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Board defers decision on date for downsizing vote

Hamburg Town Board members took the first step Monday night toward demolishing a well-known former restaurant.

On another issue, they took no action on setting a date for a referendum on downsizing the Town Board.

Residents apparently will not vote during the Nov. 3 general election on whether to reduce the board to three from five members.

Town Attorney Kenneth Farrell said the petitions filed Sept. 3 asked for a "special town election" on the downsizing.

Despite the assumption that the petitions intended to place the measure placed on the November general election ballot, Farrell said the law distinguishes between a special election and a general election.

"The board hasn't decided how they're going to handle it," Farrell said.

He said the law states the election must be conducted at least 60 days from the day the petitions were filed, but leaves it open as to the exact day.

"There's no question the town is going to put it on the ballot," Deputy Town Attorney Brian Doyle said. "It's just when and is there a full discussion. That's all they're looking for. They're looking for Kevin Gaughan to come in and present his side in an open forum."

Supervisor Steven J. Walters invited Gaughan, the civic activist who filed the petitions, to discuss the issue at a public forum. Farrell said the town has not yet heard from Gaughan.

Town Board members officially designated the former Armor Inn on Abbott Road an "endangerment and an attractive nuisance." They authorized Kurt Allen, supervising building inspector, to start the demolition process.

"It's been abandoned for nearly four years now. We're coming into the winter season. We've been trying desperately to work with the property owner to seek a remedy to get some of the long-standing property maintenance issues resolved," Allen said.

Last week, the board authorized the town attorney to file intervention papers in the matrimonial action of Christopher Walter, who owns the old inn. The board wanted the judge to release money to repair the building.

Walter bought the inn for $140,000 in 2005 and started renovating it. He gutted the interior and expanded the kitchen. He also tore down an adjacent building for parking. But construction stopped 3 1/2 years ago, town officials said.

"The town considers that structure to be a liability rather than an asset," Allen said.

Allen said a hearing would be conducted before the building is demolished.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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