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Natale plans up to 80 patio and single-family homes in East Amherst

Natale Builders plans to construct up to 80 single-family and patio homes on 57 acres off New Road in East Amherst, according to an application filed with the town Planning Department.

The development requires Town Board approval to rezone 49 acres of the site, which near where the Lockport Expressway ends at Millersport Highway and just west of Ransom Oaks and the Glen Oak Golf Course.

Natale hasn't firmed up its plans for the property, but the company proposes building 56 single-family homes and 24 patio homes at the site, said Angelo S. Natale, the president and owner. There are 89 plots on the site, but Natale likely won't build on at least nine because they are marked by wetlands.

The developer has the property under contract but has not yet closed on its purchase from the owner, the Richard Jacobs Trust, Natale said. The owner reached out to several developers to let them know of its interest in selling. Natale was drawn to the site because of its proximity to the 990 and to the University at Buffalo.

"Each one of our projects has their own identity," Natale said. "We're looking for this project to have its own identity, we just have not determined what it is just yet."

It's a development that fills in the space between two other subdivisions off New Road, and would wrap around the Autumn Meadows neighborhood.

Natale said the 24 patio homes would range in size from 1,200 square feet to 3,000 square feet, with five models to choose from. The single-family homes would range between 1,800 to 3,500 square feet in size.

However, about 15 of the 56 single-family homes would be larger and higher-end, between 2,500 and 4,500 square feet in size. They would be located at the far western end of the development and connect to the rest of the subdivision by a bridge that crosses over what is called the town ditch in a project site plan.

The subdivision would access New Road by linking with Autumn Meadows Lane and through a second road built to the south.

About 21 acres of the parcel would remain open space.

Much of that is wetland, according to the project application, although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still must make a  decision. Just over 2.6 acres of wetland cross the 89 lots detailed in Natale's filing, and that's why the company doesn't know how many homes it ultimately can build.

News of the proposal has stirred some concern among neighbors in Autumn Meadows. Larry Rera has lived for about 20 years on Gray Birch Court, and his backyard backs up to the edge of the new development.

He acknowledged it would be hypocritical for him to oppose any development at all on the Jacobs property because his own home was, at the time he moved in, part of a new development. But he said he and his neighbors want to make sure any construction is done in a way that takes into account the wetlands on the site and the amount of water that can pool there.

"I want them to be thoughtful about what they do," Rera said.

He said he also is concerned for the variety of animals found on the property, including turkey, fox, geese, heron and mink. "I'm looking at three deer right now, so I don't know where they're going to go," Rera said.

Natale did not say how much the homes would sell for. He said he and his team need to craft a theme for the development, with the aid of a focus group, around which they will build unified design elements and an organized marketing campaign for the homes.

"What I can tell you is we've got two existing developments on either side, so you've got a base to start from, see what the houses are in the area," Natale said. "We also think should we should be able to capture some of the alumni, some of the current professors, at UB because they're right down Millersport. You've got great access to the 990 and to downtown."

At Natale's Avalon Meadows development of patio homes and single-family homes on Casey Road in East Amherst, the homes have a European theme and feature exterior stone, natural light and, in some cases, solar panels, Natale said. The homes there sell for between $489,900 and $634,900, according to the Natale website.

The New Road site is zoned suburban agricultural and 49.43 acres would require a change to R-3 residential, which allows for single-family and patio homes, said Ellen Kost, an associate planner for the town.

The Planning Board would make a recommendation on the rezoning request and the Town Board would have the final say.

If the project receives the necessary approvals, Natale would seek to start construction in 2018 and work on the subdivision over the next three years.

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