The quality of earthen fill being used in construction projects in Elma was a major topic of discussion at a joint meeting this week of the town’s advisory boards.

Contractors need a permit from the town’s Building Department whenever they use more than 200 cubic yards of fill, and they need Town Board approval if they plan to use more than 800 cubic yards.

Councilman James Malczew-ski, a former contractor, said most homes being built in Elma would require less than 800 cubic yards of fill, adding “We want to be fair to everyone.”

However, questions were raised about where the fill comes from. Water Superintendent Gene Stevenson asked, “How can you verify where the trucks come from? It’s going to create a monster for department heads. … Anything from Niagara County, no one will touch it.”

Planning Board member Robert Waver said a “huge part of the cost of fill is trucking it” and that it is unlikely that any comes from Niagara County because of the distance involved.

Supervisor Dennis Powers pointed out the town never has requested any permit or certification from the plants in Elma such as Steuben Foods, Campo Felice and others.

When a commercial development presents a site plan, elevations on the site plan show how much fill is being used, said Town Engineer James Wyzykiewicz.

Zoning Board member Michael Komerak Jr. said there are very simple toxic screens to tell what is in the fill, but he added that the screen test is costly.

Code Enforcement Officer Joseph Colern said no other towns require a test except Lancaster.

It was suggested that the final site plan include a contingency requiring only clean fill. The Town Board will discuss the issue further at a work session.

In another matter, Dianne Rohl, secretary to the Planning Board, reminded the boards that commercial code changes were finalized in October 2008 and given to the various boards for their perusal.

Planning Board Chairman Tom Reid said an increase in codes from the town and state, together with a large project going on, has overtaxed the two-member Building Department and it needs need help. Codes are designed to control the size and placement of signs, but nonconforming signs “are still all over the place,” board members were told.