WESTFIELD - The rubble from a house which burned down last July was once again the focus of public comment at the Town's most recent meeting.
During his code enforcement report to the Westfield Town Board on Wednesday, Feb. 1, Building Inspector and Code Enforcer Jim Pacanowski gave an update regarding the burned down house on Portage Street in Barcelona. He said he spoke with the property owner, advising her of the situation and asking what her plans were. Pacanowski said he got the impressions she has hired a company to move the debris, but has no idea when the work will actually be done. He warned her the Town had been getting complaints about the property and that she would be issued a follow up letter and notice of violation.
Monday, Feb. 6 was when the one month deadline issued in the letter for her to clean up the property was up. As of Tuesday, Feb. 14, the debris pile was sill on the property. The next step for the Town is issuing the property owner an appearance ticket.
"We're working the best we can," Pacanowski said.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, a Town resident who was also in attendance at the previous Town Board meeting asked the board, "What is a reasonable amount of time to clean up a mess like that?"
Bills responded it was a misunderstanding regarding the rules on asbestos removal in the clean up process and then the difficulty of finding a certified company to remove the debris for the amount given by the insurance company.
It was then asked if the Town has a procedure with a timeline for when this type of situation occurs. Bills said there is nothing in place currently, but it is something the Town could look into.
Board member David Brown commented that the saddest part of the entire issue is everything was ready to be done in a short period of time, until the asbestos was found. Town Attorney Joel Seachrist added the problem is the property owner does not have the money required to remove the debris as required under state law to which Bills added the property owner is trying to get the work done with the amount of money she was given, but is being fit between better paying jobs.
At the beginning of the meeting, a public hearing was held to amend the special use permit for the Steelhead Run Recreation Area at 8324 West Lake Road in Westfield. The property is owned and operated by David Spann, a member of the Town Board who had to step down while the public hearing and final vote took place.
Spann requested the amendment because the original permit allowed for only one cabin on his five camping sights and he would like to build another cabin. The County Planning board considered the amendment to be a local concern and both the Health Department and Town Planning Board recommended the change.
Deputy Supervisor Ray Schuster asked Pacanowski if it was the Health Department that sets what size septic system is required. Pacanowski responded it was and added the department said Spann's current sewer system was large enough to accommodate a second cabin.
Pacanowski noted that, while the new permit allows for five campsites of any combination of cabins and recreational vehicle sites, Spann will still have to apply for a building permit every time he wants to build an additional structure.
He also said the site was occupied almost all of last year with those visitors spending money on food and gas in Westfield.
"It's brought in a lot of tourism," Pacanowski said. "It's bringing a lot of people in. ... It's been a big asset to the community."
There were no questions or comments from the public during the hearing and the resolution passed unanimously later in the meeting with Spann abstaining from the vote.
During his highway department report, Highway Superintendent David Babcock informed the board he intended to purchase a Husqvarna 54-inch lawnmower for the harbor from Farm and Yard for $1,800 asked and asked for and received permission to purchase a 25-foot trailer from LaPorte Farms Equipment for $10,800. Both items were budgeted for.
Town Supervisor Martha Bills pointed out that last January to this January, the highway department has saved over $2,400 due to the lack of snow and need to plow. Babcock agreed, adding not plowing has saved on wear and tear of the vehicles which are all buffed and waxed and looking nice.
Town Board member Jim Herbert gave a report on the most recent Barcelona Harbor Commission meeting where a plaque for the harbor's first harbor master, who recently passed away, and new brochures for the harbor were discussed. A sample of the new brochure was passed around.
In other business:
March 1 is the deadline for exemptions deadline for property taxes;
the board unanimously approved a motion for Babcock to post weight limits on certain roads; and
the Town agreed to the county's annual Shared Highway Services Agreement;
public hearings for special use permits for a placing a generator in conjunction with a cell phone tower on Hardscrabble Road and another for a business on Taylor Road were scheduled for 7:20 p.m., just before the Town's March 7 meeting, pending applications are submitted before the next Town Planning Board Meeting.