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Developer backs off on condos

Conceding his condominium plan for Davison Road was "over-ambitious," a Washington State man said Tuesday he is hoping to scale back the project to something the Town of Lockport might be able to approve.

Donald MacLeod said the chances of building the 132-unit project as he outlined it two weeks ago are "probably zero."

In view of that, the Niagara County Legislature's Administration Committee, which was to vote on selling 16.9 acres of county-owned land to MacLeod's brother, instead tabled the deal indefinitely.

"Our bidder at present is in conversations with town officials in regard to zoning issues, and until those zoning issues are resolved, we will not meet again," said Legislator W. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, committee chairman.

MacLeod said he can't go along with the limitations of the town's zoning, which allows only single-family homes on 100-by-200-foot lots, according to Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith.

"What was suggested [by the town] was a single-family development, which is cost-prohibitive," MacLeod said after a 59-minute closed-door session with the Administration Committee.

Plans for four-story condo buildings ran afoul of the town's zoning code, which limits the height of buildings to 35 feet.

MacLeod said that after the plan was publicized, "I did get calls from a lot of concerned citizens. A lot of them weren't very encouraging."

MacLeod's brother Douglas, a Tacoma, Wash., ophthalmologist, was the winning bidder in an Internet auction for the land. He bid $160,250 in the auction that ended Nov. 29.

However, the terms require Legislature approval of the sale.

Besides the condos, MacLeod had proposed converting the Switzer Building, the former county infirmary and Social Services headquarters, into a medical building, including an urgent-care clinic and physicians' offices.

"That ancillary use will probably become a primary use," Donald MacLeod said Tuesday.

But he said he is limited in what services can be offered, because he fears Eastern Niagara Hospital will oppose a state application for a certificate of need. The hospital already has a plan for an ambulatory surgery center contending against a similar idea by two Lockport surgeons.

MacLeod's situation is complicated by the fact that the boundary between the City and Town of Lockport runs right through the Switzer Building. The condos were to have been built on the town side.

The municipalities have differing zonings for their parts of the property: The town classifies it as single-family residential, while the city zones it for parkland.

Either way, a rezoning would be needed for condos.

During a 90-minute meeting last week, Smith said MacLeod "laid out a pretty good case that his proposal was the best use of that land."

Smith said he's not opposed to MacLeod's original concept, but he acknowledged the difficulty of convincing surrounding homeowners that it wouldn't harm their quality of life.

Legislator Anthony J. Nemi, I-Lockport, commented, "People are so used to using it to walk their dogs, they want it to stay that way."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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