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Wheatfield adopts plan to protect green space

WHEATFIELD – The Town Board voted Monday to adopt a new green space master plan that is aimed at protecting the natural features still existing in the town.

Wheatfield has seen a subdivision boom in the past two decades, and the town still wants economic development, said Walter D. Garrow, chairman of the Planning Board and of the Green Space Focus Group.

“Now it’s economic development respectful of green space,” Garrow said. “I’m already seeing the change.”

Garrow said that even before the official adoption of the plan, Planning Board members have been asking whether proposed developments are interrupting trails, potential parks or other green areas.

The plan lists all existing green features in Wheatfield and seeks to “preserve the essential character of the community.” It makes use of a University at Buffalo report on “Preserving and Enhancing Wheatfield’s Landscape.”

One of the changes still to be completed is a conservation subdivision ordinance, which Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said was not part of the plan adopted Monday.

Andrew C. Reilly, the town’s planning consultant from the Wendel engineering firm, said a conservation subdivision is similar to a cluster development, but approaches the problem from the opposite direction.

Instead of concentrating on how many homes can be put on a parcel of land, a conservation subdivision starts from the premise that existing natural features are to be protected and incorporated into the design.

The green space plan envisions a Shawnee Nature Preserve where development would be limited or prohibited. There is also to be a comprehensive stream survey

Parks are a major part of the plan, and the board set a public information meeting for the next Town Board meeting March 23 on plans for improvements to Fairmount Park on Nash Road.

Drainage is to be the topic of a town-wide study for which the Town Board hired the CRA engineering firm Monday for $125,700. CRA, formerly Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, is to produce a report by Aug. 14 that is scheduled to make recommendations about how to carry water out of the town into the Niagara River faster and more efficiently.

The role of Sawyer Creek and whether it needs to be cleaned or widened, with potential modifications to bridges and culverts to make water flow better, is to be a major aspect of the study. CRA also was directed to come up with specific ideas for alleviating flooding in such subdivisions as Eagle Chase, Thornwoods, Wilrose Court and Cobblestone, along with the Moyer Road area near Timberlink and the Pearce-Ward Road area.

This assignment is different from the CRA contract to inspect drainage work, which also was awarded Monday and for which the town will pay the firm $80 to $175 an hour, depending on the project’s complexity.

The board rehired Wendel as the town’s main engineering firm Monday, with a monthly retainer of $2,560, which is $125 less than the previous contract.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com