

The new moratorium is in effect for 12 months from Wednesday and includes two clauses that give the board discretion to extend it for two additional six-month periods.

"We can't afford a knee-jerk reaction," Councilman Dean Puleo said regarding the code updates. "Some growth is necessary, but to avoid a choppy development we need to take a step back."

Some of the residents who spoke at the meeting referred to a plan by the Rite Aid drugstore chain to build on Bowen and Bullis roads. But Supervisor Michael Nolan interrupted them at one point to say that the hearing was not about Rite Aid, only about a code update.

Diane Rohl, a resident and member of the Conservation Advisory Board, said she hopes the board uses the next year to determine what residents want for their town.

"Take a good look around and be within the character of this rural community," she said.

Beth Houghton of Bowen Road told the board she had never seen a town that does a better job than Elma of preserving its rural heritage. She said she hopes that if the Rite Aid store is built, it is built "on our terms."

Al Harrington asked the board to restrict business development to specific areas. Councilman David Polak said officials cannot direct businesses where to go, but can follow the master plan regarding zoning.

In other matters:

*The board approved a one-year contract for State Police to use Town Hall space at no cost. The contract runs from May 1, 2007, through April 30, 2008.

*The state Department of Transportation has agreed to a request to reduce the speed limit on Clinton Street from Bowen Road to the Wyoming County line to 45 mph.

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