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NCCC is one step closer to new housing Planning Board approves subdivision

The Niagara County Community College student housing project received final regulatory approval Monday.

All that remains before construction is approval of up to $19.8 million worth of bonding authority the college has sought from the county Industrial Development Agency.

"We do have to meet an Aug. 1 [2008] completion date, because we have to be able to open Sept. 1 [2008]," said Bassan Deeb, executive director of the Student Housing Village Corp., a not-for-profit entity set up by the college to hold title to 12 acres of land subdivided from the NCCC campus.

The Cambria Planning Board approved the subdivision and the site plan Monday, upon word from the town's engineering firm, Wendel Duchscherer, that the plan had met all its engineering concerns.

That move came in a special meeting held right after the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance to allow the construction on a parcel with no road frontage, and a special permit for housing in an agricultural-residential zone.

The only negative vote came from Norman Human of the Planning Board, who voted against the site plan.

"I've got an idea it's going to cost the county, and we're taxpayers," Human said. He also criticized the college for allegedly refusing to clean out a swale that is to used to drain the project, to be located near a protected wetland.

The Zoning Board had held a lengthy public hearing on the project in June, but it was unable to vote until the Planning Board ruled the project would have no significant environmental impact. That ruling came last Monday.

The 750-bed project will be constructed in three phases. The first phase will total 300 beds, Deeb said.

Craig Zogby of United Development Group, which will oversee construction and manage the housing project, said the units will be housed in three-story buildings with faux stone facades.

The college has sought to build a new entrance road to the campus off Route 31 near the eastern edge of its property, but Deeb said that was never part of the site plan for the housing. The County Legislature's Public Works Committee is blocking approval of the funding for the road.

The road wouldn't run directly to the housing units, but it would be one way students could reach them. The new entrance road also would be designed to give tractor-trailers delivering to the college direct access to the loading dock behind Building G.

Zogby said a temporary road off Route 429 at the western edge of campus will be used by the construction vehicles. He said work will take nine to 10 months.

Robin Nacca, who lives near the campus, said she intends to protest the project at tonight's Legislature meeting.

Nacca said the ring road on campus is already dangerously crowded, and the housing project will only add to the congestion. She said NCCC's tractor-trailer driver training program already has 18-wheelers, some driven by amateurs, on the road while other drivers and pedestrians are using it.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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