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Tonawanda residents air concerns about RiverWalk Villas planned next to park

David Stapleton has been working for many years on a plan to put 92 townhouses on 14 acres of wooded property next to Veterans Memorial Park in the City of Tonawanda.

He got approval earlier this year to purchase the land from the city for $160,000.

About 30 residents attended a public hearing Tuesday before the City Council on the rezoning for the proposed Riverwalk Villas.

Most were less concerned about rezoning – and more concerned about the inconvenience of years of construction and changing the density of the neighborhood or losing the woods.

Caryn Gunderson and Ann Bursztyn of Fletcher Street said after the meeting they were concerned about the loss of wildlife in the wooded area behind their home.

"It is nice because it is so quaint and quiet," Gunderson said.

Susan Crockett, who lives on Adam Street, said she has lived in the area for 30 years. She said the school district recently built a new stadium nearby and will now have to deal with "all the mud and noise" of construction on this project – as well as traffic from 92 more homes.

Blake Boyle, a former councilman and candidate to return to the Council in November's election, said after the meeting the city has been trying to develop the property for years. Boyle said it's one of the few existing pieces of property in the city to develop, and will add to the tax base.

Mayor Rick Davis, speaking to The Buffalo News prior to the meeting, said the city hasn't had a new housing development in 20 years.

"It should be a positive thing. We need to start competing with surrounding communities not only for businesses, but also for households," Davis said.

Sean Hopkins, attorney for David Home Builders, said in a presentation he expects the company to complete the project in three phases – beginning with approximately 26 homes along the existing Little League Drive in Phase I. A second phase would be built east to Rogers Avenue and Phase III would build the remaining property to the west.

Rendering of a building of attached townhouses planned for Riverwalk Villas.

The two-bedroom townhouses would be sold for prices in the $200,000 range, Stapleton said. Units would vary from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet.

Stapleton said most of the units would be one-story or one-story with a loft in front, but the more desirable property on the west end of the site would likely have two-story units.

"We want to recognize that we are adjacent to single-family homes and we want to propose something that is compatible with the existing character of those adjacent single-family homes," Hopkins said.

City of Tonawanda agrees to sell 14 acres for condo project

Hopkins said they would like to begin construction as soon as approvals are in place, but in addition to the rezoning, the project still needs approval from the Planning Board.

Stapleton said the homes are built on demand, so it's not clear how long it would take to build the entire project.

No action was taken at the session.

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