Concerns about zoning, sewers and wetlands have delayed Cimato Enterprises’ 52-acre Woodland Hills project off Greiner Road for longer than it takes a student to go from kindergarten to a master’s degree.
Graduation day finally came last week.
On Wednesday, owner Fred Cimato finally won the approval he has been seeking from the Clarence Town Board since the mid-1990s for a 77-unit subdivision of upscale homes.
"Congratulations. It's been a long time," said Councilman Paul Shear.
Cimato has been working on the project since the late 1980s, but the town's formal reviews of the project began in the early to mid-1990s. Cimato Enterprises bought the land in 1995. In 2004. the town rezoned the land from agricultural to residential to make way for the planned single-family houses. At one point Cimato had proposed building more than 90 homes on the site.
Cimato said after the meeting that working with Erie County and the town to build a sewer connection to the property delayed the project, as did the wetlands issue.
"Something new got thrown at us every time," Cimato said.
He said he's never had to work this long on any one project.
"We stuck with it because one, that's what we do for a living, and No. 2, it's on the master plan that it's slated for development," he said. "And if anyone can do it and do a good job, it's Cimato Builders."
The original subdivision, first named Fox Trace East, sits on vacant land between Greiner and Sheridan Drive. Harris Hill Road and Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church are to the west, and Meadowbrook Road and Brookfield Country Club are to the east.
Cimato said the houses are going to start at $350,000 and will be considered upscale, single-family homes.
He said blueprints are all set for development approval and will go before the Planning Board for a more detailed development plan. He said he plans to begin construction on the first 25 houses, out of three planned phases, in September.
Cimato's attorney, Jeffrey D. Palumbo, addressed some concerns residents on Meadowbrook Drive had about current flooding in their backyards. He said the plan includes drainage ponds.
"Right now we are obligated under law, both Clarence ordinances and state law, to control our run-off. Right now the water goes where it goes, it's uncontrolled. Subsequent to development it will be controlled and released at a rate that is no greater than what's on the site right now," said Palumbo.
He said the drainage should get better.
"I'm not promising anything, but by law we're not allowed to make the situation any worse," added Palumbo.