By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
SILVER CREEK - The village of Silver Creek's decision to occupy the old Bentges Distribution building as a department of public works after the 2009 flood has led to one problem after another.
After what has been called a "heated discussion" between the village and the town, the Hanover Zoning Board of Appeals granted the village a special use permit for the village. However, with the permit also came stipulations for the village to meet.
Zoning Board Chairman Kevin Waterman explained the board stipulated the village must tie into the town's sewer system and move the driveway along Route 5/20. He said these requirements were decided upon by the ZBA to make the building safer and ore consistent with other buildings in the area.
"They were decided for the fact it would make it safer there. ... That building at the time had its own private septic system and they were never required to hook up to the public sewer and we felt that needed to be done. They were going to change the driveway and make it farther east from the stoplight ... This was all to make it more compatible with the area," Waterman said.
The ZBA issued the permit in October after thorough research.
"This was a pretty heated discussion between the village of Silver Creek (and the ZBA). ... We did a lot of research on this and they met the requirements of different cases that have gone to court over the years. That is how we drew our decision. I believe if someone meets the requirements for a special use permit you can't deny it in zoning. And to deny this they probably would have been entitled to file an Article 78 (lawsuit) against the zoning board and taken us to court ... It would have been a waste of taxpayer money for the town of Hanover and the village of Silver Creek," Waterman explained.
He said although the ZBA did not set a time limit for the village to comply, the longer it takes the more the board feels the heat.
"We did not put a stipulation on it for time, anyone with a special use permit, not just the village of Silver Creek, can have their special use revoked at a public hearing if they do not comply with the stipulations of their special use," he said. "It would nice if they could comply with this as soon as possible ... I feel the town supervisor (Todd Johnson) brought this up because it makes decisions hard when people don't comply and then other people come to us and say, 'Why do I have to comply when they didn't?'"
Waterman said he thought the village was going to undertake the compliance projects once they received FEMA funding for the DPW and believed the special use permit was what was needed to secure the funding. However, the village has still not received the FEMA funding for the building with the latest update saying FEMA could take up to six months to consider the application.
Trustee Nick Piccolo, who is running unopposed for mayor, said in an interview with the OBSERVER that the village fully intends to come into compliance as soon as possible.
"We were issued the special use permit in October of last year then we had the inclement weather. During this time, we have been trying to get things all in place we are able to comply with all the requirements that we need to comply with the town as well as the county and the state," Piccolo explained.
He said village Streets Foreman Ralph Crawford has been coordinating the requirements from the county and state Department of Transportation and Department of Conservation in order to do the compliance projects. Piccolo said he also asked Crawford to attend the town board meeting Monday to explain the progress to town officials.
"It's not that the village is trying to not do what they have required us to do. Its just basically being able to get everything set up getting the right-of-way permits and the approval from the DEC and the county," Piccolo said. "Ralph has been in contact with Mark (Ellis) from the town to discuss the type of pipe and everything that is going to be permitted for our hookups (into the sewer system). There is progress being made, but ... there was no communication going on and now there is. Once the weather breaks we hope to start on our projects and do the things that we have to do so that we are in compliance."
He said it was a misunderstanding that FEMA funding would be used for the projects adding the village plans to budget the expense of the project in the 2013-14 budget.
"I think everybody figured that the money (the village already received) was going to be used to make the building compliant but that is not the case. The FEMA money is to replace the contingency funds and money that has already been spent for doing the work that had to be done at the fire hall to replace the equipment that was damaged during the flood. The DPW portion of the FEMA money, which will cover the cost of the building also will cover some of the expenses that need to be done to upgrade the building. But the funding for the (zoning) projects, we have to basically find that money," he explained.
He said the village is still working on its budget.
"We have to finish our preparation for next year and we have to find out what funding will be available for everything. It isn't that we don't have money or we aren't going to do the project its just that once the weather breaks and we have final approval from the state DOT and everybody that's involved, we will go forward with the project and complete it," he added.
When reached for comment Crawford said he would like the town to hear his report first at its meeting on Monday.