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Signs point to Fairfield Inn & Suites coming to Rensch Road in Amherst

A four-story, 107-room hotel planned for Rensch Road near the University at Buffalo North Campus cleared its last hurdle Thursday night when the Amherst Planning Board approved the site plan for the project.

The board also agreed the project would not significantly harm the environment.

Ellicott Development previously said it plans to start construction in March and would look to open the hotel in February or March 2018.

The developer previously had not named the hotel brand.

Fairfield Inn & Suites is an option alhtough no agreement has yet been reached,  Ellicott CEO William Paladino said Thursday. Aslide shown at the planning board identified Fairfield as the hotel.

Ellicott Development also plans to build a two-story, 12-unit apartment building on the site, which covers three parcels at 3880, 3900 and 4030 Rensch Road off Sweet Home Road.

The rezoning request required for the hotel and apartment didn't stir opposition when it was filed with the town early last summer. The Town Board approved the rezoning in June.

The site is surrounded by off-campus student housing, an office park and the Center for Inquiry. There are two other hotels nearby on Sweet Home, including Ellicott Development's Staybridge Suites Buffalo-Amherst.

Two dwellings that are currently used as rental units would be demolished to make way for the project. But the developer has agreed to preserve a limestone house at 4030 Rensch that is believed to be one of just six stone houses remaining in Amherst. The Town Board recently designated that house as a local historic landmark.

Ellicott Development also agreed to relocate and reconstruct two stone pillars now located near the stone house, and to use building materials in the apartment complex that complement the appearance of the limestone home.

Planning Board member Mary Shapiro expressed concern about the fate of the columns and ensuring the apartments blend in with the stone house.

Sean W. Hopkins, Ellicott Development's attorney,sought to reassure her.

"We've already agreed it's an historic house, so we can't impact it," he said.

The board approved the site plan application and the environmental impact statement by identical 5-1 votes, with Shapiro voting no both times.

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