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City Hallways (Feb. 10) A Catch 22

The Ellicott Street Deep South Taco

The Ellicott Street Deep South Taco

More Taco

The initial Planning Board meeting for Deep South Taco's proposed Hertel/Starin restaurant attracted a handful of critics. A subsequent community meeting attracted a room full of supporters - and at least one dissenter who was shouted down. Tuesday, a Common Council hearing on the project attracted only one speaker, Larry Gottesman, with the nearby Crocker Park Neighborhood Association, who expressed concern over the project's scale and potential for noise, parking and traffic problems.  He said he hopes the Council imposes restrictions on the business prior to it opening to address such issues before they become problems.

Gottesman also said the community meeting held on the project last week seemed more like a booster session for the project, than a serious discussion of the issues.

Delaware District  Councilman Joel Feroleto said the council won't be voting on Deep South Taco until the project first gets necessary zoning and planning board approvals.  Richard Hamilton, the chef/developer of the project is meeting with concerned residents this week, said Feroleto, who offered to put Gottesman in touch with Hamilton.

While some have expressed concerns, there's a lot of enthusiastic support for the restaurant to open in North Buffalo, Feroleto added.

A Catch 22 in City Hall

For years, there's been complaints that the city's federally funded emergency home repair grant/loan program for the poor takes too long. Those complaints continue, but city officials Tuesday said they are making progress.

"The average homeowner seeking aid from the program has to struggle with the leaky roof or broken furnace for approximately 13 months prior to the situation being remedied," the city comptroller wrote in a recent audit.

The Brown Administration Tuesday said it's cut that time down,  sometimes to 60 days or less, especially when it comes to items like getting a broken furnace fixed as opposed to a leaky roof replaced. But the plethora of federal regulations often makes a quick turn-around difficult, said Brendan Mehaffy, the mayor's top development adviser.

Pat Curry, a top aide to City Comptroller Mark Schroeder,  suggested Buffalo follow Rochester's lead, and make the entire program grant-based, rather than loan, as a way to reduce the time frame. But the Brown Administration, as well as some Community Based Organizations it works with, argued that the two city programs are so different  it's an apples-oranges comparison.

Mehaffy said one thing the city can immediately work on is expediting the process for paying contractors participating in the program. Right now, city and housing officials said, the same procedures that elongate the process of getting the work done can result in it taking four to six weeks for contractors to get paid.  As a result, many contractors aren't interested in participating in the program -  which is one of the reasons cited  for project delays.

From Mayor Brown's State of the City speech:
"My vision is of a city of Buffalo that will reclaim its rightful place among the great cities of the United States."

Calendar Items
State DOT hosting public forum tonight on future of Scajacuada Expressway, starts 6:30 p.m. at Buffalo State College

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