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Kenmore residents continue to oppose storage facility plan at ex-Dash’s site

Continued community objections to putting a self-storage facility in a former grocery store on Kenmore Avenue are holding up a local businessman’s plans to reuse the site, as neighborhood representatives now say they are unable to meet with the store owner prior to the next Buffalo Planning Board meeting.

City officials earlier this week directed Joe Dash, owner of the now-closed grocery store at 400 Kenmore Ave., and his representatives to sit down with the University Heights Collaborative in the next two weeks to try to address community concerns that neighbors weren’t adequately consulted on the project.

But Dash’s attorney said the group now says it can’t do so, even though its members requested the meeting and the attorney told Planning Board members that Dash was agreeable to it.

“We find that to be very troubling in light of the Planning Board’s clear directive to meet before the next meeting,” said attorney Jeffery Palumbo. “We have asked them to reconsider their decision not to meet or alternatively to put their concerns in writing so we could respond accordingly.”

Palumbo said Dash will ask the Planning Board on Oct. 6 to approve the site plan to create a storage facility in the store, even if no community meeting is held.

The owner of Dash’s Markets wants to turn the former Budweys store into a 527-unit, climate-controlled storage complex that would be operated as Uncle Bob’s Self-Storage, under a contract with Williamsville-based Sovran Self-Storage.

“We’re taking an abandoned building and turning it into something vibrant, where people will actually be there,” Palumbo said at a Planning Board meeting on Tuesday.

As part of the $2 million privately-funded project, Dash plans to add a second floor with 26,000 square feet. The facility, which will employ six, would operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. All units would be inside the larger building, in contrast to the original proposal for additional external storage units that neighbors strongly opposed.

Additional retail development on the parking lot is expected later, but Dash said he and his representatives will consult with neighbors about it at that time.

Still, neighbors felt they were not included enough in the process, despite a pledge they said Dash made to present the final plans to them in advance. And they told Planning Board members that they wanted another opportunity to talk to him and get answers to their questions. “A lot of things are unclear to people in the community,” said Mickey Vertino, president of the University Heights Collaborative. “People want to know what the plans are and give input.”