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The developer of the proposed Columbia Gardens subdivision that straddles both the Village of Depew and Town of Lancaster is one step closer to final approval.

The Depew Village Board earlier this week approved three resolutions that allowed for issuing public improvement permits, approving an inspection contract and giving final plat map approval for the 48-lot single-family subdivision off Columbia Avenue.

The project is being developed by Forbes Homes on a 21-acre site, two-thirds of which sits in the village and a third located in the town.

While several Depew residents at Monday's Village Board meeting spoke in favor of the subdivision, most criticized the developer for proceeding with public improvements on the site before having received permits to do the work.

Lancaster Town officials at a Nov. 16 meeting scolded the developer for partially constructing a road through the subdivision in advance of receiving final approvals from the Town Board. Developer Eliot Lasky insisted that he had not intentionally flouted town rules and pointed out that his company had an informal agreement with the village to begin some public improvements, such as laying out the road sub-base, before receiving final approvals from the Village Board.

At Monday's Village Board meeting, Lancaster resident Gary Howell questioned the village's authority to make such an agreement when the village code requires a permit be issued first.

Town Clerk Robert M. Kucewicz on Wednesday said the village's engineering and public works departments had been working with Forbes Homes for over a year on the project "making sure everything was to our satisfaction." Ultimately, Kucewicz said, the agreement granting the developer permission to begin grubbing and clearing on the site came from his office.

Howell and others argued Monday that the improvements at the Columbia Gardens site went beyond grubbing and clearing to include digging soil for a retention pond and placing storm sewer drop inlets along Columbia Court.

The Lancaster Town Board at its Nov. 16 meeting ordered the developer to halt work on the Lancaster portion of the proposed development and declined to issue final approvals on the project until the developer complied. Town Supervisor Robert Giza on Wednesday said the Town Board will likely revisit Forbes' request for final plan approval at its Dec. 6 meeting.

Columbia Gardens would be the first new subdivision built in Depew in over a decade, and probably the last of its kind that the village will see, said Kucewicz.

"There's not much vacant land left in the village," he said.


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