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New roadway to Sherwood Meadows Apartments could solve traffic issues

HAMBURG — Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed Sherwood Meadows Apartments received news they had been seeking for the past several months, at the town of Hamburg Planning Board’s Oct. 16 meeting.

During a previous gathering, in which the board had ordered a positive declaration to be written for the project, Sean Hopkins of Hopkins & Sorgi PLLC, representing the developer, had asked permission to pursue a supplemental traffic study to see if issues the community has brought up could be resolved.

Board members had recently joined many Hamburg residents in expressing worry about the additional vehicles that would be traversing through the residential neighborhoods near the proposed apartment complex, which will be located east of Heatherwood Drive in Hamburg.

On Oct. 16, Hopkins told the board that the developer had taken the board’s admonition and had studied not just the seven intersections noted by citizens as being problematic, but expanded that number to 10 interchanges.

“That impact study said that the level of service at each intersection will be A: the highest level of service,” he said. “The local traffic safety board said that the project will have no adverse effect on the roadway system.”

Hopkins sited longtime requests from local individuals to provide a second means of access to the Sherwood Meadows Apartments, so drivers coming from the complex could avoid traveling through the nearby neighborhoods.

“I am happy to tell you that, as of today, we have a contract in place to purchase a portion of the Hopevale property to provide a second means of vehicular access into the site,” Hopkins said. “We just received a copy of the contract, fresh off the press.”

The developer asked that the board table the item, to provide an opportunity to show a concept plan that would include the second roadway to the apartment complex.

While Hopkins said that it would not make sense to close access to the existing public road, he added that the developer’s intent is to make the new roadway the primary source of access into Sherwood Meadows. “It would provide clear access to Howard Road,” he added. “It will be the most direct route.”

Board Member Sasha Yerkovich, who took over as leader of the proceedings in Chairman Peter Reszka’s recusal, commended the developer and said that “it’s a good start.”

Planning Consultant Andrew Reilly reminded the board that the public had been asking for this second point of egress for the better part of a year, and that going through the section of the former Hopevale campus would be the only alternate route. He said that land to both the north and the east of the project is designated parkland and wetland and cannot be developed.

The board voted to table the project, to give the developers time to present a plan that includes the proposed new roadway.

In another matter, the board heard from Jolie Mandell, who was requesting a sketch plan direction on a proposed reuse of an existing service station on Lakeshore Road as a physical therapist’s office.

Mandell said that she has been getting her business plan in place, with help from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and had been told to come up with an arrangement for parking, which the planning board said would probably be her biggest obstacle.

While Mandell said that she had originally envisioned 10 parking spots, the planning board informed her that that number might need to be reduced to eight, to take into account code requirements.

“I would be working with the existing building and looking into improving the interior structure,” Mandell said, adding that the building would remain the same size.

“We are very glad to see this site improved, but the issue will be parking,” Reilly reiterated. “That’s your biggest challenge. The zoning board of appeals can give you 10 feet from the road right-of-way, but that’s the closest you can get.”

Yerkovich said that she was happy Mandell is looking to develop in the area, but believes the businesswoman will need to obtain some more specific engineering information, before getting plan approval.

In other matters:
– The board held a public hearing regarding a revised site plan for the Maelou Drive Business Complex. The only change is additional parking spaces. There was no public comment. The item was tabled until the next meeting.

– The Villages at Mission Hills Apartments item was tabled indefinitely, until engineering approval is received.

– Findings from the Willow Woods Subdivision will be mailed out to all necessary parties.

– The board discussed a request from Shaw Properties LLC to rezone vacant land north of 4819 South Park Ave. from commercial-1 to neighborhood residential.

According to Reilly, rezoning must be approved by the town board. He said that traffic could be an issue and recommended that a traffic study be done.

Reszka asked that “something be done to dress up the building a bit, other than just having a blank wall with windows.”

This item was also tabled, for the time being.
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