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Road closed because of construction vehicles

The access road to the building site of the controversial Town Homes at Shawnee Landing was ordered closed by the town Wednesday because of traffic problems caused by construction vehicles.

Supervisor Timothy E. Demler said he received complaints of mud, dirt and fast trucks on Klemer and Demler roads, and after an inspection by Highway Superintendent Art Kroening, all access was closed. Construction is expected to stop without any access.

"Regardless of what the church or attorneys say or do -- I have the authority to close that access permanently for public safety and in the interest of the concerns of Demler, Klemer, Meadowbrook Acres and Trails End," Demler said in a prepared statement.

Town Attorney Robert O'Toole said he agreed with the move, which came during the last Town Board meeting of the year. No Town Board members questioned the move. Demler said he would also be asking the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to withhold any funding for the development until the situation is resolved. "They (the developers) must come up with a better plan," he said.

Town engineer Tim Walck noted that the developers could put an access road through to Shawnee Road on their adjacent property, which is planned for a church. Access is also possible to Niagara Falls Boulevard, it was noted.

Klemer, a narrow two-lane road with no shoulders, is inadequate and presents a hazardous traffic situation, according to Demler.

The road closing is the latest move in the controversy surrounding the construction of the 64-unit housing project planned for low-income tenants. The eight-acre site is being developed by the Belmont Shelter Corp., Buffalo businessman Paul Granville and the Church at Shawnee Landing, which was known as the Payne Avenue Christian Church of North Tonawanda.

Hundreds of neighbors have attended recent meetings to protest the construction of the low-income project, situated amid $200,000 to $400,000 homes. Many said officials implied the project was only for senior citizens and the disabled. Demler said of 162 letters of concern that were submitted on the HUD funding, about 159 were opposed to the project.

The public comment period ended Tuesday.

Demler said the town is requesting the funding be held back until the traffic as well as drainage issues are addressed. Demler, who met with some residents of the area earlier in the day, said "if the funding is withheld, the project won't be successful."

In a related matter, the board tabled awarding a construction contract to build a pump station in the area until the situation is resolved. The developers were to contribute $110,000 of the $444,000 construction cost.

Related story on B2.


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