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Action deferred on environmental review of Akron Airport

Action on an environmental review of Akron Airport's plans to pave a runway, add two hangars and make storm water and lighting improvements was deferred for at least two weeks Monday by the Newstead Town Board.

The board agreed during its work session that it wants more time to study comments from the attorney for the Christian Airmen, owners of the private airport, to conditions the board would set on its approval of a negative declaration on the plan's environmental effects.

The board's action on the environmental-quality review is required before the Zoning Board of Appeals can act on the Airmen's request for two use variances allowing for its expansion. Once the board acts on that review, there is also a 30-day waiting period for public comment.

Supervisor David L. Cummings asked Scott Rybarczak of Wendel Duchscherer, town engineers, and Carl Klingenschmitt, chairman of the town Conservation Advisory Committee, to also study the Airmen's response to the proposal that was pulled from Monday's business agenda. He asked if they could submit their comments by early next week so the board has time to digest them before the July 11 meeting.

A couple of residents made comments at the business meeting about the airport's plans, including asking whether the issue could be put to a referendum.

Town Attorney Nathan S. Neill said, "There is nothing in the law that allows us to put this to a public referendum."

He noted the plans face several reviews and votes under town laws.

The airport plans, which have been the subject of several public hearings and informational meetings, have drawn sharp opposition from many residents over drainage, safety and noise issues. It serves small private planes, not commercial jetliners.

One resident said Monday, "This is the single biggest thing you've faced as a Town Board," warning that if the plans are approved, "we'll have an airport the size of Buffalo's in 20 years. When I was a boy, there was just one plane up there [on Scotland Road], and now there are 60."

In other business, the board tabled action on a bill for engineering services for Apex Consulting on the Murder Creek slope remediation project. Cummings said that item and the award of three contracts for installing a stone retaining wall and remedial work to halt erosion of the embankment would be acted on once written confirmation of financing for the $800,000 project is received from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Verbal approval has been given, and the written documents are expected soon.

The board also approved a site plan for a 7,700-square-foot maintenance building for Niagara Specialty Metals with conditions suggested by the Akron and Newstead fire companies. Among requirements under a revised site plan is that the building be located closer to Clarence Center Road and inclusion of an access road/fire lane and another fire hydrant.

Also approved was a $9,707 contract with Panamerican Consultants for a further cultural resource investigation -- required by state law -- of a site on Koepsel Road where prehistoric tool fragments were discovered during design work by Wendel Duchscherer on a water line installation.