Gowanda receives pressure to vote on proposal

GOWANDA – Residents in the village want a decision, and they want it now. Several attended a recent Gowanda Village Board meeting and urged the board to come to a conclusion on the proposed relocation of the Zoar Valley Clinic.

Savarino Companies of Buffalo has submitted plans for review for the proposed new Zoar Valley Clinic at 42 Jamestown St. The village’s planning board approved the site plans in late July, but recommended the village board host a public hearing on the issue – which was held about a month after being acted on by the planning board. Tim Greenen of Savarino Companies was in attendance at the meeting and said the allotted time has passed.

“This board is required by law to act within 45 days of when the planning board completed its work. That date was Sept. 5. If you don’t like the project, if you don’t think you meet the requirements … you should vote it down,” said Greenen. “You need to vote on it and you need to vote on it tonight.”

Greenen said the village board voted and approved expansion plans for the Urgent Care facility within a few weeks. He said the Urgent Care expansion was similar in square footage to the proposed clinic to be located at the former Burger King site.

Resident Joe Vogtli said he was “appalled by the inaction being taken by the village board.”

“This project has been looked at for almost a year and was approved by the planning board and the building inspector with two minor conditions that would not prevent the board from voting. The recent Urgent Care project was pushed through in a few weeks without the scrutiny demanded of the Savarino building …,” he said. “Whether you admit it or not, your inaction is promoting an embarrassing and anti-business climate for any future business construction in the village.”

Vogtli also cleared up misinformation about the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency. He said the public hearing on the project was not held in Ellicottville, but in Gowanda. The CCIDA sent out notices in February to hold a public hearing at the library on March 5 with notices posted online and at the library. He ended by saying the village’s inaction on the matter may bring an unneeded burden for the taxpayers.

Resident Rob Gaylord said there were still questions needing to be addressed before the board can make a decision. He wanted to know if the State Environmental Quality Review short- or long-forms had been completed and if the Zoning Board of Appeals had addressed any variance concerns. He also said a letter was sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation addressing the lead agency, the planning board, for a SEQR.

Although the Planning Board was recommended by the village attorney to serve as lead agency for the SEQR, Gaylord said the only way to designate a lead agency is through village board recommendation. Gaylord said he’s not against a mental facility in the village but would like a more “suitable” site for the clinic.

While the update was on the meeting’s agenda, Mayor Heather McKeever said there are still matters that need to be attended to. The village is still waiting on a copy of the parking lot lease, a copy of the contract with New York state and architect’s plans which should have accompanied the flood plain application, she said.

“The board is still continuing to consider the project and is still awaiting three more deliverables from the applicants,” said McKeever. “We’re not making any approval tonight.”

Greenen said the village should deny the proposal on the basis alone for not having enough information and proper paperwork, both of which he said was untrue.

“As a respond to that, you should deny it based on not having the deliverables,” Greenen said.

There was no word on when the matter will come up again.

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