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Amherst Planning Board to weigh two proposed housing projects Thursday night

The Amherst Planning Board on Thursday night could act on a pair of housing projects proposed for the northwest section of town near the University at Buffalo North Campus.

In the larger of the two, a major out-of-town developer of student housing plans to build 154 units on North Forest Road that would serve students attending the UB campus, which is about 1 mile south.

Core Spaces, which has offices in Chicago and Austin, Texas, wants to build a four-story, residential building on three parcels that total 5.4 acres at North Forest and Bryant Woods South.

The project, known as the Hub at Amherst, requires rezoning two parcels, at 2949 North Forest and 2925 North Forest, from suburban agriculture to general commercial, which would allow for multi-family residential use. A third parcel, at 2915 North Forest, is zoned properly but needs deed restrictions removed because it is part of an office park.

The wooded site is vacant now. If the project receives the required rezoning and site plan approvals, work would begin this year and be completed in 2019.

This is Core Spaces’ first project in this region. When the project was discussed at February's Planning Board meeting, some board members raised doubts about the density of the project and about the number of fire alarms that similar student housing developments in Amherst have generated.

A Core Spaces representative said at the meeting that the size is driven by the need to make the project cost-effective, and he said the company's professional, on-site management will help prevent false alarms.

A second housing development on Thursday's agenda are upscale apartments planned for Sweet Home Road.

Williamsville developer Robert A. Savarino filed an amended version of the project that tries to address concerns he heard from residents at a community meeting and at previous Planning Board meetings.

The project at 2360 Sweet Home Road, located just north of North Ellicott Creek Road and the Lockport Expressway interchange, now calls for rezoning more of the 12-acre site, adds six apartment units to the 79 units in the original proposal and reconfigures the layout of the buildings on the property to create more distance between the apartments and neighbors.

In the case of both projects, the Planning Board would issue a recommendation on the rezoning requests, and the Town Board votes on whether to rezone the properties.

Also Thursday, the Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed redevelopment of the former Westwood Country Club site, because the board at its January meeting said it would adjourn the hearing until its March meeting, said Ellen Kost, an associate town planner.

But the board will not take any action on the developer's rezoning request, and it will be adjourned to a later date, because the developer still must provide required information to town and county officials, Kost said. No representative of Mensch Capital Partners, the developer, is expected to make a presentation Thursday night, although members of the public are welcome to speak.

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