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Affordable senior housing project aired Town of Tonawanda holds public hearing

After Town of Tonawanda lawmakers spoke enthusiastically about the prospect of another affordable senior housing project, some residents came forward with concerns about its impact on their neighborhood.

Both had their say Monday night at a public hearing on a zoning change requested by Affordable Senior Housing Opportunities of New York. The nonprofit agency is under contract to buy the former Brighton Elementary School on Fries Road and intends to raze it to make way for a 153-unit apartment building.

The zoning change -- from schools, parks and cemeteries to multifamily dwelling district -- was approved unanimously by the Town Board, contingent upon the developer's obtaining title to the almost 5-acre site. Voters in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District previously approved the sale of the property for $660,000.

Earlier this month, the ribbon was cut at CrestMount Square, another Affordable Senior Housing Opportunities of New York project, along the town's northern border. It opened to rave reviews.

Councilman Daniel J. Crangle anticipates the same reception for the latest proposal.

"If it's anything like you have over here, it's going to be a beautiful facility," Crangle said to Michael Connors, the director of development present for the public hearing.

"Listening to the residents . . . on move-in day, [they are] thrilled with the facility," added Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. "It provides a place for our seniors in the Town of Tonawanda to stay in the Town of Tonawanda."

Plans call for the construction of a three-story building, shaped like a lower-case "h," containing 60 one-bedroom and 93 two-bedroom apartments. The target market is people 60 and older with annual incomes between $25,000 and $35,000.

"This segment of the senior population, in our opinion, is largely underserved," said Connors, who noted the development is geared toward seniors who can live independently.

Traffic and parking in the Eggert-Fries area were among concerns mentioned by residents.

"I would like to see . . . no parking on Eggert Road," said a resident of that road.

Carolyn Glaspy, of Fries Road, mentioned traffic and parking, as well, but she is also worried about the development accepting other low-income tenants if the senior market falls through.

Connors said the building and apartments are designed specifically for seniors. "They're just too small" for families, he said.

Further, in order to obtain tax incentives from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, the developer must ensure the building is utilized as intended.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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