Amherst residents vow to step up efforts to block development of one of the last remaining wetlands in the southeast part of the town, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Ann Suchyna, president of Amherst Families for Smart Development, said the group will appeal to federal environmental officials to prevent a planned office building development at 2190 and 2220 Wehrle Drive.
Residents met Monday night after the Town Board voted, 4-3, to seek a waiver from regional Environmental Protection Agency officials for the wetlands development.
"This is not the end of it. . . . We're going to be contacting the EPA and expressing our concerns about what happened last night, and we will be forwarding more information to support our position," Suchyna said.
"This is the only remaining (wetland), and the Town Board doesn't care. It's passing the buck on to the EPA. That's the perception of the residents," she said.
Suchyna also says area residents are aware that Town Board members are up for re-election this year, adding, "We will remember."
At issue is a 1983 contract between the EPA and the town that led to installation of the Youngs Road sewer line. In order to obtain $5 million in federal funding for the sewer, town officials agreed to a 50-year moratorium that prevents developers of wetlands in the area from tapping into the sewer pipe.
However, critics say town officials have been lax in enforcing the moratorium, allowing several builders to develop the wetlands without seeking tap-in waivers from the EPA.
For several years, Buffalo developer Niskayuna Square has been seeking permission to develop office buildings on the Wehrle Drive property, according to Wayne Eisenbaum, president of the company.
"We're very happy. This is another step in the process," Eisenbaum said following the board's vote.
Board Member Bob Brewer, who offered the motion calling upon the town to ask for the EPA waiver, said he and other board members were not qualified to judge the complicated issues involved in the wetlands development plan.
Also voting for the waiver were board members Michael G. McGuire, Richard A. Wojtowicz and Jane S. Woodward.
However, Suchyna and other residents, who discovered the moratorium in town records argue that Amherst should refuse to seek a waiver allowing development in the only remaining wetlands.
"Basically they're asking for a waiver for the last wetland to be destroyed so that all of the original 44 acres of wetlands that were protected under the EPA contract will be gone," Suchyna said.
"I guess we can put 'protected' in quotes, because (town officials) didn't do a good job," she added.