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Mobile home park residents given relief by zoning decision

Residents of a Clarence mobile home park, a portion of which could have been encroached upon by a proposed Walgreens drugstore, breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday.

The Clarence Zoning Board of Appeals denied requests for nine zoning variances made by Maude Development, developer of the site at Sheridan Drive off Main Street and Thompson Road, and by the owner of the Sheridan Village mobile home park.

"This is a substantial request for a variance, and I believe that this will alter the environmental conditions within the [mobile home] park," Zoning Board member Raymond G. Skaine said in a statement on behalf of the four-member board before it unanimously voted to deny the requests.

The developers of the proposed 14,750-square-foot Walgreens store sought to build it on a 1.73-acre, triangular lot at 9200 Sheridan.

Their plan required buying additional land from Sheridan Automotive Sales and from Sheridan Village, a 50-year-old mobile home park.

That plan also would have required the removal of 14 mobile homes in the park, displacing the elderly residents of eight of those units. The others are currently vacant properties.

The owner of the mobile home park, Leonard Satola of Depew, offered to relocate those residents to other lots in Sheridan Village or to vacant properties in the nearby Woodside Village mobile home park.

"The residents will be made whole. They will not be injured financially in any way," said Jeffrey D. Palumbo, an attorney representing Maude Development, which planned to lease the property to Walgreens.

A dozen residents, mostly from Sheridan Village, crammed into the Zoning Board's small meeting area for Tuesday's hearing.

Ann M. Milks' mobile home would have had to been moved to accommodate the Walgreens plan. Though Milks was resigned to moving before Tuesday's hearing ended, she expressed relief that she apparently would not have to do so.

"The older people [would] not be able to pack up everything, which you would have to do when you move a trailer," Milks said as she left the meeting. "They have boxes and boxes of things. And [those hired to move the mobile homes] could twist a frame, . . . and probably every tire on the mobile home is rotted."

Palumbo said the developers sought to avoid even more disruptions by seeking to buy only a portion of the mobile home park.

A variance was required for the owner of the park because it would have reduced the number of lots in the park to 35. Under a 1997 code adopted by the Town Board, mobile home parks in the town must contain a minimum of 50 units.

Among the variances sought for Walgreens was to allow only 69 parking spaces, when the town code requires 98, and to allow parking in the front of the store. The town requires retail establishments to confine patron parking to the rear.

Skaine said that while the Zoning Board recognized many of the hardships faced by developers of the Walgreens store, he believed that many of them were self-created because the developers sought to develop a site that is too small for such a project.


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