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Suit claims interference by town at housing site Buffalo developer accuses Wheatfield

A Buffalo company is suing the Town of Wheatfield for allegedly interfering with its plans to build a controversial low-income housing project in the town.

Belmont Shelter Corp. filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court, seeking a restraining order to prevent the town from blocking access to the construction site.

"All we're asking is for the Town Board to stop interfering with the development," Jeffery D. Palumbo, the attorney for Belmont, said Wednesday. "We have an approved site plan and the Town Board is without authority in prohibiting any of the streets from being used."

The Town Homes of Shawnee Landing, a government subsidized 64-unit project for low-income families and senior citizens, is being built on an eight-acre parcel on Shawnee Road. The project has been vigorously opposed by neighbors and has been the subject of several heated public meetings.

Robert O'Toole, the town attorney, said he will meet today with Palumbo and Belmont principals in an attempt to reach a "mutually agreeable solution."

If that fails, the case will be heard at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Niagara Falls. Belmont will ask for a temporary restraining order directing the town to refrain from any further interference in the development.

The Town Board last week banned access to the construction site from Klemer and Demler roads.
Construction vehicles can still get to the site from Shawnee Road.

Wheatfield Supervisor Timothy E. Demler said he has written to state and federal officials asking them to delay funding for the $9.9 million project.

"In response to the concerns, this project is being stopped," Demler said.

More than 150 letters from Wheatfield residents objecting to the project were received in the town clerk's office during the public comment phase of the project. Angry residents have voiced their opposition at several Town Board meetings.

The residents complain that the low-cost housing project will lower property values in the area, increase traffic congestion and cause flooding.

Partners in the project are Buffalo businessman Paul Granville and the Church at Shawnee Landing, which owns an additional 15 acres next to the site.

Formerly known as the Payne Avenue Christian Church of North Tonawanda, the church plans a "safe haven" for day care and family services as part of the complex.

e-mail: bmichelmore@buffnews.com

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