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Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Legislature asked to consider water hook up for home in Darien that is outside development area

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Darien, smart growth plan

Some time prior to 2010, a family in Darien decided to build a new house on land outside of the county's defined development area.

Since then, they've had to pay a water district tax of about $400 a year even though they've twice been denied an application to hook up to the water system.

Yesterday at the Public Service Committee meeting, David Hagelberger, Town of Darien supervisor, appealed to the Legislature on the resident's behalf to allow a water hook-up for the home.

Rather than take action immediately, the committee asked County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari to find the minutes for the meetings where first the county's water committee and then the county's planning board denied the water hook-up applications.

In 2001, when the county's current water system was being developed, the state required the county to develop a plan to protect farmland, ensure development took place in already developed areas and encourage revitalization of existing industrial areas, business districts and residential neighborhoods in the City of Batavia and developed village areas.

So the county adopted a "Smart Growth Plan" that defines development areas and establishes procedures for revising the plan.

The subject of the house in Darien came up now, again, because the county is wrapping up an every-three-year review of the plan and revising it to allow for development of the WNY STAMP project in Alabama.

Part of Hagelberger's argument on behalf of his local resident is that if the county can revise the plan for STAMP, why not revise it for this family as well?

After the meeting, Oltramari explained a little further why the Smart Growth Plan exists.

It's very easy for new development to follow infrastructure. By putting in the water system, without a plan, the county could lose a lot of farmland along the paths of water mains.

The concern has never really been about big developments, but about farmland disappearing in a piecemeal fashion -- a house here, a new business there, a little strip shopping mall on this or that lot. The goal of the Smart Growth Plan is to try and prevent that sort of development.

Since it was adopted, there have been 40 applications for development outside of a designated development area, Oltramari said, and all but three have been approved.

"For the most part, people understand -- keep out of farm fields," Oltramari said. "Keep it in the woods or where there's already a lot of housing, but not in the middle of a field, not in good productive farmland."

Oltramari noted that farming and residential development sometimes don't mix well.

"Farmers will tell you when you have a neighbor who doesn't really like your operations, they can make your life a nightmare," Oltramari said.

The county has no idea how the homeowners are getting water now. The is no known well on the property.

One reason the homeowners still must pay the tax for the water district is that particular district isn't bill on a per-hook-up basis, but rather is taxed based on land assessment for each parcel.

Land that is in an agricultural district is exempt from the tax, but for some reason that isn't clear, the house in Darien is outside the nearest ag district. Oltramari said it will take more research to figure out what happened in that particular case.

"Somebody can make the point that they do benefit from the water district because there is a fire hydrant available," Oltramari said. "Somebody could make that case."

DOWNLOAD: Smart Growth Plan (pdf)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Niagara County officer admits to assault during concert at Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien

A Niagara County police officer who was involved in an altercation at Darien Lake in 2012 admitted in county court today that her reckless conduct while intoxicated caused injuries to another concert goer.

Kelly L. Alcorn, 48, entered a guilty plea to third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor, with no condition on sentencing.

The Grand Island resident was originally arrested Aug. 25 and charged with harassment, 2nd, but after the victim in the case went to the media claiming serious injuries and drawing attention to Alcorn's law enforcement status, the District Attorney's Office took a closer look at the case.

In February, Alcorn was indicted on a single count of assault, 2nd.

As part of her plea today, Judge Robert C. Noonan asked Alcorn a series of questions, starting with whether she was at the concert and whether she was intoxicated, which Alcorn admitted.

When Noonan asked Alcorn if her body came into contact with the body of the victim, causing her to hit a cinder block wall, Alcorn conferred with her attorney.

Alcorn admitted to wrestling with the victim on the floor and hitting her and that those swings recklessly caused injury to the victim.

Section 120(7) of the NYS penal code defines one type of third-degree assault as recklessly causing injury to another person.

