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Town of Tonawanda Planning Board delays decision on express hotel for boulevard

A decision on whether to approve plans for a controversial hotel on Niagara Falls Boulevard was delayed for at least a month Wednesday by the Town of Tonawanda Planning Board.

The board asked the applicant, Chan Patel, to submit alternative designs at its June meeting showing the Holiday Inn Express at two and three stories tall. Current plans call for a four-story hotel that would be 50 feet high, which has drawn the ire of nearby residents who are worried about privacy.

Town Attorney John J. Flynn Jr., speaking on behalf of residents and the Town Board, recommended that the Planning Board declare that the project would have a significant impact on the environment and surrounding neighborhood, which would flag the project for further review.

“The way that this project is structured right now – the way that this building is created right now – in the Town Board’s opinion creates a significant environmental negative impact on not only the quality of life of the residents, but the overall presentation and aspect of the neighborhood,” he told the Planning Board.

Residents’ concerns were heard “loudly and crystal clear” by the Town Board at its meeting Monday, Flynn said.

After discussion, the board decided to table its determination on the project’s environmental impact until it receives alternative designs.

The board wants to see drawings that show two curb cuts on Niagara Falls Boulevard as an alternative to the current plans, which has one curb cut on the boulevard and another on Forbes Avenue. The curb cuts have been another point of contention for residents, who feel that the hotel will bring additional traffic into their neighborhood.

Finally, the board also requested point-of-view drawings showing how the building would look from Dexter Terrace and also the view from hotel guests’ rooms.

About a dozen residents of the town’s Parkview neighborhood attended Wednesday’s meeting and said they considered the delay a victory in their two-year battle over the height of the proposed 84-room hotel.

“The Town Board and this Planning Board have really listened to the citizens and that’s the way government should work,” Dexter Terrace resident Nadine M. Ocasio told the Planning Board.

Earlier, attorney Sean W. Hopkins, who represents the developer, noted that the $8 million to $10 million project by Patel would be the first new hotel in the town in at least two decades.

He reviewed site plans that include a row of 10-foot-tall Serbian spruce trees between the hotel and neighbors’ backyards. “We far exceed the town’s landscaping requirements,” he said, noting that Patel is eager to begin construction now, during warmer weather.

The four parcels at 2382-2424 Niagara Falls Blvd., between Forbes and Thistle avenues, have been deteriorating for years. “I think everyone would agree it does need to be redeveloped,” Hopkins said. “We are replacing it with a modern site.”