Friday, January 6, 2023 11:00 a.m.
By Timothy Chip
Niagara city officials hope to breathe new life into a long-vacant property on Military Road.
The property for the former shopping center located at 4435-4445 Military Road will be put up for bid, potentially ending a years-long struggle for city leaders.
“It’s been a long process,” Supervisor Lee Wallace said after a brief town council business session Wednesday. “There was a huge tax lien on the building. The county couldn’t get anyone to buy it, so they sold it to us.”
In an effort to prepare the property for future development along the city’s main street, Niagara officials have begun a lengthy cleanup, according to city attorney Michael Risman.
With the effort finally completed before Thanksgiving, the town received word that it would be recognized with a Certificate of Completion from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfields Cleanup Program.
While a marketable developer title in its own right, Risman said the program also comes with a small financial boost for anyone looking to purchase and transform the space into an operating business.
“Because it went through the program … it allows anyone who builds on it to get a tax credit,” Risman told the five-member council. “It’s basically a 20% tax credit and it’s transferable.”
Councilmembers are expected to set a bid window and request for proposals at the city’s January regular meeting, scheduled for 6:30 pm Tuesday, January 17 at City Hall, 7105 Lockport Road.
Councilmembers are also expected to vote, at the same meeting, on a proposed law that would strictly limit the operation of short-term rental properties, including those found on websites such as AirBnB.com and VRBO.com.
The bill was initially discussed in a working session in November, with a public hearing held on December 13.
During the hearing, a short-term rental landlord spoke out against the law, while no one expressed support. Lou Ann Murawski, who approached the board saying she owned several properties in the city that served as short-term rentals, claimed that her long-term tenants cause her more trouble than the short-term tenants she attends.
Wallace, meanwhile, informed Murawski that she is one of the only good owners of this type of property, and that noise and property damage complaints at these residences have long plagued the city.
“We view these tenants as a real problem,” Wallace told him in December. “We did not take this decision as a knee-jerk reaction.
“Unfortunately, someone like you (will be negatively affected) by the law.”
If the law is approved by a majority of City Board members, it probably won’t take effect for another year, Risman said when proposing the law in November.
Reorganizing the Town
In addition to Wednesday’s work session, the officials also approved the reorganization of the town government as part of their annual procedures.
Among the notable appointments, including those who continued their service from previous years, were:
√ Planning Board: Barbara Hathaway, chair; Dennis Collins; Michael Murawski; John Polka; and Eugene Pucci
√ Board of Zoning Appeals: Thomas Cuddahee, president; Guido Virtuoso; Robert McDermott; Jody Wienke; and Richard Hallen.