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Hamburg citizens concerned about Sherwood Meadows Apartments’ impact on surrounding area

HAMBURG — The Hamburg Planning Board’s Aug. 7 meeting was packed to the rafters with community members’ waiting for an update about the Sherwood Meadows Apartments project.

According to Sarah DesJardins of the planning department, “the 30 days is up from the coordinator review. You need to declare yourselves the lead agency on this project.”

Planning Board Chairman Peter Reszka clarified that the board’s declaring itself the lead agency on the apartment project did not mean that the proposed work has been approved. “We’re the coordinating agency,” he said. “That means we’re in charge.”

After the board declared itself the lead agency, it was announced that no new information has been received and the next step is to hold a public hearing about the finished plan.

Roundtree Village resident Charles Cox told that board that he was voicing many audience members’ concerns, when he said that he was not comfortable with the proposed project.

“The developer for the project, DATO Development LLC, has proposed a change of use for the property at the eastern end of Heatherwood Drive,” Cox said. “Instead of completing the planned 52-unit town home development that was started more than five years ago, DATO Development LLC now wants to construct 128 apartment units with 256 parking spaces.”

Cox said that Roundtree Village would be impacted by the additional vehicular traffic from Sherwood Meadows Apartments. “Common sense alone will tell you that an extra 250 vehicles’ traveling the roads of Roundtree Village every day will assuredly have a negative impact,” he said, adding that he believed the traffic impact study that was recently done is “flawed in several respects.”

The resident said that he and the other individuals in attendance were asking the board to reject the plan. “It will adversely change the character of Roundtree,” he said. “We are appealing to your sense of doing right.”

Those in attendance asked the planning board to show proof that the land in question was changed in zoning from farm to residential. “No one can prove that this was changed,” Cox said.

Reszka asked that a letter he recently received be entered into the record. “This letter insinuates that the board members are not upright,” he said. “This is the most insulting letter I have ever received.”

After Reszka read the message, which included statements about the chairman’s wife and her political contributions and his seat on the board, as well as accusations that Reszka was using his position to further his “own personal gains,” the audience applauded the letter-writer.

“This position was not created for me,” Reszka said. “Every member of this board was appointed. Not just me. You have a perfect right to be opposed to this proposal, but you don’t need to insult me.”

Hamburg Town Board Member Joseph Collins asked Reszka to recuse himself from the proposed apartment project, citing a conflict of interest. “You cannot be involved here as a town board member,” Reszka responded. “Sit down and be quiet.”

Collins said that Reszka was compromising his position as a member of the planning board. “As usual, sir, you are making things up,” Reszka said.

An attendee called the Sherwood Meadows Apartments project “an insult to us.” Audience member Dennis Chapman indicated that the owner of the property was not keeping up with the grass-cutting. “If that’s the kind of neighbor he is, we don’t want him,” Chapman said.

DesJardins reminded the audience that the board is not proposing this project.

Drew Reilly of the planning department clarified the process, going forward. “We had to wait for the applicant to submit several items,” he said. “You can look at that information. The town’s been very proactive in getting the public involved.”

Reilly said that a public hearing will be held. At that time, the public may share information about the “character of the neighbor and other concerns you have,” he said.

According to Reilly, the board must then give either a negative declaration, indicating that there is no significant effect on the environment, or ask for an environmental impact statement. “Either way, they have to make a decision, before ruling on the project,” he said.

Board Member Sasha Yerkovich made a motion to schedule a public hearing about this issue. “Please allow us to read the documents we’ve received,” she said. “This decision will be made on facts.”

Reilly said that the board will also be reviewing the findings from the traffic study.

A public hearing about the Sherwood Meadows Apartments will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 21 in room 7B of the Hamburg Town Hall.

Also on the evening’s agenda was a work session about the Care-A-Lot Day Care Center on Lakeshore Road and the Brian Bates two-lot subdivision on vacant land west of Burke Road.

Per the board, an addition on the Care-A-Lot Day Care Center will include a new driveway for a pickup and dropoff location.

Reilly said that the center’s owners have obtained a use variance,

allowing them to continue without a special use permit. The owners were in attendance to request direction on the sketch plan, regarding the proposed addition to the existing building.

The day care center currently has 1,500 square feet and 21 children. It is licensed for 32 children. “This is more about how we can use the actual center,” the owner said.

Reilly asked that the owners address stated concerns about the number of additional parking spaces needed and outdoor playground area requirements, but the board gave the green light for this project.

Regarding Bates’ project, Reszka said, “You’re creating a flag lot. The only way to develop is to create another flag lot with an incredibly long driveway to the back.”

Reilly said that making one piece of property into two flag lots creates a difficult situation for the property owner and for fire protection.

“Our code actually encourages flag lots,” he said. “This is an interesting contradiction.” He said that the local fire department would be contacted, for comments about the project.

Since there is a new issue, regarding the extension of the water line, this project will also be discussed, via a public hearing, at the next meeting.

The board also discussed Dan Howard’s planned five-lot subdivision in an R2 zoned area. It was reported that there are no environmental issues here. “This used to be a high accident area,” Reilly said. “Four-way stops signs have been put in and the police say the incidents have lowered. We have tried to keep the driveways as far away from the street as possible.”

Reilly asked that the board give direction for a draft resolution, during the next meeting. The issue was tabled, for the time being.

A site plan approval for the Nidus Development medical office building and immediate care facility on South Park Avenue was tabled and will not appear on the agenda again, until new information surface.

The board also reviewed the draft final environmental impact statement for the Willow Woods Subdivision.

Norman Wohlabaugh explained that he was asked to review the documents for this project and that he had the water and sediment resampled. “There is no significant contamination in the site,” he said. “The groundwater is quite clear. There are very low traces of constituents. What contamination is there, is very low.”

Wohlabaugh called the site “mildly contaminated,” but said that he has no way of knowing whether the contamination will increase or decrease, during the coming years. He recommended that the site be monitored on a regular basis, for at least five years.

Board Member Stephen McCabe asked how concerned future homeowners should be. “There is only a slight overage [of contaminates],” Wohlabaugh said. “This is what you expect to see: spurious hits here and there. I’ve taken soil samples 10 feet apart and the difference is incredible.”

Reilly clarified that the site is a landfill and, while homes will not be built directly over the fill, they will be erected nearby. “You will have children playing there,” he said. “But we always face that danger,” Yerkovich said.

“No records were kept of this facility,” Wohlabaugh warned. “There might be something buried out there that we don’t know about, so I’m being conservative.”

Board Member Daniel O’Connell said, “Did we go above and beyond what we should do? I believe you’ve done your due diligence. All of the records have been covered.”

Reilly asked that all recommended changes be made and sent to the board. The issue was tabled, for the time being.

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