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Lancaster town officials Tuesday scolded a developer for partially constructing a road through a proposed subdivision before it had time to approve final plans for the project.

Developer Elliot Lasky of Forbes Homes insisted he had not intentionally flouted town rules that require a permit before any public improvements are made at a proposed development site.

Forbes Homes has proposed developing a 21-acre site that straddles both the Town of Lancaster and the Village of Depew off Columbia Avenue. The developers Tuesday were seeking approval of final plans for a 48-lot single-family subdivision on the parcel called Columbia Gardens.

The Town Board, during a work session before its regular meeting Tuesday, agreed to delay approval of the project until it had assurances that all construction had ceased on the site and that the developer had amended its site plans to reflect new public drainage easements that were required by the Town Planning Board.

"This is the third subdivision that has been working on site before receiving final approval from this board," said Councilwoman Donna G. Stempniak. "I'm losing patience."

Last month, town officials halted excavation at the 270-acre site of the proposed Pleasant Meadows subdivision between Pleasant View Drive and Walden Avenue because the developers did not have the permit required to begin stripping top soil from the property.

"My understanding is that once the (state environmental quality review) process has been resolved that it is OK to do stripping, grubbing and clearing on the property," Lasky said Tuesday.

But Councilman Daniel J. Amatura said there is a difference between stripping topsoil and merely removing trees.

"I can see taking trees and brush down to complete a survey, but anytime you remove dirt, that's excavation," Amatura said.

Town Attorney Robert J. Sherwood said that under the town's building codes, the construction of a new road requires a public improvement permit.

"If you don't have compliance with the town codes, then there is no reason to have a town code," Sherwood said.

Forbes also has begun digging for a retention pond on the site between the town and village, both of which have different building codes. Forbes officials said they had an informal agreement with the village to begin digging for the retention pond. The town requires a permit first.

Lasky said none of the piping for the pond was installed, but he acknowledged that the developer erred.

"If we screwed up, I'm sorry," Lasky said. "Our belief was we were following proper procedure."

He said all work on the site will cease and offered to submit to the town a formal letter of apology. The Town Board is expected to again take up Forbes' request to approve final plans for project at its Dec. 6 meeting.


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