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The Gardens of Oxbow, a $5 million housing project dubbed a model of "new urbanism" by its developer, moved another step closer to approval in the Village of Lewiston on Monday night.

The Village Board unanimously approved a change in law that removes the minimum restriction of 15 acres for projects that are cluster-zoned and will allow parcels of five acres or more to be considered for cluster development.

Oxbow Gardens, on six acres of land at Oxbow and Mohawk streets, would feature 24 single-family homes, clustered closer together to allow for more open space. The homes would be linked by a common driveway, with large front porches. A homeowners association provides for removal of snow, landscaping and grass cutting. Homes are expected to cost about $200,000 each.

The board also stipulated a minimum of 30 percent green space would be required in a cluster development.

Trustee William Geiben said the new law will make such projects much more workable.

"We are going to move for a major overhaul of our code, and this is a good steppingstone. It addresses the unfairness of the 15-acre rule and stops those who might be trying to put a few smaller parcels together," Geiben said.

Mayor Richard F. Soluri said, "It's been a long time. We've been talking about this for a couple of years. It always seemed to go on the back burner. We just needed a stimulus."

Resident Gretchen Morgan called the 30 percent green-space rule "dismal" noting most homes in the village have 50 percent green space. Kerry Achilli, also a resident, said he is concerned about the increase in traffic expected on adjoining Ninth Street, which he said "is already very busy and does not receive a lot of enforcement from police."

Geiben said Lewiston police would more closely patrol the area.

The board noted that this may be the only parcel that would be eligible for cluster zoning, because most of the land in the village already has been developed.

The Gardens at Oxbow received preliminary approval from the Lewiston Village Planning Board last month and approval from the Niagara County Planning Board on Monday.

Final approval for the project will be sought from both the Planning Board and the Village Board next Monday.


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