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Green Code passage expected on Dec. 27

The first overhaul of the City Code in 63 years is expected to be approved by the Common Council on Dec. 27.

That vote, which sources said is likely to be unanimous, drew nearer Tuesday after the council' s Legislative Committee recommended the Green Code's adoption.

"I'm extremely pleased with the Green Code's likely passage next week," said Delaware District Common Council Member Joel Feroleto. "The city has had over 230 public meetings and received thousands of comments."

He said he was satisfied about how the Green Code would affect the Elmwood district, which he represents.

"The Green Code allows for increased density on Elmwood Avenue, while allowing for public input on projects that would exceed three stories," Feroleto said.

Work on the Green Code began in April 2010.

Prior to the meeting, a rally was held by supporters for inclusionary zoning. They want to see a provision requiring new residential developments to include units  affordable for low- or moderate-income residents.

About three dozen people attended the meeting, with several speakers urging council members to support inclusionary zoning in the new city code. They said people of low and moderate incomes were not benefiting from the city's revival, and stood to be victims of gentrification from the Fruit Belt on the East Side to Niagara Street on the West Side as rents rise.

"There are almost 10,000 housing evictions each year in Buffalo City Court, and the vast majority involve people who cannot afford rent," said Grace Andriette, a housing court advocate. "We are 'The City of Good Neighbors,' but we're not 'The City of Good Neighbors' unless we make affordable, decent housing accessible to all."

Annette Lott, a lifelong resident of the Fruit Belt, said linking affordable housing to market-rate and upscale housing would help keep her neighborhood affordable and allow longtime renters to stay.

"We don't want to change the flavor of our neighborhood, and we want it to be able to include everyone -- those who can afford to pay, and those who cannot," Lott said.

Several council members said that while inclusionary zoning won't be in the Green Code when it's voted on next week, they plan to pass an ordinance for it in 2017.

"I have been blown away by  how many people support inclusionary zoning," Council President Darius Pridgen said, of several meetings at which the issue came up.

"I have said to the mayor, this cannot take a long time, and we have got to move now," Pridgen said.

Niagara District Council Member David Rivera predicted an inclusionary zoning ordinance would be passed in 2017.

The City of Buffalo is conducting a study on affordable housing that began in May 2016 and is expected to be completed in June. Brendan Mehaffy, executive director of the Office of Strategic Planning, said an initial recommendation regarding inclusionary zoning will be made in February.

"The study recognizes inclusionary zoning is only one tool to accomplish goals and objectives regarding affordability," Mehaffy said.

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