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West Seneca residents angry about tree removal at subdivision site

The removal of hundreds of trees from a West Seneca homebuilder’s site, and the outrage it’s evoking from neighbors, has the Town Board looking at measures to mitigate such a controversy in the future.

Following Monday’s board meeting, during which several residents demanded that the town block further work on phase three of Camelot Square, west of Angle Road, lawmakers emerged from an executive session with a three-pronged resolution.

Introduced by Councilman John M. Rusinski, the resolution requires the notification of adjoining residents when requests for preliminary and final subdivision approval are pending before the town Planning Board. Such notification typically is reserved for rezoning and special permit requests.

Additionally, Councilman Eugene P. Hart said information will be obtained from municipalities with tree ordinances to see “whether it’s appropriate for the Town of West Seneca.”

And Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan said lawmakers will take a “serious look” at a retree initiative for the residents affected by the Camelot Square project.

But by the time the executive session ended, most of the residents who had complained about developer Eugene Piotrowski’s project had left Town Hall.

“I made that motion simply because the residents of the town have a right to know when something’s coming to their neighborhood,” Rusinski said afterward. “Had that been in place, then I think, instead, we would be looking at this in a different light.”

Residents have been complaining about tree removal at the planned 55-lot subdivision since work began last month.

Minutes from the June 13 Planning Board meeting, where the final plat was unanimously approved, indicate that at least one board member noted the abundance of trees on the west side of the site and asked “that as many as possible be saved.” The developer’s engineer said, “They will not clear-cut the property and will preserve as many trees as possible.”

But Town Board members said the intent wasn’t specific – from either the Planning Board or the developer – about saving existing trees.

Among the residents who addressed the Town Board on Monday was Christopher Kotowski, who reported there still are drainage problems at his Conner Drive property, which he bought approximately 18 months ago.

Kotowski said he paid Piotrowski an extra $4,000 for a “premium lot.” The latest phase of Camelot Square is being built behind his property. “He promised a wooded lot to me. A wooded lot that does not exist, except for a line of trees,” said Kotowski, who paid $321,960 for his home, according to public records.

Piotrowski couldn’t be reached to comment Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Rusinski has arranged a meeting, beginning at 6 p.m. today in the Senior Center, for residents who live near the Camelot Square construction site. Town officials will be there and Piotrowski has been invited.

“I think maybe there’s some misinformation being communicated,” Rusinski said. “This will be an opportunity to get all the facts straight.”