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Buffalo Planning Board calls for new hearings on revised projects

Much to the dismay of applicants, the Buffalo Planning Board on Monday called for new public hearings for two projects in which the developers have changed their designs since previous approval was granted.

Ellicott Development is in the midst of construction of a four-story mixed-use building at 905 Elmwood Ave., featuring 21 luxury apartments and retail space. It will include a first-floor restaurant called JT’s that will be owned by Henry Gorino and Chuck Mauro, with a second-floor patio, and have apartments on the rest of the second floor plus the third and fourth floors

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The project had been approved in late 2014, and Ellicott already demolished a former gas station on the site, cleared and cleaned the land, erected the steel, and is now starting to enclose the building. Plans call for completing the work and opening in the fall, said Ellicott director of development Thomas M. Fox.

However, Ellicott has since modified the building’s planned appearance, changing some of the materials, adjusting the tint of the windows and extending the second-floor patio 5 feet out from the building’s facade.

Fox called the changes “minor,” but Planning Board members agreed with Lancaster Avenue Block Club President Gretchen E. Cercone that they were significant enough to warrant public comment.

“It’s not an issue of whether we like it or not. You can’t make changes and circumvent the public hearing process,” said board member Horace A. Gioia. “I’d be in favor of it. It’s just the rules.”

The Planning Board also set a new public hearing for Sept. 13 on Pinto Construction Services’ proposed 86,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center at 132 Dingens St.

The $5.3 million project had previously been approved for the 13-acre site, which formerly housed a warehouse that was destroyed in a fire. But those plans included a 6,400-square-foot office addition, which is no longer needed because the expected tenant has changed, officials said. Instead, that will be replaced with green space.

Pinto still wants to proceed with the rest of the project, but the Planning Board wanted to give neighbors a chance to weigh in, even though there are no other changes.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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