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DEVELOPERS READY TO TALK GREEN SPACE BUT SOME AMHERST DEMANDS ARE CALLED 'RIDICULOUS'

Prospective developers of almost 290 acres in the Maple-Ayer-Klein-Transit roads section of Amherst are willing to discuss preserving some of the land as public green space, their attorney maintained Thursday.

However, some of the demands made by project opponents at recent meetings have been "ridiculous," and would never hold up in court if the town tried to impose them, said Jeffery D. Palumbo, lawyer for DRT Development Co., Tesmer Builders and Cimato Brothers Inc.

"We are willing to meet with the town on the open space requirements and/or the veterans park mentioned" in a statement several weeks ago by Amherst Supervisor Daniel J. Ward, Palumbo said.

"However, the supervisor has thus far been unwilling to give us specifics about his proposal," Palumbo said. Ward, who opposes the huge project, was unavailable to comment Thursday afternoon.

Some project opponents have called for the developers to donate anywhere from 45 to 100 acres of the site as open space.

"That is just not going to happen" with land as expensive as it is in Amherst, Palumbo said.

Records indicate the developers bought 253 acres of the 288-acre site between 1988 and 1990 at a total cost of more than $3.8 million, or an average of more than $15,000 an acre. Parcels intended for commercial use command values up to $100,000 an acre and more, officials said.

The three developers -- Tesmer, DRT and Cimato -- are not business partners in the project, but developers who happen to own adjoining parcels of land.

State Environmental Quality Review Act procedures "require the town to consider cumulative impacts on contiguous parcels," Palumbo said in explaining what brought the three together.

If each developer had submitted his project separately, "there would have had to have been three (environmental impact studies) and probably a lot of duplication of work," he noted.

Palumbo pointed out that when project critics demand the donation of anywhere from 45 to 100 acres of upland forest in return for approval for developing the balance of the acreage, they are demanding that one of the developers surrender substantial portions of his land for nothing so that the other two developers may develop their property. The attractive 100-acre upland forest behind homes on the south side of Klein, between Ayer and Transit, in 1988 received one of the highest priority ratings in the town in a "Amherst Open Space Acquisition Plan" by a Rochester-based team of consultants. The study cost the town $40,000.

However, by the time the so-called Larson Report was made public -- June of 1988 -- developers had already filed a loosely defined proposal to build several hundred dwellings, stores and shops in the 300-acre area in which the forest is located.

The 100-acre forest that the consultants felt was so important to preserve was described this way in their report:

"Located in a rapidly developing area of the town and has excellent access from Klein Road and Transit Road. Contains tree stands of varying ages, including several beautiful 15- to 25-year-old stands of pines and hardwoods.

"The topography is rolling rather than flat and borders on a major drainage channel. Offers excellent opportunities for both active and passive recreation. Also offers linkage possibilities with Bassett Park and Williamsville East High School."

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