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Lockport Planning Board delays action on Sherwood Drive condos

LOCKPORT – A 20-unit condominium project on Sherwood Drive, the fourth and final phase of an existing subdivision, received negative reviews from residents of earlier, non-condo phases in a hearing before the town Planning Board Tuesday.

The project in the 18-year-old Meadow Brook Estates off Old Beattie Road is being developed by 5937 Wynkoop LLC, a company named after the home address of town Councilwoman Patricia Dufour. She, her husband, Ralph, and town Industrial Development Agency counsel Daniel E. Seaman are the owners.

Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly said the board won’t vote until Sept. 16 on the plan, which is to build one-story patio-style homes but sell them as condos. Michael Metzger, the civil engineer on the project, said the homes will be about 1,800 square feet, with basements and attached two-car garages. Seaman, the former town attorney, said the sale price will be about $200,000.

Earlier Tuesday, Town Assessor Jill Lederhouse said there are substantial tax advantages for condo buyers. They pay the same tax rate as every other property, but their assessed valuation is generally far less than a comparable home.

Lederhouse said, “Condos are assessed on an income basis. (Assessors) have to figure out what you could rent it for. Your assessment’s lower than a normal single-family home would have been.”

And that is what irked some speakers at the hearing, such as Mike Griffin of Crestfield Lane, part of Meadow Brook Estates. He said, “If I want to sell my house, who’s going to want to pay full assessment when they can go four houses over and pay half the assessment?”

“There’s an internal taxation, in the sense that there’s a homeowners’ association fee that has to be paid,” Seaman said.

Reilly said it’s up to the Town Board to decide whether to accept the new streets in the subdivision as town roads after the developers build them, and it’s up to the Planning Board to decide whether to require sidewalks. But neither board can block the condo aspect of the plan; that’s between the developers and the state Attorney General’s Office, said Corey A. Auerbach, filling in as Planning Board attorney.

He was hired because Town Attorney Michael J. Norris is Seaman’s law partner and recused himself. Dufour will have to recuse herself from any Town Board vote relating to the plan.