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CEDARGROVE PLAN LEAVES RESIDENTS HANGING

Sue Brunn has postponed plans for a new roof on her Cedargrove Heights home.

Bette Gagola needs a new shower, but she doesn't want to remodel her bathroom if her home in Cedargrove will be demolished.

Homeowners and renters alike have been living in limbo since a developer said nearly three months ago that he had an idea to build a new community at Cedargrove, off Harlem Road in Cheektowaga. A mixed-use development would be built, replacing the World War II-era housing.

Residents this week received answers to 64 questions they asked in February, and some did not like the responses. The answer to the most important questions -- "When will we have to move?" and "Where will we go?" -- is unknown.

With their youngest child in college, Brunn and her husband, Donald, planned to replace a leaking roof this year. Then they want to update the kitchen and put siding on the house they've lived in for 20 years.

"We're happy where we are," she said but added, "We're not doing anything because I don't know where we'll be in a year."

Gagola, a retired Cleveland Hill teacher, said developer Dominic Piestrak has recommended homeowners continue with regular maintenance and other plans they might have for their homes.

"I don't want to put all that money in if this goes through. I just don't want to waste money," she said.

"This" is a plan to improve the aging neighborhood by buying the houses, tearing them down and replacing them with single-family homes, apartments, brownstones and some business property developed in a "new urbanist" fashion.

Since he first proposed it to residents at a community meeting Feb. 3, Piestrak has been looking into financing and answering questions posed that night by neighbors.

"It looks like the financial part of the deal can happen," Piestrak said.

He has looked into collaborating with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development but believes the development could best be achieved through tax incentives.

Piestrak said his hope is to determine the fair market value for each property, then offer the owner a little bit more to buy his house. The owner could use the proceeds of the sale to buy a new, more expensive home in the new development or move elsewhere, he said. He wants everyone who wants to remain in the community to stay.

He said he wants to know which way the project is headed by the end of September, and if it is going forward, to have a plan by November.

"If it doesn't look like it's a possibility, you might as well pull the plug," he said.

Town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said he can understand the apprehension of the residents, since it is not known what will happen with the development.

"We said it wasn't something that was going to happen immediately," he said.

"It's not helping us, it's disposing us," said Debbie Kubiak. "Where do they think these people will go?"

"Until it happens to you, you have no idea what it feels like," Brunn said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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