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Church, apartment plans irk neighbors in Town of Hamburg

Neighbors see the land on Newton Road and McKinley Parkway as a picturesque corner with a fantastic view of the Boston Hills. Prospective buyers see the corner as a vacant property close to the village of Hamburg – an opportune site for apartments and a church.

The First Baptist Church of Hamburg and Heron Hill Apartments want to build a church and an apartment complex at the site and dozens of people came out to the Planning Board meeting on Wednesday (July 18) to oppose the project.

The property is currently zoned residential-agricultural. The request in front of the Hamburg Planning Board was to change the zoning on that land to multi-family housing. The property is currently surrounded by land that is zoned as R-1. R-A is the lowest zoning level given by the town and requires the largest minimum lot size for construction.

Dominic Palmisano, with Palmisano Architects, discussed the project with the planning board. He said under plans between Young Development and the First Baptist Church of Hamburg, 27 percent of the property would be developed and that it would be a “green” project. Palmisano told the planning board that the project was initiated when the First Baptist Church of Hamburg began looking for a new location for its services, and Young Development agreed to fund a good portion of the project. Since Youngowns apartment complexes across Western New York, Palmisano told the planning board that the developer has included such a complex in the plan. “In order for it to be cost-effective for the developer that’s the way it needs to be, it’s going to help the village and bring more people to town.” Planning Board Vice-Chair Sasha Yerkovich quickly responded, “Villages are also made up of people. We’ve never rezoned anything from RA to R3.”

Planning Board Member Stephen McCabe agreed, telling Palmisano, “You have an obligation to neighbors in that area.”

Planning Board Chair Peter Reszka told The Sun, “I can’t answer why it has never been done before, but it is an immense increase in allowable density.” R-3 is the highest residential zoning level, which means that the population density is the highest allowable.

The public is not usually given an opportunity to speak at work sessions, but with the large crowd that came to Wednesday’s meeting, Reszka made an exception. Three people from the packed meeting room were allowed to ask questions which ranged from how much input neighbors have on the project to another who said he bought his house on Grandview because of the aesthetics and view of the Boston Hills. Yerkovich said while she understands the neighbors’ strong feelings about the aesthetics, “If someone came in here and wanted to develop the property and it was zoned properly, we can’t stop them from building.”

The rezoning of the property at Newton and McKinley Parkway would also be contrary to the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which is a blueprint for the future of the town. It encompasses the vision and goals that residents have for Hamburg as it grows. Decisions made by town officials are be made in accordance with the plan. That is why Reszka directed Palmisano to convince the board that it is not a spot zone. “I want them to explain why the applicant thinks that an R-3 zoning is in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan and the surrounding properties,” Reszka said.

The project has been tabled until the planning board’s next meeting on Aug.1.

Also discussed at the meeting:

The Armor Inn Tap Room requested a new parking lot across the street from the restaurant. The Hamburg Traffic Safety Board has recommended a crosswalk in front of the gas station. The Armor Inn Tap Room plans to use the new parking lot for valet and employee parking.

The owner is waiting on recommendation in regards to the proposed parking lot based on the traffic safety board’s recommendation. In the meantime, the planning board gave positive recommendation to the zoning board of appeals, and the project was until the Aug. 1 meeting.

The owner of multiple properties on Maelou Drive, Roger Duffett, is requesting site plan approval for a new 15,000 square foot building to be built on vacant land north of 5646 Maelou Drive. The planning board sent a positive recommendation to the ZBA, and a public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 1.

A public hearing was held to discuss a 26,488 square foot medical building at Camp Road Medical Park, but no one from the public commented. Preparations are underway to approve the project at their next meeting on Aug. 1.

The owner of Gateway Printing on Big Tree Road appeared before the planning board to request site plan approval of an addition to the existing building.

The owner said the addition would be used for stock and equipment storage.

The board gave a positive recommendation to the ZBA for a side yard setback necessary before the addition is completed.

Frank’s Flatbed Service appeared before the board to request a special use permit for a public garage at 5646 Maelou Drive as required by the Hamburg Police Department. A public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 1.

A public hearing has also been scheduled for Aug. 1 to discuss a two lot (Randy’s) subdivision on McKinley Parkway.

Phase 2 of The Villages at Mission Hills Apartment Complex received a site plan approval contingent on the engineering report, fire department report, and SCIS report.


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