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Would-be buyer of land given deadline

The would-be buyer of county-owned property on Davison Road has been given four weeks to come up with a plan that will satisfy the Niagara County Legislature.

After a half-hour executive session Tuesday, the Legislature's Administration Committee told Donald MacLeod of Tacoma, Wash., that he has until the panel's May 24 meeting to submit a detailed plan.

Before the executive session, MacLeod asked the committee what it wanted so he could build a plan in that direction, but he received no reply.

MacLeod is representing his brother, Dr. Douglas A. MacLeod, a Tacoma ophthalmologist who won an online auction for the 16.9 acres last fall, with a $160,250 bid. However, the terms of the auction told bidders the Legislator had to approve the deal, and that hasn't happened yet.

MacLeod originally proposed a 132-unit senior citizen condominium development in the Town of Lockport, whose border with the City of Lockport runs through the county-owned property.

But the town informed him the four-story buildings he proposed are illegal under the town's zoning code.

MacLeod said his new idea is to divide the property roughly in half, in a partnership with a local developer whom he wouldn't name.

The boundary would run between the old county infirmary, also known as the Switzer Building, and a former chapel. Condos would be built in MacLeod's half, one- and two-family homes in the other.

"If we draw the line between those buildings, most of the permits will come from the City of Lockport," MacLeod said.

The committee wouldn't come out and say that if MacLeod's plan is unacceptable, it would veto his bid.

But Chairman W. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, said he had hoped for a detailed plan Tuesday night. He said if he doesn't see one next month, "I will be very disappointed. We'll talk about it then."

"I'll do my best," said MacLeod, who said he intends to meet with the city Building Inspection Department Thursday.

"We simply want a plan. We don't think it's unreasonable. Every idea he's mentioned requires some variances from local zoning board of appeals," said Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport.

County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said if the committee approves MacLeod's plan, he could then go to the city and town for permits.

"They'll sell it to you if you get those approvals," Joerg told MacLeod. "You're not going to get locked into [the purchase] if you don't get your variances."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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