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Hamburg rejects rezoning for luxury apartments

Hamburg Town Board members Monday night unanimously turned down a rezoning that would have paved the way for 66 luxury apartment units off Howard Road.

Residents who had packed the Town Board chambers applauded after the board vote.

“Thank you,” said Cheryl McBride of Heatherwood Drive. “We know it was hard.”

Neighbors lobbied to stop the proposal by Boston State Holding Co. to rezone vacant property on the south side of Howard from single-family residences to a multifamily residence district.

The developer wanted to build 66 luxury units, with apartments of 700 to 1,000 square feet, in 11 buildings west of Heatherwood Drive and east of Camp Road.

During a public hearing in January, neighbors opposed to the plan said there were plenty of apartment units in that part of town. They said they were worried about an increase in traffic and did not want rental units in their neighborhood.

“We recognize that this was a very difficult situation. We understand that emotions ran high for close to eight months. We do appreciate your seeing and agreeing with us,” McBride said.

“This was certainly one of our more difficult rezonings,” Supervisor Steven Walters said. “At first blush, this appears to be in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.”

The three Town Board members at first planned to reject the rezoning request but decided instead to “disapprove” the request. By doing so, the board was required to assess the environmental impact of the project, which the board determined would not be significant.

The Planning Board had voted 6-1 to recommend the Town Board approve the rezoning.

The board ultimately rejected it, deciding that the rezoning would result in a higher density development and that the type of buildings that would be built did not fit into that area of town.

Sean Hopkins, attorney for the developer, told board members in the work session before the regular meeting Monday that he disagreed with their reasoning. He maintained that the rezoning and the project are in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan, and the Planning Board also found it was in compliance with the plan.

The plan also calls for studying additional multifamily housing in the town, and the board decided that since there has been no study, it may not be needed.

Hopkins said the developer had done a market study, but he said it was highly unusual for a town to ask for a market study.

“If Lowe’s comes to town, do you ask them for a market study?” Hopkins said.

Also Monday, the board approved the rezoning of 6638 Gowanda State Road from neighborhood-commercial to commercial. The owner, Ralph Sardo, wants to build a barbecue restaurant at the site. A condition of the rezoning is that there can only be one driveway, with the Planning Board and New York State to determine its location.