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Letter: City Hall clearly favors big-time developers

Buffalo residential property owners just got their City User Fee news in the mail. The increase won’t break the bank for most of us, there are a lot of legitimate expenses for government, resources are scarce, blah, blah, blah. And all true.

But transferring citizen payments to big developers for relative piece of cake projects? Part of the tax increase story has to be from back in May, when the Brown administration rolled out another of its pity parties for big Buffalo developers in The News, with another round of “development is difficult in Buffalo” whining.

At that time the needy poster child was Montante’s troubles at Gates Circle, where TM Montante Development has long wrapped up control of the site, but somehow can’t make it there, at the best location on the best street (really, kind of our Champs Elysees) in the city.

Somebody made mistakes with requirements for historic preservation credits? Nobody in City Hall or for Montante knew about pesky federal “requirements”? And nobody knew that Robert Morgan, the supposed white knight savior partner from Rochester, would have a very short shelf life and turn out to be maybe too far on the wrong side of the law to be touched?

So the bailout figure the city kicked around for Montante in May was in the vague vicinity of $1 million in city aid, really nice fundraiser money, and surely more later for Nick Sinatra at the Children’s site, and probably then for whatever developer might be next in line with “what about me?”

Rather than seeing my Buffalo user fee go in big chunks to guys who already control cool sites (and are project-broke and needy, but magically able to go on buying more and more properties in their project vicinity), I vote to see serious development aid go to places like the East Side, or the half dozen Grant Street-type sites we have.

Aren’t you, mayor, your government, and my taxes all supposed to do the hard things, not the easy?

Isn’t that why we have you?

James Andrew Smith


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