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TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board agreed Tuesday to use any additional funds from the host community agreement with the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls to help pay for sewer and drainage renovations in the Belden Center area.

Supervisor Steven Richards said any additional sales tax income that results from the expansion of the mall will be used to pay for the long-overdue work that residents have been requesting for years. Homes in the Belden Center area were flooded last year during heavy rains because of inadequate sewer design.

However, the unanimous vote was hard fought as the board members argued for nearly a half hour over the funding placement, the wording of the resolution and how the late resolution was placed on the agenda in the first place.

The entire project is estimated at up to $2.5 million, Richards said. By dedicating the outlet money to the project, the town would be able to borrow to complete the work as it did for a similar project in the Veteran Heights area, it was noted.

Councilman Charles Teixeira said although he totally supported the project, he wanted to know why wording of the resolution had changed from what the councilmen agreed to at a work session last week. By committing the outlet money to a specific project, it would limit how the money could be used. If the project were stalled for 15 years, the money could not be used for other purposes, he said. The funds should instead be placed in the capital projects budget, he added.

Richards told Councilman Marc Carpenter that the funding would continue to go toward the project every year until it was paid for.

Richards said the resolution was added by Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski. Teixeira and Carpenter argued that a late resolution required three board signatures, not just those of Richards and Sklarski. Richards said he would use his executive power to put the resolution on the agenda.

In addition to the project, Richards said the town is trying to get the Belden Center sewer lines directed to the Niagara County system instead of to the City of Niagara Falls.

He said backup at the city system is what caused the flooding last year. The transfer is estimated to cost about $630,000, he said.

Richards complimented Belden Center residents and the block club for being so persistent in working to solve the sewer and drainage problems.

He also told residents from the Ziblut Court and Effie Drive neighborhood that their work to control commercial development in their backyards would be successful because of their approach.

A letter sent to the board regarding a development project begun by Benderson Development “is the finest” Richards said he has ever seen. Rather than fight the project, the residents pursued a “smart development” approach and suggested solutions to problems.

The project is located on the Military Road property that was occupied by the former John’s Flaming Hearth restaurant. Richards said he did not know what type of commercial development was taking place but according to previous discussions by town officials, the project is to include a national box store and at least two big name restaurants.