Increased traffic was the main concern brought forward by Williamsville residents Monday night during a public hearing on a plan to convert a construction yard into apartments and townhouses.
Residents of streets surrounding the Herbert F. Darling Inc. construction complex on California Drive said traffic is heavy now, and they fear it’ll worsen if Natale Development’s plan to build 30 townhouses and 112 apartments on five acres south of Main Street moves forward.
“I can see some development,” South Union resident Kathleen Thomson said during the standing-room-only hearing in Village Hall. “I certainly can see that, but the volume you’re proposing seems way over what we can bear in that neighborhood.”
The site backs up to South Long, the village Department of Public Works, a park and railroad museum, and a former railroad line that cut diagonally through the village and is now a bike path.
Residents got an update on the project from village officials, architect David Sutton, Matt Newcomb, project engineer for Passero Associates, and Bobby Corrad, president of Natale Development Co.
Mayor Brian Kulpa acknowledged the project would bring more traffic into the neighborhood of single-family homes, but noted the village’s community plan calls for high-density housing on the site where zoning was recently changed from commercial to residential to allow for it.
“It wasn’t going to be a construction yard forever,” he said. “It’s prime real estate in a village with a hot housing market. So what does it want to be? How do we want to deal with it? That’s what we have to figure out.”
Residents were told the developer is still meeting with the village’s traffic safety committee, which will ultimately make a recommendation to the Planning Board.
Sutton said the dwellings would likely appeal to older village residents who don’t want the burden of home ownership anymore, which would free up the homes for sale to younger families.
But some residents, like Thomson, said the neighborhood can’t handle a potential doubling of vehicular traffic.
“The traffic is just a nightmare in this village already and this just is going to add so much to it,” she said. “It’s taken away from our quality of life.”