Springville Trustee Alan Chamberlin takes part in his first board meeting
The board also discussed forming an ad hoc committee to revise the village code to allow residents to own and raise chickens for a period longer than 120 days.
Village resident Colleen King approached the board regarding the issue. “My family and I are seeking to amend the village code to allow for a small backyard flock of chickens, to be kept by residents,” she said, adding, “Several other municipalities [including Amherst] have passed similar ordinances allowing this. We think with a few basic rules, a backyard flock would be permissible to our neighbors, as well.” King said that “a limited flock size, sanitary conditions, noise and [other] ordinances would apply.” She defined a limited flock size as six when asked to clarify by the board.
The current law dictates that residents cannot own farm animals, unless they are small animals, such as chickens. Fewer than six chickens can be held for a period shorter than 120 days.
King said, “My daughter is in 4-H. We just don’t want to have hens for 120 days, then have to get rid of them. The kids are attached. They’re pets. They’re excited every day when they come home from school and go out by them. It’s more of a pet issue than an agricultural thing, to be honest with you.”
Some of the Kings’ chickens recently escaped to another resident’s property, which caused some concerns among neighbors. However, King said that steps were taken to fix the chicken coop so the birds can no longer escape.
Mayor William Krebs said that this issue was brought before the village board four years ago, after board members received a recommendation from the planning board. At that time, a motion to form a committee to revise the law was not seconded, so the matter was not pursued further.
Trustee Terry Skelton said, “We already went through all that [discussions about forming a committee to revise the law]. We went through all these numbers. We met at public hearings.”
Board Trustee Gerald Lohrey said, “It’s been rehashed recently not that long ago; three or four years ago.”
Trustee Nils Wikman told King and the rest of the board, “Unfortunately, it is a code that exists. It is a violation of that code. Without a lot of support, I just don’t see it doing well again.” He added, “I think one of the things people do when they move into a village, they are looking for a certain thing and one of the things is the assurance that there aren’t things happening in the village like chickens, pigs and goats and these kinds of things.”
Skelton said, “The last time this went around, there was a much larger majority of people against it. It really was very vocal. There was very few for it.”
A motion to form an ad hoc committee to revise the village code so residents could own chickens was defeated 4-1. Chamberlin was the only board member in favor of the measure.
In another matter, the village attorney was approved to draft a law regarding sidewalk safety in the shopping district of East Main Street, stretching from the intersections of North Buffalo to Elk Street.
Business Administrator Timothy Horner said that Susan Putney, the owner of Homewear, asked the board to regulate the uses of bicycles and skateboards in the shopping district because of issues that have arisen regarding pedestrian safety. Horner said, “She’s indicated that, [on] many an occasion, customers have opened the door and stepped out onto the sidewalk and are nearly run over by either a bicyclist or someone on a skateboard. She felt the village should be aware of this hazardous condition and investigate and take some action to eliminate the use of skateboards and bicycles in the shopping district, to prevent the potential for an injury to a senior citizen or a customer of the store.”
Questions arose over what else the board may need to prohibit or regulate, as other methods of transportation may cause some of the same hazards that skateboards and bicycles do. Code Enforcement Officer Mike Kaleta said, “How specific do we have to get, or how non-specific can we be and still enforce some of these things if that’s what we need to do?”
Because of the unanswered questions the board still had after discussing the matter, trustees recommended that Village Attorney Audrey Seeley look into the codes of nearby communities, like those in Ellicottville and Hamburg, to see how these municipalities enforce pedestrian safety in their downtown areas.
Kaleta mentioned that members of the Springville-Griffith Community Education Foundation wanted to sell hot dogs, hamburgers and soda during one of the Thursday concert series in Fiddlers Green Park. Members of the foundation also suggested that other organizations should be able to sell wares on other Thursday evenings, as well.
Board members said that other organizations have sold hot dogs and hamburgers at the Thursday concert series in the past, but recommended that only one village license and one county health permit be taken out by an organization, which the others could then work under, instead of having each organization apply for a separate license and county health permit.
In other matters:
- Skelton was appointed as the village’s new deputy mayor.
- Chief of Police John Fox reported that patrols will assist with the Memorial Day parade and the Vietnam veteran’s motorcycle procession on May 28. He added that “everything appears to be in order” for the Dairy Festival and that patrols will be working around the clock starting on Friday, June 1 at 7 a.m. and ending on June 3 at 3 p.m.
- Superintendent of Public Works Karl Lux requested board members’ permission to register for the Municipal Electric Utilities Association’s Western Regional Meeting, which will be held in Springville on June 13.
- Lux told the board that he would apply for three new crosswalk signs from the state for the intersections of Main and Waverly streets, Pearl Street and North Central Avenue.
- A public hearing to update the village’s sign ordinance will be held at the next board meeting on May 21. Krebs said that the current language of the code is “difficult to understand and the board plans to clean up the language.” The public hearing pertains to temporary, movable and portable signs.
- The Springville Pageant of Bands will be held on Saturday, May 19 and the opening day of Springville Youth Inc. Little League baseball will also be on May 19.
- Krebs said that he traveled to Albany on May 11 to meet with officials in the state parks department regarding the Rails to Trails initiative. “As you know, a lack of action is holding us up,” Krebs said, adding that the village is looking for the state to land bank the entire 27 miles of the trail.
Following the meeting, Krebs told the “Journal” that he had a “pretty good meeting” on May 11 and that the parks department “support[s] Springville.”
The Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad currently owns the right-of-way on the trail, but Krebs said that the village is looking for the state to purchase the land, which he said would be at a “low cost.” Krebs said that, if the state is able to purchase the land, the village would then be able to manage the trail, as opposed to having only a right of entry to it.
The next village board meeting will be held on Monday, May 21 at 7 p.m.