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Tonawanda Town Board reviews auto business permits

The fate of zoning permits for three auto-related businesses in the Town of Tonawanda was decided Monday during action by the Town Board when it revoked one permit and approved two others – one on condition of review by the town attorney.

The board approved a permit allowing Valu Auto Care Center at 1346 Niagara Falls Blvd. at the corner of Brighton Road to use four of its 20 parking spaces to sell used cars, but only after final review of the plan by Deputy Town Attorney John W. Dorn, who did not attend Monday’s meeting.

The town Planning Board and Building Department both approved owner Thomas Shea’s plan to sell used cars. But the request for review came after a host of legal and technical objections made by an attorney representing the owner of a commercial property to the south and residential property to the west of Valu.

“Taxes keep going up, expenses keep going up,” said Shea, who owns four auto shops, including two in the town. “You have to find profitability wherever you can. To have someone try to roadblock you and stonewall you and prohibit your ability to make an income is horrifying to me.”

Corey A. Auerbach, an attorney for Damon Morey, which represents Arista LLC, told the board his client’s main objection was that use of that parcel for used car sales is inappropriate given its size and location.

But Shea said Auerbach’s client has previously expressed an interest in purchasing his corner parcel, which Shea has owned for about a year after renting for nine years.

“Speculation regarding ulterior motives is completely irrelevant,” said Auerbach.

Councilman John Bargnesi was quick to defend Shea’s plan as just a local small-business owner looking for a way to grow his company.

“This is a stretch,” said Bargnesi while waving the list of objections handed out by Auerbach. “You’re reaching here. You’re reaching.”

Dorn is expected to issue a decision by the meeting June 17.

Meanwhile, the auto body shop at 1685 Military Road saw its permit revoked for failing to make required improvements to the condition of the property mandated by the town. Cory Daniels, who said he is the current tenant of the shop, appeared before the board but was told because he is not the original applicant to the permit he must reapply and work with the property owner to ensure the improvements are made.

And the board approved a permit for an auto repair facility at 2736 Eggert Road, which has until recently been vacant.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

• The board approved spending $30,000 for a new compressor for the air conditioning unit at the police and court headquarters on Sheridan Drive.

• The board also approved a resolution calling for bids on infrastructure work to be done at the North Youngmann Commerce Center – a site off the I-290 being made shovel-ready for development.