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Rezoning on South Park Avenue met with resistance

HAMBURG — Additional traffic near an already “failing” intersection was noted as being a serious concern, when a public hearing about the rezoning of a 3.7-acre property at 4819 S. Park Ave. was opened, during the town of Hamburg’s board meeting on Nov. 25.

Several residents voiced multiple concerns, but none generated more attention than the increased number of cars the rezoning could cause at the intersection of South Park and Bayview Road. The conclusion was to push no further action until the new calendar year, but the town board said that it knows it has issues into which it must look.

The need for a rezoning, according to Drew Reilly, the town’s planning consultant, is for a proposed apartment complex, which is currently forbidden under the current zoning. “The applicant wanted to put an apartment complex there,” Reilly said. “The property is zoned C-1. C-1 does not allow residential uses in it. It allows about 1,500-square-foot businesses ... retail, other commercial businesses, restaurants and things like that. That’s what’s allowed in that district. It also allows everything that’s allowed commercially and then ... the neighborhood commercial district. The applicant couldn’t do what he wanted, so they asked for a rezoning to the appropriate zoning.”

Reilly said that the town had two options to use, to accomplish an apartment building: R-3, the standard residential multi-family district, or NC, because the area is mostly commercial in nature.

“NC allows small commercial uses, but it also allows all your residential uses, too,” he explained. “So our recommendation was, if they were going to move forward, that they’d request NC zoning, just to keep continuity in the area, since all the surrounding areas are zoned commercial. I didn’t want to introduce a residential zoning in the middle of a commercial area.”

Reilly explained that zoning must be in accordance with the comprehensive plan. “You’re changing a law, so we have to refer to the comprehensive plan,” he said. “The town board entertained the rezoning. ‘Entertainment’ means it has enough to go forward in the process. If it was not in accordance with the comprehensive plan, we could not entertain it; we could not rezone the property. So we entertained it and sent it to the planning board.”

The planning board reviewed this item and recommended the rezoning, but has the liberty of holding a public hearing. “They said, ‘Look, have the public hearing, town board, and if there are any kind of responses that we didn’t think about, send it back to us, and we can take a look at it and help you resolve the issue of this rezoning,’” Reilly said.

The townspeople who spoke, during the hearing, brought up issues such as drainage, parking and snow removal as causes of concerns. The most widely expressed issue was that of traffic in an intersection that is already busy, especially during peak times such as the start and end of school.

Reilly said, “It’s a failing intersection. [The project] is not going to improve the situation.”

No further action will be taken on the rezoning until, at the earliest, Jan. 1.

In other board news:
– An increase in the amount of electronic variable message signs prompted the board to carry Local Law No. 9: Amendment to the code of the town of Hamburg placing a six-month moratorium on electronic variable message signs within the town.

– The Route 5 Gateway Entrance (clock tower) Project, having been inspected by the engineering department, was “satisfactorily completed in accordance with the plans and specifications for the project, and all contract closeout submittal requirements have been complied by the contractor.”

The board accepted the contract and approved the release of final payment for a total amount of $304,102.

– The town entered into a shelter lease agreement with Sundance Kennels Inc. for all of next year. The agreement includes two one-year, renewable extensions. A secondary agreement with the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was made, for the same time period. Supervisor Steven Walters was authorized to sign the agreements on behalf of the town.

– The board approved the appointments of Nicholas Pikul to the full-time public safety dispatcher position and Katherine Strnad to the part-time public safety dispatcher position; both appointments were effective Nov. 17.

– Raymond Pawlowski and Patrick Ryan were appointed to the positions of deputy superintendent of buildings and deputy superintendent of grounds, respectively.

The next board meeting for the town of Hamburg is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9 at the Hamburg Town Hall.

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