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LAND SALE EYED TO THWART DEVELOPMENT

East Aurora leaders were inching toward selling about four acres from a 22-acre strip of village land off Castle Hill Road to three Elmwood Avenue families -- with some hoping that it will further deter development in that area.

Though the Village Board has not fully embraced the neighbors' offer, a majority of trustees favor selling the land, and preliminary documents were being prepared by the village attorney.

The neighbors -- Stacy and William Oar, Vincent and Alexandria Barrett, and Roderick and Martha Potter -- approached the village last month about buying roughly one-acre parcels that back up to their yards so that the land would not end up being developed for homes or a park.

"It's a tough piece of land. . . . There's no pretty gorge or falls," Stacy Oar told the board recently. "We want to protect our investment. I bought my home because the area is green and beautiful."

Mayor David DiPietro, who is building a home nearby off Nye Hill, said any kind of park in that area would affect nearby residents.

"It's a very narrow piece of land. You can see the backs of the homes," he said. "The whole premise is to stop a big development up there."

DiPietro said the neighbors care about green space. "Five years ago, there was no Knox or Majors parks. We have come to bat and brought parks to this community," he said.

Other neighbors said the area doesn't lend itself to a park. They described the long and narrow strip of land as "a tangle," with limited access and vines covering much of it.

If the village ultimately agrees to sell the land to the three families at the proposed $12,400 per acre, based on a recent village appraisal, the village still would own about 18 acres, including a section near the reservoir. When the village had the land appraised a few years ago, two development companies interested in building homes on the site contacted the village.

Trustees Elizabeth Cheteny and Heidi Potenza are opposed to selling the land, saying the village would be subdividing the property improperly and potentially could be vulnerable to a lawsuit. Cheteny also has called of using the area as expanded green space or a trail park for residents -- particularly as more residents hook into public water and the Aurora area could face growth.

"There used to be glens and falls all over this community," Cheteny said. "I think we're being shortsighted."

Other trustees, however, favor selling off a few smaller chunks -- saying that would discourage development. Drainage problems, they note, make the land undesirable. Teenagers also had hung out in the area, often prompting neighborhood complaints. "This could take pressure off residential development by piecemealing this," Trustee Patrick McDonnell said. "If we piecemeal sell it, we're really preserving it."

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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