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Developer gets leeway on paving of private road Town Board relaxes rule for apartment complex

The Orchard Park Town Board granted an exception Wednesday to its construction standard for private roads, after an apartment developer said the requirement could make his project -- and others like it -- too costly to build.

"What this [standard] is saying is, there are going to be no private roads going into Orchard Park ever again," developer Bryan Young said. "You're not going to see any more of these projects."

Young submitted plans in 2007 for an approximately 160-unit apartment complex at California and Big Tree roads, to be called Orchard Grove.

Late last year, Orchard Park adopted a requirement that developers' private roads meet the construction standard for the town's public roads.

That includes putting 8 inches of blacktop on top of a stone base.

"I was in the middle of this when the playbook got changed," Young said. The project "never would have gotten as far as we have today" had the standard been applied from the beginning.

The change would add about $300,000 to the cost of his approximately $10 million apartment project, Young said.

Young said he was not notified about the new standard until after its enactment and complained that it will make his development and others like it unprofitable.

The Town Board agreed to a compromise: Young will add 3 inches of blacktop to his proposed road, for a total of 5 inches.

While still below the town standard of eight inches, the compromise should yield an adequate surface, Town Engineer Wayne Bieler told the board.

"He's got a decent road here," Bieler said.

The layout of the apartment complex includes a winding road, which could have been made shorter and less costly if the construction standard had been in effect from the beginning, Bieler said.

Young said construction of the Orchard Grove project should get under way this year, with completion of the first phase of 80 units in May 2010.

Before the requirement was enacted, the town lacked an official standard for private roads, Bieler said.

While the Planning Board has sought to require developers to follow the standard for public roads, "there was no ordinance backing it up," he said.

One of the arguments in favor of the higher standard was Young's own Hammocks apartment complex on Orchard Park Road, where, Bieler said, cracks appeared around storm drains only a year after completion, highlighting the need for sturdier road construction.

Young said the problems at the Hammocks were minimal and that the roadway for Orchard Grove will be thicker than at the Hammocks.

As the long-term owner of the projects as well as their developer, Young said he is as interested in problem-free construction as anyone.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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