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The Hamburg Town Board is considering a proposal to change the zoning of a small cluster of homes on Hoover Road, a technical change that would enable residents to obtain home-improvement loans the current zoning prevents them from getting.

The zoning change, from light industrial to neighborhood commercial, would have no immediate effect on the properties or the neighborhood, but it would enable homeowners to get home-equity loans or a second mortgage. Under the current zoning, homeowners have been denied those types of loans because they live in an area not zoned for residences, they told the Town Board on Monday night.

"I cannot get a loan," said Lynn Braun, one of the Hoover Road homeowners. "I can get a loan at 21 percent, but not through a bank."

Beyond that, if any of the houses were to burn down, the owners would be unable to rebuild the house since the area is not zoned for residences, according to Andrew C. Reilly, a planning consultant for the town.

The Town Board heard a presentation from Reilly on Monday night, along with pleas from a few residents to change the zoning. Officials unanimously tabled a vote on the rezoning.

Reilly said the town has been working for about a year to find a solution to the Hoover Road situation.

Although the six homes are grouped together, they sit between the Dock at the Bay restaurant and a trucking operation, virtually in the shadow of the Ford plant. Given those surroundings, it would be a mistake to zone the homes strictly residential, Reilly said.

The best option, he said, is to zone the area neighborhood commercial, the only zoning category in Hamburg that allows mixed use: businesses less than 5,000 square feet as well as residences. That offers a transitional zoning in the neighborhood nestled between Hoover Beach and heavy industry, Reilly said.

A representative of the Dock at the Bay restaurant -- which at times has been at odds with neighbors over noise complaints -- offered support for the neighbors' appeal for the zoning change.

"We're hopeful for residents this will address their problem," said Rodney O. Personius, an attorney for the restaurant's owners.


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