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Fruit Belt housing project delayed to allow community talks

Fruit Belt housing project delayed to allow community talks

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STEL-Southern Tier Environments-Fruit Belt project

Schematic elevations of the proposed new apartment complex in the Fruit Belt neighborhood, by Southern Tier Environments for Living and the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust.

The nonprofit developers proposing 50 units of affordable housing in Buffalo's Fruit Belt neighborhood asked the Buffalo Planning Board to delay consideration of the project for another month, as they reach out to the community to resolve concerns and resistance.

Dunkirk-based Southern Tier Environments for Living and the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust want to construct a 33-unit apartment building at 326 High St., at the corner of Peach Street, along with five three-bedroom duplexes, one two-bedroom duplex and five single-family homes on scattered sites.

But the project met opposition when it came up to the board two weeks ago over a perceived lack of public notice and input.

Attorney Robert Knoer, board secretary for the Fruit Belt group, said the organization has scheduled a neighborhood Zoom meeting on March 24, and will be canvassing the neighborhood to provide more information on the project, before coming back to the Planning Board on April 5.

"The board had some comments and we take them very seriously," he said.

Flea market advances

And it backed approval by the Common Council of a special-use permit to allow Dahveed Muhammad and Franklin Pratcher to create a nonprofit open-air flea market at the corner of Walden Avenue and Genesee Street, with 20 to 25 vendors bringing their own booths or tables, and room for about 30 cars to park.

That would allow pop-up or home-based businesses to "sell their wares and generate commerce in the community," Muhammad said.

The high-traffic location would provide significant visibility and opportunity for the planned Your Community Market Center, which would operate six days a week. Muhammad said he hopes to have a farmers or produce market element as well.

"We've had activity there in the past, but we're just formalizing the process," he said, citing occasional produce vendors or events like Juneteenth.

Jehovah's Witness project backed

The Planning Board also approved a parking lot reconstruction for Jehovah's Witness Congregation Support at 185 Kensington Ave., expanding the current lot from 49 spaces to 68.

The group is also consolidating the building entrances to a single side and eliminating two driveway entrances for better traffic flow and safety.

185 Kensington-Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses

The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses at 185 Kensington Ave. in Buffalo.

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