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Developers run roughshod over residents of Amherst

Another Amherst neighborhood just got cheated.

Despite, or rather in the face of, a packed room of residents, the Planning Board swiftly approved a new apartment complex on a virgin wetlands site on very busy Youngs Road. It was approved on land zoned for community facilities (CF) meant for public buildings, like a library, school or church, after midnight on March 20.

This was possible because the Town Board has allowed for non-public uses, such as multifamily housing, to be included in the CF zone at the request of developers who did not wish to rezone their specific parcel. In this way, changing the zoning ordinance instead of changing the zoning on a parcel, the required notice to neighbors is circumvented. A high-level, lame-duck town official supported the neighbors’ efforts to delete the offending amendments to the CF zoning. But this same official forgot to tell the neighbors that the zoning law change would be effective only after this building was approved.

It would seem that the next stop for this project is the Amherst Industrial Development Agency for the typical handout of developer gifts in the form of tax exemptions. So heads up, Williamsville school officials, because every dollar of school taxes exempted is another dollar of revenue foregone. And to all Amherst and Erie County taxpayers, every dollar in taxes that Amherst IDA projects do not pay is another dollar added to your tax bill.

So we know that the adjacent neighbors got cheated. And every taxpayer in the county will get cheated, too, if the Amherst IDA approves exemptions for this high-end senior complex that will rent for upward of $1,400 per unit.

Michele F. Marconi

Amherst

Flood plan also needed for Cattaraugus Creek

It has been 25 years since the Army Corps of Engineers built the breakwaters at the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek. At that time, the Corps agreed to dredge the area every five years. It hasn’t been done once, causing the buildup of sediment. This, in turn, leads to more and higher flooding in the Sunset Bay area.

Reading in The News that Sen. Charles Schumer is asking the Corps to develop a plan for Buffalo Creek flooding, perhaps he can also work to ease the flooding of Cattaraugus Creek. The Corps always states that it doesn’t have the funding to dredge. Maybe Schumer can find the funding.

Edward C. Koehler

Irving

Cuomo’s budget proposal attacks local governments

In New York State, we are now observing a misinformed governor undermining representative local governments in the name of cost savings and lower taxes. His budget proposal presses various financial levers to diminish the viability of the last bastions of self-government available to New Yorkers – villages and towns.

How dare Gov. Andrew Cuomo presume to use his abundant power to undermine representative government that actually resembles the democratic form. At the same time, he pays only paltry lip service to state campaign finance reforms that could make state government a bit more like representative democracy instead of a triumvirate dictatorship. We remain stuck with Albany’s “Gang of Three.”

It is no secret that New York State does not function as effective representative government. Objections to the governor’s steamroller efforts by duly elected mayors, town supervisors and village and town board members support representative democracy for their constituents. Many shared services and cooperative activities are already in place, for example, consolidated village and town police services, county sewer and water services for towns and villages and cooperative road services.

How will our Western New York state delegation deal with the governor’s budget proposals that attempt to gut local control beyond the state’s existing over-reach? I plead with them to be wise and work toward facilitation of effective representative government at the local level as well as at the state level. The alternate choice is to work toward destruction of democratic values and representative government under the guise of saving taxpayer dollars, which may or may not materialize.

Lynda Stephens

Buffalo

Executives’ salaries are outrageously high

“Greed is good,” according to Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street.” Well, let’s welcome those executives at Time Warner Cable, soon to be Comcast, to the club. Lucrative stipends in excess of $135 million will be awarded to as few as four men, one of whom was with the company for less than a year before the merger was announced.

How much is enough? When will these incredulous payouts to company officials be considered excessive? What can these men possibly do that entitles them to receive such a huge largess? If there’s nothing that can be done legally, then maybe we can appeal to their collective consciences to donate a healthy percentage of their considerable “earnings” to charity.

I don’t know the answers to the above questions, but if Comcast raises its prices in the same staccato-like pattern that Time Warner Cable did, then customers will look for other options – if any remain available.

Scott Patterson

Clarence

It’s time to come clean on CIA’s use of torture

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is troubled by the covert invasion of her Senate Intelligence Committee’s privacy by the very organization her committee is deemed to oversee: the CIA. Seems the CIA was troubled by the determined prying of the committee into torture practices found when it reviewed 6 million documents relating to the techniques administered to prisoners by the CIA under the auspices of the George W. Bush regime. Feinstein calls the events “brutal,” “horrible” and “un-American” but can’t bring herself to call it what it was: torture. She uses the euphemism, “interrogation program.”

I see. Apparently Feinstein is miffed by the covert practice of snooping but won’t release the evidence that would result in a war crimes indictment of Bush and Dick Cheney by The Hague now that President Obama has refused to “relive the past” and allowed the originators and perpetrators of the torture to walk. What a kind man.

The National Security Agency pries into our cell calls and computers with nary a peep from her committee other than to say it is necessary for our national security in this troubled world. However, when the organization she is charged to oversee snoops behind her back, well that’s a game-changer. Or is it? The CIA spies. That’s what it does. Apparently it also tortured people. Methinks Feinstein‘s anger would be better placed if she would just declassify her 6,300-page report and expose to all what the CIA was not supposed to do: torture. Then we’ll see what the World Court thinks of Bush’s “enhanced interrogation program.”

Stephen Saracino

Buffalo

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