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Buffalo Preservation Board rejects proposed microhouse on Linwood Avenue

Plans for a microhouse on historic Linwood Avenue were rejected Thursday by the city’s Preservation Board, which seemed to dislike just about every aspect of the design.

The stone material proposed for the house was criticized as inappropriate. The window materials were said to be not fitting in with the neighborhood.

The height of the one-story house was described as out of whack with the two-story houses on the rest of the street.

“This house does not fit in with the context of the neighborhood,” said Preservation Board member Tim Tielman.

The overall size of the house is not the issue, board members said. As proposed, property owner Timothy A. Sick wants to build a 780-square-foot house with a 200-square-foot garage on an 1,800-square-foot lot – less than one-twentieth of an acre of land.

“I recognize there’s a movement for smaller homes,” said board member Gwen Howard. “There are some successful ones that have been put up. The scale doesn’t bother me. It’s the detailing on it.”

Tielman said, “There’s no consistency. It would stand out like a sore thumb.”

The applicant, and owner of the vacant lot at 728 Linwood Ave., was invited to return in the future with new plans.

“They have a lot of work to do,” Tielman said.

Salvatore Zambito, Sick’s business partner, said after the meeting that a new plan could be presented within the next few weeks.

Zambito said the plan and design have changed numerous times over the last two years in response to input received from the Zoning Board of Appeals and from Linwood residents and their neighborhood association.

Several neighborhood residents spoke against the plan Thursday. Among them was Sandra A. Hodala, who lives next door to the lot at 726 Linwood, and believes construction of a house on the undersized lot would hurt her property value and quality of life. Hodala has been battling with Sick for the last two years over the lot.

Hodala says it’s too small to build on under current city zoning laws, but the city Law Department recently ruled that development is permitted because there was a house on the lot when zoning laws were adopted in 1950. That house burned down in 1979.

“I live next to the vacant lot,” Hodala said. “I think there is nothing wrong with green space. People keep talking about microhomes. I’m sorry, but microhomes do not have a place in a preservation district.”

Ellen L. Przepasniak, secretary of the Linwood Preservation District, said the neighborhood organization opposes the proposed house. “We would prefer to keep having green space,” she said. “We would love to have a community garden, not a one-story concrete home. This house is not in keeping with the historic nature of the district.”

“I don’t care what facade you put on it, it’s never going to work,” said Linwood resident Robert Hemingway. “This doesn’t belong there.”