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Developer's proposal for Cedargrove Heights delayed

The developer who has proposed remaking Cheektowaga's Cedargrove Heights area into Renaissance Village said he wants to pursue it, but he won't have a final answer for the town by Monday's deadline.

"We said we would make a decision by the end of September," Dominic Piestrak said. "Our decision is we think it's a doable deal."

Piestrak has proposed buying the property, demolishing the structures and building a new community with residential, retail and office uses. Vocal opponents have been fiercely fighting the proposal, which has yet to be officially presented to the town. But Piestrak says he believes many homeowners silently support the plan.

"My feeling is you should listen to what the people say," Piestrak said.

He said a 14-question survey would be sent to homeowners this week.

Some Town Board members, who had expected to have written plans in hand by Monday's Town Board meeting, are upset at the delay. Piestrak's son, Nick, gave the board an update Tuesday night, with Piestrak on the speaker phone for part of the meeting.

"He was supposed to have more than a conference call. He was supposed to have some sort of plan, something the Town Board could look at," Council Member James J. Jankowiak said.

Jankowiak said he was disappointed Piestrak did not meet the goals.

"We made a commitment to the community that we would have some answers for them by Oct. 3," Jankowiak said. "I really wish he would pull out and not bother the people anymore."

Nick Piestrak said results of the survey, which asks the approximately 415 property owners to rate their agreement or disagreement with statements on a scale of one to five, will be compiled within a couple of weeks if people return them promptly.

When asked if the results could be trusted, he said he and his father have no incentive to lie about the survey. If the majority of people do not want the project, the developer would walk away and not put up with roadblocks and legal challenges, he said.

"We are not looking to get into a legal battle that will last 10 to 15 years," he said. "There's no benefit to us to skew the result."

Jankowiak said the Town Board recognizes problems in Cedargrove but he would rather spend money on beefing up housing codes and inspections.

Joan Adams, president of the Cedargrove Neighborhood Action Committee, said she was disappointed at the delay and would continue to press the Town Board against using eminent domain for economic improvement.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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