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Subdivision would have negative impact, planner says

Despite four large retention ponds, the 139-unit condominium subdivision proposed for a low-lying field off Beattie Avenue cannot improve the drainage woes of those living along Donner Creek, town Planner Andrew C. Reilly told the Planning Board on Tuesday.

Developer David L. Ulrich blasted Reilly in an interview after the meeting and said he would drop the project if the town put up too many "roadblocks."

Reilly told the board that, based on the information that has come to light so far, he is recommending a "positive declaration," meaning the board should conclude the condo plan would have a significant impact on the environment.

Such a finding would force Ulrich and partner Timothy Mulvey to complete a full environmental impact statement, which Reilly estimated would delay action on the plan for four or five months. Developers usually prefer a "negative declaration" so they don't have to bother with the red tape.

Donner Creek, which the town has been seeking state permission to clean or dredge, runs through the 92-acre parcel owned by Ulrich and Mulvey. Their proposal, which would be the largest subdivision ever built in Lockport, drew plenty of complaints at a public hearing March 20, largely centered around drainage.

"We're trying to make it through the design so it won't make it worse," Reilly said. "It won't make it better, I'll tell you that right now."

By constructing 139 patio homes, to be sold as condos, along with 12 full-size homes along the street, there will be more runoff, the planner said. "You're going to have more water in that watershed," Reilly said.

The issue isn't the size of the ponds. "The pond capacity [Ulrich] is proposing is 20 percent more than he needs [under codes]," Town Engineer Robert D. Klavoon said.

"Just making something bigger doesn't make it better," Reilly said.

"I have a very upscale project for the Town of Lockport," Ulrich warned. "If you put enough roadblocks up, we're not going any farther. I've become another project the town seems to be blocking."

Ulrich said the design of his project will help residents downstream along the flood-prone creek. "I think the town engineers are contributing to the negativity surrounding the Town of Lockport," Ulrich said. "After watching Drew Reilly the last few meetings, I really question his competence."

He accused Reilly of trying to drag the project out. The board wasn't asked to take action Tuesday. The topic may be discussed further at the board's formal meeting next Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, Reilly told the board that the state Department of Transportation has decided that traffic from a proposed new McDonald's at South Transit and Hamm roads will be safe enough. He said the DOT's traffic report concluded that there is enough spacing between cars on South Transit, which is Route 78, to allow for safe left turns out of the eatery.
"Our reaction was, 'This isn't going to work.' We went through all our traffic studies, and much to our chagrin, it works," Reilly said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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