At time of sentencing, Alcorn will be seeking a relief from civil disabilities, which is a form Noonan can sign that would enable Alcorn to continue her law enforcement career, or take other government employment, or seek employment in certain state-licensed fields.

Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Jan. 9.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Prehistoric artifacts found at site of planned emergency communications tower in Darien

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, history

To the untrained eye, the 11 objects found in Darien last week look just like a handful of rocks, but archeologists have determined they are prehistoric artifacts. They're also a wrinkle in the county's plan to build a 21st Century emergency communications system.

The artifacts were found at the site of a planned communications tower near the Darien Fire Hall.

The county's contractor hired an Atlanta-based archeological firm to do a test dig on the site, which uncovered the artifacts.

The artifacts have not been dated nor their origin determined. They're just obviously very, very old.

Contrary to rumor, Undersheriff William Sheron said, the site is not an "Indian burial ground."

A report has been sent to the state's Office of Archeology and the county expects to receive instructions on what to do next.

Sheron noted that when Tops built a new distribution center off Genesee Street, an Indian burial ground was found and the project was delayed six months so the remains and artifacts could be properly secured.

In other words, Sheron said, the artifacts found in Darien do not necessarily mean the site can't be used for a communications tower.

The county is building three new towers as part of the $10.8 million communications upgrade project. While the county must complete phase one of the project -- under a federal mandate -- by February, the towers are all planned for phase two of the project, which isn't scheduled for completion until next summer. 

While the Sheriff's Office would like to stay on schedule, Sheron said officials recognize the find in Darien could delay construction of that tower.

"We hope it doesn't get delayed, but if there are issues that need to be addressed, we'll address them and meet whatever requirements we need to meet," Sheron said. "If it becomes cost prohibitive, we'll look for another site."


Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Photo: Tree and car on Chick Road, Darien

post by Howard B. Owens in Chick Road, Darien

On a beautiful day, my day was lining up beautifully for me to have time in the late afternoon to go around looking for pictures to make.

Then we had the traffic snafu on Oak Street, so I got out and about some 45 minutes later than would be ideal.

All I came up with was this shot on Chick Road, Darien, which apparently, I've never been down before because I'd never before seen this car planted around a tree.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 9:44 am

Car crash blocking traffic on Fargo Road

post by Billie Owens in accident, Darien

A two-vehicle accident is reported at 9970 Fargo Road in Darien. It is blocking traffic. One person is complaining of neck pain. A Sheriff's deputy is on scene. Mercy medics are responding. The location is between Bell and Reynolds roads.

Monday, October 7, 2013 at 8:09 am

Law and Order: The weekend's arrests

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Pavilion, pembroke

Melissa A. Williams, 43, of Le Roy, is charged with petit larceny. Williams is accused of shoplifting at Tops in Le Roy.

Jerry Lee Eleczko, 25, of Gilbert Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operator, failure to keep right and driving without insurance. Eleczko was stopped at 1:15 a.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Karl Edward Vattes, 39, of Habgood Road, Black Creek, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and promoting prison contraband. Vattes was allegedly found in possession of suboxone while incarcerated at the Genesee County Jail.

Richard Blaine Nichols IV, 19, of Townline Road, North Tonawanda, is charged with petit larceny and trespass. Nichols is accused of stealing scrap metal from Batavia Driving Academy property.

Donald Eugene Campbell, 55, of Church Street, Dansville, is charged with petit larceny. Campbell is accused of stealing $24.98 in merchandise from Kmart.

Patrick John Coffey, 48, of Beck Road, Attica, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving left of pavement markings in no passing zone, uninspected motor vehicle and insufficient tail lights. Coffey was stopped at 1:38 a.m. Saturday on Chick Road, Darien, by Deputy Jason Saile.

Justin Virgil Easterbrook, 31, of Gray Road, Albion, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and failure to keep right. Easterbrook was stopped at 4:23 a.m. Saturday on Fisher Road, Oakfield, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Douglas G. Goodwin Jr., 22, of 130 Bank St., Batavia, is charged with reckless endangerment, 2nd. Goodwin is accused of pushing a woman out of a moving vehicle during an argument over property. The woman suffered an injury.

