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Elma Town Board places moratorium on new subdivisions as revisions to code are urged

Less than three months after a local developer withdrew a plan to construct dozens of patio homes in Elma, the Town Board has placed a moratorium on new subdivisions.

Councilman Michael P. Nolan proposed the moratorium in November, citing a need to evaluate and revise the town code, which hasn’t been updated in more than 20 years.

Nolan suggested that proposed revisions to the code could be outlined by a committee consisting of members of the Town Board, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board, along with residents.

“This resolution directs the town code-enforcement officer not to accept any applications on subdivisions in the town until the Town Board and residents have time to review the code, which is more than two decades old,” Nolan said.

Nolan’s resolution was unanimously supported by the Town Board and follows a summer in which a proposed housing project garnered immense public scrutiny.

Dozens of residents rallied against developer Bryan A. Young’s plan to build 54 patio homes on land east of Bowen Road and south of Bullis Road, the former location of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo’s summer camp.

Introduced as “Brookside Patio Homes,” the development would have sat adjacent to the existing Pond Brook Estates patio home complex.

Residents were fearful that the town would lose much of its character as a rural community if the development were approved, contending that it would add to an already densely populated neighborhood and exacerbate traffic problems on nearby roads.

The backlash inspired hundreds of residents to place signs on their lawns decrying the project and a “Residents Against Brookside Patio Homes” page was created on Facebook.

The project did have its supporters, mostly elderly and new empty-nesters who are interested in remaining in the area but don’t need the large homes in which they currently live.

However, they were vastly outnumbered during a public hearing on the project in July.

The public resistance was so strong that Young withdrew the plans in August.

Nolan introduced the moratorium a day after the Planning Board meeting in November, where residents expressed fear that a new housing proposal was to be introduced to that board. However, the subdivision was never mentioned during that meeting.