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Final approval for architectural site plans will be given by the Town of Tonawanda Planning Board under a new law passed Monday night by the Town Board. Approval had previously been given by the town’s building department.

The town is thought to be the last municipality in the county to transfer this power to its planning board, according to Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr., chairman of the Town Board’s Economic Development, Planning Board and Building Department committees.

“Before it was just a board that made recommendations,” Bargnesi said. “We’re the only town that did it that way. Now they have the teeth. Now they have the authority.”

The seven-member Planning Board, headed by Kenneth J. Swanekamp, will review a plan once the building department has determined it is complete and made its recommendations. Other town departments will also have a chance to comment. If the plan is approved, the building department will then issue the necessary permits.

The new law should streamline the process for approving a site plan by making it easier for applicants to review changes required by the Planning Board, which adheres to the town’s comprehensive plan. Bargnesi said the law should lessen the burden on the building department but increase the workload on the Planning Board, possibly requiring it to meet more than once a month.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Bargnesi said of the new law, which goes into effect Sept. 1.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board:

• Approved the town’s first use of Niagara River Greenway funds to study possible landscape designs to beautify the heavily industrial River Road.

• Approved payment of an 8 percent brokerage fee to any real estate broker who sells acreage at the North Youngmann Commerce Center – a town-owned site being made ready for development. The board chose 8 percent to match the commission offered at the nearby Spaulding Commerce Park in the City of Tonawanda. A broker who sells five acres of the 92-acre site at $40,000 per acre, for example, would make $16,000.

• Accepted the bid of $62,204 by Apollo Dismantling Services, Inc. to demolish the landmark Green Acres water storage tank adjacent to the Youngmann Highway. The next lowest bid was $112,223, but Councilman Joseph H. Emminger said the board had done its “due diligence” and found Apollo to be a reputable company. Work should begin in the next two weeks and take about one week to demolish the tank, which has not been in service since 1996 and needed substantial repairs, Emminger said.

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com