Orchard Park Town Board members Wednesday night heartily endorsed the improvements planned for Harvest Hill Golf Course, the public course now owned by personal injury attorney Ross Cellino.
The board approved a site plan and building permit for a pavilion, barn, club house, starter’s shed and additional rest-room at a work session Nov. 14 without public notice.
“We didn’t expect to have it before us,” Councilman David Kaczor said during Wednesday night’s regular board meeting.
Cellino appeared before the Planning Board on Nov. 14. It recommended approval by the Town Board.
The Town Board discussed some items in open session that night, then went into executive session to meet with its labor attorney on a different matter. It did not mention that it may take action on the golf course.
Cellino was hoping to start construction before winter arrives and finish the work before next spring’s golf season opens. After gaining Planning Board approval, he walked from the basement meeting room to the supervisor’s conference room where the Town Board was meeting.
Kaczor said Town Board members spoke to some Planning Board members that night and decided to approve the site plan and building permit immediately because they did not want to hold up the project until the next regular meeting, which was Wednesday. They also said the project would have been approved Wednesday.
“We felt it was in the best interest of the town, the community and Mr. Cellino,” he said. “We wanted to assist Mr. Cellino with a project we feel will be to the benefit of the town and community.”
The 248-acre course opened in July 2007 on land that had been donated in 1997 to the West Seneca Rotary for the purpose of creating a public recreational facility and golf course for the community.
The Harvest Hill Foundation secured 140 more acres and started a First Tee chapter but was never able to raise the funds to build a clubhouse and other improvements.
Cellino, who bought the course in October, said he wants it to remain public, and the First Tee program, a national educational, developmental and recreational initiative for young people, will remain at the course.