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New councilman takes his seat on the Lewiston Town Board

LEWISTON – A new councilman took his seat Monday on the Town Board, with an agenda that included environmental concerns regarding Quasar Energy and taxes.

William Conrad was appointed at the beginning the meeting and immediately was sworn in to take his seat. However, he should be up to speed quickly after serving on the town Zoning Board of Appeals for the past 12 years. Conrad left that board as chairman to take his seat on the Town Board. Conrad also spent three years on the Niagara Wheatfield School Board, serving as president in the last year of his term in 2011.

“I want to thank William Conrad. I know his concern and his hard work is going to be put forth for Lewiston and its residents,” said Councilman William Marra, welcoming the new councilman

Several residents thanked the board for its continued opposition to Quasar Energy and its plan to spread the fertilizer equate – which is a byproduct of its waste digester – on several farming parcels in the town.

Councilman Ronald Winkley said home-rule laws of the town supersede state and county laws, prohibiting the company from even bringing the product into the town, regardless of whether it has a permit from the Department of Environment Conservation.

In another matter, the board discussed the loss of taxes for pieces of property off the tax rolls, including the New York Power Authority, which does not pay for fire services but utilized town firefighters recently when a component failure led to a fire in a transformer, and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, which recently bought a piece of property on Military Road to expand.

“The town rezoned the acreage across from Mount St. Mary’s (Hospital) for light commercial – to make a commercial park for the hospital to expand and maybe some small restaurants. The minute we did that, the Bridge Commission purchased that property for quite a fantastic amount of money, and all of our work for planning went down the drain, and now this prime piece of property is coming right off the tax rolls,” said Building Inspector Timothy Masters.

The board members noted that the commission is required to pay taxes in Canada – paying nearly half a million in taxes there, but on the U.S. side it pays $200,000 in lieu of taxes, and the Town of Lewiston receives just $17,000.