By Jann Wiswall
The Village board had a long and detailed discussion with Village Engineer Mike Smith about settling the final bills on the wastewater treatment plant at its meeting on Monday, July 11.
While there are still some tasks to be completed, Smith explained that the general contractor and electrical contractor were proposing some change orders. Those orders, totaling $72,000, were approved by the board and will be paid to the contractors through the state grant received for the project. The board also approved extension
of the project completion date to August 8, 2016.
Smith, who in addition to serving as village engineer is president of Nussbaumer & Clarke, requested an additional $90,000 in fees to cover work still needed to complete the project. Nussbaumer & Clarke is the engineering firm hired by the Village to plan and oversee the wastewater treatment plant project several years ago.
Smith said the additional work is related to tasks that were outside of the estimated scope of the project. He also noted that more inspections were required and the project took longer than expected. The original contract with N&C was for $474,000. All but $5,000 of that has been paid to the firm through the sewer department fund balance as budgeted.
The board received the summary of tasks included in the additional fee during Monday’s meeting and tabled a decision to give them time to review the documents can be reviewed. The board also needs to find $90,000 to pay the bill if approved. It agreed to schedule a special meeting on July 26.
In the meantime, Burrell asked Smith to prepare a careful valuation of the new plant for insurance reasons.
In other business, Dominic Spicola, owner of the Winery of Ellicottville, would like to invite customers to taste or enjoy his local wines at outside tables in front of his building on Monroe Street in Ellicottville. To do so, the board last month asked Spicola to obtain information from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) regarding its rules. Spicola reported at the board’s Monday meeting that New York wineries are permitted to offer outdoor cafes for customers as long as some food is offered. Food must be offered inside as well.
Spicola said the winery currently offers pretzels and crackers for wine tasting customers. There is no plan to prepare food at the winery since it is not equipped to meet food preparation standards.
The board asked Spicola to provide accurate, to-scale drawings of the outdoor area. Spicola must also complete SLA paperwork and obtain a permit.
The board also discussed the fact that the village-owned sidewalk in front of the building needs repairs and curbs before a café can be opened, but the village does not have funds for that work in its current budget. Spicola, who hopes to open his outdoor cafe as soon as weather permits next spring or summer, offered to share the cost of the cement work with the village in order to make sure that happens.
Spicola also is interested in building a balcony on the façade of his building. Though he has not yet commissioned drawings, he pointed out that footers will be required and should be constructed while the sidewalk work is being done.
Mayor John Burrell said that the board will need to look at its existing regulations on balconies before Spicola invests in the idea. He also said the Village Planning Board would need to review architectural plans. The board pointed out that consideration of other businesses’ signage and visibility will be necessary.
The board was introduced to Gary Palumbo, the newly appointed village planner, by Planning Board Chair Nancy Rogan. Rogan also briefed the board on the planning board’s July 12 meeting agenda (see story, cover).
In that context, Burrell brought to the board’s attention a suggestion from a village resident to consider amending or repealing the village’s law prohibiting less-than-30-day rentals in the residential district. The owner, who is selling her home, says the law limits income potential for potential buyers.
Burrell pointed out that the village’s law on the matter not only prohibits such short-term rentals but also requires owners who rent their homes for more than 30 days to obtain an annual permit. They also must have an annual inspection by the village code enforcement officer (CEO) to check for smoke detectors, safety issues and set occupancy maximums. Few village property owners are aware of the law, however, and rent for a day or weekend or week, and often rent to far larger groups than should safely occupy a home.
Village resident Sandy Reed, who had informally spoken with Burrell about the issue, noted in a letter she read for the record, that some properties are advertised to sleep 13, 15, 17 people. As a result, she said, “neighborhoods are inundated with rentals that come with a party atmosphere…and not all of the renters are discerning guests. I personally have had lawn furniture stolen and found smashed, lighting destroyed, shrubs pulled and trampled and music that rattles windows 18 of 24 hours. In the past, no one has been held accountable. Laws are on the books that cannot be enforced [and] when authorities are called, actions cease until they are out of sight and it all resumes.”
The board agreed that the current situation is not equitable nor fair and the subject should be studied to see how other vacation communities handle short-term rentals and enforcement. They also felt that additional public input is critical. Rogan suggested that the issue can be discussed as part of the board’s and planning board’s upcoming meeting on zoning law amendments on August 2. The board agreed.
Village Park Progress
The board approved a bid to refurbish the tennis and basketball courts at the Village Park. Work will begin in late July. The cost will be split by the town and village, although funds will be sought to offset the cost to taxpayers.
In response to recent vandalism at the park, the board is researching installing security lighting and cameras.
The board also is looking into designating part of the park as a fenced dog park.
The next regular meeting of the Village board will be held on Monday, August 8 at 6 p.m.