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Assurance linked to Business District

Property owners along Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda were reassured Monday that the creation of a Neighborhood Business District won't have a chilling effect on redevelopment.

To the contrary, there would be no affect on existing buildings unless a drastic alteration is planned, and builders starting out fresh will find fewer restrictions than in the past.

"This isn't a redevelopment plan, this is a zoning plan," said Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr., who was part of the two-year effort to develop the business district plan. Following a public hearing Monday night, the Tonawanda Town Board unanimously approved adding it to the town code.

Dr. Kevin Kulik, a dermatologist who owns the building at 3839 Delaware Ave., asked if town officials had documentation that the plan would enhance -- rather than squelch -- development.

"It's not more money," Bargnesi replied. "We are asking for more green space. We are asking for better quality of facade." Preferred materials include brick and natural stone.

Arlette Kirk, who owns the building at 3728 Delaware Ave., asked about changes in parking regulations.

"We are trying to encourage shared parking" among buildings, Bargnesi said. "That wasn't allowed in the past."

When work on the plan began in 2009, "There was a sense Delaware Avenue wasn't working as the town's main street," said Planning Board Chairman Ken Swanekamp. "We are trying to create a walkable community."

The Neighborhood Business District will extend from Kenton Road, the Village of Kenmore's northern border, to just south of Brighton Road.

Green space plays a pivotal role in the plan.

Whereas there hadn't been specific requirements previously, there's now a stipulation that total coverage by buildings and impervious surfaces on parcels in the district can't exceed 80 percent.

New structures fronting Delaware Avenue can be set back eight feet -- as opposed to 65 feet -- and builders have more flexibility on where to place a building on a lot.

Though the district proposal wasn't adopted until Monday night, the Planning Board had encouraged three businesses already working on projects to follow it.

The folks at Mufflerman, at 3311 Delaware Ave., admitted having reservations, Swanekamp said.

The business agreed to add green space and trees, and changed the building's facade, Bargnesi said.

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