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DEVELOPMENT IN PARKLAND MOVING AHEAD

The developer for the much-debated and much-litigated Forest Glen housing development in the Village of Hamburg said he plans to start construction in about two weeks, but residents opposed to the project said they will continue to fight it.

Assemblyman Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, has announced that he will join with State Sen. William Stachowski, D-Buffalo, to sponsor legislation authorizing the village to sell 15 acres of what two courts have declared to be parkland to Country Meadows, an arm of Clover Management.

The developer already owns 22 adjacent acres and plans about 260 units of housing, including 21 single-family homes, 75 to 80 patio homes and 160 townhouses.

Total cost of the project, which will take years to fully develop, is estimated to be $25 million to $30 million, according to Clover President Michael Joseph.

Joseph said he plans to begin work on the roads and sewer and water lines in anticipation of Legislature approval of the sale. Legislative approval became necessary once the courts sided with residents who claimed the 15 acres were parkland.

The single-family home lots have been sold to Forbes Homes, Joseph said.

Similar legislation passed in the Assembly last year but did not make it out of committee in the Senate in time to be considered.

The Village Board is expected to adopt another home-rule message at its meeting Monday requesting that the legislation be approved.

But residents opposed to the sale plan to be out in force, according to Katherine Schriver of Forestal Drive.

"I think they (village trustees) owe us one more informational meeting to explain just what will happen with the property and what will happen to our property values," Schriver said Wednesday.

But Mayor Curt Herrmann said there have been numerous meetings and discussions and there is no need for any more.

He said that he and the current trustees inherited the controversy but that by selling the 15 acres the project will be spread over 37 acres instead of the original plan for 308 apartments on 22 acres.

Village Attorney Edward J. Murphy III noted that Clover was prepared to sue the village in 2002 if the project did not go through.

Not approving the sale now could mean "308 barracks-style apartments along with getting sued," he said.

Stachowski also said he has met with residents and intends to support the sale, which has the approval of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

About 6 acres of wetlands will be protected, and the developer has promised to enhance the wetlands and install walking trails, Stachowski said.

If the sale does not go through, the village will have to remediate a mosquito problem and end up with 300 apartments rather than a mixed use, he said.

Quinn said that after months of discussions with all involved, "It is my feeling that this is the best plan for the Village of Hamburg residents."

He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will oversee the development of the patio homes on the current parkland.

The village is selling the property for $50,000, but both sides have spent many times that amount in legal fees over the years.

e-mail: ternst@buffnews.com

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