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Cheektowaga Board OKs developments near Buffalo airport

The rapid growth along Genesee Street near Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga is continuing after the approval of two projects Monday by the Cheektowaga Town Board.

First, the board gave its approval to the construction of seven apartment buildings totaling 80 units at 4989 Genesee St.

Board members agreed to rezone 6.2 acres of a 13.1-acre vacant property, which spanned both commercial and residential districts, to apartment district. The land is owned by a revocable trust of Ralph M. Fudoli and administered by Lancaster Town Supervisor Dino Fudoli.

A public hearing on the proposed rezoning and application for the apartments was held last July. Board members said there were some early neighborhood hang-ups with the plan, but the developer has worked with the town to resolve them.

Council Member Stanley J. Kaznowski III said the developer has "worked with [Cheektowaga's] Planning Board" to address green space issues, fire truck access, lighting, building orientation and wet land concerns to the comfort of board members and most nearby residents in the Sky Harbor retirement community on Calla Way.

"We turned this whole thing upside down, and the residents understand what we're trying to do here," said Kaznowski, explaining that residents in Sky Harbor have long desired a traffic light to exit safely onto Genesee Street.

The state Department of Transportation recently determined there was either not enough traffic flow or accidents to warrant a light at the intersection of Genesee and Calla Way, but Kaznowski said he is hopeful adding the new apartments and a pair of new hotels across Genesee could change that.

Meanwhile, board members accepted the site plan for a six-story, 153-room contemporary ALOFT Hotel on Burgess Boulevard across from the airport, but with conditions. The town approved plans for the hotel in 2008, but the downturn in the economy put the project on hold.

The site plan, which had a 12- to 18-month expiration date, expired. The developer, Magna Airport, LLC, did not obtain a building permit within the year period after the original site plan was approved and resubmitted its application.

Last week, the Cheektowaga Planning Board recommended reapproval for the hotel plan.

The conditions imposed by the Town Board Monday included the town engineer's approval of the plans, reapproval from the Zoning Board of Appeals concerning expired area variances and other items.

"It's good to see them back," said Supervisor Mary Holtz. "It's a great thing for the town. It's good for commerce."