Patricia A. Dulmage, 19, of 20 1/2 Dellinger Ave., Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Dulmage is accused of shoplifting at Dollar Tree.

Gerald E. Nicholson, 46, of 128 1/2 State St., Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing/blood circulation. Nicholson was arrested following an alleged domestic incident. He was jailed on $5,000 bail or $10,000 bond.

Joseph G. Sumeriski, 21, of Warsaw, and Justin M. Johnson, 23, no permenant address, are charged with petit larceny. Sumeriski and Johnson were arrested by State Police for an alleged crime reported at 7:07 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Town of Pavilion. No further details released.

Friday, October 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Portion of Route 77 in Darien closed for railroad repairs next week

post by Billie Owens in Darien, state DOT

Press release from the state Department of Transportation:

A portion of Route 77 in Darien will close next week for railroad repairs. Motorists should allow extra time to take an alternate route.

The Norfolk Southern Railroad will be working on a grade crossing on Route 77 for approximately one week beginning Monday, Oct. 7. The road will be closed between Route 20 and Route 354. Access to all driveways will be maintained. Local traffic will be permitted up to the work site. Through traffic will be prohibited.

A detour will be posted directing traffic to utilize Route 238. This work is being performed under permit by Norfolk Southern Railroad.

For real-time travel information, visit www.511ny.org

Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm

A race of the living dead at Darien Lake brings visitors from all over WNY

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park

Hundreds of runners were asked this morning to navigate a 5K course filled with zombies at Darien Lake Theme Park.

The rUNDEAD race was held to benefit Special Olympics and organized and supported by volunteers from throughout WNY, including a collection of zombies near the finish line who a part of the same group in Tonawanda.

Each runner was issued three flags. Those who managed to make it through the course with at least one flag was eligible for a prize. The zombies, rather than seeking the brains of runners, were hungry for flags.

Speed seemed essential when a runner needed to sprint through a gauntlet of zombies.


Say "Cheese" -- Arlowe Price, Fattie King and Sam Pecoraro. Price is the owner of Savage Buffalo Carnival whose family has been performing in carnivals and freak shows for five generations. He said he performs frequently in the Buffalo area, but has never been invited to perform anywhere in Genesee County. Here's his Facebook page.

Mike and Cindy Baskin, from Naples. They skipped today's Grape Festival to be zombies in Darien.

Brenda Fox, a proud member of The Batavian Club, and her daughter Indigo at the start line of the race.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Shed fire on Route 5 by South Lake Road, Pembroke

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, corfu, Darien, east pembroke, fire, indian falls, pembroke

A shed fire (which has also been referred to as a barn) is reported 653 Main Road in Pembroke near South Lake Road. Pembroke command on scene says "there are exposure issues," to a nearby structure. Route 5 and South Lake Road are being shut down. Called to provide mutual aid are: Darien, Corfu, East Pembroke, Indian Falls, Alabama, and Akron.

UPDATE 5:07 p.m.: The fire is knocked down. No exposures involved. They are doing rehab on the shed. Responders still headed to the scene are told to come in non-emergency.

UPDATE 6:13 p.m.: The road is reopened. All responders are back in service.

UPDATE (by Howard): Photos added. No official cause, but it's possibly an electrical fire according to preliminary indications. A van and an ATV were destroyed along with tools.

Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Darien Lake hosts festival celebrating cultures from around the world

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park

Information and photos provided by Tipping Point Media.

This weekend, Darien Lake Theme Park is hosting a Festival of Nations, celebrating cultures and heritages from around the world.

The festival features 19 various bands and dance teams from across Western New York from a variety of backgrounds – Middle Eastern, Brazilian, Irish, German, Polish, African American, Asian, and classic American Country.

The festival continues on Sunday with 11 different live performances from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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