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Plan to build parking lot hits a snag

Ellicott Development Co. has hit a roadblock in its effort to turn a grass-covered lot along Michigan Avenue into a parking lot.

Buffalo Corporation Counsel Alisa A. Lukasiewicz has notified the city's Planning Board it cannot take action on Ellicott's request to develop the site at Michigan Avenue and South Division Street into a 150-vehicle parking lot. Ellicott's plan to create the lot for Erie Community College requires a zoning variance or a change in zoning classification, not a simple site plan approval, according to Lukasiewicz.

Carl P. Paladino, head of Ellicott, has argued the site doesn't require a zoning change because it is an "accessory use" for ECC, which would operate the lot and be its sole user.

In an opinion requested by the Planning Board, the corporation counsel said Ellicott, not ECC, is proposing the project. She also dismissed Ellicott arguments that, as a state-sanctioned educational institution, ECC is immune from local planning and zoning codes.

"Our next stop is a courtroom," said Paladino, who is also a lawyer. "We want a judge's opinion, not a poorly researched opinion from the city Law Department."

He said he will file a State Supreme Court lawsuit. The Planning Board, meanwhile, referred the parking lot proposal to the city's Zoning Board for further action.

Ellicott, which cleared the site several years ago, has been floating parking lot plans for some time.

Last week, a State Supreme Court judge ruled Erie County has to reopen its annual bidding on state-subsidized parking for students at its downtown campus.

The ruling followed businessman James T. Sandoro's challenge of a contract with Michael Karam, a competitor.

The judge ruled the county and college acted illegally in signing a contract with Karam, at a rate of $120 a month per space for 50 hours per week for parking in a 220-car lot bordered by Michigan Avenue, Elm, South Division and Swan streets. The county's request for bids had specified 83 hours per week.


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