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Lancaster official hits claims on sprawl

Lancaster Planning Board Chairman Stanley J. Keysa was tired of complaints that second-ring suburbs such as Lancaster are killing Buffalo by drawing residents farther outside the urban core.

"We always hear this thing, that we're sucking life out of the city," he said. "My perception is, for a long time, that's not the case."

So he asked the developer of Pleasant Meadows, the town's largest subdivision, where the development's newest homeowners were coming from.

Most, it turns out, were coming from Lancaster.

Of 49 new homes sold in Pleasant Meadows as of mid-March, 20 -- or almost 41 percent -- had been purchased by people already living in the Town of Lancaster.

According to Keysa's calculations, 34 of the buyers -- the vast majority -- lived within a 5-mile radius of their newly purchased home. None lived in Buffalo.

John Manns, Marrano Marc/Equity's vice president for sales and marketing, described Pleasant Meadows as the company's hottest residential development, with homes selling for an average of $290,000. Most are two-story with four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.

He added that he expects the second phase of the development to be sold out within 60 days.

Keysa said the data provided by Marrano counters the suburban sprawl argument. People, he said, simply are looking to upgrade within their communities.

"They are people who are moving a relatively short distance," Keysa said, "from an older home to a newer home."

The data, however, can support alternate arguments.

Although 41 percent of new home buyers already lived in the Town of
Lancaster, even more -- 43 percent -- were moving from a first-ring suburb such as Cheektowaga or Williamsville to Lancaster, a second-ring suburb.

Essentially, more buyers in Pleasant Meadows were moving farther away from Buffalo. Four others who bought homes were from out of state.

Keysa said new homes in Lancaster simply are meeting market demand. He pointed out that while subdivisions are laid out in advance, the new homes aren't built until a buyer puts down the money.

"Do you tell people that you cannot change your housing, or do you recognize that people have the right to change the housing they have?" Keysa said. "Do we deny people the chance to choose where they shall live?"

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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