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Synagogue, Northtown Automotive await town action before sale of Amherst land proceeds

The members of an Amherst synagogue considering whether to sell its longtime home to Northtown Automotive Companies are awaiting Town Board approval on the rezoning request required for the transaction to take place.

The Town Board on Monday night postponed a decision on the rezoning until its March 6 meeting when it hopes to have specifics from Northtown about the company's plans for the parcel.

"The town hasn't been provided enough information about what Northtown wants to do with the parcel for us to make a proper decision," said Deputy Supervisor Steven D. Sanders. "Rather than having to vote 'no' because we don't know anything better, I think the wise thing is to wait until they can give us more information."

Northtown Automotive in September revealed its interest in buying about nine acres of land on Getzville Road off Sheridan Drive, next to the Youngmann Expressway, from Temple Beth Tzedek. But the sale can't close until the Town Board approves Northtown's request for a rezoning of the property, said Harvey Sanders, a past president of the synagogue.

Temple Beth Tzedek is in talks with Northtown to sell its property at Getzville Road because it has merged with another congregation, B'nai Shalom, which has a synagogue on North Forest Road, south of West Klein Road.

The respective congregations have agreed to the merger and State Supreme Court Justice E. Jeannette Ogden approved the merger last month, Sanders said.

The merged congregation will hold services at both locations, on Getzville Road and on North Forest Road, until the sale of the Getzville Road property goes through, he said.

Eventually, the Temple Beth Tzedek congregation will move to North Forest Road and use the proceeds from the sale of the Getzville Road site to pay for an expansion of the existing synagogue there, Sanders said. Temple Beth Tzedek had about 500 families prior to the merger and B'nai Shalom had between 40 and 50 families.

Northtown Automotive did not say what it plans to do with the property. Lawrence Schreiber, co-owner of Northtown, was traveling Monday and did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The dealer group has a number of dealerships in a section of Sheridan Drive between Harlem Road and Millersport Highway, and more operations nearby on Millersport.

Schreiber said last fall the Getzville Road site would fit well with the other properties, and the location is visible to motorists passing by on the Youngmann.

In October, the town Planning Board recommended approval of the rezoning request. The Town Board held a public hearing on the request in December but declined to act on it that month or in January.

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