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Nottingham Terrace residents enlist top attorney to make their case against fence, gates

What’s happening on Nottingham Terrace is your basic neighborhood dispute. But when a tiff of this sort involves owners of some of Buffalo’s most expensive residential real estate, participants bring one of the city’s top attorneys along to make their case.

Against a fence.

Specifically, a more-than-half-million-dollar fence of hand-forged wrought iron with two massive gates.

The two gates – one 17 feet tall and the other 12 feet – already installed in front 175 Nottingham Terrace are getting some good reviews from passers-by. But many neighbors in the Delaware Park community aren’t as impressed.

In fact, residents of that area showed up, en masse, at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting last week. They were represented by attorney Terrence M. Connors, who made a successful case for why the Zoning Board needs to reconsider whether the fence can be installed.

“This construction is illegal,” said Connors, a resident of the area whose wife signed a petition objecting to continued construction of the fence.

The petition was signed by approximately 150 people who live on Nottingham and nearby streets.

Connors told the board that portions of the fence are higher than what the board originally approved. Further, while the original plan called for an 8-foot fence along two sides of the property – Nottingham Terrace and Lincoln Parkway – work is being done to fully enclose the property, affecting homeowners on Middlesex Road and Randwood Lane as well.

“It’s a classic bait and switch,” Connors said. “The application should not have been granted.”

Connors also said deed restrictions on the property prohibit a fence from being installed without the written consent of the original developer. That developer, he said, was never asked about this fence.

“This fence is in violation,” Connors said.

The property owners, Albert and Donna Haid of Burlington, Ont., could not be reached to comment.

City officials said the homeowners can legally continue installing the fence, but at their own peril.

“They have permission to erect the entire fence if they want to,” Building Commissioner James W. Comerford Jr. said. “If the Zoning Board reverses their decision, they would have to take it down unless they pursue further court action.”

While the building permit lists the project’s cost at $650,000, other sources have told The Buffalo News it’s $800,000.

Charlie Banta is among a handful of homeowners whose property abuts the Nottingham Terrace property. He said his objections have to do with aesthetics and, more importantly, scale.

“It’s just out of scale to the neighborhood. There’s nothing even remotely similar to it in the neighborhood,” Banta said.

Beyond those concerns, he and other residents said they never got a chance to attend the initial Zoning Board hearing on the fence because of an apparent clerical error.

The Zoning Board hearing was in January 2014, but the notice sent to residents said the hearing would be December 2014.

“The notice went out for a meeting in December 2014 – 11 months after the hearing,” said William Collins, a resident who attended the meeting.

After listening to Connors and a couple of neighbors last week, the Zoning Board voted to reopen the case. At its June 24 meeting, the board will reconsider whether the fence should be approved.

What would Banta like to have happen?

“I think the neighborhood will have a response to that question at that re-hearing,” he said.

“The neighborhood is very appreciative to the Zoning Board, that they made a decision to have a rehearing on this permit,” Banta added.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com and jhabuda@buffnews.com