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Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals approves waiver for apartment complex

The Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals this week unanimously approved a waiver for the development of a 51-unit senior citizen apartment complex at 1055 Youngs Road, despite the objections of nearby residents.

The neighborhood group will continue to pursue legal avenues to stop the project proposed by Redtek Development of Williamsville, according to Patrick W. Welch, president of Protect Amherst Life.

“We’ve still got the legal action against the town that has not been adjudicated yet. We’ll have a discussion with our attorney and see where we go from there,” Welch said.

Redtek Development submitted site plans for the project a little over two years ago, at which time it was properly zoned for apartments. But earlier this year, the Town Board took action to change what is allowed in areas zoned for “community facilities” to exclude some residential uses, such as private apartment houses.

Redtek said the Town Board’s action harmed the company, prompting the developer to seek a use variance from the Zoning Board.

A public hearing on the variance request was held Dec. 14 and the Zoning Board voted 5-0 to grant the developer’s request, said Zoning Board Chairman Matt Plunkett.

“It was the consensus of the board that the applicant satisfied the requirements for a use variance under state law,” Plunkett said.

After the Planning Board voted to accept the developer’s site plan for the project last winter, Welch’s group initiated a lawsuit against the town, alleging that it neglected to do an environmental impact study on the proposed project.

“The biggest issue we’ve got is underground stormwater disposal, because all of the houses abutting the property at the south end, all of us have foundation problems and what we’re concerned about is when they put this in ... water is going to be pumped underground and who knows where it’s going?” Welch said.

Sean Hopkins, an attorney for the developer, said the project has been scaled back from its original design and it now calls for a two-building, two-story complex with 51 apartments in order to avoid federally designated wetlands on the parcel.

“We still need a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Hopkins said.