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Board action could crimp Shawnee Landing project

The Town Board has taken two actions this week, including one that could crimp the development of the Town Homes at Shawnee Landing, a low-income housing project being built on Shawnee Road.

The board voted unanimously Monday night to upgrade the pump station on Klemer Road that would serve the 64-unit project -- with the understanding that the developers would contribute about $110,000 of the $234,000 cost.

The Shawnee Landing developers -- Belmont Shelter Corp., The Church at Shawnee Landing and Buffalo businessman Paul Granville -- promised last summer to make the contribution, the town engineering company has said.

In another action, the board voted unanimously to prohibit any road from the project built to Klemer or Demler roads, as originally planned. The two roads have been determined by town officials and residents to be inadequate for increased traffic, especially from construction vehicles.

That would force the site plan to go back to the town Planning Board for revision, board members were told. The access road would have to be routed across the church's property to Shawnee Road.

Supervisor Timothy E. Demler has tried to restrict access from the site to Klemer by having town Highway Department crews place various barricades at the entrance.

Meanwhile, construction continues and the project is slated for completion in about a year.

In terms of the pump station, if the developers refuse to contribute, no certificate of occupancy would be issued.

Town Attorney Robert O'Toole said the board was nearing the end of a 45-day deadline to award contracts on the pump station project. He said if the board passed on the project, it would have to be rebid and the cost would increase substantially.

The town is paying for the work, along with a similar $209,000 pump station upgrade on Witmer Road, with a $500,000 bond, according to officials.

An estimated $37,000 in fees for the project would go to Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers of Amherst. Demler voted against paying the fees.

Shawnee Landing has drawn a significant amount of opposition from neighbors who object to its place in the area. Most claim it would increase traffic congestion, cause flooding and depreciate neighborhood property values.

The project also has become a political issue, with dozens of residents showing up at various meetings to question the board's ability to turn back the project.

In a related matter, the board directed Demler to report on the cost of creating a town engineer position. Demler said he thought the town could collect an additional $100,000 a year in project improvement fees instead of letting the fees go to Wendel.

Cost for an engineering office was estimated to be about $70,000 a year.


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