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Amherst won't try to stop an apartment complex from being built off Sunset Court in northwest Amherst, after all.

With neighborhood opposition to the 21 apartment buildings planned for 17 acres off Sunset Court, Amherst Council Member Daniel J. Ward asked the Town Board on Tuesday to take steps to halt the project.

Ward suggested the board "down-zone" the parcel from the current multifamily residential zoning, which allows for the proposed apartment buildings, to residential, which allows for single-family homes instead.

The idea pleased many nearby residents, who oppose the apartment complex. They are concerned the proposed Brandon Woods apartments will increase traffic in their neighborhood and lower their property values.

"I think the people have spoken," Ward said. "They feel they're being dumped on."

But Ward's efforts to derail the apartment complex couldn't muster enough support from the rest of the Town Board. His proposal was defeated by a 5 to 2 vote.

Council Member Peggy G. Santillo, Ward's main ally on the board, was the only other one to back the plan.

Council Members Jane S. Woodward, a Republican, and Todd E. Shatkin, a Democrat, said they sympathize with Sunset Court residents but are uncomfortable with trying to change the parcel's zoning at this point in the process.

The property has been zoned appropriately for apartments for more than 20 years. In fact, plans for the project are under way.

The project still needs further study on traffic and environmental issues. But when that's done the project needs only site-plan approval from the Amherst Planning Board.

"It's an effort to grab votes (from residents)," said Woodward, referring to Ward.

Jeffery D. Palumbo, a well-known lawyer who represents developers, is part-owner of the land and plans to sell it to the development group BWD of Amherst to build the 168 apartments.

Palumbo hopes the proper studies for the project can be completed within the next couple of months so the developers can seek site-plan approval from the Planning Board.

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