By Jann Wiswall
Three issues were brought up to the Town of Ellicottville’s board during the Privilege of the Floor portion of the meeting.
The first issue was introduced by a resident who objects to a new streetlight that was installed at the intersection of Maples and Elk Creek Roads. The new light, which was requested by the developer of the community as a safety measure for pedestrians and drivers, shines directly into at least three area residents’ homes. The resident stated that the “light pollution” has ruined his quality of life and asked for it to be turned off or removed.
The board was sympathetic to the resident’s concerns and said it would investigate options, including whether or not to remove the light, replace it with a lower wattage bulb, purchase shields to prevent the light from shining directly into homes or taking other actions that would minimize glare and light direction.
Next, a longtime Ellicottville resident complained that loggers have been working on property across from hers for years and that the noise and disruption has become “intolerable.” She reported that work continues from very early in the morning and well into the night. She has measured the noise levels at 85 decibels when the skidder and other equipment are idle, and 100 decibels when they are operating. She now wears safety earmuffs in her home, cannot watch television due to the noise, cannot take phone calls in parts of the home and is concerned about her health. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause health problems in addition to hearing loss, she said.
She has spoken with various town and state officials about what recourse she might have to control the noise, but said that the town’s current noise ordinance is “too generic” and she hasn’t found any other laws or ordinances that might address her situation.
The board promised to look into options, and noted that the town’s noise ordinance does limit construction activities to between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Police Officer in Charge Don Auge said that police would be able to shut the loggers down if they are working outside of those hours.
Finally, Ellicottville Fire Department Chief Kevin Morton, speaking on behalf of others in attendance, asked the board to provide 24/7 coverage for the town and village by the Ellicottville Police Department.
Currently, Ellicottville police cover 20 hours per day; the county sheriff’s office and state police cover the remaining four hours.
Morton said he feels the fire department needs local police assistance in many instances and that county and state police often cannot get to the FD’s scenes in a timely manner. He felt that having local police available to respond more promptly would provide the fire department volunteers with essential protection from combative people and provide additional safety at the scene.
Another resident addressed the board saying there have been four occasions during the 13 years she has lived at her address that she has called police during the four-hour period Ellicottville police are not on duty and has had to wait up to 30 minutes for state or county officers to arrive.
“The sheriff response time just isn’t fast enough,” she said. “I want to feel safe and know that the police can get there in time to help.”
Town Supervisor John Burrell thanked the residents for their comments and explained that the current police agreement with the town calls for 20 hours of coverage per day. However, he also noted that this issue is one that the board has been considering for more than a month.
At its last meeting, Burrell said that the board asked Auge to prepare a summary of what it would take from a financial, personnel and scheduling perspective to provide round-the-clock coverage using Ellicottville police. That report has not yet been completed, but Burrell said the board intends to address the issue thoroughly over the next several months.
While some people felt this was an issue that should not take months to resolve, board members explained that “we have to do our homework” and the issue “is complicated.”
In regular board business, Burrell reported that some Cattaraugus County municipalities will be able to submit applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement of expenses related to the “Snovember” storm. Both the town and village will apply for funds to offset the cost of police and public works departments’ assistance with road closures and upkeep of the Signore site parking lot that became a “truck stop” for several days during the emergency.
As reported at last month’s meeting, the Holihuts homeowners association (HOA) is speaking with the town about connecting to the municipal water system. A meeting will be held to brief HOA members on what would be required. If it decides to go that route, the work would be done to the town engineer’s specifications, fire hydrants would be required and the costs would be the responsibility of the HOA.
Burrell said that parking rules are being enforced by police throughout the village and tickets are being written, especially around the Catholic Church on Sundays when illegal parking is occurring with great regularity and is creating safety issues.
The board was asked to consider whether the town and village should have a dedicated dog control officer instead of an officer that is currently shared with seven other municipalities. Having an officer who lives in Ellicottville would result in better response times.
Burrell said that an Ellicottville resident has expressed an interest in the job. If the board decides to go in that direction, a kennel would have to be constructed and other details would need to be worked out. The board agreed to continue to look into the issue.
In highway department business, Superintendent Loyd Hovey will be working with Burrell and Town Engineer Mark Alianello to prepare a plan and budget for 2015 road repairs. Hovey also has hired a new full-time employee for the department who will start on Jan. 27, pending a physical examination and drug test. The board approved Hovey’s request to advertise for bids on a truck and a plow. He is also considering purchasing a tire changer, which requires him to obtain three quotes.
Jake Alianello, on behalf of town engineer Mark Alianello, who was out of town, asked the board to approve a payment application from J.D. Northrup for its December work. The board approved the request.
Under old business, the board is reviewing a first draft of an amended Alarm System Local Law. The law is intended to reduce false burglar alarm calls and will require homeowners with alarm systems to obtain permits and ensure maintenance of their systems. The board will continue its discussion of the amended law next month after the town attorney has reviewed it.
Board member Ken Hinman reported that he and fellow Ellicottville/Great Valley Trail Committee member Kate O’Stricker attended a Cattaraugus County Trail System meeting on Jan. 14. The county is preparing a survey of all existing and proposed trails. He also reported that the committee has received and is reviewing applications for its fundraising director opening.
The next meeting of the Ellicottville Town Board will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Town/Village Hall.