An expansion at a flea market on Route 20A has stirred some bad blood between the Wales Town Board and the town Zoning Board of Appeals.
The disagreement also may raise tensions for taxpayers.
Town Board members this week approved a contract to pay attorney Michael Hurley $185 an hour, and a paralegal $80 an hour, should the board decide to sue the Zoning Board over a variance it granted to Auctions International owner Russell Scherrer, who operates the Route 20A flea market.
Town Board members learned after the variance was granted that the approval of Scherrer’s request allowed him to build additional square footage that violated state and town building codes.
Town Board members advised the Zoning Board it did not have correct information when it granted the variance and asked the board to reopen the case. The Zoning Board has not.
Before approving the contract for a Zoning Board lawyer Tuesday night, Town Board member Michael Simon, also an attorney, asked Town Attorney Ronald Bennett, “What happens if we say no?”
The Zoning Board could sue the town, Bennett said.
“They have a right to a representative,” he explained.
Town Board members have told Bennett to do whatever it takes, even taking the Zoning Board to court, to pull the variance.
Scherrer said neither he nor his architect knew that porches, basements and overhangs were to be included when the square footage was determined. When added into the project, his plans exceed the 50,000 square feet allowed by state and town codes.
A State Supreme Court justice will hear the case if it can’t be resolved otherwise.
Also this week:
• The Town Board reappointed Robert Spangenburg as chairman of the Zoning Board.
• Councilman Gerald Klinck, head of a subcommittee looking to revamp the town farming code, told The Buffalo News he will meet with Supervisor Ricky Venditti and Bennett to finalize a draft on proposed changes.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets said it remains unhappy with a proposed new code that requires a special-use permit for harboring large animals, including horses, pigs and cows on less than 10 acres.
Klinck said the code is still a work in progress. Venditti said the permit is intended for the safety and health of neighbors.
A local goat farmer, Eric Beiter of East Creek Road, approached the board last summer, complaining about the requirement for contiguous acreage and the special-use permit, which he said was unfair to farmers. This resulted in a flurry of letters from Ag and Markets and the Farm Bureau.
“The issue is very complicated,” Klinck said, “but we are still learning.”