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Wheatfield Town Board sets hearing on 56-duplex project

WHEATFIELD – The Town Board has voted to hold a public hearing Oct. 7 on a rezoning proposal to allow construction of 112 housing units – two in each of 56 duplexes – on a 17-acre Ward Road site.

Town Engineer Timothy Zuber said the site is on the east side of Ward Road, opposite the intersection with Niagara Road and just south of the Wheatfield Lions Club’s Five Senses Park.

“Right across the street from my house,” Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said.

Zuber said the applicant, Fred Mallone of BMD Corp., a Wheatfield developer, originally sought 80 duplexes but cut the plan back to 56 after a discussion with the Planning Board on Sept. 4. That board voted Sept. 18 to relay the issue to the Town Board for rezoning.

Cliffe said the site was previously proposed as a site for playing fields that would have belonged to the Northtown Soccer Club.

The front portion of the property, owned by the Schmidl family, currently is zoned R-2, which is the zoning for two-family dwellings. However, most of the vacant 17-acre plot is zoned agricultural-residential.

Zuber said the roads within the proposed subdivision would be private, and a homeowners’ association would be in charge of maintenance.

Town Attorney Robert J. O’Toole said the applicant needs a valid purchase option or permit to apply for a rezoning of land.

Councilman Larry L. Helwig found fault with the plans and voted against holding a public hearing.

“I didn’t have enough information,” he said.

Helwig objected to the design, including the sole entrance road, which would not line up with Niagara Road to make a four-way intersection.

On another matter, Helwig urged his colleagues to get the ball rolling on applying for Niagara River Greenway funds to build a trail along River Road to connect Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.

The trail will not run between the road and the river because of past objections from riverfront property owners, Helwig said. The route from Gratwick-Riverside Park in North Tonawanda to Griffon Park in Niagara Falls is to run north of the railroad tracks that are parallel to River Road to the north. After crossing Liberty Drive, the route would cut to a more southerly path.

It’s expected to cost about $3 million. Helwig said $1.2 million in federal funds, passed along by the state, has been earmarked for the work so far.

Also at last week’s meeting, the board set its first budget work session for 7 p.m. Oct. 16. Another will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 21, before that night’s regular board meeting.

The tentative spending plan is to be available in the town clerk’s office Monday, and the preliminary budget, on which a public hearing will be held, is to be completed by Oct. 29.

That hearing is to be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 6, with a final vote either that night or at the Nov. 18 board meeting, Cliffe said.

The board also set Halloween trick-or-treat hours for 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.