Lancaster residents criticize apartment project same day as developer pulls proposal - The Buffalo News

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Lancaster residents criticize apartment project same day as developer pulls proposal

The controversial 252-unit apartment complex that Bella Vista Group wanted to build along Harris Hill Road in Lancaster drew the ire of nearby residents Monday night, the same day the town received official word that the developer withdrew its proposal.

But the developer could still come back with another proposal for the same site at any time.

Town leaders said they’d just received formal notification earlier Monday of the developer’s intention to pull its plan from review, with little indication as to what was behind its decision.

However, the Town Board still went ahead with a public hearing that had been advertised far in advance of Monday on the proposed rezoning that would have been necessary for the apartment project eyed for 375-391 Harris Hill Road.

The Town Board got an earful from residents who live in the area and are opposed to the requested rezoning of approximately 33 acres to multi-family from just residential, which would have allowed for the apartment development.

Moreover, Erie County officials found fault with how incomplete the application was, citing the lack of a traffic study, sanitary sewer issues, and the site’s proximity to an active quarry that mines limestone rock for various regional construction projects.

Residents had their concerns, as well, chief among them density and traffic congestion in an area already facing plenty of traffic.

“The residential density is way out of character for the (neighborhood),” said Ron Oswald, whose Harris Hill Road home sits across from the property now owned by Samuel Tadio, of Cheektowaga.

Oswald questioned the impact of an apartment complex with parking allowed for 524 vehicles on current traffic, which often is bumper to bumper between 4 and 6 p.m. daily, he said.

Oswald also was concerned about a dumpster that would be near his property and the resulting odors that would impact him.

He and others also noted the existing wetlands of the property that Bella Vista was targeting for the apartments.

Several Harris Hill-area neighbors complained to town officials that they received the required notification from the developer at different times, some a few weeks ago and some very recently, while two said they never received any notice, which is required of developers to notify property owners within 200 feet of a proposed development.

By withdrawing the proposal, Bella Vista can still resubmit another one at any time. Had the developer let the town take action and it was denied, Bella Vista would have had to wait a full year before resubmitting another plan. Any new proposal would require another town public hearing.

The town Planning Board tabled the project Sept. 4 and then denied it two weeks later.

Councilwoman Donna Stempniak, liaison to the Planning Board, told residents how Erie County officials were not satisfied with the project and cited it for being incomplete when it went to review it. Stempniak also said residents should talk with one another to keep updated, in case Bella Vista would resubmit another plan soon.


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