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Politics

Lancaster public hearing on code text change - Part I
By Lee Chowaniec
Jul 3, 2013, 01:09
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A packed Lancaster Opera House crowd spoke for over three hours on two scheduled public hearings Monday evening. The first hearing concerned a proposed text change to amend Local Law 2013 of the Light Industrial District zoning code. Two amendments to the code were to be considered; the one is for a code change language addition requested by a manufacturing company purchasing the Colecraft Building, the second is on a proposed amended language change requested by Buffalo-Lancaster Airport, Inc. (BLA), and changes the code to read from current “commercial recreation activity [Special Use Permit required]” to “commercial recreation activity, including but not limited to, private commercial airport [Special Use Permit required].”

When first speaker Safe Aviation Coalition of Lancaster (SACL) spokesperson David Hangauer announced he was in favor of the Colecraft text change but against the airport code text change, he was immediately advised that as the amendments had to do with the same Local Law, they were to be considered as one (combined) and where the speakers had to voice they either were a proponent or opponent of both. They were not to be considered separately. That immediately placed SACL and their supporters in a position of deciding whether they were willing to approve an airport code text change that would open the door to further airport expansion to support the Colecraft text change. SACL and their supporters were of the mind that there was enough meat in the current code language to allow for the Colecraft Building purchasers to move forward with their manufacturing business venture.

SACL was also of the mind that if the town board insisted on combining a ‘no brainer’ Colecraft Building text change with a very controversial airport text change, and if they did not split the two to make separate determinations in the future, the fate of the Colecraft Building purchase taking place in October was in the town board's hands. The one had absolutely nothing to do with the other. SACL and every one of their supporters spoke as opponents to the Local Law 2013 amended language change. From then on the speakers voiced support or opposition to the amendment as one proposal.

“The town has colluded with the airport to in the past to bring the expansion that is already here,” claimed one SACL supporter. “The Buffalo-Lancaster Airport (BLA) Special Use Permit documentation attests to that in their recent application. Using a backdoor approach two board members blindsided the Planning Board and got them to recommend piggybacking the airport text change in the code language along with the Colecraft Building code test change to make this airport a conforming use and where there is every indication that such expansion favors airport owner best interests over that of the community.”

“Holding both hearings at once and making but one determination in the future eases he path for the board to either approve or deny both and walk away scot-free from any blame for approving the airport text change, the controversial proposal, with nothing more to say then, “We we forced into approving both code text change proposals to salvage the sale of the Colecraft Building. And why should we not believe this was nothing more than a ploy to box Supervisor Fudoli into a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' voting position. This would once again put board in a position of bad governance and wasted tax dollars as was the case with the Colecraft Building purchase for a police/courts building.”

Supervisor Dino Fudoli declared he would call for the two proposals to be considered separately for determination when the time comes. SACL and their supporters could not have been any clearer why the two proposals should be split for consideration.

Should the four Democratic board members not second the motion and/or vote in the majority to consider the merits of the proposals separately, one can only look at this as further collusion with the airport to make a language change that could open the door for further expansion. Such attempt would not be looked kindly at by the Lancaster residents who attended the public hearing, who by far outnumbered the non-resident airport pilot resolution supporters, and where at least 80% of the pilots have no Lancaster voting rights.

In fact, there is no reason the board could not split the two before the next board meeting and put the Colecraft Building code change up for resolution consideration and approval at the July 15th meeting.

BLA attorney Adam Walters declared that the airport was not seeking an airport language change to foster further expansion but to recover the $10,000 of outstanding state grant money due to the airport. He recommended language be inserted that conditioned further expansion not take place; this coming from a man representing an airport that has been in violation of the previous code agreements.

Next - Part 2 - Opponents comments

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