NORTH TONAWANDA – The Common Council soundly rejected a plan Tuesday that would allow the owner of 460 Schenck St. to rezone the empty parking lot from residential to commercial in order to build an office park.
Outspoken residents filled Council chambers at a public hearing three weeks ago to register complaints that prompted the Council to adjourn the matter until Tuesday.
Property owner Michael Wachowicz, who also owns Miris Construction in North Tonawanda, said he would like to clean up the property and develop the lot into the Twin City Office Park @Schenck, an 11-unit, one-story building with small offices, approximately 600 to 1,000 square feet. He told the Council on Tuesday that he still believed it was “the correct thing to do.”
Second Ward Councilwoman Donna L. Braun said she and Alderman-at-Large Robert E. Pecoraro visited the area of Ransom and Schenck streets to further discuss the neighbors’ concerns about changing the dynamics of their neighborhood.
“My most important job is to listen to the residents and I have done that,” said Braun. “They had many concerns about the building proposed by Mr. Wachowicz. Number one is the traffic and they were very concerned about the safety of their children with an office building going up.”
Pecoraro said residents had believed, incorrectly, that the proposed developer would just move the project forward.
“I hope they see that we heard them loud and clear,” Pecoraro said. He added that a developer must not only present a plan, but also must have a “buy in” from the neighbors and the neighborhood.
In another matter the Council agreed to a plan for spending more than $100,000 in state casino funding that will be allocated to the city this year.
As part of the plan, $81,000 will be allocated to the Engineering Department for planters and street signs on Webster Street and trees on Oliver Street.
And $50,000 will be used to repair tennis courts at Wurlitzer Park, put benches, picnic tables and garbage cans at Gratwick Park, put in bike racks and security cameras at Gateway Park, renovate the gazebo at the Botanical Gardens, and put in a memorial plaque at Veterans Park.