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DEVELOPER MULLING LAYOUT OF PROJECT

The developer of the controversial Country Meadows Town Homes apartment project proposed for the Village of Hamburg's Chapel Glen neighborhood has decided against asking the village to abandon two paper streets in the 24-acre site -- but the project is still alive.

The project has not been scrapped, but the developer last week said it is still deciding what the best layout would be for the apartments that are to resemble townhouses and could number between 260 and 400 units depending on their individual size and how many bedrooms are contained in each.

"Once we decide which works best, then the final plans will be submitted to the village," said Timothy J. Morgan, vice president of development for Clover Construction Management Inc. of Amherst. If the developer decides to make the project more upper-end, it would need more green space, he said.

Morgan last week notified Village Administrator David W. Fountaine by letter that Clover Construction Management is withdrawing its request -- for now -- to have the village abandon the existing paper streets known as Canterbury and Areta drives. The letter was announced at the board's meeting earlier last week.

The abandonment of those streets had sparked significant neighborhood protest by many Chapel Glen residents who say they fear the complex would cause their property values to go down and add excessive traffic in the area. Residents opposed to the project submitted a 190-signature petition to the board on Nov. 3.

In an interview, however, Morgan did not close the door on the paper streets, saying the company still is analyzing the project with them and without them. When Morgan presented rough concepts of the project to the board last month, the developer initially said it would be interested in building a private road with two access points through the apartment complex if the two streets were abandoned.

At that time, about 260 apartments were proposed for the $16 million project that may feature a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments renting for $550 to $800 per month. The project would not be government-subsidized.

But when opposition arose to Clover Construction's interest in having the two streets abandoned, the developer acknowledged it might build more apartments in less space if the board did not do away with the streets. If that occurred, the developer had said that 30 more apartments, or a total of 290 units, would instead be built for the complex in less space.

The developer, however, also said it could instead opt to build 389 one-bedroom apartments. The land is zoned R-3, allowing apartments to be built.

"It's very, very early," Morgan said. No formal project plans have been submitted to the Village Planning Commission. The project also is subject to state environmental reviews and traffic studies.

Mayor John S. Thomas last week called the developer's latest decision "very interesting." Even so, "it doesn't mean anything except to withdraw their request to abandon those two streets," he added.

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