Weekly Feature

2018-03-07 / Front Page

Residents oppose rezoning for 89-unit subdivision

New Road
by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

A request to rezone a New Road property for the purpose of constructing 89 single-family homes led more than 50 people to attend a public hearing on the matter during Monday’s Town Board meeting.

The developer, Natale Builders, is requesting that the property, at 284 New Road, be rezoned from suburban agriculture to residential district three to accommodate the planned development. The area is near the Ransom Oaks community in East Amherst.

During the 90-minute hearing, Corey Auerbach, an attorney with Barclay Damon — the law firm representing the developer — referred to the planned development as “low-density,” with an average of 1.56 homes per acre to be built on the estimated 57.5-acre parcel.

He also said residential use of the property is more compatible with the state of the current neighborhood.

“We believe that residential property on this site is more appropriate than an agricultural use,” Auerbach said.

He said the developer agreed to install sidewalks on a portion of New Road. Additionally, with about 18 acres of wetlands on the proposed project site, 15 acres of the wetlands would be preserved.

Auerbach said there would be new wetlands created as part of the development plan to offset any negative environmental impacts from use of the nearly three acres of wetlands. The new wetlands would meet the requirements of both state officials and the Army Corps of Engineers.

A protest petition, deemed valid by the Town Clerk’s Office, includes about 40 signatures from residents near the proposed development who oppose the rezoning because they believe it will have a negative impact on the environment and increase traffic hazards.

Some of the residents who signed the petition attended the meeting, and nearly 20 people spoke in opposition to the rezoning request as it applies to the development proposal.

“The petitioner says it’s about land use, but it’s not about land use,” said Larry Rera, a Gray Birch Court resident. “It’s about safety.”

He said pedestrians on New Road will be less safe when traffic is increased because of the nearly 90-home development. Rera also said there is not enough room on New Road to accommodate the existing traffic flow, stressing that the residents in the development will most likely have two or more vehicles per home, which would add to the area’s traffic issues.

“Do we really want to increase the traffic on New Road because someone wants to put in a subdivision?” Rera added.

The Gray Birch resident also said he and his neighbors are concerned about drainage in times of heavy rain and snowmelt.

“The water has to go somewhere, and it’s probably going to go in the yards of other houses in the nearby neighborhoods,” Rera said.

After all of the speakers concluded their remarks, the Town Board agreed to adjourn the public hearing for comments, but written proposals on the matter will continue to be accepted by town officials. A decision date for the rezoning was not set by the board.

Additionally, during the Town Board’s work session on Monday afternoon, Town Engineer Jeffrey Burroughs said a downstream sanitary sewer capacity study would need to be conducted before any land use determination could be issued.

Burroughs apologized, adding that the need for a study was “missed in the rezoning review.” He added that the study should be conducted in case there are any potential issues and it doesn’t mean that the development can’t be constructed as proposed.

He said the petitioner would need to record the flow monitoring data and submit its findings to town officials for further review.

In another matter, the Town Board set a decision date of March 19 to vote on a rezoning request by RAS Development, which is seeking to build 48 single-story residential units at 2350 and 2360 Sweet Home Road near Dodge Road.

The site was most recently occupied by Average Joe’s, a bar and restaurant that closed last year.

According to Sean Hopkins, attorney for the developer, there will be no impacts on any wetlands on the 7.5-acre site and the maximum height of the homes will be 30 feet.

Following a series of meetings with nearby residents since the project was first introduced about 14 months ago, Hopkins said both the community and the developer are in agreement on the proposal.

Additionally, the developer agreed to 18 conditions recommended by the Planning Board. The recommendations include setback requirements and vinyl fencing on the eastern, western and southern boundaries of the site.

The public hearing on the matter drew no opposition from residents.

“These conditions that are in here are very important to us,” said Christopher Stone, a resident of North Ellicott Creek Road. “We and the neighbors feel like we got the best we could of this property that will be developed.”

The Town Board’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, in the Council Chambers at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

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