The proposed development of a restaurant and pub at Dirkson Avenue and Seneca Street will not proceed after the West Seneca Town Board's unanimous denial Monday of a rezoning application for the project.
Citing concerns over parking and traffic disruption in the surrounding neighborhood, board members said the proposal, submitted by a Buffalo police lieutenant from West Seneca, was an inappropriate use for a building that has been vacant for nearly 15 years.
"I really hate to see undeveloped or vacant buildings . . . but, at the same time, we don't want to adversely affect the surrounding neighborhood," said Councilman Vincent J. Graber Jr.
The petitioner, Guy Zagara, of Indian Church Road, defended his application after it was met by staunch opposition from more than a half-dozen Dirkson Avenue residents.
"It's a nice piece of property. The building is perfect for a pub," Zagara said.
He purchased the property about three months ago with the intent to open the long-vacant building as a tavern specializing in seafood dinners with salad and soup selections, he said.
But Dirkson Avenue residents complained Zagara's plan would make their traffic-congested and confusing street more dangerous. Zagara's property could only provide for a 10-space parking lot, and Dirkson Avenue, as the only one-way street in town, often has traffic traveling the wrong way, and there is already heavy off-street parking, residents said.
"We like our street, and we like our community, but if the parking gets any tighter it's going to drop our property values," said Mark Sasse of 64 Dirkson.
"It's a nice building, but it's just a bad location for a restaurant. We would have nothing against him developing an apartment or a smaller business there," Sasse said.
Zagara pointed out that the proposed restaurant would be within 300 feet of a large municipal parking lot near Seneca Street and Harlem Road, but town officials feared the natural tendency of patrons would be to seek a spot "closest to the front door" on Dirkson Avenue.
"I believe it does not fit with the parking he has available to him. I think people would be using Dirkson, and I do think it would impose on (residents)," said Councilman Christopher Osmanski.
Zagara said he has no immediate alternatives for use of the property and building but will search for other options. The current zoning for the property provides for general office-type use.
The town Planning Board previously deadlocked, 3-3, on the rezoning petition and made no recommendation on the issue to the Town Board.