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TOWN OF LANCASTER WILL RETURN TO COURT OVER HOUSING PROJECT

The Town of Lancaster has been ordered back to court next month, the latest chapter in the skirmish over a low-income housing complex for senior citizens.

State Supreme Court Justice Peter J. Notaro Tuesday issued a show-cause order, directing the town to explain why it rejected a zoning variance for the federally subsidized project.

The 50-unit project, sponsored by the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, is targeted for a six-acre parcel adjacent to an upscale subdivision in northwest Lancaster.

Since its inception in September 1996, the Lancaster project has met with fierce opposition from residents of Larkspur Acres.

Equally as tenacious is Harry Konst, president of the Hellenic group's local chapter. Konst is supported by a cadre of senior citizens, many of whom view the legal battle as an insult.

"That place should already be built," said Anna Wilczynski, who resides at Lancaster Towers. "That's not fair. We worked all of our lives and paid our taxes," said the 76-year-old.

Lancaster Town Attorney Richard Sherwood was out of town and unavailable to comment.

Supervisor Robert H. Giza said the town had no qualms about the project.

"We have no reason to stop it," Giza said, "if he (Konst) would meet the requirements of the town."

Earlier this month, the town Zoning Board of Appeals denied Konst's request for a variance that would have allowed a 49-square-foot addition to each apartment. The additional space was required to meet the town ordinance governing apartment size.

Notaro, in issuing the court order, wants to know why the town rejected the variance request, according to Konst.

"I've never experienced a Town Board that says they want to help and then does everything to defeat the project," Konst said. "We have given them ample opportunity to solve the problem.

"We were forced to go to court," Konst maintained. "We had no other alternative."

The project had been ordered before the town's Municipal Review Committee, a panel that would have determined if the addition was significant enough to create an adverse environmental impact on the neighborhood.

Art Giacalone, an attorney who represents the Northwest Lancaster Homeowners Association, said the court order was not surprising.

"I guess I'm not surprised," he said. "My clients and I are intending to intervene in the lawsuit so we can defend our interests."

All parties are due in State Supreme Court at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 11.

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