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RESIDENTS WARNED ON EFFECTS OF REZONING DEFEAT

If a nursing home company isn't allowed to build an adult-care apartment complex on the western outskirts of the Village of Williamsville, it could put up something worse, an Amherst lawmaker warned Monday.

"I'm not certain that the people in that neighborhood understand the ramifications," said Council Member James P. Hayes.

William Zacher wants the town to rezone a 3-acre parcel at the rear of 160 S. Forest Road from residential district-4 to multifamily residential district-7. That would allow him to build a 117-unit adult-care apartment building adjacent to his Williamsville Suburban Nursing Home and Williamsville View Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on South Union Road.

Dozens of neighbors who live on Linwood Avenue, South Forest and South Union roads oppose the project, citing concerns about traffic congestion, noise and their homes' property values.

They have pressed Town Board members to deny the rezoning.

Last week, the board put off a decision to give neighbors more time to negotiate with Zacher. Most board members say they're against rezoning the parcel.

The current zoning allows Zacher to build a four-unit apartment complex on the parcel, and possibly up to four additional complexes if he divides the parcel into lots, said Building Commissioner Thomas C. Ketchum.

Also, Zacher could gain access to the parcel from Linwood if he builds an apartment complex, Hayes said

Hayes said he simply wants residents to understand Zacher could still build on the parcel if the board denies the rezoning request.

It could be to the residents' benefit to negotiate with Zacher and reach a compromise instead of pushing the board to deny the rezoning request, Hayes said.

Council Member Daniel J. Ward dismissed Hayes' remarks as attempt to persuade neighborhood residents to agree to something they don't want out.

"It's the old 'pig farm' defense," Ward said. "The developer's back is against the wall. There's seven votes on the Town Board against it. The neighbors don't want it. So threaten the neighborhood by saying something worse could be built, like a pig farm, and hope they approve what's on the table."

Several neighbors said they'd rather live next to several apartment complexes than an adult-care facility

"They've got to turn this down," said Roger Scurci of 190 South Forest. "I don't think there's one resident in favor of the adult home. We'd rather have an apartment complex."

Zacher revised his original proposal, and he now wants to build a facility that would be two stories high -- not three -- and the number of beds would shrink slightly, to 144 from 162.

The company also said it would agree to restrict street access to the building.

The board is expected to vote on the rezoning request Oct. 5.

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