In May, the Amherst Planning Board heard numerous residents describe the unsafe conditions on Lafayette Boulevard that would become worse for the children of our block with the additional traffic from a planned retail store.
The Planning Board also heard the attorney for Benderson Development state publicly that he would agree to revise the plan to allow the entrance and exit to be on Main Street, rather than Lafayette, as was the case for the prior gas station at that site. The residents left the public meeting feeling that a compromise had been reached and a revised site plan would be submitted.
But instead of listening to the residents' pleas and accepting the developer's offer, the Planning Board decided to approve the plan as submitted with the exit onto Lafayette. In addition, no traffic-safety studies were presented at the public hearing. It is noteworthy that two members, Paul Beyer and Debra Norton, asked pointed questions during the open forum and ultimately voted against the proposed site plan.
Since learning of this unanticipated outcome, the residents repeatedly requested to have a second opportunity to meet with the Planning Board. It refused.
In July, the Town Board passed a resolution asking the Planning Board to reconsider its decision and it was placed on the agenda for the August meeting. However, since none of the Planning Board members who voted to accept the plan would vote to reconsider the matter, it was never discussed.
At the Town Board meeting in July, the frustrated residents of Lafayette Boulevard were told outright: We're sorry, but there is no mechanism for appealing the Planning Board decision. It is a done deal, you have no recourse.
The final blow was realizing that our elected officials asked the appointed Planning Board members to reconsider a decision, and their request was rejected outright. How could elected Town Board members appoint members of a Planning Board who, in turn, have no accountability to the residents about their decisions? The system needs to be changed.