Main Street business owners pleaded with Hamburg Village Board members to let a new business owner keep a brick-like facade on his newly renovated building.
"There's plenty of places in this village that do not look half as good as his," said Tony Staub, the owner of Staub Square at One Buffalo Street.
He was talking about O'Brien's Farm Fresh Meats & Smokehouse at 32 Main St., owned by Patrick and Yvette O'Brien. They renovated an existing building and built a second story over the smokehouse, which sells natural, locally produced food.
Part of the facade on the second story was to have been thin brick, but Patrick O'Brien installed a polypropylene resin that looks like brick. He took a hammer to a piece of the resin during the board's work session to show how durable it is.
But the village's Architectural Review Committee has recommended that the resin be removed and the brick installed. O'Brien acknowledged that the brick was on the original plan. But he said he and his architect parted ways, and O'Brien continued as project manager. The brick would have cost $10,000 to $15,000, and the product he used cost considerably less.
"We decided to go with that. My mistake," he said, adding he thought he could change the material. "We'd like to keep it on. I really don't want to go through the expense of removing it."
"What we approved is the other brick," Mayor Thomas J. Moses Sr. said, adding that several people had questions when the exterior was installed.
He said the board could make no decision Monday night, as one of its members was absent.
During the regular meeting, O'Brien also had the support of the owners of two Main Street restaurants -- Tina's Italian Kitchen and Coyote Cafe.
"He took an eyesore and made it gorgeous," said Tom DeNisco, who owns Tina's. "Let's look at it like that."
"It was a big eyesore. It brings a lot of people to the village," Jeff Giovino, the owner of Coyote Cafe, said. "I don't think he did it to get around stuff."
The business owners said it is not easy to turn a profit, and Staub indicated how much he has invested in Staub Square, an anchor at Main and Buffalo streets. He said he has spent $1.3 million, and his monthly income from the property is $11,500. But with taxes, maintenance and other costs, he runs $7,300 in the red every month.
Staub said he feels the tussle is discouraging O'Brien.
"Here we have a guy putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into this village, and he's getting hassled," Staub said.
For complete coverage, go to buffalonews.com/hamburg.