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Residents seek careful study of planned condominium

Concerned citizens and business owners are asking village officials to take a hard look at a proposed plan to build a three-story riverfront condominium in the heart of the business district.

To that end, they have collected close to 600 petition signatures and plan to address the Village Board during the public comment portion of its meeting at 7 p.m. today in Village Hall, 240 Lockport St.

The topic, however, will not appear on the agenda, and no decisions will be made about the condo pitch.

"It's an ambitious but preliminary plan at this point," Mayor Neil C. Riordan said Wednesday.

Gary Smith, chief operating officer of Modern Corp. in Lewiston, purchased the vacant property for $120,000 in June at public auction. He represents Riverfront LLC, based in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford.

He presented a conceptual plan for the site in July to the Planning Board, calling for 18 first-floor parking spaces and two floors of living space for a total of eight condominiums. The projected cost for the proposed project at 347 Main St. is $2 million.

Smith must return to the Planning Board with more detailed architectural and engineering plans next, Riordan said.

The plan will come under state Department of Environmental Conservation scrutiny and would require a number of variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, Riordan said. In addition, he said, the development must follow state-approved Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan guidelines.

"The Village Board will be the last stop" in the approval process, the mayor said.

"The property is located on a bluff, it's square in the middle of the business district, and it's a great vista," he added. "It is a sensitive issue, and our board is very attentive to that."

Main Street resident Gretchen Duling said a group of concerned residents and business owners have been meeting to study the preliminary plan's progress through the approval process and perhaps offer alternatives to the proposed development on the site, which housed the historic El Dorado Hotel in the 1930s.

"We have collected 558 signatures on petitions placed in a number of places in the village," Duling said. "We'll present our additional sheets of signatures [tonight]. This is a significant scenic site right in the heart of our village. It's our window to history. The general consensus is that the people hope they can save this [from development]. We are hoping the board will give us the opportunity for a public hearing."

Riordan said a public hearing is always held as a matter of course in any proposed development process.

He added that in the nearly 30 years he has served on the Village Board, the village has had many opportunities to purchase the site -- which he backed -- but that former board majorities always voted down the idea.


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