The Democratic majority on the Amherst Town Board voted 3-2 Monday to delay for two weeks a proposal to reintroduce the concept of a Youngs Road Extension to the town’s Comprehensive Master Plan.
The idea of extending Youngs Road from Casey Road north to French Road had been included in various versions of the town’s master plan since 1955, but was removed by the Town Board’s previous Republican majority in February 2015. Councilwoman Ramona D. Popowich, a Democrat, was the only member of the Town Board at that time to vote against removing the concept from the current master plan. Popowich, part of the current Democratic majority, earlier this year voted to have the planning department explore reviving the idea.
About 18 out of 20 speakers during a public hearing on amending the master plan spoke out against a Youngs Road Extension, arguing that it would destroy the character of the neighborhood and divert traffic from Transit Road to Casey Road, which does not have sidewalks. Councilman Steven D. Sanders, who along with Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, make up the Republican minority on the board, questioned why it was necessary to reintroduce the Youngs Road Extension to New Road, noting that former Councilman Mark Manna, a Democrat, supported removing it from the master plan in 2015.
Jeffery D. Palumbo, a lawyer representing developer Henry Sicignano III, said extending Youngs Road would interfere with plans by his client to develop 270 Casey Road. Site plans have been submitted by Sicignano and approved to develop 26 lots on the property.
Weinstein noted that the town could face another lawsuit if the Youngs Road extension is reintroduced. “If we reneged on that, it’s just like when the Town Board had made a commitment in 2000 and 2001 … on Wehrle, which we then reneged on it in 2006 and it cost us $4 million this month, which is most unfortunate,” said Weinstein.
The town last week borrowed $4 million to pay a judgment to developer William L. Huntress, who contended that his land rights were violated by the town in 2006. Popowich on Monday requested time to have the town’s law department try to negotiate with lawyers for Sicignano.
Weinstein insisted that the opposition to the Youngs Road extension is citizen driven, noting that the town has received a large number of emails and other correspondences in opposition. However, Popowich noted that letters from Citizens Against the Youngs Road Extension share the same Clarence address as the law firm representing Sicignano.