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Board tables request to rezone land

Orchard Park Town Board members Wednesday night tabled a request to rezone industrial land at Southwestern Boulevard for a car dealership.

The land is near the parcel People Inc. wanted rezoned last year for a senior apartment building. The board turned down the rezoning, and the human services agency is challenging the denial.

The town is not interested in rezoning industrial land, board members said.

"We are trying to protect [industrial land]," Councilwoman Nan Ackerman said during the board's work session.

She also said the town is in the middle of litigation, and rezoning a nearby parcel would jeopardize the case.

The Planning Board recommended the Town Board deny the request from Ray Laks to rezone vacant land at the southwest corner of Southwestern Boulevard and Mid County Drive from industrial to business. The car dealer wants to build a 28,000 square-foot care sales and service facility.

Ackerman said she discussed the town's position with Laks, and suggested the dealer look at another parcel.

The Town Board tabled the request Wednesday night because, Supervisor Janis Colarusso said, "We need to have further clarification and work with our lawyer."

Town Attorney Leonard Berkowitz recused himself from the issue because he represents the owner of the parcel, and the board wants to meet with Deputy Town Attorney J. Michael Wolf.

Also Wednesday, the board heard from a resident who favors the return to two regular board meetings a month.

Louis L. Boehm of Lake Avenue, who frequently comments during the "business from the floor" portion of regular meetings, told the board "almost everyone in Orchard Park applauds" the board considering reinstating two meetings a month.

The supervisor announced during the January reorganization meeting that one of the two monthly meetings would be replaced with a work session. Residents complained that the public is not allowed to comment at work sessions and would have only one opportunity per month to talk at the single regular meeting.

"The practice of limiting public meetings to reduce the incidence of repetitious requests from their constituents instead of considering the veracity of these supported requests is not representative," Boehm told the board Wednesday.

Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said the reason the board added another work session was to give it time to meet with department heads and listen to their presentations.

"There was never the intention to limit the public to one opportunity a month to speak," he said.


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