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Plans for third hotel near Thruway submitted by Paladino

Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino plans to build a third hotel near the Thruway in West Seneca, town officials said Monday.

Paladino's Ellicott Development Co. has submitted conceptual plans for the construction of a five-story Comfort Inn on Slade Avenue near a Staybridge Suites that the company completed in 2009, code-enforcement officer John A. Gullo said. The company also built a Hampton Inn at Ridge Road and Slade.

The Town Board on Monday unanimously approved a height variance for the proposed project to allow the building to be constructed to about 54 feet -- 14 feet above what the town's ordinances stipulate. The Staybridge Suites is 64 feet high.

Gullo said he expects Ellicott Development to submit site plans for the proposed Comfort Inn at 164 Slade Ave. within a few weeks. The project will also need site plan approval and a special-use permit from the town before it can move forward.

The proposal drew little discussion from the Town Board -- which will have to hold a public hearing and review project details at a future meeting -- but resident Paula E. Minklei questioned why the town doesn't update its zoning ordinances to reduce the number of variances that are needed.

"I just wonder why you're allowing hotels to be popping up at different heights around here," Minklei told the board. "That might be a very good thing -- maybe Slade Avenue should be our hotel strip -- but why don't we get the zoning ordinance redone and do it right so we don't need variances?"

Minklei said the town adopted a new master plan five years ago but has not yet updated its zoning codes to reflect the new plan.

Gullo said any building higher than 40 feet in the town must go before the Town Board for a variance.

In other business Monday, the Town Board authorized attorney Shawn P. Martin to complete the purchase of a 14.2-acre property on 2723 Clinton St. that contains wetlands and ecologically sensitive soils.

The property -- located between Clinton Street and Buffalo Creek -- is adjacent to a 17-acre parcel that was donated to the town last year.

The town plans to use $25,000 it received as a "natural resource damage claim" from a Superfund site at Hi-View Terrace in the mid-1990s. The money, which has been held for the purchase of green space or wetlands within the town, has since grown to $29,000, said West Seneca Environmental Commission Chairwoman Evelyn A. Hicks. She called the purchase of the land "cost neutral" to the town because it can use the damage claim funds. The town expects to include conservation language in the deed to protect the land, Hicks said.

"It will expand the natural greenway buffer zone along the Buffalo Creek," Hicks said. "That means there will be no development on it."

The purchase price has not yet been finalized, but Hicks said the commission hopes to use a portion of the $29,000 for closing and other costs associated with the project.

Hicks said the town already has a plan to help restore the adjacent property -- including removing invasive species and adding native plants -- and hopes to expand that to the 14-acre parcel once it's acquired.

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