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Residents’ complaints delay Amherst Board’s approval of Corporate Parkway hotel project

There still are plans to build a hotel of up to six stories on Corporate Parkway in the Town of Amherst, but the Town Board’s blessing for the project won’t come earlier than November.

The board adjourned a public hearing Monday on a proposal from Uniland Development Co. asking for the rezoning of 400 Corporate Parkway from office building to general business zoning until Nov. 2. The adjournment came after several Homecrest Drive residents complained about the company’s impact on their small, dead-end street.

Uniland seeks to develop “a major flag” hotel in one of the parking lots of its Corporate Parkway property off Maple Road, but must first obtain the rezoning as well as a variance to exceed a 35-foot height restriction at the site and construct a 65-foot tall hotel.

Some nearby residents, including Warren Holmes, don’t like the idea.

Holmes, a lifelong resident of Homecrest Drive whose backyard rests just 6 feet from the vast paved parking lot of the large business park, raised several issues with Uniland’s plan, including what he said was the lack of an adequate buffer between residents of his street, the developer’s property maintenance, traffic concerns and emergency access to the site.

Among his biggest beefs was Uniland’s large payloaders piling the parking lot snow up against his back fence and into his backyard.

“I cut my lawn three times and I still had a snowdrift there, I couldn’t believe it,” Holmes said. “The developers – they have to be able to figure out something. They’re smart people; they can figure this out.”

Traffic around the site also frustrates residents who say they’re often unable to get out of the only exit on their street during morning and afternoon rush hour.

Holmes, a 42-year member and former chief at the North Bailey Fire Company, lives just 500 feet from the fire company’s quarters but has been stymied in accessing it during emergencies because of traffic, he said.

Other neighbors complained of Uniland parking high-lifts and other heavy equipment in the parking lot up against their backyards. Monday night, a high-lift was there and was visible from Homecrest Drive.

“No one is going to want to buy our houses,” said Dawn Pantera, another Homecrest Drive resident. “It’s too noisy, and the bright lights.”

“They should buy out our street.”

There didn’t appear to be interest in that Monday, but Jeffery D. Palumbo, a partner in the law firm of Barclay Damon who’s representing Uniland, said he’s confident concerns of residents can be addressed and the hotel project will move forward.

“I think it’s going to get worked out,” Palumbo said.

He pointed out that the planned hotel is actually on the Interstate 290 side of the site – with all of its windows facing the highway – and it would be more than 300 feet from the closest structure. Further, Palumbo expects the hotel to have little impact on area traffic because hotel traffic would be exiting and entering at different times than those accessing the office park.