LEWISTON – Despite some concerns by neighbors over the size and appearance of a large new building, the Village Board voted, 4-0, Monday to approve a private employee tennis court and wellness center adjacent to its office building at 435 N. Second St.
One board member, Victor E. Eydt, was absent and Mayor Terry Collesano cast the deciding vote for a supermajority approval of the project.
The 42-foot-high free-standing structure is expected to begin construction this summer and will accommodate a single tennis court, exercise machines and other fitness-related equipment for employees at Waste Technology Services. Ninety percent of the new building will be built on the company’s current parking lot and the new building is expected to be designed to fit into the character of the historic village.
“I see a nice beautiful building, not a pole barn with a tennis court on it. It’s going to look like it belongs there,” said Trustee Bruce Sutherland.
A large number of residents packed the small meeting room to standing room only capacity. Some questioned the details of the project and others debated both the negative and positive aspects of the project. The approval was given a round of applause by many in the audience.
But local developer Sylvester “Sonny” C. Barone and his wife, Kathy W., who live next door to the site, spoke out against the project, saying Waste Technology Services owner Gary P. Hall was violating the special-use permit that he was granted in 2002.
Kathy Barone read a letter from May 14, 2002, addressed to neighbors that said the company had promised to operate solely as offices with about 25 employees.
“That was the basis for the special-use permit,” said Kathy Barone.
“We are going to have to look at it for the rest of our lives,” Sylvester Barone said.
But several neighbors said they were in favor of the expansion.
Stan Swogier, a Sanborn resident and general contractor on the project, praised the company’s current property, which restored a historic building for their offices, “Just look at this building before Gary Hall bought it. This building could have been sitting there, dilapidated, falling apart. You can see the work he put into it. This building is going to complement the other building.”
Margaret Rodgers, a neighbor of the company on Mohawk Street said, “I live right next door to WTS and whenever I drive in I say, ‘What a beautiful building. We are so pleased to have something that looks so lovely. It doesn’t bother me at all.’ ”
Town Engineer Michael Merino said the Niagara County Planning Board was not clear on the special-use permit and voted down the project earlier Monday. This put the final approval back into the hands of the Village Board, which needed a supermajority to go forward.