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Yearning to control speed limit

The Town Board grappled Thursday with an issue it has no control over -- the town speed limit.

Board members said they may ask state lawmakers again to consider changing state law to allow municipalities such as the Town of Niagara to change the speed limit on local roads.

The Town of Niagara is one of 852 towns in the state that cannot set their own speed limits because their population is less than 50,000 or they are not classified as suburban.

That has frustrated Town of Niagara elected officials. A bill has been introduced for the last seven years in the Assembly that would let towns such as Niagara set their own speed limits, but has not passed.

"Apparently, there's a reason why they didn't want to give the smaller towns this authority," said Deputy Supervisor Marc M. Carpenter.

Every local street in the town except Ralph Court now has a maximum speed limit of 35 mph.

Town Board Member Robert A. Clark asked the board to consider addressing the issue again. He said he has heard complaints from residents on Third, Fourth and Richmond avenues who are concerned about the speed of vehicles in residential areas near the commercial strip on Military Road.

"There's a lot of families over there that have children," Clark said.

The town does not have many speed-related accidents on side streets, Police Chief H. James Suitor said.

"The perception is that 35 miles per hour is extremely fast on a side street," Suitor told the board. "I would agree with you that Third Avenue has its issues, but that's because it's a commercial cut-through."

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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