When the Town of Hamburg’s Comprehensive Plan was established years ago, it established guidelines which all departments must follow, even decades later. The wording and maps included in the comprehensive plan were topics of discussion at Wednesday’s (Aug. 1) Hamburg Planning Board meeting as the board discussed a proposed rezoning of property at Newton and McKinley Parkway.
At that corner, developers want to build the Heron Hill Apartment Complex and First Baptist Church of Hamburg. They want to rezone the property from R-A to R-3. R-A is the lowest zoning level given by the town and requires the largest minimum lot size for construction. R-3 is the highest residential zoning level, which means that the population density is the highest allowable. It would be a first for the town. Never in its history has a property been rezoned to R-3 .
Neighbors surrounding the “McNewton” property poured into the basement meeting room where the project was discussed – creating a standing room only crowd. Discussion began with Phil Riggs, from the First Baptist Church of Hamburg who pleaded with residents, “We’re here to make friends, we are not here to step on toes.”
Dominic Palmisano, with Young Development told the planning board that developers tried to incorporate the comprehensive plan into sketches for the project. The first phase of the project would begin with the land facing McKinley Parkway, while the second phase would concentrate on the land off of Newton Road. The First Baptist Church would be built within a year.
Hamburg Planning Consultant Andrew Reilly and members of the Hamburg Planning Board also reviewed the comprehensive plan thoroughly prior to the meeting. There is a village transition area mentioned in the plan (which opens up the possibility of considering residential properties for commercial use), but it was explained to the crowd and developers that the Newton and McKinley property is not included in that area. Hamburg Planning Board Chair Peter Reszka said the comprehensive plan must be followed at all times, said “It’s the bible we have to go by.” Three people from the audience were allowed to speak. At one point, Palmisano defended the project, commenting that traffic from apartment complexes does not have a major impact on traffic in the neighborhood. The crowd responded with laughter and jeers. The next step for the proposed rezoning project at Newton and McKinley is more discussion. Reszka explained that it is not a simple decision that can be rushed, “We have a lot to look through, if the rezoning is approved, it will go to the Hamburg Town Board where there will be a public hearing.” The project is on the agenda for the Planning Board’s Aug. 15 meeting.
Also discussed at the meeting:
• Boston State Holding, Inc. is requesting rezoning of vacant land on the south side of Howard Road from R-2 to R-3 for a townhouse development. The project would bring 66 units to the property in multiple apartment buildings.
The Planning Board inquired about input from nearby residents and tabled the discussion until neighbors could come out to express their opinions on the project. It is going to be discussed at the Aug.15 meeting.
• Hamburg Recovery and Towing at 4529 Camp Road is requesting a special use permit for a public garage as required by the Hamburg Police Department. Planning Board members encouraged the owners to review the site plan, since the permit can’t be issued until there is a fenced-in area outlined in the plans.
The project will be discussed at a meeting in September.
• Frank’s Flatbed Service on Maelou Drive will be back in front of the Planning Board for a public hearing to discuss the a special use permit for a public garage as required by the Hamburg Police Department on Aug. 15.
A special use permit is also under consideration for a daycare center at 4390 Quinby Road. A public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 15.
• A new parking lot for The Armor Inn Tap Room on Bayview Road has been approved contingent on conditions outlined by the town’s engineering department and agreement on a pedestrian walkway with the Hamburg Traffic Safety Committee.
• A public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 15 to discuss Russo Development’s proposed new equipment storage area at 3710 Old Milestrip Road. The Hamburg Traffic Safety Committee will also review the project prior to that meeting.