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Planning Board OKs EVGV Trail Process

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Addresses Seasonal Businesses

By Jann Wiswall

A special use permit was approved by the Town of Ellicottville’s Planning Board for a farm stand to be located on the grounds of a new gym, Groove Fitness, on Rt. 219.  The two-year permit may be extended with planning board approval. The owner, Dionne Kress, expects to operate the farm stand on Saturdays only from August through October.

The approval followed a public hearing on the matter during the planning board’s meeting on Monday, July 27.

Realtor Dave Blanchard asked the planning board for its preliminary input on a minor subdivision that is being contemplated for a property on Bryant Hill Road. Blanchard, who represented the owner, said the owner is interested in subdividing a large property and selling two 30+ acre parcels.

The planning board said that the project is doable, but that a small two-acre piece of the property is not contiguous with the rest and is too narrow to be buildable. Town Planner Carol Horowitz and Town Engineer Mark Alianello said it wouldn’t be wise to create a lot that would immediately require a zoning variance. They suggested that Blanchard suggest that the owner either sell off that small parcel to owners with abutting property, or talk to those owners about purchasing some of their land to create a larger parcel.

Blanchard indicated that the owner was open to options and will apply for permits once he has worked out the details and had the surveying done.

In his role as a member of the board of the Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail, Alianello briefed the board on Trail progress. Alianello was joined at the meeting by the board’s Vice President Jennie Acklin and the Trail’s marketing and development director, Joe Wright.

Alianello explained that trail planning has been under way for three years and that significant progress has been made, including development of a master plan that details the location of the trail (which would potentially run 20 miles from Holiday Valley Tubing Park, through the Village, past Holiday Valley resort and Ellicottville Central School and all the way to the Great Valley Town Hall).

While the master plan describes a multi-year, multi-million dollar project, the board has decided that its next fundraising strategy must be to actually build a very small section of the trail from the trailhead next to the Nannen Arboretum and then east and south to a spot behind the EllicottVillas property. The board is working on drawing engineering and landscape plans for the section and estimating costs. Its vision is to create a trail entrance that aesthetically blends with the entrance to the Arboretum with, perhaps, a patio connecting the two. Fundraising for the section also is in the works.

If, for some reason, funding never becomes available for more or any of the trail, this section could stand alone. However, the board believes that, until there is a visible, tangible section for people to get excited about, fundraising and grant awards will be all the more difficult.

Part of the process, of course, requires Planning Board approval. Alianello pointed out that the trail, which falls under the zoning law’s definition of a park, must be designed and built over a long period of time as funds become available. But, until funds are available, no plans will be drawn. Alianello asked the Planning Board if it would consider doing its State Environmental Quality Reviews (SEQR) and permitting section by section, starting with this first segment.

“You can’t do a speculative SEQR” for the whole project since it’s not designed, “but you can do them by segment as plans are developed,” he explained.

The Planning Board agreed to this strategy going forward.

Horowitz discussed another process issue with the board, asking if it felt it needed to amend its existing zoning related to farm stands and other seasonal businesses and how they are treated in various zoning districts of the town. She suggested that existing language may need better definitions and classifications in order to clarify some gray areas.

The board suggested that, since Horowitz was approved by the Town Board to provide the planning board with some training, it might useful to discuss this issue as part of that training. Details for the training are being developed.

The next Town of Ellicottville Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 24 at 6 p.m. in the town/village hall.

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