Ostriches and emus are OK in a residential zone, but the West Seneca Zoning Board of Appeals isn't so sure about motorcycle clubs.
While the board approved a permanent variance for an ostrich-raising operation on Seneca Street where an emu escaped earlier this month, the board Wednesday tabled a request to convert a 13,000-square-foot former research facility into a "single-family dwelling" after questions were raised about whether it would be used by a motorcycle club.
The eight-acre lot at 2855 Clinton St. is located behind other property and requires a 40-foot access lane. It has a 30-foot access lane off Clinton, and owner Peter Koschuk is seeking a 10-foot variance as well as permits to convert the existing building.
Koschuk is said to be a member of the Chosen Few motorcycle club and is rumored to have bought property for its clubhouse. The Chosen Few is said to be the local chapter of the Hell's Angels.
Town Attorney Timothy Greenan said the building for 30 years was partly owned by Roswell Park Cancer Institute. As a state-owned property, no variances were needed from the zoning, which allows residential and agricultural use.
Koschuk purchased it for $42,000 this year, and work began on the cinderblock building last summer.
Inspectors said Koschuk's brother, Alexander, and others replaced windows with concrete blocks, installed a reinforced steel door and gutted the interior without obtaining any building permits.
They were told to cease work until they had building permits, but Building Inspector William Czyprinski subsequently denied their permit requests.
Czyprinski thinks that the motorcycle club wants to move in and obtained an injunction halting work pending a variance or rezoning.
Koschuk, in turn, is suing Czyprinski for refusing to issue him a building permit to convert the existing structure into a home he would rent for income.
At 5 a.m. Aug. 10, police went to the site on a loud-music complaint.
"Sentries in Chosen Few colors" stopped them at the gate, according to a police affidavit.
Koschuk declined to comment.
However, his lawyer, Orchard Park Town Attorney Leonard Berkowitz, questioned the town's actions.
"Everything you've heard here tonight, every statement made to town employees, has been made by people who do not own this property," he said.
"I submit that I could go to any one of your homes, hold a loud party and then tell police that the Chosen Few bought the house and were using it as their clubhouse."
The board tabled the issue until Oct. 22 to study affidavits presented by the town attorney.
The board granted a variance to James Denz and his three sons, Peter, James Jr. and David, who had a one-year temporary variance to raise ostriches on their property at 5411 Seneca St., which is zoned for residential and agricultural uses.
Earlier this month, the town dog warden spent a week trying to corral a runaway emu that escaped from the property, bolted across Cazenovia Creek and was seen at the West Seneca Developmental Center.
In the year they have been experimenting with the birds, the Denzes said there have been no complaints from neighbors, no property damage, and no noise or odor problems.
They said they planned to sell the eggs and chicks and would never have more than three birds at any one time. They said they have been successful in selling their excess stock.
Both ostriches and emus are flightless birds that stand about 6 feet tall.