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OK EXPECTED FOR PROJECT ON N. FRENCH BUT PLANS FOR APARTMENTS ON NORTH SIDE FACE DENIAL

A large apartment project proposed six years ago for both sides of North French Road near Transit Road in Amherst apparently will be allowed on only one side -- the south.

The Amherst Town Board is expected to approve a rezoning for construction of 228 apartments off the south side of North French, but deny a rezoning for another 32 units on the north side, officials said Wednesday.

Cimato & Sons, James Bevilacqua and Cimato Brothers Inc. in March 1989 petitioned for the rezoning of about 35 acres of land off both sides of North French, just west of Transit, for a 288-unit apartment complex.

The original request involved 228 units on the south side of North French and 60 more on the north side, in a relatively narrow strip of land between North French and Dodge Road.

The developers later scaled back their plans for the north parcel to 32 units.

Amherst Council Member Jane S. Woodward, Town Board liaison for planning, said Wednesday that majority on the board have agreed informally to support the rezoning of the south parcel, immediately west of where Tops Friendly Markets plans a new supermarket.

However, Mrs. Woodward added that before rezoning the south parcel, the board is seeking assurances that vacant land between the apartments and the Meadows subdivision to the south will be developed with single-family homes.

In December 1993, the Amherst Planning Board recommended against rezoning either the north or south parcels for apartments, pointing to an inconsistency with the town's overall Community Development Plan.

"(We) believe that a lesser density of residential development should be encouraged for this property similar to that which exists and is (developing) nearby," the Planning Board resolution said.

Mrs. Woodward said that although the Town Board apparently doesn't want apartments on the north side of North French near Transit, it also cringes at the prospect of what a traditional residential design would bring -- 14 new single- family homes with 14 private driveways on an already busy road near a major intersection.

Planners are hoping for a more creative, innovative residential design for the north parcel, one offering low density without a lot of new driveways, Mrs. Woodward said.

The Town Board is scheduled to adopt environmental-impact findings for the apartment project Monday night, with a rezoning decision tentatively set for April 24.

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