Clarence collision shop wins court approval for project - The Buffalo News

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Clarence collision shop wins court approval for project

A judge has ordered the Town of Clarence to issue a permit for a proposed combination collision shop, rental car facility and used-car sales operation.

The Town Board had rejected the permit request in May.

State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek ruled Thursday that the board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and that the town should issue the special exception use permit for the Gabe’s Collision project at 5871 Transit Road, north of Highland Farms.

Attorneys for Gabe’s Collision sought the court order and requested unspecified monetary damages for expenses they said the business has incurred since filing the request in February 2012.

Gabe’s attorneys, Jeffery D. Palumbo and Corey A. Auerbach, said the expenses totaled at least $100,000 for architectural, legal and other fees involved in the plan.

The judge scheduled a Nov. 4 hearing to determine the amount of damages.

The Town Board voted 3-2 to reject the permit request during a meeting attended by at least a dozen residents of neighboring developments.

Opponents raised concerns about fumes entering the neighborhood and noted that the Planning Board had determined that a collision shop was not an allowed use in that location.

At the Town Board meeting, Palumbo said the Planning Board did not make a recommendation on the project, but instead questioned whether a collision shop was a permitted use in the major arterial zoning district.

He said most of Clarence’s collision shops are in major arterial or commercial districts.

He accused the Town Board of bowing to a vocal minority opposed to the project rather than basing its decision on the town code.

Palumbo said Friday that his client’s goal is to have the new business operating as soon as possible and that his client wants to work with the town to obtain site plan approval for the project.

He said the business will be an insurance claims processing center, a one-stop shop that can handle insurance claims, provide car rentals and repair the damaged vehicle after an accident.

He said it will be the company’s third location and will provide about 50 jobs. Gabe’s two other locations are on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda and Genesee Street in Cheektowaga.

Jeremy A. Colby, the town’s outside legal counsel, could not be reached to comment.


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