Village of Hamburg proposed RV, camper, boat storage restrictions raise angst again
Since 2009, when village officials first approached the idea of updating the existing a code limiting the storage of the aforementioned items, people have reacted passionately to the idea.
The passion was again in evidence on Monday (Jan. 7) night during the latest public hearing on the same subject.
There were residents who spoke from both sides of the aisle, some in favor of enforcing some restrictions while others rejected the idea of any permits, fees or restrictions on their possessions.
According to Village Attorney Edward Murphy, the code requiring residents to purchase a permit to store these items in the village has been on the books since 1998, though few, if anyone has ever followed them.
“This is why we are trying to upgrade this code,” Murphy said. “This is a proposal and is a starting point. We are looking for helpful comments.”
An ongoing issue between two Brookwood Drive neighbors over a stored RV was aired at the meeting.
In one corner was the owner of the RV, who said everything was fine and that she had 30 people in the neighborhood sign a paper saying they did not have a problem with the RV stored in the driveway.
In the other corner was the daughter of the immediate elderly neighbors who are directly impacted by the stored RV.
According to her, her father can’t get a lawn mower between his house and the concrete pad the neighbor poured for the RV, the basement is allegedly cracking because of the additional weight of this pad and RV, and her mother is upset that all she can see from her front window is the RV.
Another resident spoke that this was a quality of life issue and that one should not have to look at these vehicles in the front yards. That if everything was stored in the back yards, that would not really be a problem.
According to Mayor Thomas Moses, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
“We want to be fair about this, but I have a real problem about boats/RVs and such parked in streets and in front yards,” Moses said.
Some suggestions were offered to the board, including problems with residences with such narrow side yards that vehicles could not get into the back and possibly extending the grace period for storing vehicles without a permit to a week or two out of the year to allow for simple maintenance between trips.
Overall it appeared that the many residents at the meeting who already have campers, RVs, boats, etc. on their property do not want any restrictions or required permits. The common theme was “We already pay property taxes and we do not want to be told what we can store on our property or in our driveways or have to pay for permits to do that.”
No action was taken following the public hearing.
In other business, Peter Danforth, chair of the Hamburg Village Traffic Safety Committee, reported there are some serious issues regarding the removal of snow, or lack thereof, from sidewalks within the village.
“We have targeted over 100 businesses and residences and have spoken to them about this,” Danforth said.
“Sidewalks continue to be an issue in the winter,” Ray Waterman said. “I had a hip replacement nine weeks ago and it is a skating rink out there on the sidewalks. The businesses really need to salt and shovel their sidewalks.”
According to Murphy, clearing the sidewalks is the responsibility of the business owner or home owner and there are laws on the books to penalize those who do not comply.
“They can be cited for not clearing the sidewalks, as well as being sued if someone falls because of ice and snow on their sidewalks,” Murphy said. “Sidewalks are not the responsibility of the municipality.”
It was suggested that possible a round of summons would make people move a bit faster to clean up the sidewalks.
In regards to the village owned sidewalk plows, it was again stated the village does not have to use them.
“Our first priority during a snowfall is to get the streets cleared,” Public Works Superintendent Marc Shuttleworth said. “After that is done and if we have the manpower, that is when we break out the sidewalk plow. Plowing the sidewalk is actually a courtesy, not something the village has to do.”
According to Moses, at one time there were block captains who would go door-to-door to make sure the sidewalks and driveways were cleared.
“It was a great way to keep in communication with the neighbors, as well as helping out those who were in need,” Moses said.
Also residents were reminded they need to clear the fire hydrants to ground level, so firefighters can hook up hoses in case of an emergency.
Another program that the village has is the “Snow Angels” a volunteer group, who were there to help those who are physically incapable of clearing their walks.
“Unfortunately, right now no one has come forward to be Snow Angle,” Moses said. For more information to volunteer, call the Village Hall at 649-0200 and speak to Mary McGee.
In other business, the board:
• Heard that Police Chief Dennis Gleason and Town of Hamburg Detective Todd Ehret have worked with the Village Recreation Department on safety issues at the Youth Center, following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
• Heard from Recreation Supervisor Josh Haeick they are accepting nonperishable food donations for the Food Bank of WNY.
“Bags and fliers are being passed out in the village this week and anyone can drop off donations at the Youth Center by Jan. 21,” Haeick said.
• Heard from Haeick that the ice rink will only happen if the ground freezes and it is cold.
“Right now the conditions are conducive for us to create the ice rink,” he said. “If the weather cooperates, we are prepared to get right out there and get it done.”
• Heard from Trustee Laura Hackathorn that 12 Main St. (the old Kronenberg building) was recently awarded a $200,000 Rural Area Revitalization Projects Award, which is administered by the Office of Community Renewal under the direction of the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation.