By Jann Wiswall
The Village of Ellicottville’s board had a busy evening on Monday, May 9, as several issues came to its attention during the “business from the floor” portion of the meeting.
First up were Betsy Peyser and Teresa Wagner, who attended the meeting to brief the board on a community-led plan to raise funds to capture, spay/neuter and provide basic veterinary care to the growing population of stray cats that have been making their homes in the Village. They estimate the cost per cat will be $60. The goal will be to reduce the population over time.
Wagner and Peyser have enlisted the help of a veterinarian who has volunteered to provide care. They estimate it will take several months and many volunteers to capture and treat most of the estimated 50+ animals in the Village. Likely the effort will need to continue for several seasons.
Peyser noted that the group is looking to borrow humane animal traps (e.g. Havahart) to use throughout the duration of the project. The traps will be returned, she said.
The group is planning a large fundraiser at the Town Center on August 5 and can accept financial contributions, donated or loaned traps and other supplies.
Mayor John Burrell thanked Peyser and Wagner for their efforts and said the board would help in any way it can.
Next up were Jim Carls, representing Dina’s Restaurant, and Judy Roush, representing Tips Up Restaurant, who proposed that they be permitted to serve alcoholic beverages at their outdoor tables on Washington Street during the late spring and summer. They provided the board with a list of state rules and guidelines for outdoor alcohol service, along with a summary of their plans to manage the service.
Burrell said that, currently, existing law allows such service. Per state law, the service area must be cordoned off, five feet of sidewalk must be left available for pedestrians and wheelchairs and other standards must be met.
Board discussion centered on if the change would encourage people to get up and leave the restaurant with their beverages, thereby violating the Village’s open container law.
The restaurant owners explained that there would be prominent signage, as well as staff on hand to help keep that from happening. The owners also said that no one would be allowed to just walk up and sit down in the area. They would be required to be seated by the host/hostess. Their goal is simply to allow customers to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.
Most board members liked the idea, which they know works well in other communities. However, this was the first the board had heard about the plan and members wanted more time to review the proposal and consult with Ellicottville police. The board agreed that restaurants should be required to obtain a Village permit and would need to agree to conform to certain standards.
Because of the seasonal nature of the service, the board felt that the businesses should be able to start as soon as possible. Instead of waiting until the June meeting to discuss the matter again, a special meeting was scheduled for May 18 at 7 p.m. At that time, the owners will provide more specific information about their plans and a draft permit and village standards will be available for review.
Finally, Nick Pitillo, owner of Villaggio restaurant, is planning a special event on May 21 and asked the board for permission to use two parking spots on Monroe Street in front of his building for a tent and food service. The board approved the last-minute request, but informed Pitillo that such requests in the future must be submitted to the board’s special events committee three months in advance.
During the regular meeting, Burrell reported on a number of ongoing and new business items:
In response to issues raised at a public hearing on proposed zoning law amendments, Burrell and Village Planning Board Chair Nancy Rogan recommended that the board participate in joint meetings to resolve and redraft some sections of the amendments. The board agreed to schedule meetings to work through resident’s concerns.
As part of his research on the Village’s brush/yard waste laws, Burrell reported that he had been unable to find minutes regarding board action last fall that reduced the number of brush/yard waste pickups by the Department of Public Works (DPW) to two per season. He also pointed out that a mailing to residents on the subject referenced the wrong law. Board members assured Burrell that the action was, indeed, taken by the board.
Editor’s note: the board and this newspaper received copies of the above-referenced documents from board member Patra Lowes via email the following day. Burrell thanked Lowes for doing the research and clarifying the matter.
Burrell asked the board to accept the low bid for village insurance coverage from the Evans Agency (representing Trident Insurance) at a cost of $22,572 and the low bid on a used backhoe for the DPW. The board approved both bids.
The board also approved Burrell’s request to purchase some new small equipment for the DPW if year-end funds are available.
The new roofs on the last of the buildings at the Village Park have been installed. The village purchased the construction materials; the labor was generously donated by resident Chris Woodarek.
The baseball diamond at the park also was redone and is ready for summer use.
Burrell reported that the Village’s Workers’ Compensation insurance rate is going up 43% (or $15,000) this year. “It’s a big hit,” he said.
Special Events Committee Chair Patra Lowes asked the board to approve its street closure, police and other Village-controlled plans for the Summer Music Festival, the Jazz and Blues Festival and The Taste of Ellicottville, in addition to a new event – the Ellicottville Outdoor Expo on June 4-5 – which will require a portion of Monroe Street to be closed.
All events were approved.
The board had planned to close the regular meeting and open its annual “Reorganizational Meeting.” However, due to the late hour, it was agreed that the Reorganizational Meeting will be rescheduled for immediately after the special meeting on outdoor alcohol service for May 18 at the village/town hall. The time was tentatively set for 7 p.m.
The next regular meeting of the village board will be held on Monday, June 13 at 6 p.m. at the village/town hall.