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Clarence buys development rights for 112 acres to preserve land

The Clarence Town Board has approved spending about $1 million to purchase development rights for 112 acres, blocking future commercial development on the land.

The two deals the board approved last week are part of the town's Greenprint program, which was established to protect the town's historically rural character.

Also, a proposal to build a senior housing complex along Transit Road took a step forward in the review process.

The development rights the town bought involve 84 acres west of Shimerville Road, north of Roll Road, and 28 acres at the northwest corner of Roll and Shimerville.

"Basically it extinguishes the future development rights on that property," said James Callahan, director of community development. "It preserves that in perpetuity."

The properties will remain on the tax rolls, and agricultural land can still be farmed.

The 84 acres west of Shimerville include 71.5 acres of active farmland, as well as wetlands and mature forest land, Callahan said. The 28 acres at Roll and Shimerville contain active farmland as well as inactive farmland that could be returned to use.

Under the Greenprint program, the town has spent about $4.4 million to protect 911 acres. That figure is for closed deals; deals related to four other properties, including the two from Wednesday's meeting, still need to be finalized, said Supervisor Scott A. Bylewski.

The $12.5 million Greenprint program was created by referendum in 2002 to acquire development rights or purchase properties.

On the proposal for a senior housing complex, the board approved a zoning change for land along Transit, north of Roll. It is part of the site once considered for a Wegmans supermarket.

The board agreed to extend by 180 feet the land's commercial zoning classification, to a total of 680 feet. An additional 300 feet that directly abuts a residential development was rezoned from residential to "restricted business" to create a transition between the commercial zoning near Transit and the homes on Kippen Drive.

The zoning change passed, 3-1, with Councilman Bernard Kolber voting no. Councilman Joseph Weiss was absent from the meeting.

Affordable Senior Housing Opportunities of New York has asked the town to review a plan to build a three-story, 138-unit complex for seniors who can live independently. By a 4-0 vote, the board approved referring the proposal to the Planning Board for further review.

Michael Connors, director of development for Affordable Senior Housing Opportunities of New York, said that the organization has built nine similar projects in the region and that all of them pay property taxes.