Weekly Feature

2017-10-11 / Front Page

Possible hotel at Northtown Center set for Oct. 30 vote

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

A resolution to rezone property at the Northtown Center — a measure that would allow for the construction of a four-story hotel connected to the facility — will be decided by the Town Board during its Oct. 30 meeting.

The board during its meeting on Monday unanimously agreed to setting the decision date after a public hearing was held on the matter.

As part of the plan that town officials have been considering, Uniland Development is proposed to build a 104-room hotel with 115 parking spots on the parcel of the Northtown Center, 1615 Amherst Manor Drive at Millersport Highway.

According to the proposal, revenues generated by the lease of the parcel will be allocated to the improvement and maintenance of the Northtown Center.

Supervisor Barry Weinstein initially proposed the idea of a hotel on the site in 2014, but he said recent development in the town has led to changes since that time.

“My original proposal was to build a hotel on the Northtown Center site before the recent glut of hotel construction,” Weinstein said. “It was part of a proposal for a fifth ice rink built to [University at Buffalo] specifications, partly funded by UB and the Division 1 hockey program which they decided not to have.”

Town officials have been moving ahead with the idea, nonetheless.

In March, the board, in a 4-1 vote, approved alienating a 2.95-acre parkland parcel of its nearly 23-acre property at the Audubon Recreational Complex, which is on Amherst Manor Drive between Maple Road and Millersport Highway near the University at Buffalo’s North Campus.

Alienation is a process of relinquishing town-designated parkland property through the approval of state officials, including all legislators and the governor. The other part of the process included Amherst officials locating a town-owned, same-size parcel and designating it as parkland.

Weinstein was the lone vote opposed to beginning alienation. In an exclusive Bee interview on Friday, the supervisor said state legislators had approved the alienation, but the documents were awaiting the governor’s signature and final approval.

Weinstein also noted that the Planning Board recommended the town deny the rezoning from recreation to general business because it is not consistent with the Amherst Comprehensive Plan.

During a public hearing on the rezoning, several residents said the town’s development was becoming saturated with hotel construction and that another hotel was not needed.

Without the Town Board’s rezoning approval, the proposal would be voided.

Weinstein added said that due to a valid protest petition signed by one-fifth of the property owners within a 100-foot radius of the parcel, a super majority vote is needed for the rezoning to be approved.

In the case of the five-member Town Board, four votes in favor of the measure would be needed for the rezoning to be approved.

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